|Ana Escalante and Rebecca Clark|
After 10 days, Clark found her "in the cafeteria slumped over the table in distress, not able to lift her head, complaining of neck pain," Clark said.
The next day, May 12, Rebecca Clark, 96, was admitted to Pennsylvania Hospital, where she spent two weeks, followed by 10 days of therapy at a different home.
When Michael Clark complained to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which regulates nursing homes, he was stunned by how easily the facility was cleared.
"No interview with me. No interview with the client," Clark said, pointing to his mother, who is back in his home.
"No 'Can we see any pictures?' So what kind of investigation did they do? Really, it was a one-sided investigation where they said they went to the facility and spoke to the staff. The staff is going to give you a one-sided story," Clark said.
Advocates for nursing-home residents and their families said Clark's experience is common.
"It's like calling 911 and the police going to the suspect's house, listening to his side of the story," and then clearing the suspect, said Samuel Brooks, a senior attorney at Community Legal Services Inc., of Philadelphia.
The state Department of Health countered that it takes nursing-home complaints seriously, follows up on every inquiry, and, in the last year, has improved oversight.
"Some people being displeased with the results of our investigations doesn't mean that the investigatory process was not followed," said agency spokesman Wes Culp.
In June of last year, Community Legal Services published a report by Brooks that criticized the Health Department for dismissing 92 percent of the complaints against Philadelphia nursing homes and minimizing the severity and breadth of harm when it finds deficiencies.
The following month, Secretary of Health Karen Murphy asked Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene A. Pasquale for an audit of how the agency ensured adequate nursing care, how it responded to complaints, and how consistently it imposed fines. (Click to continue)
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Have a beef on a nursing home? Pa. inspectors won't talk to you, advocates say