"The Shut Out" (July 9) is well done, accurate as far as I can tell, and long overdue. To be clear, there have been essentially no admissions to the nursing homes for months. Not from the hospitals, not from the community, not for Hospice patients, not for PACE patients. Not for patients with Medi-Cal, Medicare, or any other kind of payment mechanism as far as I can tell. None.
This has led to overburdened hospital systems and prolonged stays in the acute setting. This leads to trouble and suffering. This has led to inadequate home-based care plans. This leads to trouble and suffering for patients and caregivers alike. Nobody prefers a nursing home environment, even a well-run nursing home. In the current scenario we are functioning in this already medically distressed and deficient community healthcare system without a safety net. On the ground, every day, this translates to the suffering of our most vulnerable neighbors, family members and friends. I am ashamed and saddened. This is a political and criminal emergency.
Michael Fratkin, Humboldt County
In light of the recent well written article, I am hopeful many in our community will be as incensed as I am about the monopoly of the local nursing homes, and the apparent lack of oversight by the very agency that is supposed to protect these resident and their rights. This appears to be a perfect opportunity for Humboldt County to come together and look at other solutions to long-term medical care. It is possible that each and every one of us will become "that senior" someday, and I would hope that when my time comes there is a warm, inviting and caring facility for me to live out the remaining days if I was no longer able to live in my own home.
Until that time comes, there is something each one of you can do right now, and that is to become an advocate for those living in these facilities. As program manager, I know the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is staffed by dedicated volunteers who provide a voice for those who cannot, or are afraid to, speak for themselves. Ombudsman go through intense training to become a patient advocate. This training includes learning about the aging process, paying for long term care, resident's rights and problem solving techniques. Additionally Ombudsman are mandated to investigate all reports of suspected elder abuse in a nursing home or a residential care facility. So, you can do something to help these residents. Become an advocate today.
If you would like additional information on becoming a Long Term Care Ombudsman please call 269-1330.
Suzi Fregeau, Eureka