Nursing home 'emergency' highlights need for vigilance
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources recently suspended the license of Shallotte Assisted Living in Brunswick County and shut it down on an emergency basis after finding it presented “an imminent danger to the health, safety and welfare of the residents.”
But that facility’s record suggests strong intervention may have been overdue.
According to state records, the facility has a long record of deficiencies requiring corrective action and has maintained a “zero stars” rating by the agency for most of its inspections since April of 2013.
Having represented a number of families whose loved ones have been victims of neglect or abuse in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, the lawyers at Reiss & Nutt know that the state often finds signs that our most vulnerable citizens may be at risk of poor care, but facilities receive repeated chances to take “corrective action” that keeps them in business.
It's crucial that when considering placement in these facilities patients and their loved ones look at the public records. To be fair to the facilities, even the most conscientious administrators received deficiency notices that may seem alarming on paper but are not necessarily indicative of chronic problems. It’s important to focus on the most serious violations.
The department’s star rating system considers the types of violations that have been identified at the facility, among other findings, and can help sort alarm bells from the more commonly correctable issues. But it's also true that facilities don't receive enough inspections even when their ratings are as low as zero stars on a four-star scale, so you shouldn't rely too heavily on a good rating if an inspection hasn't been performed relatively recently. Facility-specific information can be found here: https://info.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/acls/star/search.asp
Once admitted, it’s important that loved ones be vigilant. If a patient is supposed to be turned regularly to prevent bed sores, ensure that schedule is kept. Medication schedules also may slip without monitoring from the outside. Repeated falls should not be permitted to continue without a prevention plan.
Whatever your situation, don’t wait for the state to intervene if you suspect something is wrong; chances are that would be too little and too late.