‘Patients are getting screwed’ as Kentucky’s under-staffed nursing homes go unfixed

by Marcus Dorsey [Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky.com]

At Sunrise Manor Nursing Home in Hodgenville, a frail woman spent a night in 2015 sitting precariously on her bathroom toilet, shouting uselessly for help, shivering with cold, because nobody remembered to return and assist her to bed. The nurse’s aide for that unit later told state inspectors that she had been overwhelmed trying to monitor 26 residents during the graveyard shift.

At Stonecreek Health and Rehabilitation in Paducah that same year, harried nursing staff dealt with a resident screaming about excruciating pain from a neglected urinary catheter — he had an infection that soon would require emergency hospitalization — by removing his speaking valve, a plastic prosthesis in his throat, to render him mute.

At Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Elsemere this year, a resident told state inspectors that he was ordered to empty his bowels in bed when nobody on staff was available to take him to the bathroom. The resident cried and said this was disgusting. A nurse’s aide who often cared for him confirmed this practice to inspectors, adding that “the facility was short-staffed all the time.”

These stories and many others taken from state inspections of Kentucky nursing homes over the last three years show a pattern — vulnerable people frequently are at risk because their caregivers are stretched too thin to be effective.

It’s a big reason why 43 percent of Kentucky’s 284 nursing homes this year were rated as “below average” or “much below average” by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because of serious problems discovered with the quality of care they provide their roughly 12,500 residents, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of federal data.

That’s among the worst collective ratings for nursing homes in the country.