Residents of nursing homes and skilled care facilities are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, yet they are often neglected and sometimes even abused by those whose job it is to care for them. On March 6, 2018, there was a senate hearing to examine the devastating abuse and neglect that is present in nursing facilities, including the sexual assault of Sonja Fischer, who was 83 at the time. George Kpingbah, 76 year-old nursing assistant, was found in the early hours of December 18, 2014 raping Fischer, who was unable to yell out for help or fight back due to her limitations. Unbeknownst to Fischer's family members, this was not the first allegation of abuse by Kpingbah. He had been suspended three times prior to this assault on suspicion of sexual abuse, yet the facility still allowed him to continue working the night shift.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented more rigorous standards for the Five-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes. The standards now require additional data from hospital readmissions, a lower threshold for staffing penalties, and separate evaluations for short-term and long-term stays. The star-rating overhaul aims to improve the quality of care at nursing facilities around the country, in addition to improving the reliability of ratings, and comes as a response to criticism of CMS for being too lenient in the past.
Richmond Pines nursing home in Hamlet, North Carolina was ranked by Medicare as the worst nursing home in North Carolina as of September 1, 2018, based on the ranking system for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Due to serious deficiencies that have the potential for hurting patients, the facility was placed on CMS' Special Focus Facilities List, which means it has a limited amount of time to improve its quality of care before CMS imposes serious consequences, such as terminating the nursing home from participating in Medicare and Medicaid permanently. As a result of an inspection that found one patient outside unaccompanied, and another trapped between the mattress and footboard of a bed, the facility has already been terminated from reimbursements from Medicare and Medicare.
Nursing homes have the responsibility to protect their residents and promote their well being and dignity. Unfortunately, though, sometimes nursing homes violate residents' rights. Sometimes residents and their families are unaware of their rights, and nursing homes are not held accountable. Do you know your rights?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has a program called the Special Focus Facility (SFF) Initiative, whereby nursing homes that have a history of serious quality problems are on their SFF list in order to stimulate improvements in their quality of care. If the facility makes significant and sustained improvement in quality of care, it may be eligible to graduate from the list. If the facility fails to make significant improvements, it remains on the list until CMS either grants it an extension of time to improve, or terminates it from participating in Medicare and Medicaid, which generally leads to the facility shutting down due to lack of funding. Facilities that are placed on the Special Focus Facility List are generally considered to provide very poor care. There are two facilities in Tennessee that are considered Special Focus Facilities.