Most have had or will have some contact with a nursing home. It may be through an elderly parent or grandparent who is a rehab patient transferred from a hospital for a limited stay, or it may be through the visitation to a long-term patient’s final home. In either case, we all have a right to expect that our loved ones, either in a nursing home for a short rehabilitation stay, or for a long-term stay, will receive appropriate quality care. In essence, it means that every staff person treats a patient with a measure of therapeutic, rehabilitative and compassionate care… does that always occur? Of course not!
All too often we hear about tragic stories of neglect, abuse, indifference, and overall poor treatment of patients in these nursing homes that by law and human decency have committed acts that fall within the bookends of horror stories. First, consider the thousands of nursing homes owned and operated by large private equity firms, the primary role of which is to make as huge a profit as it can by keeping services to the patient at the bare minimum. This is usually accomplished by keeping the nursing home’s total operating costs to no more than the minimum required by law. Translation? Fewer nursing aides, minimum wages, less attention to patients, and an unappetizing diet.
Most recently, our law firm represented a distraught family whose elderly mother was a long-term patient at one of the many nursing homes that operate in New York State. Having suffered a recent stroke, she was extremely unstable and required constant assistance for bathroom purposes. While in bed, she had a sudden urge and pushed her call button for assistance. Nobody responded. She continued to push the call button for 15 minutes. No response. Heartbreakingly, she started to cry out for help. After 25 minutes without any response, and not wanting to soil herself, she slowly got out of bed, intending to make it to the bathroom by herself. After taking two steps, she fell to the floor and fractured her hip. She died eight days later.
This sad tale has been repeated countless times in various forms in New York nursing homes and extended care facilities. Such tragedies can be avoided with more responsible attention and human compassion. Unfortunately, too many loved ones become innocent victims of errors, neglect, and abuse.
Quality care and empathetic attention, combined with a positive attitude, go a long way toward bringing the highest level of humanity and decency to our elderly, who have sacrificed so much for family in their earlier years. Concerned family members must act as aggressive advocates to ensure that the nursing home that houses a loved one fulfills its legal and humane duties.
We at Finz & Finz, P.C. continue to stand as strong proponents for elevating the standard of care for seniors in nursing homes.
- “ATTENTIVE CARE, TOGETHER WITH A SMILE, BRIGHTENS THE ROOM. PATIENT NEGLECT IS A FROWN THAT DARKENS IT”
Leonard L. Finz, age 95, is a decorated WWII veteran (1st Lt., Field Artillery, Philippines), a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, Peer-Reviewed as “One of America’s Preeminent Lawyers”, and the Founder of Finz & Finz, P.C.