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Articles Posted in California Department of Public Health

CANHRThe California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) is a statewide nonprofit that has been dedicated to improving the choices, care and quality of life for California’s nursing home residents and families.

On Jul 21, 2021 at 12:00 pm, CANHR will be holding an online town hall to discuss nursing home visitation rights in the Covid era. The goal of the town hall is to provide information to participants about the current state of the statewide visitation rules, and explain how advocacy can be used to gain more visitation access. There will also be a Q&A.

The town hall speakers will be CANHR staff attorneys Tony Chicotel and Mike Dark and Essential Caregivers Coalition co-founders Maitely Weismann and Melody Taylor Stark.

Over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California were not subject to annual inspections by the California Department of Public Health because of the coronavirus lockdowns. In the last year, many commentators have worried that nursing home conditions—many of which were already poor—were likely to worsen given that friends and family members were not permitted to see nursing home residents and to be in a position to report signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, and that the California Department of Public Health would not be conducting inspections. 

Whether those concerns ultimately prove to be a reality may become clearer in the coming weeks and months as the California Department of Public Health resumes its annual inspections of nursing homes in the state, according to a recent report from KPBS.

State Will Resume Annual Nursing Home Inspections

California received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccinations and began vaccinating people according to recommendations from the California Department of Health. First, the vaccine is being given to health care workers and residents of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and similar facilities for older and medically vulnerable patients.

NursingHomeVaccine-300x200Currently, there are more than 400,000 people living in skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, convalescent hospitals) in California. Questions arise over how to obtain consent for the vaccines for the elderly who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s or in some other way lack the capacity to give consent. Obtaining written consent from the patient him or herself would be the best, but that is not going to be possible for many residents of nursing home and assisted living facilities.

People are worried about the safety of vaccines, and some discount the severity of the virus itself. The federal government has not provided clear direction on how to best encourage people to consent to taking the vaccine. It is easy to imagine that within families there might be disagreement over whether a loved one should be vaccinated in the first place. These disagreements will need to be worked out because there is an urgent need to vaccinate the elderly who are disproportionately affected by Covid 19 and require hospitalization at higher rates than the rest of the population when they do get infected.

Lomita Post-Acute Care Center of Los Angeles County, California was issued a Class AA Citation by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on August 14, 2020 after a resident was killed due to sepsis resulting from negligent patient care at the facility.

The Care Center failed to follow its own policies and procedures to ensure that the resident, who had been admitted just 7 days prior, received the care she needed, which started with an accurate assessment of the resident’s change of condition, in combination with urinary catheter care, reporting to the physician the resident’s change of condition in a timely manner, and sending the resident to the hospital only after a family member insisted.

Interviews and Nurses Notes indicated that on several instances there was no documented confirmation that the Resident’s catheter was being examined per physician’s orders. Which likely contributed to the UTI that later caused Sepsis in the Resident.

Santa Fe Heights nursing home in Compton was issued an AA citation by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on October 16, 2020 after a resident was seriously was killed in a fall that went unnoticed by staff.

The injured resident had four falls in four consecutive months despite being assessed by nursing home staff at being at high risk for falling. After the fourth fall, the resident was found on the floor unresponsive and without vital signs.  An investigation by CDPH revealed that Santa Fe Heights failed to implement safety measure and provide adequate supervision to the resident and failed to develop a plan of care to address his growing fall risk.

Nursing notes revealed that at the time of the last (and fatal) fall, the resident was found by a CNA on the floor at 2:45 pm after attempting to transfer from the toilet. He reportedly hit his head in the fall and was promptly returned to bed without a neuro-check being performed. Despite his obvious signs of injury, including a laceration on his head, there was no assessment for injury, nor any follow up.

Nursing homes in Riverside County and throughout California and the country are facing lawsuits related to COVID-19 infections and deaths among residents. Many nursing homes are arguing that they could not have taken any additional steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, yet skilled nursing facilities are required to have particular infection-control measures in place.

 
In fact, in early April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities about the types of infection-control methods that would be necessary “to keep patients and residents safe.” The guidance helps to provide clarity for the types of actions (or inactions) for which a nursing home or assisted-living facility may be liable if a patient contracts COVID-19 and suffers a serious infection or dies as a result of that infection.

 
Actions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities

markus-spiske-3_SvgDspSTE-unsplash-copy-300x200Nursing home patients in San Diego County and throughout the U.S. are particularly vulnerable to infections and illness as a result of age and underlying conditions, even when the world is not experiencing a coronavirus pandemic. However, in this moment of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, news reports across the country are reflecting the ways in which nursing home residents are uniquely vulnerable to the virus and, in particular, to death as a result of contracting it. As such, many nursing homes have limited how visitors can see their loved ones at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in order to prevent the spread of the virus among the elderly. At a moment when residents of California’s nursing homes are especially vulnerable to illness, the Trump Administration announced plans to relax federal oversight of nursing homes. 

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the Trump Administration’s proposal “would loosen federal rules meant to control infections, just as the coronavirus rips through nursing homes.” The following is some information you should know about plans to relax federal oversight of nursing homes and what that could mean for elderly residents.

Rule Changes Were Proposed Last Summer

https://www.nursinghomeabuselawyerblog.com/files/2017/03/600px-Pink_check_tick.svg_-300x300.pngVolunteer senior ombudsman programs are helping to ensure that nursing home patients receive care tailored to their needs, in San Diego County and across the state of California. According to a recent article in the Moorpark Acorn, these volunteer ombudsman programs in certain parts of the state might actually serving as a check for parts of the elder care industry that are not as attuned to the individual needs of patients. The article explores the specific volunteer senior ombudsman program in Ventura County that is currently overseen by the county’s Long Term Care Services. As of early 2017, the ombudsman program has advocated for the needs and rights of about 8,500 patients in Southern California’s assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, other facilities.

Could more ombudsman programs be a partial solution when it comes to preventing nursing home abuse and neglect?

What is an Ombudsman?

Sitting_Room_At_The_Braeside_Home_In_Preston_Ontario,_1947_(5933797538)According to a recent report from U.S. News & World Report, nursing homes in California, including in San Diego, may rank better than facilities in other parts of the country. However, just because a nursing home makes the list for having the highest number of high-quality nursing homes, according to a recent article in Senior Housing News, that fact alone does not necessarily correspond to the state having a particularly high percentage of high-quality facilities. If you have a loved one who currently resides in a nursing home in Southern California, or if your aging parent soon may be moving into an assisted-living facility, it is important to understand what nursing home rankings do (and do not) mean.

What can we learn about the quality of California’s nursing homes from the report in U.S. News & World Report? What other issues do we need to take into consideration when evaluating the quality of a particular nursing home and the risks of nursing home abuse?

Rankings for High-Quality American Nursing Homes

file3451272140532How often does the California Department of Public Health fine nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for elderly patient injuries and deaths? When facilities do receive significant fines as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, are those fines sufficient to protect other residents in the future? According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the California Department of Public Health issued a $75,000 fine for a Southern California nursing home due to neglect resulting in a patient’s death.

Fatal Injuries Caused By Nursing Home Neglect in Canoga Park

As the article explains, Topanga Terrace, a nursing home in Canoga Park, was issued a $75,000 fine “after staff there failed to monitor a resident who kept removing his own breathing tube, resulting in death.” The patient needed a tracheostomy tube in order to breathe following a surgery in 2013. In addition to the use of the tracheostomy tube, the patient also “suffered from multiple illnesses including dementia, chronic respiratory failure, and tuberculosis.” Despite his medical needs, however, the facility did not have a treatment plan that included methods to prevent or deter the patient from removing his breathing tube.

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