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Georgia Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides consumers with up-to-date information related to health inspections, quality measures and staffing criteria for all Georgia nursing homes on its website: http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare. CMS currently rates 140 Georgia nursing homes as “Above Average” and 147 facilities as “Below Average.” That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the quality of care we can expect in our nursing homes. Those numbers certainly do not ease the constant worry of family members who have a loved one in a Georgia nursing home.

While our attorneys serve all of Middle Georgia, since we have offices in Macon we were curious about the ratings for Bibb County nursing homes. Unfortunately, the figures remain disconcerting, with four nursing homes rated “Above Average” and five nursing homes “Below Average.”

Could residents in Warner Robins expect higher quality care? The percentages for “Below Average” nursing home quality worsen in Houston County, with only one nursing home graded “Above Average,” but three “Below Average.”

What’s Happening in Georgia?

What has happened to allow such poor nursing home care in Georgia? Why in The Peach State do the residents of Peach County have access to one long-term care facility and that facility (Fort Valley Health and Rehab) ranks “Below Average”?

If you think we’ve hand-picked the worst nursing home quality statistics to make a point, let’s look at the state as a whole. Overall, the data shows that Georgia ranks as the third-worst state for nursing home quality standards. The only states with slightly lower grades are Texas and Louisiana.

Statewide, 46 percent of Georgia nursing homes have low overall quality ratings.

There’s no way around it. No matter how you dissect the data, it is crystal clear that Georgia nursing homes are not performing to the health standards established by government oversight agencies, and they are not living up to the basic standards residents deserve.

Causes of Poor Nursing Home Care in Georgia

Long-term care facilities are complex healthcare systems where a wide variety of things can go wrong. In most cases, a combination of negative factors compound to create a risky environment where injury, neglect or abuse can occur at any time.

  • Facility Size: Larger facilities have been associated with higher incidence rates of patient harm. At the same time, facilities that are too small or that have low occupancy rates can be in financial distress, and funding problems can also be correlated with poor patient care.Georgia has 358 nursing homes across the state, with a total of 40,000 beds. This is approximately 111 beds per nursing home, on average. The national average is 108 beds per facility; so Georgia is right in the middle – neither too large, nor too small.But, let’s take a closer look at the size of facilities in Bibb County, GA.
    • Carlyle Place (5300 Zebulon Road, Macon, GA): 40 beds / 5-Star Rating
    • Cherry Blossom Health & Rehabilitation (3520 Kenneth Drive, Macon, GA): 82 beds / 5-Star Rating
    • Eastview Nursing Center (3020 Jeffersonville Rd, Macon, GA): 92 Beds / 3-Star Rating
    • Goodwill Health & Rehab (4373 Houston Ave., Macon, GA): 172 Beds / 3-Star Rating
    • Macon Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center (505 Coliseum Dr., Macon, GA): 100 Beds / 1-Star Rating
    • Medical Management Health and Rehab Center (1509 Cedar Ave., Macon, GA): 100 Beds / 1-Star Rating
    • Porter Field Health & Rehab Center (3051 Whiteside Rd., Macon, GA): 143 Beds / 1-Star Rating
    • Pruitthealth – Eastside (2795 Finney Circle, Macon, GA): 90 / 1-Star Rating
    • Pruitthealth – Macon (2255 Anthony Road, Macon, GA): 228 / 4-Star Rating
    • Pruitthealth – Peake (6190 Peake Rd, Macon, GA): 122 Beds / 2-Star Rating
    • Zebulon Park Health & Rehabilitation (343 Plantation Way, Macon, GA): 66 Beds / 5-Star Rating

The average number of nursing home beds for the top-rated facilities is 62, while facilities considered the worst performers have an average of 108 beds. Is there a correlation between facility size and quality of care? You decide.

  • Staffing Levels: Data shows that understaffed nursing home facilities have higher rates of patient abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, nursing homes are notorious for understaffing problems and have some of the highest rates of turnover for any employment field. Nursing homes are graded on the number of staffing hours allotted per resident, per day.A review of the staffing levels for the top-performing nursing homes in Macon shows an average of 2.53 hours of licensed nursing care per resident per day and 2.56 hours of CNA care per resident per day.The Macon, GA nursing homes with the worst quality of care averaged 1.39 hours of licensed nursing care per resident per day and 1.9 hours of CAN care per resident per day.Clearly, the Macon nursing homes with the highest quality of care, and lower risk of abuse or neglect, had higher levels of skilled staffing for each resident.
  • Facility Ownership: Some long-term care facilities are for-profit agencies, often owned by chains or corporations, while others are managed by non-profit organizations. For-profit nursing home facilities have been associated with poor staffing and lower care.It is hard not to notice that all of the best-performing nursing homes in Macon are non-profit organizations while every one of the poorest-performing facilities are operated by for-profit businesses. Coincidence?

How Widespread is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

In a study of more than 2,000 nursing home resident interviews, 44 percent said that they had experienced abuse. A heart-wrenching 95 percent reported they had been neglected or seen other residents neglected. These reports from residents are further confirmed by self-reporting from nursing home staff – 50 percent of whom admitted to mistreating patients (e.g., physical violence, mental abuse, neglect).

nursing-home-abuse-chart

It is worrisome that only 7 percent of complaints to long-term-care Ombudsmen are reports of abuse or neglect. Clearly, the problem is more widespread than is being officially reported for investigation.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

First, it is helpful to understand the difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect:

  • Nursing Home Abuse: an intentional inflection of harm to a nursing home resident. Nursing home abuse may include unreasonable confinement, intimidation, physical violence, harm or mental anguish.
  • Nursing Home Neglect: failure to provide a reasonable standard of care, which results in physical harm or mental anguish.

Families have legal recourse available to them for cases of nursing home neglect or abuse. Knowing the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse is critical to helping safeguard long-term-care residents.

Common signs of nursing home neglect:

  • Being emotionally agitated or withdrawn
  • Dehydration
  • Instances of elopement
  • Bedsores / pressure ulcers
  • Lack of medical aids (e.g., glasses, hearing aids, walker, etc)
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Unexplained injuries.

Common signs of nursing home abuse:

  • Bruising, fractures, welts or cuts
  • Frequent falls
  • Inappropriate use of physical or chemical restraints
  • Uncharacteristic changes in behavior or withdrawal from normal activities
  • Unexplained STDs.

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect in Georgia?

If you suspect an incident of abuse or neglect in a Georgia long-term-care facility, there are many resources available that can provide you with additional guidance and walk you through the complaint and investigative process. The advocates who work to improve the quality of care and safety of nursing home residents want to hear from you. Increased awareness and active reporting to the appropriate oversight agencies is one step toward holding nursing homes accountable for resident abuse and neglect.

To report nursing home injury, neglect or abuse in Middle Georgia contact:

COMMUNITY OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM
121 Prince Street, Warner Robins, GA 31093
Phone: (478) 922-4464, Nancy Hill, LTCO Coordinator

BIBB COUNTY AGENCY ON AGING
175 Emery Highway, Macon, GA 31217
Phone: (478) 751-6466, Julie Hall, AAA Director

For more information, go to http://www.georgiaombudsman.org or call 866-55AGING.

Holding Healthcare Providers Accountable in Georgia

Nursing home owners, managers, and staff have legal obligations to provide at least a minimum standard of care and safety for nursing home residents. Some of the factors that can create an environment of higher risk for residents include the size of the facility, staffing levels, and management – and all of these are out of the control of the patients. Oftentimes, the main resource available to residents and families in situations of abuse and neglect is a nursing home attorney.

The Mann Law Firm has been serving the Macon and Middle GA community for over 50 years. We have helped hundreds of Georgia residents, and we are sensitive to the issues that surround nursing home abuse. If your loved one exhibits warning signs of abuse, contact us online or call (478) 742-3381 to discuss holding the facility responsible.