How Natural Disasters in California May Reveal Dangerous Nursing Homes

max-larochelle-421822-copy-240x300Whether your elderly loved one is located in a nursing home in Riverside County or a facility in another part of California, a recent article in Kaiser Health News suggests that natural disasters—and preparation for them—ultimately may reveal possibilities of increased risk of nursing home neglect injuries in facilities. The article cites information from a new report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. As that report explains, when federal health officials visited 20 nursing homes in the state to determine whether the facilities were prepared for natural disasters including fires and earthquakes, they determined that there were other more pressing safety violations at those nursing homes. We want to tell you more about the Kaiser Health News report and its findings.

Nursing Homes Have More Serious Violations Than Mere Lack of Natural Disaster Preparedness

The federal health officials who visited nursing homes in California to determine their preparedness for a natural disaster found, by and large, that the facilities were not prepared for a natural disaster. Indeed, facilities were so unprepared that federal health officials indicated hundreds of nursing home residents throughout the state could be at serious risk of injury or even death. The article clarifies: “Inspectors found hundreds of potentially life-threatening violations of safety and emergency requirements, including blocked emergency exit doors, unsafe use of power strips and extension cords, and inadequate fuel for emergency generators.”

The report itself concluded that residents in many California nursing homes “were at increased risk of injury or death during a fire or other emergency.” Shortly after the inspections, one of those nursing homes actually was destroyed in one of the wildfires that ravaged the state. A spokesperson for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform underscored that the federal report’s findings were “alarming but not surprising.” Indeed, safety risks go beyond mere lack of preparedness.

Why are Nursing Homes in California So Unsafe?

Why are so many of these facilities so startlingly underprepared for an emergency situation? The report suggested that there are a couple of different reasons at work. First, it is likely that there has been “poor oversight by management” at these facilities. Then, with high turnover rates, the nursing homes lose staff members who might be responsible for managing emergency preparedness measures, and at the same time, high turnover leads the nursing home management to focus on new hires as opposed to existing safety violations at the facility. Finally, the federal report intimates that poor oversight from the California Department of Public Health—meaning that the state agency did not do enough to make sure these nursing homes were in compliance—was another cause.

The report implied that emergency preparedness would improve simply with more oversight from the California Department of Public Health. To put it another way, the rate of nursing home neglect injuries could be reduced if facilities were better prepared for emergency situations, and that could happen with increased oversight from the state agency responsible for doing so. The report ultimately showed that there were a total of 325 distinct safety violations at 19 different nursing homes, according to the Kaiser Health News article.

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Riverside County

If you have concerns about nursing home neglect or need assistance filing a claim, a Riverside County nursing home abuse attorney can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.

 

See Related Blog Posts:

How Los Angeles County Nursing Facilities Treat Workers May Reflect Abuse Risks

Identifying Unsafe Living Conditions for Seniors in Encinitas