ABC 27 investigates nursing home inspection reports, finds disturbing violations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – An ABC 27 investigation unearthed nursing home violations about sanitation and medication in Pennsylvania.

It’s an issue people who live in the area say they’re all too familiar with.

“My mother became ill in the hospital after a fall,” Tamara Wright said while going through pictures at her home in Dauphin County. She says she wasn’t impressed with local options for nursing homes, but eventually settled on Golden Living.

Wright said she later felt that was a mistake.

“They’d sit all day in their urine and their waste because no one checked with them,” Wright said.

ABC 27 has done stories before about charges against Golden Living nursing homes in Pennsylvania and decided to look at other facilities, too.

Department of Health inspections for Dauphin and York County nursing homes don’t paint a pretty picture. For example, inspections for Spring Creek Rehab and Health Care Center in the Harrisburg area say the facility gave patients “unnecessary medications” and had bedsides covered with dried debris and feces.

Some of the other violations were flagged as “serious harm” situations. At Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in York, an inspection from May 2014 shows the nursing home did not have a CPR policy or staffing with CPR certification. The facility also reportedly posted a notice, saying its staff would not do CPR – 911 would have to be called instead.

Pleasant Acres sent ABC 27 a statement, saying: “The nursing home inspection in May of 2014 caught us in the final stages of implementing our CPR policy facility wide.  We had just received our “crash carts” and “backboards” that were an integral portion of implementing our plan.  In fact, we were at such an advanced stage that when the severity of the situation was identified we assembled and distributed the crash carts within two hours.  That process also included identification of those residents who were desiring of CPR.”

ABC 27 asked the Department of Health if patients and their families are notified of these kinds of violations. The department says it does not send out written notifications to each family, but it does post inspection reports on its website, which are available 41 days after the actual site visit.

The Department of Health released a statement, saying:

“The Department of Health takes very seriously its duty to protect the public, especially vulnerable individuals residing in nursing care facilities.

“The issues raised by the recent lawsuit, which allegedly have taken place over the course of the past several years, are deeply concerning. That is why the Department has moved swiftly to evaluate its inspection process and determine what measures can be taken to ensure compliance in the future. In addition, the Department has asked the Auditor General to conduct an independent review of inspection procedures, will soon announce members of a Pennsylvania Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force, and is in the process of setting up an interagency work team on long-term care. Secretary Murphy is committed to ensuing our seniors are treated with respect and dignity, and the Department of Health will continue to evaluate past practices and procedures to make sure this is always the case.”

In the meantime, people like Tamara Wright are hoping for change. Her mother died in January, and now she says she’s worried about what will happen one day to her and her loved ones.

“We’ll be sitting in our own feces,” Wright said. “And we’ll be treated as non-humans. We’ve worked too hard to have a good life to end with such disrespect and to lose our dignity through the treatment and care provided in the nursing homes.”

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