Conditions in Arizona nursing homes are so unsafe and alarming that state inspectors will not leave until all the problems have been fixed and are in compliance with state laws.
Inspectors discovered nursing home abuse of patients that are unable to get the right medicines and seniors living in fear of being abused by abusive employees. In the past two years the numbers of Arizona nursing homes found to be in these types of conditions has spiked.
In 2006, 13 percent of Arizona’s nursing homes were found in immediate jeopardy during their annual inspection, up from two in 2006 and one or two in the years prior.
This year three facilities have received the worst possible rating a nursing home can receive.
State health officials are shocked and concerned about by the increase. Nursing home advocates and operators say the spike is being caused by lack of funding. They say the state needs more money to better monitor homes.
Nursing-home care became the center of a firestorm earlier this year after inspectors found the Arizona State Veteran Home to be in immediate jeopardy because staff allowed elderly patients to smoke unsupervised, with some burning themselves with cigarettes. Inspectors also found other cases of severe patient abuse, including residents being left in soiled clothes for hours and call lights not being answered.
Gov. Janet Napolitano and legislators vowed improvements at the home, which was fined $10,000 by the federal government. Inspectors say the home is now in compliance.
The veteran home is one of a few homes with such troubles. In April, Waverly Park in Tucson was fined $20,250 for not giving medications to 21 patients over a four day duration.