Wouldn’t it be great if our elected officials were proactive in helping to solve some of the seemingly intractable problems faced by millions of Americans? When it comes to nursing homes, it’s clear that the vast majority of politicians are reactive, and worse still, seriously late in reacting to an unfolding crisis. Why are we finding difficult to find politicians who support nursing homes?
Finally, at least one prominent politician, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, is interested in addressing the severe problems endemic to the nursing home industry. Senator Gillibrand read news of terrible abuse and neglect at the Pontiac Nursing Home in Oswego, New York, and decided enough was enough. According to the reports she read, the Pontiac Nursing Home is rife with stories of abuse and neglect, including:
· A retired dentist was mocked and abused by employees.
· A registered sex offender repeatedly abused a female resident suffering from dementia.
· Two residents died in 2018 because the nursing home waited too long to send them to the hospital for emergency treatment.
· Unsanitary conditions were left unattended, including wheelchairs crusted with food, damaged ceilings and walls, and bug-infested rooms.
· A roof that leaked water into residents’ rooms in violation of building codes.
The Mayor of Oswego, William Barlow, said the facility should have been shut down years ago, which prompted the nursing home owners to send him a cease and desist order. Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates Pontiac and all nursing homes in the United States, issued sanctions against Pontiac and threatened to cut off funding, $3.5 million in the most recently reported year (2018) but stopped short of closing it down. Senator Gillibrand wants to create new laws that let the federal government go much further than they currently do to protect our nation’s seniors.
How can we get more of our politicians to support nursing homes?
“There needs to be prosecution of the owners of these nursing home facilities who did cut costs, who did cut corners. And I’m very concerned about the private equity firms that have owned nursing homes and have cut costs that resulted in the death of people,” said Senator Gillibrand. As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Gillibrand is using her clout to draw attention to the problem and to propose a new review and oversight of an industry run amok.
The problems facing our nation’s nursing homes are decades in the making and will take many years to resolve. In the meantime, at least one prominent politician is shining a bright light on the problem. We can all hope her resolve does not waver. Corrupt nursing home operators must be brought to justice; our seniors deserve no less. With more attention raised around this issue hopefully we can recruit another politician who supports nursing homes.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting elder abuse and wrongful death cases. If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance please contact Wendy York today.