nursing homes

Lake Cumberland District Health Department/Facebook

As businesses open back up across Kentucky this week, Lake Cumberland District Health Department Executive Director Shawn Crabtree is reminding residents of the Bluegrass State to to keep taking safety precautions related to COVID-19. 

“I have had several people ask me questions this week about issues of safety. Like is it safe to go out? Is it safe to go to a restaurant? Is it safe to go back to church? Nothing is absolutely safe," said Crabree in his weekly COVID-19 update on May 20. "It’s all a matter of reducing your risk.”

State and local health officials continue to encourage Kentuckians to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus by social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding large groups, even with the easing of restrictions. Individuals who are most vulnerable, including those over 60, or with underlying health conditions, are urged to continue to remain safe at home as much as possible.

Coronavirus fatalities in long-term care facilities have surpassed a grim threshold in much of the country, accounting for at least a third of the deaths in 26 states and more than half in 14 of those.

The data, which was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reports tallies from a variety of care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care residences, and other skilled nursing care settings. However, it does not break out those categories separately.

Ryan Van Velzer

As coronavirus infections and deaths continue to mount at Kentucky nursing homes, the state has announced plans to combat the spread of disease in these facilities.

During Saturday evening’s briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear said there were 40 more long-term care facility residents and six more staff members who have tested positive for the virus. Three more residents have died, bringing the total to 46 deaths from these facilities.

For Eric Friedlander, the acting secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, one of those deaths was personal. He said one of the people who died was a friend of his parents; he grew up with the family.

“This is a beautiful, wonderful person that we lost,” Friedlander said Saturday. “It’s personal, and it should be personal to us all. This is something none of us can wish away.”

Jared Bennett

The coronavirus is taking a terrible toll on nursing homes in the Ohio Valley. Well over a thousand residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia have tested positive for coronavirus, and dozens have died from COVID-19. 

Residents in these facilities are already more vulnerable, and in many cases, the facilities were running low on protective equipment even before the pandemic hit.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Nursing homes and their residents are vulnerable to serious harm as the coronavirus spreads, and federal data show that infection control has been a problem at nursing homes across Kentucky.

Kentucky nursing homes have the third highest rate of serious deficiencies per facility in the country, according to a ProPublica analysis of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data. And the virus can have major impact even at nursing homes with strong safety records: At least 19 people have died and at least 70 staff members have displayed coronavirus symptoms in connection with an outbreak at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

LRC Public Information

A measure is moving through the Kentucky legislature that would provide the necessary funding to build a veterans nursing home in Bowling Green.

The Kentucky House of Representatives will vote on Monday on HB 24, sponsored by State Rep. Michael Meredith.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee  passed the bill last week that puts $2.5 million toward design work.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Susan Sermoneta

An Owensboro facility is among six Kentucky nursing homes named in a federal report as having poor safety records. 

A report shared this week with the Senate Special Committee on Aging named 400 nursing homes across the nation with a 'persistent record of poor care.'  The Courier-Journal reports that the facilities had previously not been identified publicly.

Among them is the Twin Rivers Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Owensboro.  Since 2017, it’s been designated as a “Special Focus” facility, which investigators frequently monitor to resolve violations.  Without improvements, the facility can have Medicare and Medicaid funding revoked.

Creative Commons

Sherry Cooke’s brother, Dennis, died during stint in a nursing home in Louisville. Years ago, Dennis fell from a ladder and sustained serious brain injuries. He was only in his 40s, and spent the next several years bouncing from one nursing home to another.

Cooke, who lives in Pewee Valley, said she kept her brother company and checked on him practically every day. Despite her vigilance, she said he starved to death within seven months of entering a nursing home.

“Time after time I went in and the tube feeding was not running,” said Cooke, who is now a nursing home reform advocate.

Making sure her brother was getting proper care from the nursing home staff was a constant battle, Cooke said. She said she sometimes saw Dennis’ feeding tubes tied in knots and his body covered in bed sores.

She kept records of his time there and eventually took some final pictures of him right before he died. Her brother had entered the nursing home at a healthy weight and died an emaciated man. Dennis—who was 5-foot-7 –died weighing 106 pounds.

Seniors Rally Against Nursing Home Bill Under Consideration in Kentucky

Feb 28, 2013

FRANKFORT — More than 100 senior citizens and advocates rallied Thursday at the Capitol Rotunda in support of several bills before the Kentucky General Assembly—and against one bill in particular.

They urged Kentucky lawmakers to oppose  legislation that creates a panel to review lawsuits against nursing homes and requires those filing suits to pay fees to submit their case to the panel, said Cathy Murphy, associate state director for the AARP.

The demonstrators said that, if passed, Senate Bill 9 would make it harder for seniors to sue nursing homes that abuse or neglect residents.

"We rank one of the worst in the nation in quality," Murphy said. "We rank the highest in fines. And the talk about the frivolous lawsuits. I've not seen any evidence whatsoever, and the families that I know that have had a lawsuit would not call it frivolous."

The Kentucky Senate on Wednesday approved that sets up a panel to review abuse cases from nursing homes.

Three doctors would be put on the panel to review abuse cases; the bill would not prevent patients from filing lawsuits, but the findings from the panel could be admissible in court.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 9 on a party-line vote—Republican for, Democrats against.

The bill sponsor, Sen. Julie Denton, a Louisville Republican, said the goal is to crack down on bad lawsuits, while still protecting nursing home patients.

"No one wants to see someone hurt, someone abused, someone neglected and I'm not here to say there aren't some horrible things that have happened to people and that they don't deserve justice, because they do and this in no way precludes that," Denton said.

A new report has advocates for the nursing home industry in Kentucky saying “I told you so.” The report by Aon Global Risk Consulting ranks Kentucky as the worst state for expenses per bed and for the amount of litigation against nursing homes.

A Kentucky law firm that specializes in nursing home abuse cases is pushing back on nursing home company Extendicare’s claim that the state’s legal environment is causing it to pull back its operation.