LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - It's a decision nobody wants to have to make: to put a loved one into a nursing home.
There are plenty of licensed nursing homes here Florida, but not all of them provide the same level of care.
“We had a perfect marriage,” said Larry Greenberg of Land O’ Lakes.
He spent 52 years with his late wife and best friend Judy, from the time they met as young teachers, until their retirement several years ago, when they moved to Pasco County.
“Now I'm lost. That's it. Nobody could replace her,” he said.
Judy's life changed forever last year when she was sent to Consulate Health Care of Bayonet Point for rehab after a hip replacement.
“They took a perfect woman and ruined her life, her retirement and everything we worked for,” said Greenberg.
Larry is now suing the nursing home for negligence, claiming Judy suffered loss of dignity, humiliation and bodily injury there.
He claims the nursing staff at the facility often was delayed when she asked for assistance going to the restroom.
Larry told police when help was delayed one day, Judy tried to go to the bathroom by herself, fell and broke her leg
“Now she's bedridden. And that started the downhill spiral,” said Greenberg.
“It's constant,” said nursing home abuse attorney Jim Wilkes has been fighting nursing home abuse for decades.
“We've seen people wander off and literally be eaten by alligators in ponds in back of the nursing home from lack of staffing,” he said.
This free, Medicare-operated website Nursing Home Compare, allows people to check out nursing homes before putting a loved one there. Learn more by following this link: http://1.usa.gov/1CHwbuM
It tracks data like staffing levels, where Consulate of Bayonet Point ranks "below average" because the nursing staff hours per-resident per-day measurement there is about 25 percent below state and national averages.
You can also find inspection reports, like one from six months after Judy's fall, where Consulate at Bayonet Point was cited for failing to follow a fall prevention plan for multiple patients.
While the medical examiner originally listed her cause of death as heart failure, her death certificate was eventually amended by the medical examiner to blunt trauma, as a result of ground level falls.
Consulate Healthcare, which operates 83 facilities in Florida, says it can't comment on pending litigation, but says the facility has good ratings and has won awards.
The home also fares well when it comes to use of antipsychotic medication, where the rate is 15 percent, compared to the state average of nearly 21 percent.
Since February, Nursing Home Compare has tracked the number of long-term patients who receive antipsychotic medication, which are drugs like Abilify, Seroquel and other medications intended to treat serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.
Those drugs are not approved for treatment of elderly dementia patients and even carry an FDA Black Box Warning, saying they can increase the risk of death.
“What you're seeing is over sedation,” said Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Jim Wilkes, who has been taking on nursing homes for years. (Continue Reading)
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I-Team: Know about nursing homes' records before placing your loved one there