This is a lightly edited email from “RT”, an abbreviated pseudonym, a person who “held positions years ago with different retirement communities”.
This email deals with the Nursing Homes, specifically ones in Massachusetts, and the supposed alarm over the high number of deaths. [Time headline: ‘These Guys Never Had a Chance.’ Nearly 70 Dead in COVID-19 Outbreak at Massachusetts Veterans Home.]
Initially, I bought the spiel that these places were not where people went to die, but where they lived well and were active in their senior years. Then I saw the families’ desperation when a parent suddenly needed care, so thankful they “found” a bed that they bought anything they were verbally told.
I witnessed a person whom I knew from childhood, left in a dining room by an open window, in winter, wearing a summer dress, while her feet were soaking in a puddle of milk. She told me, “I’m so cold,” as her lips were turning blue. Of course, I got her care, but she was one of so many. Who believes the resident with dementia who complains of anything? I left the industry…
The Soldiers Home (and most nursing homes) in Holyoke, Massachusetts was ALWAYS known as a crummy, poorly run State facility with decades of political corruption in the hiring of administrators at higher and higher salaries and the coming and going of CNA staff for as little as 25 cents more an hour. ALWAYS!!!!!
It was ALWAYS filthy with rooms or floors closed off and like an old mental institution with archaic construction. Yet it was a photo op for politicians. Where is Congressman Neal hiding during this scandal? Where is Senator Warren? It is too late to now notice the disrepair and neglect. It has been the same for all the years they have been politicians representing Massachusetts.
Now people are surprised that vets were crammed into rooms fewer than 24″ apart in their beds? It did not happen overnight. Why was this not noted in yearly State inspections? Nursing homes throughout Massachusetts (and many other places) are notorious for treating private pay well until monies run out. Then with Medicare care goes down. Residents are like sardines – the more that can be packed in rooms of 2-4 with other empty rooms closed off the better.
Massachusetts limits beds to ensure crowding of nursing homes and scarcity of available beds. If a nursing home does not have enough private pay and rehab, they go bankrupt on Medicare residents. The administration’s primary job is to “fill the beds” even if not the appropriate level of care. Residents languish in wheelchairs for hours and hours in hallways. When does a wheelchair bound person, not required because of paralysis, become physically active and walk? Rarely in a nursing home. Eventually, they lose all muscle strength as so-called “fall risks.”
Decades ago, Massachusetts took rehab out of most hospitals and gave it to nursing homes in order to increase their funding. There are nursing homes and hospital rehabs (Bronson Rehab, Noble Hospital, Westfield, MA with four to a room) that take in elderly rehab and then try to flip them into nursing home care if they have private pay.
With Covid-19, people are now surprised that residents are dying at a faster rate in nursing homes than elsewhere? Come on, we have been down this path for a very, very long time. Maybe people should have cared more BEFORE Covid-19 when residents were dying from other coronaviruses and pneumonia.
Just like coronaviruses, this has been so for a very, very long time. It just took a new virus to get some long-needed media attention. But as noticed, you were too late for these people. Why do you think that the average length of a nursing home resident’s life is 5-12 months? People try to postpone care until absolutely the last resort. Nursing homes have always had the reputation of a place one goes to die. That is why older, longer term residents are given such media shows. It promotes an artificial reality to the public.
Here’s a WWLP (NBC) local news clip.
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