U.S. Senate wants Oversight for Devastating Nursing Home Abuse

April 23, 2019 – San Diego, CA.  A U.S. Senate hearing on nursing home abuse was held last month and seeks to identify and protect senior citizens across America facing neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and other troubling issues.   

CONTENT WARING: – The following content illustrates some of the known abuse happening in nursing homes and may be unsettling to some readers.

Maya Fischer lives in Minnesota and received a phone call from the nursing home where her mother Sonja Fischer lives.

“When you receive a phone call from the nursing home, your first thought is that … my mother has passed,” Fischer said.

“I was not at all prepared for the call that I received. … The call that my mother had been a victim of a sexual assault in her nursing home,” Fischer said. “For me and my family, it’s been devastating.”

Her family later filed a civil suit against the facility, Walker Methodist Health Center, which settled the case, and against the perpetrator, who pled guilty to the crime and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Fischer was one of two people to testify before lawmakers who are trying to make plans to regulate or punish nursing homes who violate state laws.  They heard a horrific story of her mother’s sexual abuse which highlights the growing nursing home problems across the U.S.

She stated in her testimony: “My final memories of my mother’s life now include watching her bang uncontrollably on her private parts for days after the rape, with tears rolling down her eyes, apparently trying to tell me what had been done to her but unable to speak due to her disease.”  Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Iowa resident Patricia Blank also offered her testimony of her mother, 87 year-old Virginia Olthoff, who had resided and later died at a “highly rated” facility.

The nonprofit facility in which her mother died had been fined for physical and verbal abuse of residents, yet still received the highest possible, five-star ranking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality of resident care.

The same facility reportedly received the lowest possible inspection ranking from government investigators. The state recommended a fine due to the nursing home’s mistreatment of Olthoff (she was dehydrated, in severe pain, and possibly denied water for several days) and two other residents — including another who died the same day.  CMS reportedly fined the facility, Timely Mission Nursing Home, over $50,000 for deficiencies in resident care.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley wants oversight on nursing homes.

Before the hearing Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley made a comment on CMS in a news release:

“How a place with the highest possible rating could yield such a tragic incident is just outrageous,” he said in the news release. “Things need to change, both for the standards at care facilities and for how CMS rates them. When American families consider where their loved ones can get the care they need, they should be able to rely on CMS information. That’s clearly not the case right now.” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley

He then went on the state:  “Today I heard troubling accounts, which lead me to believe continued oversight is needed in this area. There are two government watchdog agencies currently working on reports for Congress. One is the Inspector General of Health and Human Services and the other is the Government Accountability Office. I plan to convene another hearing on this topic after these agencies release their reports. I also intend to submit follow-up questions to each of the witnesses as we work toward reforms.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Responds.

Since the hearing last month, CMS announced it will be updating their online tools that allows consumers to research and compare nursing homes, the Nursing Home Compare database and its Five-Star Quality Rating System that measures inspections, staffing and overall quality measures.Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Dr. Kate Goodrich, director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offered this:  “Every nursing home serving Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries is required to keep its residents safe and provide high quality care. We have focused on strengthening requirements for nursing homes, working with states to enforce statutory and regulatory requirements, increasing transparency of nursing home performance, and promoting improved health outcomes for nursing home residents.”

How You can Respond to Nursing Home Abuse.

The above nursing home abuse horror stories are not unique or rare.  It’s sad that our most vulnerable people, our elders, are facing terrible abuse across the nation.

These are not isolated events, but you can take action.  If you suspect a loved one is abused or neglected in their nursing home, our nationwide nursing home abuse lawyers & attorneys can help today. Simply call us direct at 1-800-214-1010 or use the contact form below.  You’ll sleep better knowing National Injury Help will hold the abusive nursing home accountable.