Did you know that Nursing Homes PICK and CHOOSE their patients?!?

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My story is not an isolated case. Nursing homes in Onondaga County are either under staffed with unacceptable care, or above the rest and have a right to pick and choose who they will help and who they will deny care to. This is in my opinion, elderly neglect.

What happened to the days when a healthcare facility had to help a patient, especially when that patient had the funds available either privately, or through Medicare/Medicaid?? When did Nursing Homes acquire the right to deny a patient because there would be too much work involved to make them better for short term stay rehabilitation? Is this the way our country has decided to diminish the elderly population? Unless you are mobile and fairly self sufficient, with minimal care, or have one foot in the grave where you can be left in a bed 24 hours a day, the better nursing homes in this area will refuse to help you.

My father has been refused by Syracuse Homes and Birchwood Nursing home numerous times after being in the hospital and needing rehabilitation to get him strong again so he could come back home. Today he was refused again by both places. They don't have to give the discharge planner at the hospital a reason. If you call on your own, they use the excuse that they have no male bed available.

Dad has been sick on and off for the past 3 years. Congestive Heart Failure, and fluid buildup around his lungs which makes it hard for him to breathe. He has been taken to the Emergency Room three times in the past 4 weeks.

My father was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks the end of June. After the hospital diminished the fluid and he was better, he needed short term rehab at a nursing home to get stronger. Birchwood refused him. Our second choice (they do give you a choice, not that it does any good) was Syracuse Home. Syracuse Home agreed to take my father, all the paper work with the discharge planner was filled out. My father was to be transported to Syracuse Home on Thursday July 3rd at 11:00am. At 10am, the hospital got a call from Syracuse Home saying they were delaying the transport till 2pm. My brother and I got to the hospital at noon, got my dad dressed and ready to go. He was excited about getting out and going somewhere that he would not only get better but enjoy himself at the same time. At 1:00pm the discharge planner came in and said that Syracuse Home had to postpone my dads transport till Monday July 7th. We never did get a direct answer why. For the next 4 days, my father sat in a hospital room with minimal care. No physical therapy of any kind, his vitals checked and food brought in.
On Monday, July 7th he was scheduled to be transported at 2:00pm. Once again we went to the hospital and got him dressed and ready to go. This time at 1:00pm a nurse came into his room and said Syracuse Home changed their mind and denied my father care. Again, no explanation why! We had to choose another home.

Before I go any further I should explain that my dad had already been in Loretto, St. Camillus, The Crossing and Iroquois Nursing homes at different times for rehab. While being in all of these places, his health deteriorated instead of getting better so we could bring him home. The physical therapy departments in these nursing homes are useless. They make no effort to get a patient strong and back on their feet.

The Crossing pumped my father full of so much pain medication he couldn't move on his own if he wanted too. That was after having a knee replaced, he wasn't even sick.

Loretto was so short staffed, there was never a nurse or aid around when you needed one. The rooms were depressing, and the PT again was useless to anyone that was trying to get better.

St. Camillus was the same as the others. Short staffed, patients were neglected and whenever you asked a question, you couldn't get a straight answer.

Iroquois was a little more attentive and the staff (aides and nurses) did a decent job for the amount of people they had to tend too. The administration on the other hand was a nightmare. We repeatedly asked that my father be taken off of insulin. He has never needed it and it makes him sick and his dementia gets worse when he's on it. The doctor refused to listen to my brother who is my dads health care proxy. He hung up the phone on my brother and refused to talk to him. Administration first told us the insulin was stopped, when all the while he was still getting it. Physical therapy told my father and my brother and I that dad would never be able to walk with his cane again and would be lucky if he could get around with a walker. Needless to say we pulled my father out of the home and brought him home and within 3 days he was up walking around with his cane again.

We took my father out of each of the above nursing homes while watching him regress health wise instead of getting better. My heart goes out to the elderly people that are confined in these homes with no family or family that doesn't care and never monitors their treatment. Now back to the story:

We were told by the discharge planner at the hospital that Sunnyside Nursing home had an available bed and would take my father. This was a new home that he hadn't been to yet and we really had no other choice because he was too weak to come home where we could take care of him. After another day of sitting around in the hospital he was transported to Sunnyside on Tuesday July 8th. The home seemed ok after looking around and inspecting it. Most of the staff seemed friendly and caring. My father was to receive physical therapy and occupational therapy. The occupational therapy never happened. His doctors orders were he was to keep moving and when sitting for long periods of time his legs were to be elevated so he would not suffer the fluid buildup again. Within 4 days, dads legs started to swell. I continually mentioned this to the staff because my father was left sitting in a wheelchair or laying in bed constantly and his legs were never elevated. I visited my dad once a day, sometimes twice. NEVER once did I go there where I didn't find him in a soaking wet or soiled adult diaper, and his pants and shirt wet with urine. Each time I called in someone to change him I would sit and watch as they peeled off the soiled diaper and put a clean one on without once washing the stale urine from my fathers body. Would they treat their own bodies this way?

My father started getting depressed and his dementia was getting worse. I was concerned that due to the neglect in hygiene he might be getting a urinary track infection. I requested that a sample be tested and was told the doctor in charge would have to give the okay for a sample to be taken. Another 3 days pass with no urine test and my fathers legs were swelling more and more. They measured his legs every morning, yet did NOTHING to try and stop the fluid buildup. He was still left sitting in a wheelchair without his legs elevated.

During the second week of his stay at Sunnyside, I went to visit him and found him sitting in the dining room, soaking wet once again. I wheeled him to his room and proceeded to undress him to clean him up and put fresh clothes on. When I removed his wet diaper, I found blood on the front of it. I finally had had enough, to put me over the edge. I demanded to see the nurse in charge. She came in with a male aide, and I told them to explain to me why there was blood not only on my fathers diaper but on his penis. The male aide looked at my father and said "Oh, it looks like he might have cut himself with the sharp edge of the urine bottle he was trying to use." Excuse me????? This cheap plastic bottle had a ragged sharp edge on it, yet was given to an 87 year old man to use. I then voiced every complaint I had to the nurse in charge, who agreed with me. She made notes of my complaints, which the home had an excuse for everything even though there was no excuse that would be acceptable to the neglect my father was receiving. 45 minutes of physical therapy in the morning, and 23 hours of the remainder of the day left sitting in a wheelchair sleeping. No effort by anyone to get him off his feet for a short walk throughout the day to keep him moving so the fluid would not go back to his heart and lungs unless my brother or I got him up.

We had our meeting with the nurses, social worker and administration on Monday July 21st. We voiced our concerns and complaints, that nursing homes mottos are to maintain a patients health or make them better so they can come home. Neither was done. We then decided my father would get better care from my brother and I at home and we would take him to outpatient physical therapy. He was to be discharged the next day in our care. At 6am, Tuesday July 22nd (the day we were to take him home) my brother received a phone call from Sunnyside saying that my father had difficulty breathing during the night and they had sent out for a chest X-ray to be done. The X-ray was taken at 8am. I went directly to the nursing home after hearing the news to be with my dad and start packing up his things. It took over 4 hours for the results of the X-ray to be faxed. The nurse pulled me aside and said the X-ray shows Congestive Heart Failure and fluid around your fathers lungs. She wanted to know what I wanted to do. I looked at her and said you're kidding me right? Call an ambulance NOW, and get him to the Emergency Room!!!
He was taken to the ER and more tests were done. The doctor in the ER said they would keep him overnight and try to get rid of as much fluid as they could. We were to come pick him up in the morning. The neglect of Sunnyside, sent my father back into the hospital in worse shape then when he left 2 weeks earlier. I have filed a formal complaint against them with the Department of Health, and they are doing an investigation.

Dad was home with us for seven days. He was going to outpatient therapy and back to his adult daycare at Silver Fox which is one of the best places for elderly people to go. The staff is wonderful, the place is beautiful and they truly care about each and every one of their members like they were their own parents. I can't say enough good things about them. My father was on lacix to keep the fluid down, and we constantly had his legs elevated when he was sitting or resting. Even with our effort 100% of the time, because all of the fluid was not dissolved in his overnight stay at the ER, it built back up in his chest and lungs again. On Friday August 1st, while dad was at the daycare, he was having chest pains. The girls immediately called 911 and my father was taken back into the hospital. Congestive Heart Failure and fluid in and around his lungs. He is still in the hospital as of today, and I have never seen him in such bad shape. He is left sleeping most of the day in bed, he's weak and his dementia is worse then it's ever been. Physical therapy comes in early in the morning and wakes him from a sound sleep, then expects him to stand up after he's been laying down for hours and hasn't even had breakfast yet. They then write in their reports that he is too weak to receive therapy. These are the same reports the nursing homes see when the hospital no longer wants responsibility for a patient and gives you the choices of nursing home rehabs.

Back to square one. Our choices were Birchwood and Syracuse Home. We were told this morning that both places have once again denied my father. He is too weak for us to bring him home, we would never be able to get him up the 3 stairs to get into the house. What choices do we have now??? Send him back to one of the places who neglected to keep him healthy when he was there before, or try to take him home where we can keep him clean and fed but do not have the medical equipment or knowledge to monitor his health so he doesn't suffer CHF again.

Now, I ask you....how can these nursing homes be allowed to pick and choose their patients? Don't they have any compassion for the elderly that really need them? Are they afraid because a patient has a family that cares and monitors their parents care, that they will be exposed for the same kind of neglect other nursing homes have been exposed of?? Are they too lazy to take any patients that need a little extra care and attention? Is this now our country's way of disposing of the elderly due to the lack of good healthcare available in nursing homes? These establishments are paid good money to do their jobs, yet they do only the minimal with a shortage of staff. Read the obituaries and see how many elderly people are dying in these nursing homes. Are the families closing a blind eye, or are they afraid to speak out for fear of further neglect to their loved one? I do not want my father to be another statistic. I want him to be healthy as he is capable of being, and I expect the nursing home that he is a short term resident of to do their job. Is that asking too much?

We are all going to be in this situation at some time during the rest of our life cycle. After seeing what my father is going through, I would rather die healthy then put my daughter through this trauma and heartache. It's a disgrace that nursing homes can deny patients for whatever reason. They are supposed to be here to help all elderly people. If we don't start raising our voices, it will never get any better. I can only pray that there are still decent people in Onondaga County that work at these nursing homes who will do something about the discrimination to our elderly community.


Oh my I just can not believe what you are going through. My husband in and out of hospitals and nursing homes 10 times in the last five-six years, I don't know where to srart. You can get all kinds of help choosing a school or day care for children but as far as nursing homes yoy are on your own even when you go to visit one for consideration of where to put your loved ones you only get to see the better part usually the rehab part. They can turn you down for any reason-my husband got turned down the one he had been in eight times because his meds for his infections cost. I was not told by the nursing home at first but called the admitting office after he was placed in another one why they turned him down and they said it was the cost of the meds. But a few weeks later after discharge from the one other he had to remitted to the hospital and then back to rehab and the N.H. that had turned him down took him gladly that time -I wanted to REFUSE them that time but it is only about eight min. from our house and my husband likes it. I asked one of the aides--we know them so well and my mother in law had been in there years ago so they tell me things also we hired some of them to work at our home after he left rehab at times, I live in N.Y. STATE also
Thanks for responding. I knew my case was not an isolated matter. Anyone that has ever dealt with a nursing home, has probably had some sort of denial. The two that have denied my dad won't even give the hospital planner a reason for the denial. They always use the excuse that they don't have any male beds available in rehab.
We know they are lying because I have called and pretended to be someone else asking questions about rehab and privately paying for it. They always have a bed for that. The other nursing home we know someone that works there, but we can't use her to prove they are lying to us because she could lose her job and I wouldn't want that to happen.

I am in Syracuse, NY...Onondaga County. There are at least 10 nursing homes here if not more, and they are all dumps. If you look at the ratings on these homes, they have had numerous complaints against them for various things. Everyday in the obits, you see one or two people dying that were residents of these homes.

This last one I filed a complaint against was Sunnyside Nursing Home. I would go and visit my dad once if not twice a day. If I wasn't there, my brother was. There was not one time that I went there that he wasn't sitting in a soaking wet diaper, and the front of his pants and shirt were soaked with urine. Lord only knows how long he had been left that way. When I would complain and call someone in to change him, they would never wash the urine off his body. They'd peel off the wet diaper and but a clean one on. The hygiene of the patients was unacceptable.
They only gave them a shower once a week on Mondays. When I asked why, they said because it dries out the elderlys skin. I said haven't you ever heard of lotion?????? So imagine, sitting around in soiled disposable diapers all day long, smelling like a sewer and only being washed once a week. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why these poor people end up with urinary tract infections that can kill them because they go untreated. There were so many other things that I turned them in for, I just hope it will do some good. Although my father ended up back in the hospital from their neglect...I hope that it will help the other residents there that have no families to look after them and check on them.
I know how it is at first I use to be at the nursing home at 8 am and stayed until 9 pm and it got so I was doing all the care for my husband until the staff just expected it of me the first few times he went in to rehab. In this one the residents had a group that worked to address pts. complaints so for the most part it was a pretty good nursing home. The main problem was the aides were mostly from NEW YORK City the N.H. met the train with a bus to bring the staff to Somers MANOR three times a day. I used that one because it's P.T. Department was excelent but the aides were a problem and my husband needed the P.T. in order to be able to stay in our home. But I found you really need to be able to go there often and they had liberal visiting hrs. The second one he was in you could not go in untile 11 am. We visited a friend in one N.H. where visiters were not allowed to go into the P.T. Department which I did not like families should be a part of rehab. The second one was recommoded by a friend that had her mother there- but she did have some problems she wiuld go in at least once a day and her mother's oxagen would not be turned on. They only give showers once a week at most places because it is easier for the staff where he is now thet give showers often because the shower they use is easier for them to use. It helps if you talk to other family members there is strength in numbers and the first N.H. has meetings for the families of long term pts. Part of the problem in that they know when JCAH goes in for inspections. A good way to judge a N.H. is if the linen cart in covered then you know they are trying to do things right. I hope things go better for you and your Father.
Hi all,
I sent a letter to the editor of our Syracuse newspaper two days ago about Nursing Home discrimination. It was published in todays paper! I have received a couple phone calls from strangers who are in the same situation as we are over parents/partners being rejected by nursing homes. I was so excited I had to tell someone! LOL

It may not be much but it's a start, and hopefully the right people will read the article which is very brief and to the point and follow the lead and help out. Apparently the newspaper tought it was important enough to publish within 2 days time of submitting the story. I will keep you posted if anything more comes of it.
I am currently going through almost the same thing. i hope I don,t have a heart attack from the stress these people have caused before I can get my Dad out of this nursing home in Texas.
I am sorry to hear about your dads treatment. Having been in the same situation with my mom, I know your frustration and anger. It's down right painful to see our parents in these situations. I worked with my mom's nursing home over 3 months to help them understand HER - how she communicates and make them realize that she WOULD participate in therapy but they had to start slowly not dive right in; they had to coax her into it. Often they get paid my medicare or medicaide EVEN IF the patient is too ill or refuses to go - so there is no motivation for them to actually DO THE RIGHT THING.

Is there a hospital with a rehab floor near you? My mom was in a similar situation and rather then leave her in a room alone, they transferred her to a rehab floor until a room was available. She was actually able to go home from there and avoid the nursing home after a broken ankle. Have you complained to the state about this treatment of your dad? Nothing will change unless the regulatory agency that controls their license ( and thus ability to stay open for business) cracks the whip. After watching my mom, aunts & uncles and grandparents go through such treatment, I'm becoming a great supporter of socialized medicine - especially geriatric care, rehabilitation and nursing homes. If they have enough properly trained staff and the regulatory oversite, they will do a good job. It works in Norway and Sweden, it can work here to we just have to be willing to let it happen.

Best of luck to you and your dad. He's luck to have you as an advocate.
Ginny, My heart is with you. We are experiencing a similar thing with a family member. Do you know how little the staff get paid at these places? This may be one reason for the lax care. I am thinking of checking into the finances of some of the places to see how much the guys at the top are making instead of hiring more and better staff. Many of these places are simply understaffed which is why people end up laying in urine etc.... Healthcare services is big bank for many.
I sometimes think that letting the person go is a better idea. We now keep old bodies going long beyond what it naturally can take and end up in these loops of hospital rehab hospital rehab. Removing fluid from the lungs seems like a non-heroic and somewhat easy proceedure, but then??? I'm there too. Sigh. It is all so hard. Your care, in the end is what really matters. Both for you and for them. Love rocks.
PS someone told me that 90% of medical proceedures are performed in the last 6 months of life. What does that tell us?
I am terribly sorry for the neglect, abuse and lack of compassion your father received at Sunnyside Nursing Home. I too have a similar situation.
My father had three massive strokes that left him paralyzed on the right side. He went through aggressive therapy at Community General Hospital, and when they felt there was nothing else that could be done for dad, they gave me a selection of nursing homes, told me that St. Camillus was excellent and dad was placed there. I have never been more disgusted with a facility as I am with St. Camillus. They do not get dad up on time for his meals, when he puts his call light on, he has waited many times more than 45 minutes for a response. The response time as told to me by the vice president of this facility is 5-7 minutes, yet that is rarely the norm. He has been sent to the hospital 3 times this year (2013) for treatment of conditions that should not have happened. In March he had a urinary tract infection so bad that it spilled out into his blood and he ended up with septicemia. Even after I checked his urine frequently and notifying staff that something had to be done, nothing was and so he ended up at Community General Hospital. In May dad called me one morning to tell me he was not feeling well. This was just before 6A.M. and I called and spoke with the charge nurse on his unit, who told me that they were watching him. I told her she had 20 minutes to call the doctor for St. Camillus and tell him I wanted dad to be sent to the hospital. I called back 20 minutes later, and the doctor agreed and dad was sent again to Community General Hospital. This time he had another bad urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and contracted while at the hospital an infection called VRE. He was so sick he came close to dying. In June or July, my dad had been put on a new medicine for pain management and was so dehydrated, that he was barely awake and cognitive of where he was or what was happening to him. Two CNA's put my dad in his electric wheelchair, he pressed the "on" button, hit the throttle and ran into a wall. He was put back in bed, not awake and I again had him taken to Community General Hospital. He had no idea he was being transported to the hospital and did not wake up until he was in the emergency room being given I.V. fluids because of his severe dehydration.
You would think that all of these incidents would be the just about the worse indication of neglect, but it is not. Once dad came back to St. Camillus, I bought him two large water bottles that he could sip out of. These bottles were not rinsed out daily and I was notified that they could not be used because they had mold in them. I recall one day when I went to be with dad, one bottle that had juice in it was bubbling because the juice was so old and stagnate, that I had to keep rinsing it out, before I could refill it. Now, I have bought him smaller water bottles, two for each day with instructions that as the bottles are used daily they are to be rinsed out and put in a container so that I can wash them thoroughly with soap and water to be reused.
I have caught CNA's trying to move dad from his chair to his bed and grabbing him by his pants to move him. I have told them never to do this again because my dad has a foley catheter in him, and this hurts him. It is a sad state of affairs when CNA's don't either know how to move or reposition a patient or just don't care.
I pray that things work out for you and your father, for no one should be treated neglectfully.
I can relate to everything you are saying and for me I put part of the blame for my dad's death on the nursing home he was in. My dad was diagnosed with non hodgkins Lymphoma in 2008, he received 6 chemo treatments, responded very to the treatments and continued on with his very active life. In late 2010 the cancer came back and because it originated in his sinus tissue and acted like a sinus infection even though his oncologist knew what was going on he could not order tests to prove the cancer was back because the insurance company told him dad had to be treated for a sinus infection first to be sure that was not what he had. After trying 3 different antibiodics that did nothing to help him he ended up at Mass Eye and Ear in Boston, we were finally able to get the insurance company to allow us to do some tests to see if the cancer was back, he had an appointment at Mass Eye and Ear, On the day of his appointment he was very ill so we called and were told to bring him there immediately which we did but they made it clear that they were not a hospital and could not treat him for the illness he was having at that time. What they should have done was transfer him to Mass General which we asked them to do many times that day but because they now realized he had a rare form of Non Hodgkins in his sinus tissue they did not want to let him go. He was never the person to them just a rare tumor that they all wanted to get their hands on. He underwent exploritory surgery there were they found the tumor had grown and was now sitting at his brain stem. He would need radiation to stop the growth, something he was terrified of and had the insurance company approved the PET scan back 4 months earlier when the symptoms started it would not have grown this big. We met with a radiation oncologist who told us he would need 25 treatments in his neck and face, she completely downplayed the radiation, said he would have minor irritation in his throat after 3 weeks and that it was important that he continued to eat even if it hurt. The first 2 weeks he did great then he developed sores in his mouth, which we later found out was very common with radiation but no one saw fit to tell us about. The said his mouth would be dry and gave him some solution to rinse his mouth, they never told us that his saliva glands would be permantently damaged and he would not be able to produce saliva ever again. He went down hill very fast after the first 2 weeks of treatment because he could no longer eat or drink anything and still no one ever offered a feeding tube. When he had 5 treatments left he said no more so we told the oncologist that and she had the nerve to stand in front of my dad and tell him he did not want to stop now because what he had was 100% curable. He was beyond being cured because even if they did cure him he would never eat or drink again and he would never be the strong active man he was previous to this. He finished his 25 treatments and on the day after his last one he ended up in the hospital needing a blood transfustion. They would not release him to go home,said he needed rehab so he went to a nursing home in our town, they took him with the understanding that one of his 5 children would be with him at all times day and night. They put him in a private room so we could stay with him at night and we took turns for the 2 weeks he was there. They onlyy took him because they had to because they never did anything to help him, they never took any time to do rehab, they never monitored his intake of food and drink, they left him on the toilet for 45 minutes one day and my poor 86 year old mother who was there alone with him after asking for help from staff 4 times finally had to help him herself. There is so much that we witnessed going on there and it is so unfortunate for the elderly who have no one or who's family think they are being cared for when they are not. They lay in bed all day, in dirty diapers, their cries go unanswered for hours every day and no one cares to help them. My dad went down hill very fast while there and probably because the nursing home did not like having us there 24/7 they told us we had to take him home as there was nothing else they could do for him. We took him home to die and he passed away 9 days after he left the nursing home, he died with his family who loved him and cared for for him the way he deserved to be cared for and we miss him every day. Many people failed my dad and I also take partial blame and will live with that guilt forever. I should have been better informed and researched what radiation does to someone. He never wanted to have radiation but he also did not want to leave his family so he did it for us, he never should have done that, we should have tried to convince him to do the chemo again and allow him to live what life he had left to the fullest. The nursing home wrote my dad off the minute he got there and never intended to work with him or any of us. i am very bitter about alot that happened but am so greatful that my dad came home to die and that I was there to walk that final journey with him.
Your Dad has really bad CHF and fluid overload or the wrong meds or just too much salt can send him over the edge. Like everyone that has written, I am so sorry to see you are going through this! Is there any possibility of a Home Health solution, with a good hospital bed, transfer aids, and enough care help that it would be manageable? Another option you might have would be hospice care, where you would want to pre-negotiate that they will keep giving him his Lasix and heart meds to relieve his CHF and associated discomforts as much as possible.

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