PDT Staff Writer
Kaye Mason-Inoshita, director of the AAA7 Ombudsman Program and Chairperson for the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, says there are a lot of good nursing homes in the area working toward better care and who are a part of Advancing Excellence in American Nursing Home campaign.
Without wishing to alarm people, Mason-Inoshita also said there can be problems with elderly abuse in the area.
“In the majority of nursing homes this is not happening,” Mason-Inoshita said. “We don’t want to scare people, but it does happen. They need to be aware of what to look out for.”
That being said, nursing home and abuse cases have nearly doubled in Ohio in the last year. So far this year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office has opened 131 abuse and neglect cases, as compared to 74 cases in the same time period last year. Sixty-three of those cases were opened following DeWine’s announcement earlier this month that authorities with his office were aggressively investigating nursing homes that are allegedly providing inadequate care.
“I believe that the majority of Ohio’s nursing facilities are providing excellent care, but not all of them,” DeWine said. “We are going after the facilities that cause harm to their residents, and we will use in-room hidden cameras if necessary.”
On June 6, 2013, Attorney General DeWine joined officials from the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Aging to announce plans to revoke the license of Autumn Healthcare in Zanesville. The decision to close the facility was made, in part, after an investigation by the MCFU revealed instances where some staff members did not provide proper medical, nutritional, and personal care to at least one patient. Revocation proceedings are ongoing.
Indicators of elderly abuse are about what you would expect.
“Unusual bruises that are in the shape of a pattern, such as fingers, where someone has grabbed a resident around a wrist or by the throat, or something like that,” Mason-Inoshita said. “If the resident has a change in their overall personality - maybe they’ve become very withdrawn, depressed, or they suddenly appear afraid of someone; they’re not going out to activities like they always did, and maybe appear ashamed.”
Mason-Inoshita said family members need to be asking for an explanation of any unexplained injuries, such as bruises or broken bones.
“We do see a lot of unexplained injuries,” Mason-Inoshita said. “If a person suddenly has a broken hip, and they are bedridden, and unable to get out of the bed except with assistance.”
She said another thing people need to be aware of is pressure ulcers on their loved ones.
“Pressure ulcers can be caused by neglect if the nursing home isn’t taking every precaution to help prevent pressure ulcers,” Mason-Inoshita said. “They have to be feeding the residents, giving them enough fluids, making sure they are turned every two hours - if they don’t, and they develop pressure ulcers anywhere on their body, it could be considered neglect — not always, but can be. If residents are not being assisted to eat or to drink, anything like that.”
Orders of restraint must come from a doctor, according to Mason-Inoshita.
“Something else we saw pretty recently - residents have a right not to be restrained unless there are doctor’s orders,” Mason-Inoshita said. “It has to be only under the strictest of circumstances, and it has to be the least restraint possible. If they restrict them with something that is not considered a restraint, that is abuse too.”
Mason-Inoshita said sexual abuse is also something to look out for.
“There was a case just a few years ago where the male nurse, who is in prison now, was sexually abusing a resident,” Mason-Inoshita said.
David Shane Jenkins, 37, of McDermott was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual battery, a third degree felony, in 2009. Jenkins was charged with raping a female patient at Edgewood Riverview Nursing Home in Lucasville, where he was employed in October of 2007.
Mason-Inoshita recommends a book “Nursing Homes - Getting Good Care There,” which AAA7 gives out free to the public. That book is available by calling her at 800-582-7277, and AAA7 will mail them a copy. Or it can be picked up at their offices.
DeWine said anyone who suspects Medicaid fraud or patient abuse or neglect is urged to contact his Office at 800-282-0515.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.