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10 News Investigates: Vital information missing on government websites to research nursing homes

10 News Investigates: Vital information missing on government websites to research nursing homes
10 News Investigates: Vital information missing on government websites to research nursing homes

12,000 adults are hurt or neglected each year in the state of Virginia and most of them are elderly. But patient advocates say it’s hard to research individual facilities or even large nursing home companies.

Our 10 News investigation continues as we look into nursing homes and the Virginia policies and laws that are supposed to protect your loved ones.

[How Virginia lawmakers are pushing for changes to the state’s nursing home system]

Senator John Edwards said he believes there should be an easy way for families to look up malpractice lawsuits and settlements, something like a database.

“I think the public’s entitled to know these the kinds of things. There ought to be some kind of place to go to see whether or not the nursing home has a problem or whether or not it’s meeting the standards. We do that with most everything else so that seems to be something we need to look into,” said Edwards, a Democrat who represents the 21st District made up of Giles County, Roanoke and parts of Montgomery and Roanoke Counties.

As Adult Protective Services across Virginia get more reports of mistreatment, Paige McCleary said they also need more resources and money.

“That would be a game changer,” said McCleary. “We don’t need temporary funding, we need ongoing funding, adequate on-going funding for adult protective services from the federal level. We’ve never had that.”

[What you can do to protect your loved ones living in nursing homes]

“Nursing homes are understaffed typically, they’re underfunded and so the Commonwealth needs to step up to the plate,” said Edwards. “Long-term care is an infrastructure need just like roads, just like healthcare generally. It’s something every family at some point probably is going to have needs for.”

Many point to the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website as a way for you to research nursing homes, but there’s a big problem. 10 News Investigates found that not everything is listed.

Raleigh Court Health and Rehab Center told 10 News in a statement in February, “We are very proud to have earned the coveted CMS five-star rating.” And then again in April, “Raleigh Court is a five-star facility.”

But our 10 News investigation found “no complaint inspections” listed between May 2020 and April 2021, but we have four complaint investigations from the Virginia Department of Health all done in that period.

The reports talk about problems with care, including “concern of elder neglect” and “failing to follow their policy in regards to investigating an allegation of abuse.”

When we asked VDH about this issue, we were sent a statement that said in part: “Unfortunately the information posted on the CMS nursing home compare website is often not up to date,” said Kimberly Beazley, VDH Director of the Office of Licensure & Certification.

Beazley also pointed to a recertification survey done last year for Raleigh Court that was not posted either. But these same reports aren’t listed on the Virginia Department of Health website if you’re looking to research a nursing home there.

“We are not caught up on posting all survey reports to our website,” said Beazley. “Over the last year, VDH OLC has conducted over 900 focused infection control surveys in nursing homes as well as conducted recertification surveys and numerous complaint investigations.”

[Roanoke nursing home being investigated for possible neglect after two police reports were filed, resident had two toes amputated]

To see the steps you can take if you have concerns about a loved one, including how to find your local ombudsman’s office, click here.

If you want to take a look at reports concerning this facility or any other, you can look up reports on the VDH website here.

This is part of an in-depth 10 News investigation. Jenna Zibton is working for you, investigating different angles of what COVID-19 means for families with loved ones in nursing homes. Contact Jenna if you have questions at jzibton@wsls.com or on Facebook.


About the Author:

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m.