When I was asked to write this letter to the editor, I was honored to represent this courageous group of people. But before I get to the rest of this letter, I would like you to think about the following first.
1. Have you heard of PETA? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
2. Have you heard of the NCCNHR? National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform.
Today, I am writing this letter for all of the families that showed up and stood for the inexcusable treatment of their elderly or handicapped family members or loved ones in a Nursing Home facility. It is also for those that are considering putting their loved ones in the care of a nursing facility.
We were thankful to have David Sater, our state representative, head up this meeting. Also included in this meeting were two people representing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Cheryl Blackburn and Les Jobe, along with two volunteers from "OMBUDSMAN" Long Term Care Operating Agency. The president of the nursing facility Mike Hathor and his vice president of operations, Debbie Ford, also attended.
It seemed to many of us who attended this meeting that many of our questions and concerns were sidestepped, and our emotions ran deep. But this is a real and very "personal" issue that had to be addressed and addressed immediately.
For some ungodly reason the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 was somehow lost in the shuffle of corporate finances and corporate politics.
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all residents in nursing homes are entitled to receive quality care and live in an environment that improves or maintains the quality of their physical and mental health! This entitlement includes freedom from neglect, abuse and misappropriation of funds. Neglect and abuse are criminal acts.
Do you see where we are coming from?
Residents do not surrender their rights when they enter a facility.
Here are some of the neglect and abuse issues that were discussed;
* No rehabilitation what-so-ever from January to June. Reason: because of a corporate dispute with rehab facility. You know what this leads to? Immobility and/or loss of speech.
* Lack of toileting or changing of disposable briefs. Reason: short staffed or it's dinner time. You know what this leads to? Embarrassment and loss of dignity.
* Lack of bathing or shower-easier to just sponge bath. Reason: short staffed or just lazy staff. You know what this leads to? Poor hygiene and infection.
* Ignoring call bells-hello. Reason: understaffed or desensitized staff. You know what this leads to? Isolation, fear, and yes, death.
* Medicine not properly administered-or taken by someone other than the resident. Reason: not properly supervised. You know what this leads to? People in unnecessary, merciless pain.
As for the corporation in care of this facility, understaffing is not your employees' fault. You won't be in the negative budget wise if you make "Standard of Care" your top priority. Then people will flock to your home . . . not run away. Budget crisis solved.
I truly believe that there are conscientious employees that are truly heart-felt caregivers in this facility and for those, thank you for your hard work and dedication to your patients. Those that are not . . . get a job at a machine shop.
I leave you with this PETA . . . People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Or the 24 courageous people that stood against corporate politics for their families and loved ones on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008 . . . People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans.
I pray to God that we do not become a dehumanized society.