Personal care homes are intended to be places where people who cannot live on their own can safely reside. These homes do not provide full-time nursing care, just assistance as needed by the patient. Kentucky currently has 83 personal care homes. Many of the 3,000 residents of these homes are mentally disabled or mentally ill. Unfortunately, as in nursing homes, many of these homes are improperly run, resulting in resident negligence and abuse.
In August, 2011, Larry Joe Lee disappeared from Falmoth Nursing Home, a personal care home near Frankfort, Kentucky. Mr. Lee had suffered a brain injury in a farming accident when he was 11 and was schizophrenic and bipolar. His remains were found four weeks later near the Licking River. Karnas Law investigated the incident. Documents released in October show that Mr. Lee had not been checked on for three hours when he disappeared, and that the home did not have a policy regarding continual supervision for the residents. Since Mr. Lee’s disappearance and subsequent death, the home has instituted new policies and training regarding patient monitoring.
Larry Joe Lee is not the first person to disappear from a Kentucky personal care home. Larry Bruce Huff disappeared from the Golden Years personal care home in eastern Kentucky in January 2007. Staff at the home waited 17 hours before they notified police, and Mr. Huff froze to death. Mr. Huff had schizophrenia and mild dementia and was prone to wandering away. He had left the home six times in the two weeks before his death. Golden Years was given a type A citation, which indicates that the facility put an individual in danger, after the incident.
The Golden Years personal care home received another type A citation in 2007 when the operator of the home, James “Chum” Tackett, struck and injured a resident. Mr. Tackett was forced to resign and not have any contact with the facility or its residents. Mr. Tackett disobeyed the court order by returning to Golden Years, and the facility was cited again in 2009. Mr. Tackett was also accused of stealing $300,000 from the home and its residents and spending it on himself. Earlier this month, he admitted he stole the money and pled guilty to exploitation of a vulnerable adult, theft, and income tax fraud. While residents were left without clean towels, clothing, and fresh food, Mr. Tackett was spending the money on vehicles and other items for himself. The home was closed by the state of Kentucky in October 2011.
While the cases of Mr. Lee and Mr. Huff are extreme examples of negligence that resulted in death, personal care and nursing home negligence and abuse that does not cause the death of the patient happens all too frequently. In addition to allowing the deaths of these two men, these homes were also understaffed, unclean, and failed to provide a safe environment for individuals that are unable to care for themselves.
If you are looking for a facility for a friend or relative, there are sources that can give some insight into the homes you are considering. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services surveys Kentucky’s 300 nursing homes each year. Eight facilities in Kentucky inspected in the last three months had no deficiencies according to a report released earlier this week. Information regarding state inspections can be found at http://chfs.ky.gov/os/oig/ltcinspectionfindings.htm. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) website is a federal website that uses a star system to rate homes based on staff, care quality and recent inspections. Those individuals who think their loved ones are receiving insufficient care or are being mistreated should contact Kentucky nursing home negligence attorney Steve Frederick.