More than half of the nursing homes operating in Luzerne County received one or two stars – the lowest ratings – on the Medicare gov. Nursing Home Comparison website. Two stars indicate “below average,” while one star means “much below average.”
Luzerne County nursing homes are far from the only ones in this situation in the Commonwealth. Nearby Lackawanna County has 18 nursing homes, and half of them were similarly rated. The low-rated facilities shared many problems in common.
Lack of Staff
Nursing home residents require a lot of care. That is obvious because if they didn’t need substantial care, they might live independently or with relatives. When nursing home negligence occurs, ranging from patients developing bedsores to failure to provide fall protection, the cause is usually too few people trying to care for too many patients.
Nursing home jobs are not particularly well-paid, and turnover is often high. When staff are overworked, accidents and incidents are more likely to occur.
In Pennsylvania, nursing homes must have a minimum of 2.7 nursing hours per patient day, but that is just the amount needed to keep the facility legally operating. In many facilities, a minimum of four nursing hours per patient day is necessary for maintaining adequate patient care, yet the number of people on staff is far below that.
Perform Due Diligence
Most people do not want to place their loved ones in substandard nursing homes, where they will receive inadequate care. However, a loved one’s placement in a nursing home often happens after a sudden event, and the family did not take time to research the facility beforehand. If the doctor recommends a certain facility, they will likely go along with the recommendation.
According to Ronald Oley, that is what happened when his mother, Dorothy, was placed in the Hampton House in Hanover Township a few years ago. It turns out the Hampton House received only a one-star Medicare rating, and Dorothy Oley was subject to neglect that ended up causing her “permanent, severe pain,” according to a lawsuit filed against Hampton House.
The lawsuit alleges Hampton House caused these injuries because:
- The facility was understaffed and underbudgeted
- Employees were not properly trained or supervised
- No appropriate care plan was developed
- Pain was not recognized or properly controlled
- Doctors were not informed about her worsening condition
- Documentation was incomplete, nonexistent or fraudulent
- Pressure ulcers developed and were not treated correctly
- Hygiene was inadequate
- Oley was not sent to the emergency room when necessary.
Because of poor care, the lawsuit states that Oley developed bedsores, renal failure, a broken hip, malnutrition and dehydration, and urinary tract infections, all of which resulted in terrible pain.
Oley’s son removed her from the Hampton House after just four months and transferred her to The Gardens at East Mountain in Plains Township. While Hampton House had a one-star rating, that of The Gardens was a little better – a two.
Ronald Oley says he did not know about the Medicare.gov rating system at the time he was searching for a facility for his mother’s care and would have done more research if he was aware of ratings. His attorney is also looking into suing The Gardens, where Dorothy Oley resided roughly a year before her death. She died at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.