Monday, May 11, 2015

Family says North Las Vegas Care Center was nursing home nightmare

By Darcy Spears. CREATED May 8, 2015
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- We count on them to care for us or for our loved ones.

Medical facilities where people go for rehabilitation and skilled nursing care.

But when the care isn't there, the consequences can be devastating.

Tonight, Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has one family's nursing home nightmare at a place with a history of problems.

"It's my mom.  It's my only mom.  I don't have another mom," Robert Purdy said, looking over old photos, including one of his mom, Joanna Lewis, seated next to Elvis Presley.

She was a beauty queen and a smoker most of her life.

"And it caught up to her, finally, after 60 years," said Purdy.

But he doesn't believe the smoking alone killed his mother.

He and family friends believe the North Las Vegas Care Center is partially to blame.

"They quickened the process of her dying," said family friend Marsh Masek.

"I think they just put a diaper on her and put her in a bed and that was it," added Joanna's best friend, Karen Davis.

In February, Joanna was having trouble breathing.

She went to a hospital and after several days was discharged to North Las Vegas Care Center.

Darcy Spears: She was supposed to get rehab and get released?
Robert Purdy: Yes.  And it just, uh, she got very, very poor care there.

Karen Davis says she repeatedly asked staff to make sure Joanna stayed hydrated.

"And I said please, please, somebody get on the ball and do something about this!"
Two weeks after being admitted, things went very wrong.

"I noticed that her wrists and her ankles were blue," said Robert.  "And I noticed that her urine was very dark.  And I asked the nurse--I said, what's going on?"

Joanna's North Las Vegas Care Center records document an "unplanned discharge" by ambulance to North Vista hospital on February 27.

There's nothing in the record about why 911 was called, except to note it was the resident's and family's request.

"I said, do not let my mother die!"

In his complaint to the state, Robert reports that his mother had to be placed on life support at the hospital.

He claims she had pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, low blood pressure and severe dehydration.

"They immediately had to give her two liters of fluids, which is a lot."

Even so, Joanna Lewis was never able to recover.

She died earlier this week, but you can still hear her voice on Robert's home video.

Just a few days before she passed, Robert and Karen recorded her thoughts about North Las Vegas Care Center.

Joanna: It was just a bad experience.
Karen: Do you feel like they did anything for you that helped you?
Joanna: No.
Robert: How many times did you push that buzzer without any response?
Joanna: A thousand times.

Contact 13 learned North Las Vegas Care Center was written up by the state in April, 2014 for call buttons being out of patients' reach.

Two months later, state investigators found call bells not operating and residents not being effectively monitored.

Contact 13 reviewed hundreds of pages of state records documenting problems at the North Las Vegas Care Center.

In the last three years, the facility has paid more than $38,000 in fines.

In 2014, violations include inadequate care resulting in bed sores, failing to properly investigate multiple abuse allegations and patient injuries, and exceeding the medication error rate allowed by the state.

Also, a resident's clothes caught on fire and his chest was burned because they violated their own policy by allowing unsupervised smoking.

The state is currently investigating Joanna's case.

"Nobody deserves to suffer," said Robert, breaking down in tears.  "It's just a horrible thing."

And it's not just over the last year.

In May, 2012, state records show patients with unexplained injuries, patients left without oxygen, and inaccurate, incomplete medical records for half the sampled residents.

"I want this to be a wake-up call," said Karen Davis.  "I don't want what happened to Joanna to be in vain."

No one from North Las Vegas Care Center would go on camera.  In a written statement, Administrator Michael Fleming said:

"Everyone at North Las Vegas Care Center values the trust our residents and their families place in us, and we take any concerns they may have very seriously.  Due to privacy rules and regulations we are not permitted to provide any details about an individual’s care.  However, it is our policy to conduct a comprehensive internal review upon learning of concerns from a resident or family member and we are committed to swift and appropriate action to resolve any issues that might keep us from meeting our residents’ needs. I can assure you that everyone at North Las Vegas Care Center remains committed to the care and safety of our residents."

In a second statement, he wrote:

"Obviously if Mr. Purdy chooses to discuss his mother on television he has every right to do so but we cannot participate as we feel it is inappropriate to discuss a patient’s care in a television interview. Furthermore, with respect to your inquiry regarding state surveys, healthcare facilities are routinely subject to surveys which can result in monetary fines to ensure the facility is in compliance with Medicare and Medicaid requirements. Federal and State surveys are just one way we can identify areas in which we can improve. 

The staff at North Las Vegas Care Center takes the input of outside regulators very seriously and we work diligently every day to meet  and exceed the standards placed on us.  We work closely with the appropriate agencies to make meaningful changes that benefit our residents and we are constantly striving for improvement.  We  continually undertake quality and satisfaction initiatives designed to produce positive outcomes for our residents."

Regulatory agencies often just write up violations and allow facilities to correct their mistakes.

You should always check a facility's history before you place a loved one.

The Nevada State Health Division's Healthcare Quality and Compliance section sent this statement:

"An important message for your viewers:  When considering placing a loved one in a facility that HCQC licenses, you can always request a copy (or copies for prior years) of the facility’s inspection reports.  We try to post the surveys/plans of corrections on our website, but as we transition to our new website, there may be delays in posting the surveys.  After a loved one is placed in a facility, family members/friends are always encouraged to visit during different times of the day/week, ask for a copy of the most recent inspection report, get to know the staff and feel free to ask questions. Also, anyone can file a complaint with HCQC, via telephone, email, snail mail, or in person.  Complainants can remain anonymous.

If you want to look up a licensed facility, you should be able to find them here and here.

Full Article & Source:
Family says North Las Vegas Care Center was nursing home nightmare


StandUp said...

Thank you, Darcy. I am always glad to see a story on nursing home abuse because I know people and families are suffering and it's hard to get press coverage. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Very difficult story to read and watch. But it's important that these stories be told so nursing homes will finally be forced to clean up their acts.