According to The National Center on Elder Abuse, between one and two million Americans 65 years of age or older have been "injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection." In an effort to monitor the many potentially dangerous nursing homes in California, the Operation Guardians task force performs surprise inspections at these facilities. On January 19, 2010, inspectors with the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse visited the Evergreen Healthcare Centers of Vallejo-Springs Road. During the inspection, they observed a number of health and safety concerns.
Observations of the Evergreen Healthcare Centers of Vallejo – Springs Road
The following observations were made on the day of the surprise inspection:
- The facility was described as "filthy." According to the report, the nursing home was in need or "serious cleaning." Inspectors pointed out the need to clean the patient rooms, the food preparation areas, the supply rooms and the showering room.
- A potential for food contamination. There was no door to separate the kitchen from outside. This meant that bugs and other contaminants could get in the food that was being prepared for residents.
- There were many signs of potential neglect. One resident was lying on top of a dried, soiled diaper. The report noted that 70 percent of the facility's residents did not receive their ordered skin checks, pressure ulcer treatments, and other physician-ordered treatments. During a review of the Treatment Records, 35 out of 50 patients were put at risk of suffering undue harm and neglect because of a failure to follow physician orders.
- The facility did not meet state-mandated staffing requirements. Under California law, there must be a minimum of 3.2 hours of nursing care per resident per day. In fact, the average hours per resident day at this facility was three hours instead of the required 3.2. Facilities that fail to meet the minimum requirements are much more likely to neglect their residents.
- Patients could not reach help when needed. Many patients did not have call lights within their reach.
- There was a failure to rotate bedridden patients. One resident had Stage II pressure ulcers and a history of similar issues.
- Patients had access to harmful items. The central supply room containing medications and medical supplies was not locked. The utility room was also unlocked and filthy.
- The nursing supply storage room was so dirty that inspectors suggested an immediate deep cleaning.
- There were signs of potential infection issues. For example, urinals were unnamed and filthy.
- Damaged items put residents at risk of suffering an injury. Wheelchairs, for example, had torn vinyl that could cut fragile skin.
- The facility's Abuse Prevention Program Policies and Procedures did not meet state requirements. Their policy did not include the need to immediately report abuse to the local ombudsman or local law enforcement. Workers at the facility were instructed to report their concerns to their supervisor instead of reporting them to the appropriate authorities.
If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
When visiting your loved one in a nursing home there are several red flags for which you should look out. Are the rooms clean? Are there visible signs of abuse? Are there always workers readily available to answer your questions or help your loved one? Has your loved one undergone a significant change in personality? Are there missing items from your loved one's room? Constantly watching out for signs of neglect or abuse can help prevent a potentially tragic situation.
If you suspect that elderly abuse or neglect has occurred, it would be in your best interest to immediately contact the local ombudsman and the authorities. If you want to hold the negligent facility accountable for their actions, it may be in your best interest to speak with an experienced Solano County nursing home attorney. The skilled nursing home abuse lawyers at our law practice can help victims and their families pursue compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and other related losses. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact us for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.