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Two Triangle Nursing Homes Under Fire For Improper Patient Care

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RALEIGH — America is getting grayer, and it is getting harder to find the best care for the sick and elderly. Two nursing homes in the Triangle are under fire for mistreating its patients.

After state inspectors went inside Raleigh Rehabilitation and Healthcare, they say they found poor patient care in three major areas: patient dignity, hydration and nursing care. In one case, a resident had to be hospitalized when his feeding tube was re-inserted incorrectly.

"Residents that were being left wet and soiled to residents being spoken too harshly," says Steve White ofN.C. Division of Facility Services. "Residents did not get the fluids they needed to maintain their health level."

White says they have had 14 complaints over a short period of time.

"I'm really not shocked about it," White says. "The nursing homes are having a difficult time getting staff to take care of residents. A lot of the complaints we get are staff-driven."

The facility will lose all federal funding if the threat to patients' safety is not resolved by May 12. It is owned by a company called Vencor, which owns LaSalle Healthcare Center, Rose Manor and Pettigrew nursing facilities in the Triangle area.

LaSalle Healthcare Center could also lose federal funding after state investigators found serious patient care problems there.

White says the problems are not unique to Vencor.

The number of complaints at nursing facilities statewide has skyrocketed from about 996 in fiscal year 1995-96 to nearly 1,916 in fiscal year 1998-99, a 92 percent increase in three years.

The state has received so many complaints that it has had to add 15 inspectors in the last year.

Inspectors will return to Raleigh Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center soon to see if conditions improve.

Vencor is the nation's largest nursing and long-term care company with more than 300 nursing centers across the country. The company is based in Louisville, Ky. and filed for bankruptcy in September.

The manager at Raleigh Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center and Vencor did not return calls to WRAL.

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Todd Hauer, Reporter
David McCorkle, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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