In early June, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stood in front of an East Central Ohio nursing home and said it would close within a few months. This was in response to the incidents caught on surveillance cameras he had installed to record evidence of resident neglect and abuse.
The facility opened in early 2008 with newspaper photos of its innovative Main Street design. But it has been on a state and federal watch list most of the time it has been open.
DeWine said that the Ohio Department of Health and the Department of Aging would oversee the residents and ensure that they were properly cared for during the transitional period. Residents could remain in place until the facility closed or they could be moved to another facility.
Some family members whose loved ones were receiving good care were surprised the facility would close. Yet other families felt the care was quite inadequate. Both sides, however, were concerned about the stress their loved ones would feel being moved to other facilities.
This past summer, the owner filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health in an effort to keep the facility open. However, the judge threw the lawsuit out stating that the owner would have to wait for due process through the Ohio Department of Health.
In July, the facility lost its ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid for services. Consequently, residents on Medicare or Medicaid were given 30 to 60 days to move. The owner said the facility would still serve private-pay residents unless it lost its license.
In my research, I haven’t found any information on whether that facility has lost its license or closed. But earlier articles gave the timeline for closing as late August or early September.
I wonder why the attorney general did not approach the facility's owner with his evidence and give the owner an opportunity to fix any problems. I also wonder why the owner, after being fined continually, did not hire consultants to bring his facility into state and federal compliance.
I know that if any residents were aware of the situations, they were probably still devastated that the facility would close. Even those residents who are not pleased with the care do not want to be forced to move.
Ohio's attorney general will not put up with abuse or neglect in nursing homes. But he needs to find a solution besides shutting a facility down. Nursing home closings are not just happening in Ohio. My aunt lived in Pittsburgh-area facilities seven years. During that time she moved five times because of problems with staff or because a facility went bankrupt.
I feel it is terrible that we seniors have to wonder if our next move will come as the result of an announcement by a government official. We want to feel secure and cared about. I feel there is a need for a statewide and nationwide nursing home consumer advocate.