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BRAINTREE, Mass. — Penny Shaw was in pain as she lay helpless in her bed at Braintree Manor Nursing Home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She became so desperate she even called Braintree Police.
"I was screaming, get me out of here, get me out of here, I was in terrible pain," she said. "And they didn't come for me."
"I can't lay in bed for hours and hours in pain like that," she said. "We need a quality, safe, respectful, individualized care, person centric care, all care."
Her complaints about the care at Braintree Manor filed with the Department of Public Health put the spotlight on several issues also playing out nationwide. She said in her complaints that:
- staffing shortages were impacting basic care, including that aides did not have enough time to give her a weekly shower
- one morning, there were only two certified nursing assistants for 39 residents
- She was stuck in bed for hours and had missed breakfast several times
- there was not always enough personal protective equipment
- on one day, a COVID-positive resident was wandering around without a mask and entering other people's rooms.
The staffing issues in Braintree Manor Healthcare were cited repeatedly in a 2019 inspection of the home that found actual harm-investigators discovered residents were being improperly restrained because there weren't enough staff to supervise them.
Toby Edelman with the Center for Medicare Advocacy says staffing shortages and improper infection control had a devastating impact in facilities across the country.
"Having not enough staff is the most serious problem. And it made the pandemic much worse," she said.
"Nursing homes were not prepared for this pandemic. They didn't have enough staff. They did not have proper infection control practices for a very, very long time. And so when this pandemic hit, they were they did not know what to do," Edelman said.
Next Step Healthcare, the company that owns Braintree Manor Healthcare, said in a statement that ample personal protective equipment has been secured and is available, and the home passed its most recent on-site audit with a perfect score.
"The safety of our residents and employees is of the utmost importance, and this is at the center of all decisions we make," the company statement said.
Shaw said she wants her speaking out and serving on the White House panel to be a wake-up call for nursing homes everywhere.
"I would say the hope with this project is to save lives today as soon as possible and in the future," she said.
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Nursing home resident, advocate in Massachusetts experiences staffing shortage first-hand