It is unknown how many of our vulnerable elderly fall victim to neglect or abuse each year since such actions are easily hidden from view and underreported. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 84 percent of abusive situations involving older adults go unreported or unrecognized.
Nursing home abuse and neglect is far more common than you might think in Ohio. It often takes multiple complaints over a period of years before federal and state authorities will take action against a nursing home that is not properly caring for their residents. And even when the regulators do act, that often leaves patients scrambling to find new care.
In the most extreme cases, Medicare and Medicaid will cut off funding to nursing homes. This happened just recently in Westerville, Ohio. On May 21, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) formally terminated its agreement with Uptown Westerville Healthcare, a nursing home that services over 100 residents. When CMS terminates an agreement, this means Medicare will no longer pay a facility for the care it provides to Medicare-insured patients. CMS also cuts off funds to Ohio’s Medicaid programs to insure its nursing home residents.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, 86 of Upper Westerville’s estimated 109 patients rely on Medicaid or Medicare to pay for their nursing care. CMS’ decision therefore effectively forced the facility to announce its closing, effective on June 20, 2019. The Dispatch noted, “A team of state agencies will help ensure those residents, as well as people who pay privately, find a new nursing home or another place to live that meets their needs.”
CMS: Nursing Home Had More Than 35 Reported Health Violations
So what caused CMS to drop the proverbial hammer on Upper Westerville? The Ohio Department of Health told the Dispatch it was a mounting list of complaints–including 12 within the six-month period from November 2018 through May 2019. Many of these complaints are documented on Medicare’s website.
For instance, in a December 2018 report, CMS documented a number of instances of patient abuse and neglect. One resident experienced a “weight loss of 33 pounds in 31 days,” and was eventually admitted to the hospital for dehydration. Several other residents said they had not bathed for weeks due to improper maintenance of shower facilities.
Altogether, CMS said Upper Westerville had a total of 35 separate health citations on record as of July 2018. This was roughly four times the average number of health violations for nursing homes in Ohio. And the Dispatch noted the Department of Health “conducted seven inspections between January and the first week of May, all of which found the facility was still out of compliance.”
Speak with a Cleveland Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney Today
Closing a nursing home is always a measure of last resort. And the displacement it causes residents and their families is far from a trivial inconvenience. This is why it is important to confront allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect head-on before the problems start to spiral out of control.
And you do not need to wait for the authorities to take action. If you suspect someone you love is not being properly cared for, you should speak with a qualified Cleveland nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer. Call Tittle & Perlmuter at 216-438-9645 to schedule a consultation with an attorney today.