POST FALLS, Idaho - Is it a problem of under-staffing? Under-payed workers? In the last week, in our region there has been three nursing homes under investigation. The worst of it, at the Life Care Center in Post Falls.
KHQ uncovered 250 pages of an abuse and neglect investigation at the Life Care Center in Post Falls, from an anonymous tip Monday. The documents show a low number of staffing could have had an impact on the abuse and neglect that happened there.
The investigation, dated November 8, 2019, mostly covers a three month period, from August 2019 to November 2019.
In one instance, on November 1 2019, a patient was "actively dying and receiving hospice services." The patient's family received a call that night, at 9:30pm to say "he took a turn for the worse." However, hospice notes, reviewed by state investigators, later found that he was dead several hours before that call was made and "there was not documentation in Resident #180's record the facility notified his primary care physician of his death."
Another investigation showed that the facility did not have proper incontinence briefs for a patient, and to fix the issue, staff at Life Care Center taped two incontinence briefs together.
KHQ spoke to a women who trained at the Life Care Center while working to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. She said that while working there, she witnessed the staff verbally abusing residents, the staff humiliating them, and a detachment from the residents.
"You start to feel like an inconvenient client, rather than a person that lives there and this is your home," said the trainee.
After hearing about this, KHQ looked on the government run website that compares nursing homes, it showed that the Life Care Center was flagged for abuse and neglect, but they weren't the only one in the area.
The Ivy Court in Coeur d'Alene, Gardens on University, Franklin Hills Health and Rehab Center, and Spokane Veterans Home are also red flagged for abuse in their facility.
The women who trained at the Life Care Center said that she believes that underpay and overwork is a huge factor as to why facilities lack in care.
KHQ reached out to the Washington Health Care Association (WHCA) to see if this is a state wide problem, and they said that the nursing homes are in a situation where the state is dramatically underpaying them and when they try to hire staff, it is getting increasing difficult to attract people to work there due to the low funds.
The state is required to have minimum staffing levels to ensure quality care, according to Robin Dale, CEO and President of WHCA. So, he said to handle low staffing and high amount of residents they are required to make the decision to not take more residents into their facility, even if they have available beds.
Dale said that if there was more funding from the state that nursing homes would be able to pay CNA's more and have higher quality care for the residents.
Within three years, twenty-one nursing homes in Washington state announced closure and the reason why is the medicare reimbursement rate is substantially lower than the cost of care, according to WHCA.
"The closure of nursing homes is an ever increasing problem, " Dale said.