POST UPDATES CURRENT
Fight for Lynne Update 10-13-17
PLEASE READ – IMPORTANT SUMMARY AND UPDATE ON LYNNE
Recently, many people have visited the https://www.facebook.com/abesgentlepenny/ AND
https://www.abesgentlepenny.com/ unaware of the situation concerning our mother Lynne and our family’s struggle reporting the neglect and mistreatment she has suffered in the nursing home where she currently resides. The following summary will hopefully answer any questions readers might have.
Imagine for a moment, your mom’s in a nursing home and you witness her being mistreated. You report it to the administration, and then the same mistreatment occurs again the following day which you again report to the administration. Then as the days go by, the mistreatment worsens and staff CNAs working with your mom become hostile toward you and your family. You report all of this to the administration, but the hostility continues and the mistreatment worsens.
You and your family meet with administrators up the chain of command until you have no choice but to appeal to the Executive Director. Up till now you’ve held off filing complaints to state agencies because you can’t imagine that no one in the nursing home will not put a stop to the mistreatment and retaliation; that the Exec Director must not have all the information and after you deliver it, (s)he will step in and save the day.
And then you meet with the Exec Director who, without your prior knowledge, has called in the CEO. So, there you are in a meeting with the two most powerful people in the nursing home and you think, finally, something will be done and the mistreatment and retaliation will stop and everything will be alright again.
Then as you sit expecting some relief, to your horror, the Exec Director rejects all of your concerns and instead makes false accusations against you and your family. Think about that for a moment. You report mistreatment of your mother by nursing home staff, and the Exec Director blames you for mistreating the staff. You report hostility and intimidation by staff members, and then the Exec Director accuses you of the same. You ask for help and support, the Exec Director punishes you by restricting for visitation rights; as if preventing you from seeing your mother will make the mistreatment and abuse go away.
A careful examination of the facts of our case will prove not only the truth of the above stated but one other set of circumstances, hardly mentioned (although fully explained in our official complaint to the DPH), but given the submission of the nursing homes statements, bears scrutiny.
For the first two months of residency at the nursing home, my mother was needlessly made to suffer what I now believe amounts to a kind of ‘torture’ due to negligence or worse, but what I then accepted as an honest mistake, giving a tremendous ‘benefit of the doubt to the nursing home.’ Part of the reason we accepted this was because, after the two months of suffering, nursing home Administrators owned up to the mistakes and gave us assurances that such mistakes would not happen in future.
Classified as a Hoyer Lift Patient, for the first two months of residency at the nursing home, my mother was denied the use of a toilet or commode and left for entire days and nights with no opportunity to relieve herself. And when we brought this up to the staff, we were told she was classified as incontinent and for that reason would be denied use of a toilet or commode. When we explained that she was not incontinent and that she held her bowels, we were rebuffed, even by nursing home Administrators and our appeals were rejected until Head of Nursing intervened in Lynne’s behalf and had a special Hoyer Toilet Sling ordered and put to use. This eventually solved the problem.
However, at first, most of the CNAs assigned to use the new Toilet Hoyer Sling seemed to have no idea how to use it and stated to us that they had not received any training. As a result, we found my mother being lifted in a number of different ways and positions, often with her body contorted and in extreme discomfort to the point that she would moan and exhibit great fear. As reported to nursing home administrators, sometimes my mother would be lifted with her head dangling out of the edge of the sling and other times just the opposite, with her head covered with extra, excess material from the sling. Up until this day we have witnessed CNAs using the sling with little or no idea of how to use it. We have also seen the sling used when it had obvious stains and dried feces. On one occasion, when my sister Leana pointed out the stain, no staff member, including the Nurse Supervisor knew that a second identical sling existed and therefore my mother was left without a means of being moved from her bed to the commode.
For the past month, my family and I have been struggling in our advocacy for our mother Lynne, who, along with other residents in the nursing home where she resides, have suffered severe neglect and abuse. In addition, my sister Leana and I have been retaliated against and without just cause or provocation, the Exec Director restricted my visiting rights which would have made it virtually impossible for me to visit my mother if I had not stopped working full-time.
Part of my motivation for advocating and litigating is what I and the rest of the country have witnessed when eight elderly residents of a Florida nursing home perished for no other reason than no one cared enough to check in on them and report their condition to the proper authorities. And this only two weeks after elderly and disabled nursing home residents were found in a basement up to their waist in contaminated flood water. As much as this is an outrage and national disgrace on a very severe and publicized level, what my mother, the residents at the nursing home where she resides and our family have had to endure is equally disgraceful. Why? Because what we are suffering is pervasive, wide spread and lacking the kind of national media coverage afforded the incidents mentioned above.
As you will see below, not only have the residents of the nursing home in which my mother resides had to endure neglect and mistreatment, our family has been intimidated, frightened and retaliated against as punishment for our attempts to bring all of this to light. And it hasn’t stopped to this day.
This is frightening because it makes we wonder if 8 elderly people have to die (as happened in the Florida nursing home) before anyone will do anything. And experiencing the chilling retaliation committed against us, with absolute impunity, by nursing home staff and administrators, I can’t help wondering if fear of retaliation might have been the reason no one spoke up in Texas and Florida.
Below is a detailed summary of our continuing struggle.
Central in my mind to all of this, apart from the neglect and abuse suffered by my mother and the other nursing home residents, is the lengths to which administrators have gone not only turning a blind eye, but actively supporting the kind of intimidation and retaliation of which anyone in our position, as family advocates, would be frightened and potentially silenced.
Imposing unwarranted, unjustified visiting restrictions on family members advocating for loved ones in a nursing home seems criminal to me and nursing home administrators using such intimidation tactics to instill fear ought to be held accountable.
Certainly, no health care facility should ever tolerate disruptive behavior from anyone, including family members. And administrators must be able to protect residents and staff from any unruly person causing disruption and harm. This almost goes without saying. Certainly, anyone truly interfering with the work of staff and the well-being of residents should be spoken to, warned, asked to leave the premises and if they refuse, visiting restrictions or worse should and must be imposed. But in a nursing facility where administrators turn a blind eye to abuse and neglect, imposing visiting restrictions can be used as a tool of intimidation and retaliation and thereby constitute a gross and very damaging abuse of power.
In our case visiting restrictions were imposed when no disruption occurred; no one’s safety and wellbeing was ever called into question. Instead, without warning and for no cause, nursing home administrators acted against a family member’s right to visit a loved one; for which those administrators should be stopped and held accountable; especially, as in our situation, if those actions come in retaliation for filing reports of neglect and mistreatment.
Anyone with any jurisdiction must look at a situation like this, raise questions and take action. Why? Because, in such a situation, rather than guarding the safety and well-being of staff and residents, administrators blatantly do the opposite: retaliating against and intimidating family members and advocates in an effort to frighten and discredit into submission anyone who might try to bring to light neglect and mistreatment of vulnerable people unable to advocate for themselves.
The implications of unjustly acting against a family advocate, especially with false and discrediting accusations has a chilling effect that can only serve to cover-up mistreatment and neglect and frighten family members into ‘shutting up’ and ‘staying quiet.’ And although in our case, we continue to advocate, we are not undaunted. This has been and continues to be an ordeal I would not wish upon anyone! I and my family are truly fearful, not only for my mother’s safety, but I have become fearful of even having any kind of conversation with any staff member for fear of being falsely accused of something the administration might use to further restrict family visitation or even impose a ‘no trespassing order;’ any of which we would have difficulty fighting due to lack of resources.
Also, the restrictions imposed on me are cruel and very damaging. Why? Because, as a public-school teacher of 30 years, my working hours are 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM. And since the administration restricted me to just weekdays from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, I would be prevented from ever visiting my mother; a fact the administration was well aware when they imposed the visiting restrictions. And now, as a consequence, in order to be able to visit my mother Lynne, I have had to stop working and endure a financial burden from which I do not know whether I will be able to recover.
The fact remains, no one, not me or anyone in my family has ever interfered with the work of staff or in any way compromised the safety and well-being of anyone at the nursing home where my mother resides. To prove this, we need just look at some simple and basic facts.
Prior to the nursing home imposing visiting restrictions, no one in my family nor I had ever been spoken to, warned or notified (verbally or in writing) about any instance of inappropriate behavior of any kind; not on the day the administrator imposed visiting restrictions or any day prior. And yet, in the meeting in which the Exec Director imposed the restrictions, he did so citing three incidents on three separate occasions. If such an incident had occurred, why was I never informed; why, was I not spoken to or asked to leave on the days those incidents supposedly occurred; why was I allowed into the nursing home without restriction for two weeks after the first incident supposedly occurred?
Proof of the above emerges clear as day with no need of devolving into any ‘she said, he said,’ hearsay trap. A simple examination of the timeline shows how miserably the Exec Director and CEO, instead of taking responsibility for the neglect and abuse suffered by our mother Lynne, have instead chosen to deflect and support false accusations against our family at the expense of the well-being of not only my mother Lynne, but all of the residents of the nursing home as well as their loved ones. For those of you who might be interested, the following is a more detailed summary of what happened.
In late August, 2017, in a meeting which was supposed to be about the care of our mother Lynne, the nursing home Exec Director charged my sister and me with disrupting the work of the nursing home staff and me in particular of “actions causing numerous staff to be placed in a state of fear for their own safety.” The Exec Director then imposed a punishingly cruel restriction of my visiting rights, despite me being my mother’s son and Health Care Proxy.
1. In late August the Exec Director:
a. Accused my sister and me with disrupting the work of the nursing home staff and me in particular of actions causing staff to be placed ‘in a state of fear for their own safety.’
b. Cited three separate incidents.
c. Restricted my visiting rights.
2. The accusations against me and my sister, and the restrictions to my visiting rights came just days after my sister and I raised serious concerns of neglect, abuse and retaliation against my mother Lynne at the nursing home.
3. Just days AFTER restrictions on my visiting restrictions were imposed, the Dept of Public Health Surveyors came to the nursing home for a three day, yearly inspection.
4. Prior to 8-21-17, neither my sister nor I were ever informed of any such incidents; never spoken to by any administrator or staff member about such incidents; never warned about any behavior that might cause the administration to restrict my visiting rights; this despite several opportunities when, between 8-1-17 and 8-21-17, administrators meet with me and my sister in person and not a thing was mentioned.
5. Prior to 8-21-17, I was never asked to leave the nursing home; begging the question, if on more than three separate occasions I caused numerous staff to be placed ‘in a state of fear for their own safety,’ why was I not only allowed to enter the nursing home, but I was a. Encouraged by staff to perform and sing for residents in various parts of the nursing home (including the locked dementia unit). b. Three days before visiting restrictions were imposed, asked by an activities director to play and sing at a resident’s birthday party. c. Four days after the visiting restrictions were imposed, I was invited by staff into a resident’s room to play accordion and sing to a resident recovering from a severe stroke.
6. The Exec Dir claimed that the first incident of my supposedly errant behavior occurred 7-31-17, a day records will show, I never entered the nursing home.
7. For five months prior to 8-1-17, my behavior at the nursing home was not only NEVER QUESTIONED, but I had become a frequent and welcomed visitor to all parts of the nursing home to entertain, play accordion and sing for residents and staff.
In conclusion, the Exec Dir handling of our family’s concerns should be troubling on a number of levels to anyone with any care and compassion for the elderly and disabled in our country. The degree to which the Exec Director has not only ‘turned a blind eye’ but aggressively ‘gone after’ me and my family as a punishment for raising concerns about our mother frightens all of us for among other things, the chilling effect it has had on my entire family and our friends and acquaintances, especially those with loved ones residing in nursing homes. Also, chilling, the degree of impunity with which we have witnessed hostile staff members conduct themselves, from CNAs to Exec Director, has caused me many sleepless nights and dread, worrying not only about my mother and the many residents I have come to love and care about at the nursing home, but for elderly and disabled residents in other nursing homes throughout the country.
Fight for Lynne Update 11-11-17 (1)
RECENT LETTER TO THE NURSING HOME CEO
I have decided it important for me to share a letter I recently sent to the nursing home CEO where my mother Lynne resides. In doing so, I feel it important for readers to know that my family and I DO NOT take for granted the hard work and dedication of the vast majority of the staff at Lynne’s nursing home. On the contrary, I am very grateful. Also, I want staff at Lynne’s nursing home to know that over the past year our family’s affection and concern has gone way beyond our mother Lynne, and extended to the many residents with whom we come into contact during our visits, as well as all the staff who care for them.
As I have previously stated, it is impossible for me to turn a blind eye and deaf hear when issues and concerns arise. As a Christian and one who holds dear and fast to all that Jesus taught, I cannot help but recognize that as much as anything, Jesus taught us to shed light on the truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes us and the people around us feel. And Jesus also taught us to walk constantly and steadfastly in the shoes of the weakest and most vulnerable; in whose eye’s we can and must seek and find the face of God.
Below is the letter I recently sent to the nursing home CEO:
To: The Nursing Home CEO,
Every time I visit my mother Lynne at your nursing home, I am reminded, without fail, of the many hard-working, caring and compassionate members of your staff working with great dedication and commitment. And every day I am grateful and thank God for these wonderful human beings who so often in the midst of very challenging situations, work with true mercy and grace.
In light of this and what I and my sisters witness every day during our visits with Lynne, the purpose of my email is to express our family’s ongoing concern about staffing at the nursing home; something about which I have spoken with the recently resigned Exec Director; and since he has left, I feel important to express directly to you.
My family and I are frequent visitors and spend time almost daily with Lynne at your facility. During our frequent visits, we have observed the following:
1. The 2nd floor where my mother resides is often short of CNAs. We are very concerned because when this happens, resident care suffers significantly. I have often seen nurses looking for CNAs when none or just one or two are on the floor. Numerous times we have heard CNAs and per diem CNAs complain about having only one CNA when there should be at least 4; and times when a particular CNA needs urgent support, and no staff member is available.
2. Many nurses and CNAs work DOUBLE SHIFTS. Your nurses and CNAs work very hard and when they do double shifts (even voluntarily) the quality of the care they provide suffers significantly and my family and I have noticed that when this happens, far more mistakes occur; patient signal lights and alarms go off and no one comes to help the patient; more patients cry out for things like water or to use the toilet and are left unattended; and patients with severe senility become agitated and at times physically imperiled; some suffering severe falls or worse as a result.
Several times during the past few months I have unintentionally overheard per diem CNAs talking amongst themselves. The following is some of what I heard.
1. “There used to be 6 CNAs on this floor and now we are down to four, if everyone shows up.”
2. “I’ve been in the day room for three hours straight and no one has relieved me.”
3. “The more work we do the more work they pile on us!”
4. “I would never put my father or mother in a nursing home!”
5. “I’d rather work at MacDonald’s. It pays just as much and the work is way easier!”
Your Nurses and CNAs are for the most part hard-working, caring and compassionate health care professionals. But they are NOT miracle workers and must not be taken for granted. Something must be done so that none are ever put in impossible situations of doing jobs alone that require three or four people. And for obvious reasons, no health care worker should ever do a double shift. Nursing homes are not like Pizza Restaurants or MacDonald’s where people working double shifts risk making mistakes on burgers and chocolate shakes. CNAs and nursing home nurses work with very vulnerable elderly and disabled people in desperate need of quality care. And it only makes sense that when health care professionals are over-worked, under-payed, and given impossible responsibilities, not only does quality of care suffer, morale suffers and health care workers become overly stressed and emotionally and psychologically drained to the point of exhaustion.
In closing, I have observed and been informed by several of your nursing home administrators ‘ad nauseam’ of the several morale building techniques employed by your facility; occasional pizza meals; cook-outs; yearly awards banquets; employee of the month/year awards; etc. To the honest and dedicated health care professional, these are little more than empty gestures and gimmicks warranting suspicion rather than appreciation when those same employees awarded on a particular day are vastly over-worked and under compensated on all the other days.
If asked, I have no doubt the vast majority of your staff would gladly forgo all awards for proper staffing, more reasonable work loads and a living wage commensurate with the significant burden of their immense responsibilities caring for our vulnerable elderly and disabled: mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers (all sacred children of God just like you and me) in their care.
Fight for Lynne Update 11-08-17
VICTORY IN LAW SUIT - VISITING RESTRICTIONS LIFTED - MORE UPDATES
It’s been nearly a month since my last post our struggle to protect our mother Lynne at the nursing home where she resides and much has happened since then. Part of the reason I backed off posting is because the nursing home made my posts an issue in settling the case and for the sake of expediency, I stopped posting. Happily, our court battle to force the nursing home to lift the visiting restrictions was successful and the Exec Director who imposed the restrictions suddenly ‘resigned.’ But before going into detail, the last couple of posts from 10-13-17 are reposted below to make clear where we left off. For more detailed info and archived posts since 8-01-17, please visit the following:
Fight for Lynne Update 10-10-17
SUING AND LITIGATING A NURSING HOME IS ROUGH – BIG PICTURE – FIGHTING FOR LYNNE IS FIGHTING FOR ALL VULNERABLE ELDERLY ALZHEIMER PATIENTS IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS
Our Law Suit against the nursing home in which my mother resides has become brutally difficult and emotionally draining. Never in a million years would I have ever imagined finding myself and my family thrown into what can aptly be described as a David vs. Goliath battle. It’s rough; especially at this point when false accusations against me are being filed with the court.
Since 8-21-17 almost three weeks after we first discovered and reported the severe neglect and mistreatment of our mother Lynne, administrators began a campaign of ‘deflection’ by making false accusations against me and my sister, which the Executive Director used as a false pretense for imposing a punishing set of visiting restrictions, causing me to abandon full-time employment as a public-school teacher. All of this has been very damaging in many ways both emotionally and financially.
But now that documents with false statements are being submitted to the Court, it is getting scarier for me and my family than I ever imagined it would. A very small number of the nursing home employees (and importantly, THE FEW EMPLOYEES EITHER DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN OR RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEGLECT AND MISTREATMENT WE HAVE REPORTED; in other words, the few nursing home employees most a risk of professional reprimand or punishment) have submitted such documents.
Now the question many well-intentioned friends and associates are stating/asking me: although what they are saying about you is untrue, it could still be very damaging to you. Maybe you should drop the Law Suit. The following is my reply:
1. One cannot ‘un-see’ severe neglect and mistreatment of one’s own mother. It is not possible. And if I don’t continue fighting, what has happened to her could happen again or worse.
2. I admit, my family and I are actively looking for alternatives to her remaining in this nursing home. But this is not easy.
a. The one she is in is considered ‘one of the best in Massachusetts.’ How can we be sure that the next nursing home will be any better?
b. Due to lack of resources and my mother Lynne being on Medicaid, we are very limited in our choice of nursing homes (out-of-pocket pay being impossible to consider)
c. This is the second nursing home we have tried, and the first was just as bad, though for different reasons.
d. Having her reside in one of our homes presents its own set of circumstances and challenges, especially regarding the quality and amount of care she will be eligible to receive living in a private house rather than a nursing facility.
3. THE BIG PICTURE 1: Throughout this ordeal, thousands of people from around the country and some from
other parts of the world have read and in many cases posted and written to me about situations similar to ours: where elder or disabled family member has been neglected and mistreated. Many have written about how they too, when advocating for a loved-one, were retaliated against by nursing home administrators as we have in are advocacy for our mother Lynne.
4. THE BIG PICTURE 2: Look at the news! Look at what happened in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Look on the website I created abesgentlepenny.com !! Look on the internet and see just how much neglect and abuse of elder and disabled people has become an epidemic in our country!! A moral and just society cannot turn a blind eye to what any one with half a brain and a conscious can see. At the risk of using what may be considered overly charged language, based on what I have seen first hand, and what has been reported to me and in news outlets around the USA, what is happening to our elderly and disabled amounts to a kind of ‘TORTURE’ all people of goodwill must recon with and try to address in any peaceful, law abiding way possible.
5. THE BIG PICTURE 3: Of all the marginalized and mistreated groups in our society, it is arguably the elderly and especially those with Alzheimer’s, least able to self advocate. With few exceptions, all other groups are either better equipped to self-advocate or have others who will advocate for them. And I believe there is a reason for this. None of us, me included (until I had to face this with my Aunt Jeanne and later with my mother Lynne), none of us can easily relate to or identify with an elderly person with Alzheimer’s for the simple reason we have never been in a position even remotely similar to such a person. Whereas many people have suffered spousal or child abuse; racial, sexual, gender discrimination, etc., and lived to tell about it and advocate for others, the same cannot be said for elderly people with Alzheimer’s. NO ONE GETS ELDER ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND LIVES TO TELL ABOUT IT. And because of this effective advocacy in nearly none existent.
None of us, myself included, want to spend even one second thinking about being elderly and/or senile. If fact, most of us I’m afraid to say, my self included, rush around through life purposely avoiding the idea or anyone or anything associated with it. But as difficult as this may be, PLEASE STOP AND THINK FOR A MOMENT: CAN WE REALLY STAND BY AND ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE!!!
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