Letters to editor: March 8

March 8, 2013 

Some facts the nursing home industry ignores

The Kentucky Initiative for Quality Nursing Home Standards has worked closely with leaders in the nursing home industry to recognize and reward excellent homes and superior care of residents.

Yet, we are saddened and discouraged by the persistent failure of many facilities to provide a safe, caring environment for the residents.

In the flood of advertisement about Senate Bill 9, which proposes a medical review panel for all cases brought for abuse and neglect in nursing homes, there has been a wealth of verbiage and few facts. The performance of most Kentucky nursing homes is substandard, resulting in unsafe environments for elderly and disabled residents:

• Four of every 10 facilities are rated "below average" by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

• Kentucky ranks first in the nation for nursing home fines, reflecting the many deficiencies cited.

• 61 percent of homes were cited for at least one deficiency; one in five received more than 10.

• 51 percent of the most serious violations related to resident care, treatment and rights.

• Kentucky ranks 50th in quality of life and quality of care and 47th in nursing home staff stability.

In 2012 there were 6,072 complaints regarding care and quality of life brought forward to ombudsmen who visit all Kentucky nursing homes. There were 9,008 charges of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an elderly person anywhere in the state.

According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, there were only 309 charges filed that met that definition.

Given the fact that we have about 25,000 residents in nursing homes, and an undetermined number of elderly in the general population, it is a little hard to translate those figures into a landslide of frivolous lawsuits.

Lois Pemble

President, Kentucky Initiative for Quality Nursing Home Standards


Not well done

As a fourth generation Lexingtonian, I find the University of Kentucky's "one and done" sports philosophy an insult to all educators from K-12 and all institutions of higher learning. It may even be an insult to humanity in general.

Will the NBA let me go "one and done" if I have a cure for cancer or have a command of the English language and pay me millions of dollars? We are a bit off the center of a civilized society.

Grant Robinson


Tackling health issues

Gov. Steve Beshear really screwed up the Medicaid program when, in order to save money, he contracted with managed care companies to operate the Medicaid program. Providers and pharmacies aren't being paid in a timely manner as the companies are holding the funds to be paid to them. Hopefully, House Bill 5 will help to resolve that problem.

Also, I hope the obstructionists in the state House and Senate will not keep the state from receiving the 100 percent funding for three years and 90 percent funding thereafter that the federal government will pay for the Medicaid program. To me, it seems stupid not to accept this federal offer under Obamacare.

Furthermore, as I understand it, House Bill 217 will not help doctors who need to prescribe pain medicine for individual patients, as needed, in their offices without having to still comply with the unrealistic requirements of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The reporting requirements under that program need to also be reviewed.

On a more serious note: Run, Ashley, run. On an even more serious note, I am 75 years old, have a basketball goal in my backyard and can consistently hit 80 percent of my foul shots. 'Nuff said.

Gene R. Graves


Stop the headhunting

I work at a skilled nursing center which in 2012 had a deficiency-free state survey and was also the recipient of the American Health Care Association Silver Award. Our return to home rate was at 95 percent, and we were well under the state and national average for pain, pressure sores and weight loss.

Yet, we have been repeatedly attacked by certain law firms trying to dig up anything they can to try to make a quick buck. This malicious headhunting is what Senate Bill 9 is trying to combat.

Unfortunately, there are times when nursing centers do make mistakes. Having a review panel will not keep victims from having their voice heard.

The physicians appointed to these review panels will be able to see if someone was treated improperly. SB 9 is aimed to keep malicious, unneeded lawsuits from wasting time in our courts and putting hard-working people out of jobs.

If the current rate of litigation continues, nursing facilities will be forced to shut down. There have already been a few large health care providers who have pulled out of Kentucky for this very reason.

Good people are going to be out of jobs if this continues, but that is not all. Residents who depend on others for their care are not going to be able to receive that care.

Joshua P. Strasburger


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