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Local Nursing Home Accused of Abuse

New Report Says 1 in 5 Nursing Homes Rated “Poor”

A Fort Myers nursing home facility faces charges of abuse of one of its residents following complaints registered by a family member. A Cape Coral woman is alleging neglect after finding her father bruised, his glasses broken and with feces on his legs, at Signature HealthCARE at College Park, which is located just off Cypress Lake Boulevard near University Drive. The woman found her father slumped over in his wheelchair, and unable to sit up. After being transported to the hospital, staff there reported that the man had fecal matter down his legs and into his socks, was wearing three soiled diapers, and also that he appeared to have a bad rash and looked like he had not been washed in days. This is apparently not the first charge of neglect or abuse at the facility, which operates nursing homes in 7 states and whose Florida headquarters are in Palm Beach Gardens. Officials with the Agency for Healthcare Administration are now investigating Signature HealthCARE, and The Florida Department of Children and Families also has its own investigation into the incident. DCF has reported 7 investigations into the facility in the last two months.

According to an analysis of newly released government data by the USA Today newspaper, 1 out of 5 nursing homes consistently received a rating of “poor” when considering factors like overall quality, staffing and health inspections. A search of the Signature HealthCARE facilities reveals that the Fort Myers property received a rating of 1 star out of 5 stars which designates it as a below average facility. The Signature HealthCARE facilities in Port Charlotte and Sebring each received 2. The company has 20 properties in Florida.

In 2008, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began the rating system, giving the nursing homes they reviewed a rating of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest rating. The homes are rated based on different categories that could affect a resident’s quality of life and over all safety. The agency gathers their information based on nursing home complaints they investigate, inspections and other information. The study also lists whether the nursing home is a for-profit or non-profit entity, and whether a corporation owns them or not. The analysis of the data indicates that for-profit corporations owned nearly all of the homes that repeatedly received the fewest overall stars.

According to information provided on www.medicare.gov, “The Five-Star Quality Rating System was created to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and help identify areas about which you may want to ask questions. This rating system is based on continued efforts as a result of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA ’87), a nursing home reform law, and more recent quality improvement campaigns such as the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes, a coalition of consumers, health care providers, and nursing home professionals”.

A Medicare spokesperson said that even though a facility may receive a 1-star rating, it does not necessarily mean that it is a terrible facility. Even the lowest rated homes must meet the minimum Medicare operational standards to remain open. The hope is that by providing the rating system, families and loved ones who are considering admitting a family member to a nursing home will have better information on which to base their selection, and the industry in general will improve its standards of care.

Medicare recommends following these steps when deciding on a nursing home selection:

Step 1: Find Nursing Homes in your area. Search by name, city, county, state, or ZIP code.
Step 2: Compare the quality of the nursing homes you’re considering using the Five-Star Quality Ratings, health inspection results, nursing home staff data, quality measures, and fire safety inspection results.
Step 3: Visit the nursing homes you’re considering or have someone visit for you. Use the Nursing Home Checklist to help you track your research.
Step 4: Choose the nursing home that best meets your needs. Talk to your doctor or other healthcare practitioner, your family, friends, or others about your nursing home choices, and Contact the Long-Term Ombudsman or State Survey Agency before you make a decision.

P.J. Scheiner, an attorney who handles nursing home abuse cases with the law firm of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, P.A., says, “Unfortunately, the problem of nursing home abuse is all too real, and in some extreme cases, can lead to a family member’s being seriously injured or even killed in a poorly run facility. You need to use every method you have available in order to ensure you select a home where your loved one will receive the best care possible”.

To search for a nursing home and see their most recent rankings under the 5-Star Quality system, click here. By typing in the city and state, you will see a listing of all of the ranked facilities in that area.

Should you or a loved one be injured while in a nursing home contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers at 1.800.Dial.BLS or visit www.focusedonjustice.com. You pay us nothing unless we win.

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