Report neglect

Published 7:54 am Thursday, July 18, 2013

To the Editor:

My letters is perhaps too late to help many families who have endured the heartache and stress of having loved ones neglected in nursing homes. After recently losing my father due to such neglect, I decided the public needs to be aware of things that occur in nursing homes.

My grandmother was a resident in the same facility as my father, meaning family members were there almost daily and observed the neglect suffered by residents. Upon calling attention of this neglect – those wet during meals; a blind person calling out to ask if there was any more food on their plate; some eating with their hands; and one yelling the entire time – to the administrator, we were informed that the affairs of other residents could not be discussed. However, she could have done something about the situation after being informed.

My grandmother suffered several urinary tract infections, overlooked by staff, yet family members asked the nurses to have the doctor notified and a urinalysis done. A family member had to take care of that, personally calling the doctor and an order for treatment was given at the hospital. In her final days my grandmother received excellent care at this same nursing home, but on a different wing. There are good nurses and aides, but as the saying goes, “one bad apple spoils the whole bushel.” In this case there were several bad apples.

My father was an Alzheimer’s patient; it was not my choice he be placed in this facility. He was given a wrist alert band because he wandered; only to be found outside by a friend coming to visit and none of the staff was aware.

I’ve observed my father, during meal time, standing up and trying to eat spaghetti with his fingers. During other visits I’d find him wet from incontinence.

But to top off the entire ordeal of an uncaring administrator, director of nursing, nursing staff and many CNAs was the morning my mother found my father unresponsive. My mother is a retired nurse; she worked in a nursing home for 25 years. She knew he needed medical attention immediately. But yet when she finally was able to talk to the nurse and asked her if she was aware of my father’s condition, she responded, “I can only give that information to the power of attorney; it’s against HIPPA law to give out patient information.”

My mother called my father’s sister, who had his power of attorney. She immediately came to the nursing home and insisted that he be sent to the hospital E. R. immediately. The nurse said his vitals were normal and didn’t see any reason to send him. My mother had checked his vitals…they were not normal; a pulse of 120 and respirations of 36. His sister again insisted he go to the E.R. and he was sent. There he was found to be severely dehydrated, malnourished, had low level oxygen and bi lateral pneumonia. He was admitted to ICU, where a doctor said this was all caused by neglect.

After three days of seeing my father struggle, never regaining consciousness, my family decided not to continue treatment. It was a week of pure anguish and heartache watching our father suffer, all because of some people with no feelings for others and do not do their jobs.

For those now with loved ones in nursing homes, I encourage you to monitor them daily. If you witness neglect, call 1-804-367-4515.

Contact your legislators and ask them to help make changes in the law to protect patients in nursing homes.

In loving memory of my grandmother, Bertha Griffin, and my father, Alvin C. Parker Sr.

Dottie Downs