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A View From the Inside: Residents Talk About Life in a Nursing Home the Government Accused of “Compromised Care”

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The United States and the District of Columbia Reach $2 Million Settlement with Grant Park Care Center to Settle Allegations Regarding Fraudulent Billings to Medicare & Medicaid 

 In November 2008, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it had reached a $2 million settlement with Grant Park Care Center in Washington, DC, after a “comprehensive investigation confirmed that Centennial [HealthCare Corporation] routinely reduced staffing levels of certified nurse aides, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses at Grant Park Care Center which resulted in compromised care being provided to its residents. The investigation also revealed that services to certain residents at Grant Park Care Center were either not rendered or were of a quality that failed to meet professionally recognized standards of health care. Specifically, numerous residents at Grant Park Care Center suffered from dehydration, malnutrition and increased infections. Residents were left alone for extended periods of time without cleaning or bathing, and often contracted preventable pressure sores. The United States and the District of Columbia also alleged that the staff at Grant Park Care Center failed to develop and follow resident care plans to meet the individual needs of each resident.”

Paper Foreword by Gerald Kasunic, DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman

The Grant Park Care Center’s Resident Council has partnered with the DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (Ombudsman Program) for the past several years (2004 to present) in order to improve the delivery of services, daily operational management, and introduce new perspectives through alternative nursing home programs.1 Throughout the past few years, the Grant Park Care Center’s Resident Council and the Ombudsman Program have addressed the lack of appropriate transportation for non-ambulatory residents seeking to participate in facility activities. The Ombudsman Program, having few legal and research resources, requested assistance through Columbus Community Legal Services, the legal clinic of The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, to research possible transportation remedies. During this effort, it became clear that complaints relating to transportation were overshadowed by the quality of care, life, and safety complaints being voiced by residents. Since The Catholic University and the Ombudsman Program had developed a strong working relationship and understanding of the problems facing the Resident Council, the mission to “fix” the transportation issue expanded into a joint collaboration with the Resident Council to gather their stories and experiences.

In September 2008, the Resident Council agreed to work with The Catholic University law students, Joshua Borean and Patrick McCormally, who worked under the supervision of Assistant Clinical Professor Faith Mullen, with the mission to present the residents’ voices to the nursing home administrators, current owners, the DC Department of Health, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Resident Council, Columbus Community Legal Services, and the Ombudsman Program believe the “conversations” gathered within this document offer insight into resident concerns and will hopefully prompt the nursing home owners and administrators to make positive operational changes for Grant Park Care Center’s residents.

The Office of the DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, through its local and federal mandates2 to assist Resident and Family Councils, worked with Grant Park Care Center’s Resident Council and The Catholic University law students to develop a forum in which residents could describe their experiences and promote quality care at Grant Park.  To that end, this project reflects some of the residents’ voices within the nursing home. To protect their privacy, the residents interviewed and quoted within this report have been given pseudonyms and their identities will not be revealed.