Patient advocates say lax standards and oversight by the state Department of Public Health has left California nursing home patients vulnerable to inhumane treatment. They cite myriad health and safety violations detailed in reports by the California Attorney General’s office.
The reports, published online by a patient advocacy group, highlighted health and safety violations at 14 nursing homes statewide — including Golden Cross Health Care and Sunrise Convalescent Hospital in Pasadena and Motion Picture and Television Fund Skilled Nursing Units in Woodland Hills.
The violations span from January 2010 to March of 2012 and include residents left lying for hours in their own feces and urine; untreated bedsores; a resident with a maggot-infested wound; dirty facilities, and fraudulent medical billing.
The reports stem from random inspections of skilled nursing facilities that receive Medi-Cal funding. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office says the findings from the investigation, called Operation Guardian, have been turned over to the Department of Public Health for further investigation and possible enforcement actions.
But patient advocates say the Department of Public Health has already failed to do its job — with only one citation issued so far in cases that are up to two years old.
“For the most part, the Department of Public Health has literally abdicated their role as a consumer protection agency," says Pat McGinnis, Executive Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “They’re far more concerned with being a provider protection agency than they are with what’s happening to nursing home residents.”
The California Department of Public Health issued a written response to the accusations, saying that ensuring safety and quality care in licensed healthcare facilities is a top priority and the agency is currently reviewing the files for each of the 14 facilities.