Friday, April 17, 2009

Wes Bedloe working to stop Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

The Oklahoman founder of a national watchdog group for nursing homes on Thursday called state and national governments to action to change how substantiated abuse cases are cited and how they influence the rating of nursing homes on the federal Web site.

Wes Bledsoe, founder of A Perfect Cause, says that because families of nursing home residents rely heavily on this rating system, the information there needs to be accurate and complete, he said. Otherwise, the whole system should be taken away.

According to state inspection reports, Oklahoma nursing homes were ranked among the best in the nation. The truth is, the state led the nation not in quality of care, but in corruption.

FBI wiretaps caught the state's top nursing home official demanding kickbacks in return for doctoring nursing home reports for their owners.

The bribery convictions were vindication for relatives and advocates for the elderly who had been warning federal officials about the corruption in Oklahoma's nursing homes for years. According to a Congressional report, of the 393 nursing homes in Oklahoma, 68 facilities — more than one out of every six — had a violation that caused actual harm to nursing home residents or placed them at risk of death or serious injury.

Wes Bledsoe's grandmother, Eunice Allen, died a week after the corruption scandal broke. Inspectors had repeatedly cited the nursing home, Southern Oaks Manor, for harming patients, but little was ever done. His grandmother died of gangrene, and the family later discovered the the "doctor" who signed of on her care was not a physician.

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