Jul 22, 2013 6:41 PM by Janine Reyes
CORPUS CHRISTI - There are dozens of nursing homes in the Coastal Bend and many of us, at one point, will have to move a loved one into a facility. The move is not an easy one and choosing the right place can be very confusing.
So, 6 Investigates looked into how nursing homes rank in our area and why those numbers can be very deceiving.
Michelle Lompe knows all too well the trouble with nursing homes, she's in charge of looking after her grandmother, Cornelia. "The main thing is just the people.
The people is the biggest issue and its been the same everywhere she's been," said Lompe.
Watching after Cornelia is a job she takes seriously. She goes to the Corpus Christi Nursing and Rehab Center weekly to check on her.
But she says, more often than not, her visits are disturbing. She shared her complaints with the nursing home in a report filed back in June and then shared them with us after getting no response. Her report details 11 complaints. None of them, she says, are being addressed.
"Every time I go, I'm having to get on someone, I never get to go and just visit with her and have a nice visit and get up and leave, there's always a problem," Lompe said.
They're problems she has documented in pictures. She showed us wipes, trash, even food on the floor. She also had another photo, one that's hard to look at. She says its shows feces smeared on a catheter line.
A state investigation in March cited the facility for not keeping a "safe, sanitary and comfortable environment" when two certified nursing aides "did not follow policy and procedure for infection precautions." They corrected the problem a month later.
The report for Corpus Christi Nursing and Rehabilitation Center also found 23 health deficiencies, many of them ranked a 4, which means those violations could cause immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety.
Lompe's complaints go even beyond that, she says the staff ignores her grandmother and doesn't call her to report issues with her grandmother when they should. For example, the time she found blood in her grandmother's urine.
Other families also complained of improper catheter care, but state and federal reports did not substantiate that.
Cornelia has trouble speaking, so Lompe got her a tablet to communicate with and posted this sign for staff to know it is her voice.
But, its often left away from her reach and, she showed us a picture of the screen is smeared with something.
Lompe says that leaves her grandmother unable to effectively communicate. "It's a tablet, all she's got to do is push a button and it speaks for her, its always turned off, if its turned on its away from her," Lompe told us.
Lompe did investigate before checking Cornelia in, but she's learned with nursing homes, a good score today could be gone by tomorrow.
"Back when I was looking at them, they had a B, I think they had an 88, now they have a 50," Lompe said.
They have a 50 according to state regulators who control nursing home licensing. The federal government decides if they qualify for medicare and medicaid. They're ranking system is not based on a 100 point scale, the state instead uses a star rating system.
So, here's where it gets really confusing. Trisun Westwood on Cantwell is ranked lowest in Corpus Christi by the state with a score of 25 out of 100, which falls into the least favorable category.
We contacted Trisun Westwood who told us they're satisfied with their state and national scores because they have 5 stars out of 5 in what are called quality measures, those rankings are based on information provided by the nursing home. But in the overall ranking they earn just 2 stars out of 5, that includes scores based on quality measures, health inspections and staffing.
The bottom line is, it's very difficult to get a clear idea of the quality of a nursing home based on all these different and sometimes conflicting rankings. That's why both state and federal workers suggest you start with these reports, then take a tour inside
Lompe says despite doing that, she's worried about her grandmother's quality of life. "She's going to die, we can't make her last days, years, weeks decent," asked Lompe.
Lompe hopes the report she filed at Corpus Christi Nursing and Rehab center helps change things. She may have to file a complaint with the state to get that done, the state does investigate every complaint.
Lompe says she fears doing that could bring retaliation against her grandmother. It's something she says she already sees by complaining locally.
"Since I filed that complaint, every day my grandmother's cell phone is turned off. I can't ever reach her by phone," said Lompe.
We contacted Corpus Christi Nursing and Rehab to ask about their report and Lompe's complaints. Their attorney issued a statement, but did not reference any specific complaints made by Lompe or any specific findings made by the state.
You can check out how nursing homes rank by state standards here - http://bit.ly/X5UrLo
Find out their federal rating here - http://1.usa.gov/138fqkE