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Billy Cunningham
Billy Cunningham
Attorney • (800) 574-4332

Congress Considering Nursing Home Reform

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Both houses of Congress are considering legislation to improve nursing home care. There has been no new legislation regarding nursing homes since 1987. Statistics have demonstrated that care provided to our elderly is still not what it should be.

The National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (“NCCNHR”) http://www.nccnhr.org/ is pushing Congress to act on the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act which is a part of the draft health care reform bills that the House and Senate are considering. The bills would make nursing homes disclose their owners and operators. Several large chains have been bought out by global private equity investors;. Now a majority of nursing homes are owned by for-profit corporations. The way these companies structure themselves, even our state health regulators can’t tell who the owners are. This can create a dangerous situation for the residents, because no one is truly accountable for what happens to them. The reform would also give families a lot more information about the nursing homes that are caring for their loved ones in, including whether they have adequate staff. It would help the federal government get better oversight over these multi-state chains.

The bills include these proposals:

  • Require nursing homes to disclose their owners and all the myriad related entities that own, finance, or operate them.
  • Require CMS to collect and report accurate information about the hours of nursing care facilities provide and their turnover and retention rates.
  • Report enforcement actions on Nursing Home Compare.
  • Require better state complaint handling and provide resident representatives and workers better protection from retaliation.
  • Require nursing homes to do more internal quality assurance.
  • Revise Nursing Home Compare to provide better information.
  • Pilot independent federal monitoring of nursing home chains.
  • Hold civil monetary penalties in escrow while nursing homes pursue lengthy and usually unsuccessful appeals. (The House bill would increase CMP amounts.)
  • Require 60 days notice of closures when nursing homes close voluntarily; prohibit new admissions, ensure appropriate relocation plans, and continue federal funding until residents are relocated.
  • Include dementia care and abuse prevention in nurse aide training.

To contact your Senator and Congressman you can use the following websiteshttp://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml. For Senators, click on http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Here is a draft letter NCCNHR proposes: I want to urge Senator _______ and Senator ________ and Representative ___________ to support nursing home transparency and improvement in health care reform. The elderly and people with disabilities in our state deserve nursing homes that are transparent and accountable, and families need information to make good choices when they choose a nursing home for someone.

2 Comments

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  1. DebCalvert says:
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    Meddical review written by Dr L Scott Stoney in Newport Beach, California regarding the horrific situation my mother Evelyn Calvert died in:

    There are several incidences of concern in this patients’ case which should be noticed. The frequency of her recurrent pneumonia is concerning as well as the type of pneumonia which she developed were concerning. The infection incidence at Sunbridge Newport was monitored quarterly and it was noted over the national average during infection control meeting in the final quarter of the year 2003. As I was medical director for this facility I had request further evaluation by the staff to the etiology of this occurrence within the facility. Multiple families had complained about this problem. Unfortunately, the administration did not take due diligence in ameliorating this problem in 2003. Lack of sufficient ventilation contributes to pneumonia. This was a sentinel event; however the administration continued to give both patients families and the undersigned a variety of excuses why it was “taking some time” to fix this problem. Upon review of the medical record, it is medically probably that this patients recurrent pneumonia (especially MRSA) was related to the physical facility.
    There is another incidence of concern. Blood pressure monitoring cuffs which were not working in Sunbridge Newport in 2003. This, again, was a sentinel event and of grave concern. As medical director, this was an extraordinary event which prompted my immediate reaction as Medical Director to request the administration immediately order new blood pressure equipment for the safety of the patients within the facility. I was subsequently directly in contact from my Newport Beach private practice office with Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse Special Agent Supervisor Joseph Fendrick to discuss this matter. Unfortunately this was too late for Mrs. Evelyn Calvert, she arrived 7/16/04 to the emergency room in again respiratory distress and she died. Due to the limited response of the administration to meet patient needs, I resigned from Sunbridge Newport Rehabilitation in March, 2004 and gave sixty day notice of my termination as Medical Director from the facility. It is my opinion, as a Board Certified physician ….. that this patients death is within medical probability aggravated or in causation by the failure of the ventilator system within Sunbridge Newport as well as the failure of the blood pressure monitoring devices within the facility.

    At this time Sun Healthcare was committed to a Calif State Injuction not to have any broken equipment or lack staffing again due to killing patients in Burlingame, Calif. in 2001. However Claude Vanderwold told my attorney and I in 2007 this facility was not even considered in the $2.5 Million fine they prosecuted Sun Healthcare Group Inc. for in 2005.

    This isn’t rocket science.

    Deborah Calvert daughter of the late Evelyn Calvert
    and former assistant to Buzz Aldrin

  2. DebCalvert says:
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    Sun Healthcare Group Inc owns hundreds of nursing homes in America -Sunbridge Newport was the one I mentioned below.

    Deborah Calvert, Newport Beach, California