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2019 Important Conferences for Senior Housing Professionals (Posted: 10/11/2018)

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Why Chicago's confirmed measles case is especially concerning (Posted: 05/20/2019)

Chicago reported its first measles case — and the second confirmed in Cook County — May 19, reports the Chicago Tribune. The confirmed cases come less than two weeks after a study identified the county as most vulnerable for experiencing a measles outbreak.

Source: Becker's Hospital Review

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Lawsuits against senior living communities one the rise (Posted: 05/07/2019)

As the senior population in the U.S. increases, so does the need for more and more senior living communities. And with more senior living communities come more claims and lawsuits raised against them, so when they lose – it’s down to insurers to pay for the damages.

One of these cases involves a 103-year-old resident of a Sunrise Senior Living facility in Willowbrook, Illinois – Ruth Smith, who gets by with the help of a walker. One year ago, she went on a field trip to see a movie when she fell down concrete steps in the theater, leading to her death six weeks later. Her estate filed a lawsuit against the Sunrise Senior Living facility, claiming that aides didn’t provide adequate attention.

Assisted Living Facilities

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Nursing home sued over strangling of 76-year-old patient (Posted: 05/02/2019)

A Connecticut nursing home is being sued over the strangling death of a 76-year-old patient who police say was killed by her 81-year-old boyfriend in November.

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports the lawsuit filed Monday by the estate of Patricia Ann Way says Autumn Lake Healthcare at Bucks Hill in Waterbury should have known about her boyfriend’s violent history and failed to protect her. The estate’s lawyer says the lawsuit seeks “at least seven figures” in damages.

AP News

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Provider advocates say 'abrupt' changes to Nursing Home Compare are confusing consumers (Posted: 04/26/2019)

Industry trade groups slammed changes to Nursing Home Compare that went into effect on Wednesday, concerned that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is “moving the goalposts” for providers.

CMS’s switches to the ratings system caused about one-third of skilled nursing facilities’ ratings to drop drastically overnight without any corresponding dip in quality or staffing levels, the American Health Care Association estimated. 

Source: McKnight's

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Lethal Plans: When Seniors Turn To Suicide In Long-Term Care (Posted: 04/18/2019)

When Larry Anders moved into the Bay at Burlington nursing home in late 2017, he wasn’t supposed to be there long. At 77, the stoic Wisconsin machinist had just endured the death of his wife of 51 years and a grim new diagnosis: throat cancer, stage 4.

His son and daughter expected him to stay two weeks, tops, before going home to begin chemotherapy. From the start, they were alarmed by the lack of care at the center, where, they said, staff seemed indifferent, if not incompetent — failing to check on him promptly, handing pills to a man who couldn’t swallow.

Source: KHN | Kaiser Health News. 

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Multi-tiered licensing system proposed for assisted living communities (Posted: 02/12/2019)

Assisted living communities in Minnesota would be licensed via a new multi-tiered system under a proposal that state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm shared during a state senate hearing last week.

Draft language of a bill that would establish assisted living licensure should be ready in February, she said. The proposal has the backing of two organizations representing providers in the state.

If passed, Minnesota reportedly would become the last state to license assisted living settings. Current state law classifies assisted living communities, where more than 60,000 state residents live, as “housing with services” and requires registration instead of licensure.

Source: McKnight's Senior Living 

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How to protect a loved one from abuse or sexual assault in a nursing home (Posted: 01/23/2019)

It's the stuff of nightmares: Your loved one, who you thought was being well cared for in a long-term care facility or nursing home, was physically abused, raped or even impregnated. And you had no idea it was happening.

The family of a 23-year-old developmentally disabled women faced that horrific reality last February, after authorities discovered signs of sexual assault and a broken hip while she was living at a healthcare facility in Pensacola, Florida. The violent assault resulted in a pregnancy and later miscarriage, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
This latest attack follows the news of the "surprising"birth of a baby born last month to a 29-year old woman in a vegetative state in Phoenix, Arizona. According to a 911 call, staff at the Hacienda Healthcare facility had "no idea she was pregnant."
Source: CNN
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Hospitalist Company Fined $500,000 for HIPAA Breach (Posted: 12/14/2018)

A company that provides contracted physicians to hospitals and nursing homes will pay a $500,000 penalty related to a breach and not having a business associate agreement (BAA) in place, Healthcare Info Security reported.

In late 2011, Advanced Care Hospitalists (ACH) engaged an individual who “provided medical billing services using (Doctor's First Choice Billings Inc.)’s name and website, but allegedly without any knowledge or permission of First Choice's owner,” according to the article. In 2014, a Florida hospital notified ACH that confidential patient information, including names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers, was viewable on the First Choice website.

An investigation revealed that, in violation of HIPAA laws, ACH never entered into a BAA with the individual who provided the billing services. ACH filed a breach notification report with the Office for Civil Rights; after a supplemental report was made, it was determined that more than 9,200 patients could have been impacted by the breach, the article states.

For more information on HIPAA breaches, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Administrator and Billing Office Manager.

Source: Healthcare Info Security

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In Wake of Recent Events, ASPR Encourages Providers to Review Active Shooter Response Plans (Posted: 11/30/2018)

After a deadly shooting at a Chicago hospital on Nov. 21, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) urged healthcare providers to review their preparation plans for active shooter events, McKnight’s reported.

The ASPR specifically encouraged providers to review the organization’s planning and response guide as well as a bevy of other resources, according to the article.

In an email, the ASPR stated that the while such an event can’t be predicted, awareness can be improved. “It is critical for you to prepare your facility and staff as thoroughly as possible for the threat of an active shooter through your emergency response planning,” the email states.

For more information on active shooter training, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Administrator, Plant Services/Maintenance Director, and Director of Nursing/Resident Services Director.

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Same-Sex Couple Sues St. Louis Retirement Community for Discrimination (Posted: 11/16/2018)

A lawsuit alleges that the Housing Act and Missouri Human Rights Act were violated when a St. Louis retirement community denied admission to an elderly lesbian couple, the Windy City Times reported.

Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance, who have been a couple for 40 years, were refused admission to Friendship Village Sunset Hills, which cited the “Biblical definition” of marriage for its decision.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), ACLU of Missouri, and Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC filed the suit on the couple’s behalf, the article states.

Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, the oldest and largest organization in the country dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults, told the Times that the “horrible discrimination experienced by this older lesbian couple—for something as basic as senior housing—is a stark reminder of the challenges that many LGBT elders face.” Adams further stated that 45 percent of same-sex couples who apply for senior housing in Missouri are discriminated against.

While religious exemptions are often cited as reasons for denying service to the LGBT community, Friendship Village Sunset Hills “is not affiliated with or operated by any religion or religious order; it is open to the public and does not inquire about the religious beliefs or affiliations of residents,” according to the suit.

For more information on Fair Housing, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Administrator.

Source: Chicago Sun Times

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Family Files Suit after Man with Dementia Allegedly Coerced into Exposing Himself on Facebook (Posted: 10/31/2018)

The family of a 76-year-old resident of an Illinois nursing home has filed a lawsuit claiming facility staff forced the man to expose himself on Facebook Live, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The suit claims that on July 15, four employees of Holland Home entered the room of Reggie Doe “for the purpose of bullying and abusing (him),” according to the article. Doe, who was a stroke victim suffering from dementia, was coerced into removing his pants and exposing his genitals as the employees streamed the act online, the article states. Per the suit, an employee can be heard taunting Doe, and it is alleged the abuse continued after the streaming stopped.

The suit claims Doe was targeted for being “vulnerable, disabled, and easily manipulated.” Doe’s family seeks $50,000 in punitive damages, according to the article.

For more information on social media, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Executive Director and/or Administrator.

Source: Chicago Sun Times

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Judge Rules for Resident's Family Regarding Unsigned Arbitration Agreement (Posted: 10/19/2018)

Language in an arbitration agreement was cited by a Kentucky judge in his ruling that an unsigned agreement was not enforceable, McKnight’s reported.

Judge David Hale ultimately did not agree with Golden LivingCenter Hillcreek’s contention that two previous arbitration agreements with a resident took precedence over a 2016 agreement that was not signed, according to the article. In his decision, Hale noted that the 2016 agreement includes language that the document “supersedes any prior admission contracts.”

Robert Bramer allegedly fell from his bed at the nursing home and suffered a severe head injury that led to his death a few weeks later, the article states. As a result, Bramer’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

For more information on arbitration agreements, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Executive Director and/or Administrator.

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Non-Profits Exit Skilled Nursing Amid Consolidation, Strong M&A Activity (Posted: 10/05/2018)

Non-profits have felt particularly squeezed by recent skilled nursing pressures on multiple fronts, prompting them to sell off their skilled facilities — typically to for-profit entities.

Many of them are feeling the pressures of staffing, Luann Gutierrez, Greystone & Co.’s managing director for bridge finance, told SNN. In addition, the non-profits that have just one or two facilities are having trouble securing the kinds of vendor contracts that they need to survive in the space.

But the sell-off isn’t limited to standalone skilled nursing facilities run by non-profits, according to Lisa McCracken, who serves as director of senior living research and development at the Chicago-based investment firm Ziegler.

Source: Skilled Nursing News

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AHA Offers 12 Areas of Discussion Regarding Cyber Vulnerabilities (Posted: 09/24/2018)

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently offered 12 items for hospitals to discuss with their information technology teams regarding cyber vulnerability, Health Data Management reported.

“One of the most important things senior executives can do is to ask the right questions of their information technology teams,” the article states. Each area of discussion includes key questions to ask of IT workers.

The areas of discussion include patient safety and critical mission systems, tactical cyber risk profile, capabilities, cyber security culture, risk mitigation implementation plan, and cyber insurance.

For more information on cyber security, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Administrator and IT Director.

Source: Health Data Management

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Low-income, all Medicare seniors in Cleveland will have new primary care option (Posted: 09/19/2018)

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A company providing primary care to low-income seniors soon will open three health care centers in Cleveland. 

Chicago-based Oak Street Health plans to open three 9,000-square-foot community-based centers in the Glenville, West Boulevard and Lee-Harvard neighborhoods by the end of the year. The centers will serve those on Medicare.

At each facility, patients will be provided with transportation to and from appointments, longer visits and around-the-clock access to doctors. 

Source: Cleveland Metro News

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To Avoid Liability, Skilled Nursing Providers Must Avoid Social Media Perils (Posted: 09/12/2018)

Issues related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are one way a SNF could be liable because of an errant social media post by an employee, but there are other considerations for liability.

The cases of explicit and exploitative postings make the news, but those cases are outliers in terms of how intentional they are; according to Pitman, the most common issues with employee social media use don’t stem from an intention to abuse. They stem from people using social media the way they do in their everyday lives.

Since it’s so easy for facilities to become liable based on actions that are second nature to most people with a Facebook account, Pitman had some suggestions for SNFs to mitigate the chance of this happening. The first is to have policies and procedures in place to address HIPAA requirements on privacy and security, as well as the resident’s rights to have information maintained confidentially and “to be in an environment that’s free of abuse and exploitation,” Pitman said.

Source: Skilled Nursing News

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Study Finds Apologies "Significantly Reduce" Liability, Legal Costs (Posted: 09/05/2018)

A recent study found that explaining, apologizing for, and resolving adverse medical events can “significantly reduce” legal and liability costs, Georgia State University reported.

Researchers studied 12 years of data at Erlanger, a five-hospital system where physicians purchase their own liability insurance, per the article. In the period after Erlanger implemented a Communication and Resolution Program (CRP), there was a 66 percent reduction in legal claims filed, a 51 percent drop in defense costs, and a 53 percent reduction in reporting of adverse events.  

The findings led to the American Medical Association to adopt a resolution supporting CRP, according to the article.

“Following CRP protocol, when medical errors were explained to the patients and their families, 43 percent were resolved by apology alone, even though 60 percent of those patients had legal representation,” lead researcher Dr. Florence R. LeCraw stated.

For more information on use of apologies, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Administrator and Director of Nursing.

Source: Georgia State University News Hub

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Class of 2018 Long Term Care Power Lawyers Graduate in Chicago (Posted: 08/29/2018)

It is with great honor that we announce the graduating class of the 2018 Long Term Care Power Lawyers. We are extremely proud of their commitment to the program and their service to the long-term care industry.

Pendulum, in partnership with the Long Term Care Risk/Legal Forum, puts on this program annually for young defense attorneys in the long term care industry. Ric Henry (Pendulum, LLC President) is a Program Leader, and Erika Casebier (Client & Data Services Coordinator) is the Administrative Liaison. This year marks the second year of the program.

Source: Cision PRWeb

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Under N.D. Law, Nursing Homes Can Sue Adult Children for Unpaid Bills (Posted: 08/20/2018)

An “often overlooked” state statute is cited in several lawsuits filed by North Dakota nursing homes seeking payment for unpaid bills, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The “filial support” statute requires children to support their indigent parents. Shelly Peterson, executive director of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, told the Tribune that the statute is only used to pursue payment from adult children when parents transfer income or assets to their children, and the parents don't qualify for Medicaid. Peterson added that, under Medicaid, nursing homes are “legally obligated” to pursue all options in collecting debt.

But families say the statute is unfair. In the article, Becky Pedersen, who is being sued (along with her three siblings) for her father’s outstanding bill of more than $43,000, said, "(The bill) might as well be $500,000, because it's just not something that we had a chance to prepare for.”

The filial support law was adopted in 1877---12 years before North Dakota was granted statehood. Two state lawmakers have said they are “considering modifying or possibly repealing the statute” in the next legislative session, according to the article.

At least 24 states have a filial support law, the article notes. 

Source: Blair Emerson, Bismarck Tribune

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Exploding hospice industry vulnerable to fraud, OIG says (Posted: 08/09/2018)

Medicare paid $16.7 billion for services in 2016—an 81 percent rise from 2006, according to the article. A recent government report reveals that “poor and/or unnecessary care” and a lack of information shared by providers to help residents and families to make informed decisions are among the issues facing the hospice industry.

The report includes recommendations by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to strengthen the hospice industry, including improving the survey process, providing the federal government “more authority to address poor-performing hospice providers,” educating residents and families, and improving oversight of billing processes.  

For more information on hospice vulnerabilities, visit your online resource center. And please share this news with your Agency Director.

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Severe Gaps Exist in Infection Preventionist Staffing, Studies Find (Posted: 08/03/2018)

According to a pair of recent studies, “severe gaps” in staffing infection preventionists (IPs) have resulted from outdated coverage benchmarks, McKnight’s reported.

In one study, IP staffing needs across the Providence Health & Services healthcare system were 31 percent to 66 percent higher than benchmarks currently in place, the article states. Both studies offer a new benchmark of 1.0 IP full-time equivalent per 69 beds and “support the view that IP staffing recommendations should be based on the care and services provided by a healthcare institution, rather than on a single, static ratio, which might not be appropriate for all models,” according to the article.

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Arvada Nursing Home Changes Hiring Process after Felon Caregiver Accused of Beating Patient (Posted: 07/25/2018)

Following the alleged abuse of an elderly Alzheimer’s patient at the hands of caregiver and convicted felon, Gwendolyn Kentris, Ralston Creek, a nursing home operated by Haverland Carter LifeStyle Group, has begun to use a new background check resource.

Ralston Creek did not reveal how Kentris passed her background check but stated they will run all current staff through the new system and retrain “key management staff.”

Haverland Carter Director of Marketing and Sales, Dave Walbright, stated that “We have changed to a different service for Ralston Creek Neighborhood to have more stringent background checks similar to what we already do in New Mexico and Oklahoma.”

To put families at ease, Ralston Creek additionally hosted an open forum to answer questions and address concerns.

Kentris currently faces arrest for her alleged abuse of the patient. The family of the patient is pursuing litigation against Ralston Creek.

Source: The Dever Channel

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Prosecutors Request Judge Drop "Nanny Cam" Criminal Charges Against Nurses (Posted: 07/17/2018)

After a security camera filmed two Iowa nurses neglecting Elkader Care Center resident, Cheryll Scherf, for more than 17 hours and subsequently fabricating records to show otherwise Elkader was fined initially $5,000, which was reduced to $975.

Pressley Henningsen, one of Scherf’s attorneys, noted that “These videos show what they show. They show what did happen, and what didn’t happen.”

The two nurses, Heidi Mueller and Nichole Buckley, are presently on trial for wanton neglect, dependent adult abuse, and tampering with medical records. However, prosecutors have asked to dismiss the case until the Iowa Board of Nursing and the Department of Inspections and Appeals complete their investigations.

Depending on the outcome of these investigations, Mueller and Buckley may have their licenses revoked or suspended as well as have their names placed on the state registry of abusers. Mueller has already been fired from Elkader.

Source: McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

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New Study Pushes for Improvements to Cancer Care for Elders (Posted: 07/05/2018)

Because cancer patients aged 65 and older have a higher rate of comorbidities, geriatric syndromes, and disabilities than younger patients, they may require more specialized care according to a study conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The study, “Community Oncologists’ Decision-making for Treatment of Older Patients with Cancer,” explores the additional risks that chemotherapy poses to elderly cancer patients and the ways in which health care providers should respond to those risks.

The Institute of Medicine confirms in a report that “Despite the rapidly increasing numbers of older patients with cancer, most oncologists have received little geriatrics training, so common aging-related conditions that influence outcomes are rarely detected.”

The study, which asked participating oncologists to respond to the age-related needs of various hypothetical cancer patients, found that geriatric-relevant information does in fact alter oncologists’ decisions. However, those decisions need to be improved by a more complete knowledge of geriatric care.  

Source: Provider Long Term & Post-Acute Care

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A Denver-area hospital sued a patient for nearly $230,000 over her surgery bill. A jury said not so fast. (Posted: 06/29/2018)

As seemingly astronomical hospital bills continue to plague many Americans, one former patient and her employer-based insurer have refused to pay, resulting in the first in what might be a series of similar court cases.

While St. Anthony North Health Campus in Westminster, CO has sued, arguing that the price they have charged for Lisa French’s 2014 spinal-fusion surgery is in line with the procedure’s costs, the jury is considering to what extent, if any, St. Anthony may have subjected French to predatory pricing.

Though the first to go to a jury, French’s case is by no means a unique instance of billing dispute. ELAP Services—the Pennsylvania based firm that is advising French’s insurer—has handled more than 700,000 similar disputes that ended in settlements.

Regardless of which party the outcome favors, this case will likely have lasting effects on how courts handle billing-disputes between hospitals and health insurers.

Source: Denver Post

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CMS launches tool to help skilled nursing providers achieve interoperability (Posted: 06/22/2018)

According to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have recently launched their new “Data Element Library” database. With this new tool, members of the public and skilled nursing facilities alike will have quicker, easier access to information.

In a news announcement the CMS states that “Integrating these data elements into EHRs will ultimately allow health information to flow more easily from one provider to another.” This means of communication should streamline advancements in the long-term care world by facilitating interoperability among health care providers.

CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, commented that “We’re excited to add this important building block to the foundation for interoperability that CMS is helping to establish.”

SourceMcKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Study: Medication assistants can help nursing homes during a nurse staffing crunch (Posted: 06/15/2018)

Although medication assistants do not have the extensive training of a licensed nurse, a study recently published in the Annals of Long Term Care shows that these assistants are a safe and useful substitute for a facility facing a shortage of nurses.

According to the study, which was conducted in a 50-bed long term care unit, medication assistants who had received 104 hours of training successfully administered medication with a medication error rate as low as their licensed nursing colleagues.

To ensure the accuracy of these findings, the Geriatric Interest Group will recreate this study at three more nursing homes this year. If successful, these studies could prompt the hiring of medication assistants in nursing homes throughout the United States.

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Coalition analysis shows 1 in 5 nursing home residents still getting antipsychotics (Posted: 06/15/2018)

In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against the overuse of antipsychotic medication in nursing homes. That warning, however, did little to substantially reduce the use of antipsychotics, prompting Human Rights Watch this past February to condemn the practice of what many see as inappropriate drugging. 

With 20% of nursing home residents treated with antipsychotics, there is no doubt that the use of this medication is high. However, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for the American Health Care Association (AHCA), David Gifford, prefers to remain optimistic. He has noted that an effort launched in 2012 "has resulted in a dramatic decline in the use of these medications, with more than half of our members achieving at least a 30% reduction." 

AHCA announced in March that it would push providers nationwide to participate in the effort to reduce the overuse of antipsychotics by 10%. 

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News

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Federal judge transfers negligence lawsuit against The Willough at Naples to Florida (Posted: 06/05/2018)

Derrick Lewis has filed a lawsuit against Oglethorpe, owner of The Willough at Naples nursing home. Lewis, a resident at the nursing home, claims to have suffered multiple, preventable injuries due to negligence.

One injury to the knee, brought about by a malfunctioning door, led to the next as Lewis slipped in a non-handicap-accesible bathroom. Despite these claims, however, Lewis' home state of Maryland will not hear the case since Oglethorpe does not own properties there. 

Source: Florida Record

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Health Benefits and Risks of Animal Interaction in Senior Care (Posted: 05/24/2018)

Pets provide many benefits to seniors, and they also pose some risks, according to an article by Reuters.

There are physical, social, and emotional benefits for residents of nursing homes who have pets or animal visitors, but facilities rarely construct thorough pet policies to mitigate potential hazards associated with animal interaction, according to the article.

While having pets present in a nursing home may relieve stress and anxiety and promote walking, animals can carry or spread disease and cause injury to this vulnerable population. Hand hygiene is just one of many precautions the article states that facilities must take to ensure the safety of its residents.

Source: Reuters

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Planning, Training, and Exercising are Key to Effective Disaster Management (Posted: 05/24/2013)

According to a disaster-planning expert, senior housing administrators and supervisors should focus on planning, training, and exercising when implementing a disaster plan at their facilities, McKnight’s reported.

“We would never expect an R.N. to walk into a job and nurse without any practice, but we do expect administrators and shift supervisors to be disaster managers with no training and one two-hour drill a year,” Keith F. Hansen, assistant director of the Center for Preparedness Education (CPE), told McKnight’s.

Hansen said that facilities should first ensure their plan addresses Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (SMC) and Joint Commission regulations. Staff should then be trained on the plan, and disaster drills should be conducted multiple times. Revisions should be made as necessary; if revisions are made, the aforementioned steps should be repeated, according to the article.

Hansen also said that while a plan to address a disaster is vital, just as important is a plan for post-disaster recovery—a process that can take up to three years. The key areas of focus for this plan are business continuity and behavioral health, the article stated.

“There's lots of psychological trauma that occurs in a disaster, especially if (a) facility has people with mental health or behavioral health issues. Disrupting that schedule can be very hard on people, so mental health is very important,” Hansen told McKnight’s.

Read the McKnight's article.