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New Report by Nursing Home Care Watchdogs Exposes Risks to Residents in Pima County Nursing Homes; Singles Out One of Area's Most Troubled Operators; Advocates Expose Short-Staffing, Bed Sores, and Repeated Care Violations at Area Homes Owned by The Ensign Group, Call for Action.

TUCSON, Ariz., April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report issued by a newly-formed coalition exposes serious care problems for seniors and people with disabilities at Pima County nursing homes. Nursing home residents, their family members, staff and advocates are calling on state and county government officials to address these problems and hold local nursing homes accountable to a safer level of care. The report finds a variety of problems with the nursing home inspection system and makes recommendations for improvements.

"It's time to clean up Tucson nursing homes, to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are safe and well cared-for," said Anita Royal, Public Fiduciary for Pima County.

Lax enforcement has made it possible for some nursing home operators to severely lower the quality of care and safety. The report, "Are Our Seniors Safe? A Report on Quality Problems in Pima County Nursing Homes" reveals that Arizona nursing homes lag far behind national patient quality standards. Statewide, Arizona homes receive more patient care violations than the national average, and staff below national averages.

In particular, the report exposes three homes owned by The Ensign Group as having some of Pima County's most troubled patient care. The Ensign Group, a large out-of-state for-profit chain, is one of the fastest-growing nursing home companies in the Western United States and has a very troubled patient care record.

Some of the problems at local Ensign-operated homes in Pima County found in the report:
 * Partial colon removal from a patient who didn't receive prescribed
 anti-constipation medications.
 * Medication errors resulting in emergency hospitalizations.
 * A fractured hip left untreated and undiagnosed for 11 days.
 * Bleeding scabs that smell of urine and feces.




The Ensign Group's Tucson facilities are Sabino Canyon Rehabilitation and Care Center (5830 E. Pima St.); Waverly Park Care Center (2001 N. Park Ave.) and Catalina Healthcare Center (2611 N. Warren Ave.).

In order to call for change, advocates for seniors and people with disabilities joined together to form Nursing Home Watch, a coalition. Coalition participants in Pima County include members of the Pima Council on Aging, Arizona Center for Disability Law, Gray Panthers, Alliance of Retired Americans, Arizona Center on Aging, ACORN and others.

"We all need to do our part to improve care for Pima County's most vulnerable seniors. As part of the Pima Council on Aging, I support efforts to improve care and shine a light on nursing home operators that are not giving the best care possible," said Sam Arcus, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Coordinator for the Pima Council on Aging.

The Pima Health System, an entity of the Pima County, contracts with nursing homes for care of seniors and people with disabilities and has enforcement capabilities that supplement the state's. Activists are calling on county and state officials to force local nursing homes to provide better care. They are calling for a local investigation into homes with the most troubled records, specifically those operated by The Ensign Group.

"It's a tragedy that our local nursing homes don't measure up to basic patient care standards," said Carlos Salaz, a member of the Alliance of Retired Americans. "We need to act now to improve care for Pima County's seniors because everyone who needs decent nursing home care should get it."

The Ensign Group operates nine nursing homes and three assisted living facilities in Arizona, as well as 34 other facilities in California, Texas, and Washington state. The Nursing Home Watch report uses this company's local nursing homes to highlight to need to improve patient safety and the quality of care in Pima County nursing homes.

Editor's Note: For a copy of "Are Our Seniors Safe? A Report on Quality Problems in Pima County Nursing Homes," contact Margot Veranes at (520) 465-1613 or go to http://www.nursinghomewatch.org/.

Nursing Home Watch is a coalition of senior advocates, clergy, nursing home staff, nursing home residents and family members, the Service Employees International Union and community supporters who have united to improve the safety and quality of nursing home care.

CONTACT: Margot Veranes, cell, +1-520-465-1613, or Jennifer Kelly, +1-213-368-7408, or cell, +1-213-300-3336, both for Nursing Home Watch
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 27, 2005
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