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Brain-injured Poorly Cared for in Nursing Homes

Our nursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins warn of on ongoing problem at nursing homes around the nation. Many people suffering from traumatic brain injuries are being sent to nursing home facilities that are not adequately equipped or even designed to care for them.

A recent Businessweek.com article highlighted the problem that brain injury patients are facing. For example, one Illinois nursing home resident was able to walk when he arrived at the Cobden Rehabilitation and Nursing Center four years ago, but he is no longer able to do so. His speech therapy was also discontinued soon after he was admitted. The article pictures the patient slumped in a wheelchair with his shirt drenched in saliva, his sweatpants soiled, and flies buzzing around his head.

U.S. Medicare and Medicaid statistics indicate that this particular patient is just one of almost 244,000 brain-injured persons sent to nursing homes rather than a brain-injury rehabilitation center. More than 4 million brain-injured Americans require specialized therapies. These disabled people are often admitted into institutions meant for geriatric care and suffer neglect there. They are also routinely sent to facilities that score poorly on cleanliness and quality.

The majority of Americans don’t have insurance for brain injury rehabilitation facilities, which manage approximately 40,000 patients. Insurers typically put sharp restrictions on the duration and kind of long-term care they’ll sponsor. Consequently, the most seriously brain-injured frequently end up on Medicaid, the state and federally-funded insurer for the disabled and poor.

Though U.S law calls for Medicaid to fund nursing homes, the program does not have provision for long-term treatment in a specialized brain-injury rehabilitation center, group residence, or a person’s home.

Very few brain injury victims are able to receive the kind of care that former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords received after she was shot in her head in 2011. Giffords spent five months at the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation center in Houston, Texas. There, she underwent speech, music, aquatic and physical therapy. Her bill was cleared by federal workers’ compensation insurance. Her brain injury team included a neuropsychologist, a rehabilitation physician, a pharmacist and a dietician. This is something nursing homes cannot afford. Not even one in 10 nursing homes can cater to a clientele with such wide-ranging needs.

While it cannot be denied that nursing homes are at times, the best option, particularly for people who need feeding tubes or ventilators, many of the residents require therapeutic care that nursing homes can seldom provide.

There is a nursing home in New York that specializes in brain injury, and Medicaid funds the care of 173 of the brain-injured patients. The care home is the Northeast Center for Special Care in Lake Katrine. The expenditure per patient per day is between $287 and $491.

This New York nursing home has a two star rating in the federal ranking system. However, a November 2011 state inspection discovered stained, broken furniture and pungent urine odor in the hallways and dining room.

A worker at the home pleaded guilty to putting an incompetent person in danger after he was found to have physically abused a wheelchair-bound man with a distressing brain injury. The accused received three years probation for the crime.

If your elderly loved one suffered nursing home neglect, an elder neglect attorney can help protect your legal rights.