Residents of two nursing homes owned by Senior Care Centers of Dallas, Texas had to be rescued by Louisiana’s Cajun Navy after the rains of hurricane Harvey inundated their nursing homes with floodwaters. Management of the nursing homes was reluctant to release their patients, medical records were not available for many. Medications could not be found. Residents were found with their feet in floodwater, or with water up to their beds, and some residents were lying in water and filth. There was not enough food or water, residents had not received meals…it was an utterly horrific situation.
THIS CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN!
Texas laws and regulations should have prevented this completely unacceptable situation, and yet, it happened. Why? Is it lack of enforcement? Low penalties when deficiencies are found? This year, HB 2025 made some significant changes in the way penalties for certain deficiencies were handled, but if surveyors on site do not cite facilities, then HB 2025’s provisions are not applicable.
Cypress Glenn, one of the two nursing homes involved, was cited on June 7 for several pharmaceutical violations, all of which were allegedly corrected by July 7th. (See THIS LINK.) Yet they did not have medication records ready to send with their residents, who obviously were going to have to be evacuated. In fact, if they were waiting for the National Guard, as the administrator claimed, why were not packets of information made up for every resident, ready to be transported with them?
While these and many other questions need to be answered, it is time for Texas residents to take a stand against the inhumane, neglectful, and often abusive treatment of our beloved elders. We need to demand stricter oversight, with non governmental non profits positioned to monitor the quality of surveys. We need an ombudsman’s office willing to fight for the rights of residents, rather than collaborate with administration of nursing homes to “calm the situation.” We need more qualified surveyors who are willing to confront administration and refuse to turn a blind eye to “minor” violations.
HB2025 eliminates the “right to correct” certain violations that are considered to be able to cause “substantial or widespread harm.” A definite opportunity to improve the quality of care exists as a result of this bill–if only it is properly enforced. It is up to all Texans to demand proper enforcement for the institutions that care for our helpless citizens.