In my previous post on this important subject, I discussed how many Massachusetts nursing home centers, have in the recent past begun to advertise themselves as “Alzheimer’s Care Centers,” or claim that they “specialize” in caring for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. Many will adopt names such as “Memory Care Centers,” and similar. You’re seeing this sudden increase in such advertisements, because of businesses seeking to maximize profits from the exponential increase among the population in the number of people being afflicted with Alzheimer’s and similar memory-related disorders or dementia.
Much of this Massachusetts nursing home advertising is false, driven by nothing more than the never-ceasing corporate desire to take advantage of new profits – at almost any cost (the truth being the least important.) As revealed in my previous post on this problem, the Alzheimer’s Association of Eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire recently released a study showing that almost 60 percent of nursing homes make such false claims, and are engaging in false advertising. Worse still, these businesses – many owned by large chains – are flagrantly violating state laws designed prohibiting nursing homes from making false claims about their nursing and patient care services.
As a Boston and Dedham, Massachusetts nursing home neglect attorney, this news doesn’t surprise me. It sickens me, but it doesn’t surprise me. Sadly, I see it all too often. Some of the worst offenders? Genesis HealthCare, the largest nursing home operator in the nation, owns 34 Massachusetts nursing home facilities. From all present appearances, Genesis HealthCare appears to be violating Massachusetts law with almost half of those nursing homes – 18 of 34, according to the Alzheimer’s Association review. Websites for those 18 nursing homes advertise “dementia care services,” but then state in much less prominent language that they do not have a dementia specialty care unit, as term is defined by Massachusetts law.
Genesis’ response when confronted with this fact? A formal statement claiming that the firm had worked closely with state health department to “ensure that our language was clear and met all state regulations” – then claimed that their “disclaimer language” was added at Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) regulators’ suggestion. The Mass. DPH disputed Genesis’ characterization, stating “A nursing home that advertises itself as providing dementia care would be in violation of the nursing home licensure regulations if it has not met the dementia special care unit requirements, including the filing of a disclosure statement with the department, even with a disclaimer statement that it does not have a specialized dementia care unit.”
The Massachusetts DPH is like many other state agencies that are charged with protecting the most vulnerable of our population, but fail far too often in doing so. (The Massachusetts Department of Children & Families – DCF – should spring to mind on that point.) The DPH is facing a barrage of rapidly increasing complaints from elder care advocates who say the DPH is stalling on several critical fronts and failing to ensure the safety of frail and elderly Massachusetts nursing home patients. I’ve written recently about another nursing home chain operator, Synergy Health Centers, that have come under extensive media scrutiny and criticism for failing to adequately care for its nursing home patients. Synergy Health Centers is an out-of-state, rapidly expanding nursing home chain that has bought 11 Massachusetts nursing homes since December 2012.
Who are Synergy Health Centers, Genesis Health Care and similar nursing home chains buying these nursing homes from? Typically family-owned and run nursing centers, who can’t compete with these large corporate chains, and are offered attractive purchase terms by these deep-pocketed nursing home chains.
As a Boston Massachusetts nursing home abuse attorney, I caution anyone thinking of placing a loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home – whether for Alzheimer’s Disease issues or other reason: 1) RESEARCH the ownership of the corporation that owns the nursing home. 2) Do NOT accept believe advertising claims of “specialty” care for Alzheimer’s patients. 3) Establish a one-on-one, personal relationship with both the General Manager and Director of Nursing at any Massachusetts nursing facility you place your loved one in, and make it very clear that if your loved one is neglected in any way, that you’ll seek an experienced Massachusetts nursing home neglect law firm. 4) Visit your loved one, regularly – and pay close attention to how that person is being care for. 5) Do not rely on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, or any relevant state regulators, to protect your loved one’s medical interests. You simply can’t. You must do this, yourself, with vigilance.
Think of your loved one. And be vigilant.