Barely two months into 2019 and state lobbyists are pushing for two bills that could significantly harm nursing home residents. If they go through, these bills would effectively silence inspectors and employees from blowing the whistle on unsafe nursing home conditions and make it even more difficult for families to seek justice should their loved one suffer undue injury or death.
The first bill in question was filed by House Majority Leader John “Bam” Carney. House Bill 210 would require health and family service inspectors to:
· Sign a confidentiality agreement barring them from publicly disclosing their findings
· Allow nursing home staff’s bosses to sit in on 1:1 interviews
First, blocking inspectors from revealing their findings to anyone other than their superiors means they would not be allowed to warn the public of anything from unsanitary conditions to outright elder abuse.
Second, it is not uncommon for employees to privately tell inspectors that they are understaffed, that management is pushing them to rush their work and other major issues. This bill would effectively mean that employees would now have to do so with their boss in the room with them.
The other potential bill, Rep. Steve Riley’s House Bill 289 would protect a nursing homes’ “passive investors” from personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
As our own Christopher Goode told Kentucky.com, it is fairly common for corporate nursing homes to have six or more owners who all collect a share of the nursing home’s revenue without being involved with daily management. The rub is that despite several owners, only one management company is on the record.
This means that if a family sues for the mistreatment or death of a loved one, the nursing home simply needs to move assets from one company to another to avoid a financial loss. These types of lawsuits are basically shell games now; House Bill 289 would give more protections to the company owners.
It is already an extremely difficult choice to put a family member in a nursing home. That is why it is so vital for the family to perform their due diligence of checking in regularly. If you suspect a loved is being abused or neglected by their nursing home, don’t hesitate to speak to a professional.