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Harnett County wants to inspect nursing homes

Posted April 5, 2009
Updated April 6, 2009

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— Harnett County leaders want the authority to inspect all elderly-care facilities, including state-monitored nursing homes, but critics point out deficiencies at rest homes inspected by the county.

Harnett commissioners said that county inspectors could more easily take care of commonly heard complaints – such as lack of care and unhealthy conditions – than state inspectors.

"There's a lot of times we get complaints about different things that we can go in there and visually see, and there's nothing we can do about it," Commissioner Tim McNeill said.

Harnett Manor Harnett leaders want to make nursing homes safer

County social service workers inspect Harnett's 15 rest homes and family-care homes, which are assisted-living residences with around-the-clock care. Federal law permits only state inspectors to evaluate the county's four nursing homes, which accept Medicare and Medicaid and can provide a higher level of medical for residents with severe health problems.

Some of those nursing homes, though, have repeatedly been cited for violations by federal and state inspectors. For example, Harnett Manor, a one-star facility, has been noted for violations such as "not controlling the fly population," "showers beds and potty chairs stored dirty" and "feces present."

"These people need a voice and someone to take care of them, and we don't feel like it's being adequately done," McNeill said. "We feel like the county, at the local level, can do a better job of it."

County-inspected rest homes have their own documented problems. In February, Carrie C. Evans, 85, who had dementia, walked out of Primrose Villa, fell into a ravine three blocks away and died of a severe head injury.

A week before Evans' death, county inspectors were at Primrose.

Former Primrose employee, Tina Bartolo, said that both state and county inspectors, in general, provide "no supervision at all."

"They just go in and sit at a desk. They don't check nothing," Bartolo said.

Jeff Nunn, administrator of Harnett Manor, said that state inspectors are stricter than county inspectors and that he doesn't think more county inspections would be productive.

North Carolina has 106 state inspectors and 435 nursing homes. That gives each inspector a caseload of roughly four facilities. Inspectors review those nursing homes at least once every 15 months.

Harnett County leaders said that local inspectors could do reviews every two months and, in the meantime, respond to complaints immediately. "You inspect that day, and you see what is going on that day," McNeill said.

McNeill said that the county can't change what happened to Evens, but he believes that putting more inspectors in adult-care homes might keep other senior citizens from harm.

"If you are there more, you are apt to catch more," he said.

State officials refused to comment on whether they would welcome Harnett County's bid for greater inspection authority.

Anyone with concerns about neglect or abuse at an elderly-care facility can submit a complaint to the state Department of Health and Human Services online, by calling 919-855-4500 or toll-free 1-800-624-3004, by faxing 919-715-7724 or by mailing Complaint Intake Unit, 2711 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-2711.


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  • north 501 Apr 6, 2009

    I've worked in a nursing home and I've dabbled in local politics. In my area there is an advisory board for elderly care facilities appointed by local government that visits nursing homes and assisted living facilities occasionally and makes reccomendations for improvements. However, like most county/city appointees, these people usually have no training or skills related to the subject and are only there because they are willing to serve.
    In my opinion giving local goverments any authority over care facilities would be counterproductive and of no value at all.
    Local governments are far too corrupt and secretive to be trusted with that kind of power(The state is not perfect, but it is better).
    BTW, the problems cited in the articles(flies, feces, etc.) are minor by nursing home standards.

  • haggis basher Apr 6, 2009

    "North Carolina has 106 state inspectors and 435 nursing homes. That gives each inspector a caseload of roughly four facilities. Inspectors review those nursing homes at least once every 15 months."
    Yes this figure worried me too. I can't think of a good reason why they would not be getting an inspection at least once a week......

  • haggis basher Apr 6, 2009

    I see no problem in allowing additional inspections by the County

  • lunamag Apr 6, 2009

    I would think it could be as simple as a pop inspection. Its not rocket science to see the visual abuse. My boss is a speech therapist and I've walked into several nursing homes and know one has ever asked can I help you? So I think a pop would be pretty easy.

  • amyrn Apr 6, 2009

    Inspectors do those things when they go in. If you would like more information, go to the DHSR website....http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/

  • UNCfuturealumi Apr 6, 2009

    Nursing homes need to have "pop" inspections. A person can be trained what to check for. I am saying they need someone to go in and see how long a residents' light blinks before they are ever took to the bathroom, which after so long this resident will try to take him/herself and this results in a fall and a bruised and broken little man or woman, that still has enought pride they do not want to wet the bed or their clothes. I see this happen often. We need more inspection or new inspectors where we live.

  • amyrn Apr 6, 2009

    It isn't a simple "pop in" and look at what's going on. There are fundamental rules that must be followed. You have to have a team because you have to have nurses or pharmacists to do the medication part and nurses to do the health care part. There has to be dieticians for the nutritional part and you have social workers for other parts. It isn't a matter of just walking through a facility and saying "oh, this looks good or this looks bad." Depending on the size of the facility, there are a certain number of records to be reviewed. Medication passes have to be observed and meals have to be observed. Furthermore, the visits are "surprises" to the facilities. Schedules have to be changed frequently to accomodate complaint investigations. ALSO, I WISH THE MEDIA WOULD LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NURSING HOMES AND ASSISTED LIVING AND FAMILY CARE HOMES.

  • 2headstrong Apr 6, 2009

    "North Carolina has 106 state inspectors and 435 nursing homes. That gives each inspector a caseload of roughly four facilities. Inspectors review those nursing homes at least once every 15 months."

    I'm very curious to know why one inspector can't cycle through and review each nursing home every three months. Or even pop in for a surprise visit more often. What the heck are they DOING for the 15 months between reviews??

  • Glass Half Full Apr 6, 2009

    Human warehouses is about the best description I can think of. In theory it sounds like a good idea but they're going to need some authority to act on their findings. If they look they will certainly find! I wouldn't leave my dog at any of the facilities in Harnett County (and I can only think of one in the area I'd even consider).