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Serious Nursing Home Abuse Often Not Reported To Police, Federal Investigators Find – NPR

More than one-quarter of the 134 cases of severe abuse that were uncovered by government investigators were not reported to the police. The vast majority of the cases involved sexual assault. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

More than one-quarter of the 134 cases of severe abuse that were uncovered by government investigators were not reported to the police. The vast majority of the cases involved sexual assault.

More than one-quarter of serious cases of nursing home abuse are not reported to the police, according to an alert released Monday morning by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The cases went unreported despite the fact that state and federal law require that serious cases of abuse in nursing homes be turned over to the police.

Government investigators are conducting an ongoing review into nursing home abuse and neglect but say they are releasing the alert now because they want immediate fixes.

These are cases of abuse severe enough to send someone to the emergency room. One example cited in the alert is a woman who was left deeply bruised after being sexually assaulted at her nursing home. Federal law says that incident should have been reported to the police within two hours. But the nursing home didn’t do that, says Curtis Roy, an assistant regional inspector general in the Department of Health and Human Services.

“They cleaned off the victim,” he says. “In doing so, they destroyed all of the evidence that law enforcement could have used as part of an investigation into this crime.”

The nursing home told the victim’s family about the assault the next day. It was the family that informed the police. But Roy says that even then, the nursing home tried to cover up the crime.

“They went so far as to contact the local police department to tell them that they did not need to come out to facility to conduct an investigation,” says Roy.

Looking at records from 2015 and 2016, Curtis Roy and his team of investigators found 134 cases of abuse of nursing home residents severe enough to require emergency treatment. The vast majority of the cases involved sexual assault.

There’s never an excuse to allow somebody to suffer this kind of torment.

Curtis Roy

“There’s never an excuse to allow somebody to suffer this kind of torment, really, ever,” says Roy.

The incidents of abuse were spread across 33 states. Illinois had the most at 17. Seventy-two percent of all the cases appear to have been reported to local law enforcement within two hours. But twenty-eight percent were not. Investigators from the Office of the Inspector General decided to report all 134 cases to the police. “We’re so concerned,” says Roy, “we’d rather over-report something than not have it reported at all.”

The alert from the Inspector General’s office says that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulate nursing homes, need to do more to track these cases of abuse. The alert suggests that the agency should do what Curtis Roy’s investigators did: cross-reference Medicare claims from nursing home residents with their claims from the emergency room. Investigators were able to see if an individual on Medicare filed claims for both nursing home care and emergency room services. Investigators could then see if the emergency room diagnosis indicated the patient was a victim of a crime, such as physical or sexual assault.

The alert notes that federal law on this issue was strengthened in 2011. It requires someone who suspects abuse of a nursing home resident causing serious bodily injury, to report their suspicion to local law enforcement in two hours or less. If their suspicion of abuse does not involve serious bodily injury of the nursing home resident, they have 24 hours to report it. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $300,000.

But CMS never got explicit authority from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enforce the penalties. According to the Inspector General’s alert, CMS only began seeking that authority this year. CMS did not make anyone available for an interview.

Clearly, the 134 cases of severe abuse uncovered by the Inspector General’s office represent a tiny fraction of the nation’s 1.4 million nursing home residents. But Curtis Roy says the cases they found are likely just a small fraction of the ones that exist, since they were only able to identify victims of abuse who were taken to an emergency room. “It’s the worst of the worst,” he says. “I don’t believe that anyone thinks this is acceptable.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” says Roy, of “getting [abuse] out of our health care system.”

One thing investigators don’t yet know is whether the nursing homes where abuses took place were ever fined or punished in any way. That will be part of the Inspector General’s full report which is expected in about a year.

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Serious Nursing Home Abuse Often Not Reported To Police, Federal Investigators Find – NPR


Hospital evacuated after reports of odor in emergency room – Atlanta Journal Constitution


Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire was evacuated Friday morning and extra ambulances were called in after reports of an odor in the emergency room, according to the local firefighters’ union.

New Hampshire One reports employees were asked to leave the hospital around 11:30 a.m. when police and other first responders were called.

The Exeter firefighters union tweeted crews were called to the scene for an “unknown odor” in the emergency room.

According to a spokesperson for the hospital, five staff members began showing symptoms like dizziness around 8:30 Friday morning.

The number of patients increased to about 20 as the morning went on and the emergency department and operating room were closed out an “abundance of caution,” Deb Vasapoli told Boston 25 News.

Officials say they have not been able to find the source of what is making people sick at the hospital. Some of the patients were transferred to other hospitals in the area.

According to Vasapoli, the only people affected by the symptoms were staff members and they were all from the operating room.

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Hospital evacuated after reports of odor in emergency room – Atlanta Journal Constitution


Pediatric ER open to public – Valley morning Star

HARLINGEN Super heroes, magicians, and colorful decorations set the scene last week for the unveiling of Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingens newest offering in its commitment to providing comprehensive pediatric healthcare to the community.

During the Valley Baptist-Harlingen Pediatric Emergency Ribbon Cutting event on Friday, August 4, hospital leadership with the help of government officials and the local area chamber of commerce shared the opening of the new dedicated, 12-bed pediatric unit with the community.

While adults toured the unit, children were treated to a bevy of activities, including magic shows, live science experiments, photos with their favorite super heroes, and tasty treats and snacks.

At Valley Baptist, we have had the privilege to serve the children of the Rio Grande Valley since 1925, and over the years we have added services to help meet the needs of our littlest patients, said Valley Baptist Health System CEO Manny Vela. To that mix, we now add the only dedicated, hospital-based Pediatric Emergency Room. We designed this 12-bed unit for families, and look forward to serving yours should they need emergency care.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell said new services provided by Valley Baptist-Harlingen will continue to benefit the community and improve the quality of life for local residents.

The continual improvement of Valley Baptist healthcare through the development of this new pediatric emergency room is an indicator of the great quality of life that we have in our community, Boswell said.

Harlingen resident and parent Jim Young said the new Pediatric Emergency Room should help put parents and young patients at ease during trips to the hospital.

Its important for parents to have a place that theyre confident in when their little one is sick or when an accident happens, because that can be a traumatic experience, he said.

Vela said the new Pediatric Emergency Room will help Valley Baptist-Harlingen achieve its goal of making sure local residents do not have to leave their community to receive quality healthcare.

One of our goals at Valley Baptist-Harlingen and Valley Baptist-Brownsville is to be differentiators in regard to the service lines that we offer. Even so, it goes deeper than that. Our goal is to offer services so that members of our community do not have to go north to receive any treatment whatsoever, he said. Were chipping away at that in a very deliberate and progressive way, and this is just one more example of how we continue in Cameron County to offer an outstanding level of care to our pediatric community. The Pediatric Emergency Room is a continuation of our commitment to our youngest residents.

Dr. Betzaida Gonzalez, Valley Baptist Emergency Room Medical Director, said upgrades like the Pediatric Emergency Room show a continued focus on expanding services at Valley Baptist-Harlingen.

This Pediatric Emergency Room is specific to the needs and concerns of children and their caretakers. Children will receive specialized attention during emergent situations that will allow parents to find comfort in the quality of the care their children are receiving, she said. Being able to provide these specialized services to the residents of our community shows commitment to the peace of mind and advancement of emergency care for our children.

According to U.S. Census Bureau reports from 2016, more than 31 percent of the population in Cameron County was younger than 18 years old. Caring for such a large portion of the community is what makes the Pediatric Emergency Room project so critical to providing quality healthcare, said Alan Johnson, Valley Baptist Board of Trustees Chairman.

This is something that has been needed for a long, long time, he said. We all know that we have a very young population here in the Valley, and thats all the more reason to open this unit. This is something that we need to take care of the young people in our community.

Now open, the Pediatric Emergency Room adds to the comprehensive pediatric care offered at Valley Baptist-Harlingen. In addition to offering the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Harlingen, Valley Baptist-Harlingen also offers high-quality healthcare at the Matt & Patty Gorges Childrens Center.

The center, which is filled with colorful artwork and bright dcor to help raise childrens spirits during their stay, also includes a 14-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

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Pediatric ER open to public – Valley morning Star


New ER used in training film – Journal Review

Franciscan Health Crawfordsville employees took advantage of a new, but empty emergency room on Monday to film an educational video depicting what happens when someone has a stroke. The video is being made to help educate the public on what happens when someone has a stroke from the initial symptoms through treatment at the local emergency room.

Carol Briley, stroke coordinator, wanted the video to be as accurate as possible before the new emergency room is opened for patients at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

We want the public to see and hear what a stroke is, Briley said. This video is for educational purposes only.

Carolyn Ronco, who suffered a stroke in 2001 and is now fully recovered, volunteered to be the patient for the video.

Filming for the video began July 15 at the Montgomery County 4-H Fair. The opening scene depicts Ronco becoming ill while at the fair. Next she is seen being loaded into a S.T.A.R. Ambulance by John Staggs and Dustin Miller and transported to the local hospital.

Once at the hospital, doctors discover the patient has lost physical functions on the left side of her body. This is what Ronco experienced 16 years ago.

Staggs and Miller wheel Ronco into the emergency room and there doctors discover the patient has lost physical functions on the left side of her body. This is what Ronco experienced 16 years ago.

As the film continues, viewers will see how a stroke is diagnosed and how quickly hospital staff administer treatment. A quick response is essential to improve a stroke patients chances of fully recovering.

When complete, the video will be available for viewing on YouTube.

The public is invited to an open house 4:30-7 p.m. today to see the new emergency room. Hospital staff will greet the public to help answer questions about the new $18 million facility. The old emergency room will be used until the new one opens at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

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New ER used in training film – Journal Review