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Lawsuit highlights dangers of nursing home abuse and neglect

Nursing homes and senior care facilities exist to meet the needs of families that are no longer able to care for their elderly loved ones. While nursing homes provide a necessary service, they also raise concerns about elder abuse and the quality of care given to patients.

A care facility in Napa, California, was recently sued for elder abuse and neglect after the death of one of its elderly patients. Jeanne Roney, 91, died nine days after she was diagnosed with scabies. She had been admitted into Golden Living Center in 2011 after having a stroke.

Her daughter, Tammy Cook, claimed the facility’s negligence caused her mother’s death. According to the lawsuit, Roney suffered several falls, dehydration, malnutrition and multiple urinary tract infections while living there. Her condition was so poor that Queen of the Valley Hospital complained to the California Department of Public Health about the case.

Cook argued that Golden Living Center was understaffed, employed underqualified individuals and did not provide enough training in an effort to save money. Nursing homes are required to hire staff who are properly trained to provide assistance with daily activities and medication to the patients who rely on them.

There are a number of telltale signs of elder abuse. Unusual and excessive injuries may be red flags that an elderly individual is suffering neglect and not being cared for properly. Many times elder abuse slips through the cracks and goes unnoticed. If you suspect abuse, it is important to speak up and report it immediately for your loved one’s sake.

The attorneys at Gilfix and La Poll are skilled at helping families handle issues related to elder care and elder abuse.

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Nursing shortage leaves families struggling to find at-home care

Families across California approved for at-home nursing care are having difficulty getting the help they desperately need. Health care advocates are pointing to a larger nationwide nursing shortage as one of the reasons demands are not being met.

The American Association of Nurses has noted a lack of younger nurses to replace older nurses who are retiring. A licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is among the most sought-after home care nurses. Licensed vocation nurses are responsible for providing basic nursing care under the guidance of a doctor or registered nurse.

The at-home nursing shortage is attributed in part to low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates which make it challenging to hire nurses with the desired skills. Nurses say they are already dealing with low pay and poor working conditions — problems that are only exacerbated by the nationwide nursing shortage. According to an ABC 10 News report, health care providers are struggling to recruit and retain nurses willing to work for considerably less than potential earnings in the private sector.

Assembly member Brian Maienschein proposed legislation that would partly raise Medi-Cal reimbursement rates. He said the bill would improve care and quality of life for children.

“It’s important to note that any change to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, including Home Health Agency (HHA) services, are a part of the state budget process and must also receive approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” a California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson said in a statement.

The department said it is developing a process to help families find nurses to fulfill the hours authorized for HHA services. They said a number of factors must be considered such as payment levels for HHA services as well as the geographic availability of care providers.

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