In the state of Kentucky, there are approximately 284 nursing homes filled with 34,000 vulnerable individuals. But according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kentucky’s nursing homes have been rated 43 percent, leaving them either “below average” or “much below average.” One of the biggest reasons for this has to do with substandard care that in more than one case has proven fatal.
Kentucky Finds Its Nursing Homes Poorly Rated
This U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not been alone in its harsh assessment. According to recent studies conducted by the AARP, the advocacy group, Families for Better Care, and the Kaiser Family Foundation, Kentucky continues to be rated as one of the worst states in the country for the treatment of its elderly.
For example, in a recent, disturbing case, it took nine hours for the staff of a Northern Kentucky nursing home to realize that a 45-year-old man was missing. He had fallen down a stairwell in his motorized wheelchair and died of suffocation.
The Issue with Inadequate Staffing
One of the largest contributing factors to this inadequate treatment is inadequate staffing. The situation appears to be a bit of a conundrum. Less staff means less people to pay, and less people to pay means greater revenue. However, many nursing homes beg to differ, citing the difficulty in finding employees to carry out such daunting, low-paying, unpleasant work as the reason for smaller staffs.
A Political Affiliation
Tying into the issue of optimizing profits is the industry’s investment in the political arena. The Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities detailed that in 2017, members had raised more than $170,000 in donations for the state House and Senate races.
This association with politicians has kept the state of Kentucky from interfering and implementing mandatory minimum state-approved guidelines. On the flipside, legislation supporting the industry continues to prosper due to self-serving interests of medical providers to avoid being held liable for negligence.
A Conflict of Interests?
In 2017, Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, sponsored a bill that mandated that medical malpractice cases first go through a physician-led review panel. It is currently before the Kentucky Supreme Court, challenged as being unconstitutional. Additionally he has fought for a limit to damages and plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. Part of the problem is that according to the weak ethics rules currently in place, this is not considered to be a conflict of interest, despite the fact that Alvarado works as a medical director for five separate nursing homes, all rated lowly.
Despite the nursing home residents’ vulnerable physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial state, they are receiving low-quality care although they receive approximately $1 billion annually from the federal-state Medicaid program.
What Can You Do?
With a strong hold on the industry, politicians essentially control what transpires. However, citizens can control these politicians by voting on whom to elect and raising much concern over the current state of things. This is not a matter of politics, nor has it ever been. This is a matter of human decency.
Posted in: Personal Injury