THE INVESTIGATORS: What happens to your parents in this nursing - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

THE INVESTIGATORS: What happens to your parents in this nursing home?

Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
PLAQUEMINE, LA (WAFB) -

A nursing home in Iberville Parish has a documented history of abuse, neglect, and mismanagement.

Plaquemine Manor is a nursing home that houses and cares for 112 residents. Though it's a privately-owned facility, it receives public funding via Medicare and Medicaid subsidies and is thus regulated by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

According to state health records, Louisiana paid Plaquemine Manor more than $4.1 million last year, which breaks down to about $171 per patient, per day.

The WAFB 9News Investigators began looking into Plaquemine Manor after current residents, their family members, and former employees came forward with stories of alleged abuse, neglect, and harassment.

One family member, who asked to be identified only as Noelle, says her mother has been living there for more than two years. Noelle says she initially felt secure having her mother live at Plaquemine Manor, as it looked like a very nice facility when she first visited. 

“I think every family member would like to feel secure in knowing their family members are being taken care of like we take care of them,” she said.

But her concerns soon mounted. She says she first noticed little things like water not being refilled and spills not being cleaned up immediately. Then, she says, things got more serious. 

During one visit, Noelle says she walked into her mother’s room and found her uncovered with little clothing on and urine all over the floor. In another incident, her mother ate an entire paper napkin after being left unattended and in the dark during dinner, she says.

Noelle took her complaints to staff members, but instead of trying to correct the issues, the managers at Plaquemine Manor revoked her regular visitation rights and are threatening to revoke her mother’s residency, she claims.

The facility gave her an involuntary discharge transfer, which Noelle is appealing. She wishes she could place her mother into a different facility, but Plaquemine Manor is one of only a few near her home that houses Medicare residents, she says.

In the meantime, she has been limited to supervised visitation, meaning a staff member must be at Noelle’s side any time she wants to visit her mother.

“The administrator told me I’m the only family member who complains,” she said.

Noelle says she filed a formal request to install a surveillance camera in her mother’s room, even offering to install it at her own expense. They denied her request. 

“Why would you deny that,” she asked. “If you’re doing your job, what difference would it make?”

Documents obtained by the 9News Investigators show state inspectors have recorded several policy and code violations, including incidents of abuse, neglect, and mismanagement, at Plaquemine Manor over the last three years.

AN INFESTATION OF FLIES

Some violations noted by inspectors included an infestation of pests all throughout the nursing home, mold in the dining room and inside of a refrigerator door, among other places, missing and inaccurate patient health records, and medications that were mishandled and improperly administered.

One inspector noted that in the middle of an interview with one of the residents, he saw two flies buzzing around the room and landing on the resident’s head, according to a report from 2016.

The pest issues included ants and mice living among the residents, a spider biting someone in an outdoor area, and numerous insects living throughout the facility. The report specifically cited flies living in the kitchen and landing on the residents’ food while they tried to eat, and a “large swarm of small winged insects” living in the kitchen and in a resident’s room.

The head administrator of Plaquemine Manor at the time identified the smaller winged insects that flew in large swarms as “sewage bugs,” the report noted.

The administrator tried to downplay the bug problem, telling the inspector he didn't think it was that bad. However, as he was pleading his case, a black winged insect flew into his face, forcing him to swat it away, the report said.

ABUSE ALLEGATIONS

During a state visit on September 23, 2016, one resident told an inspector he or she had witnessed a certified nursing assistant tell her roommate “to get her p---y a-- up” and then push her roommate onto the toilet. She says when another resident asked the same CNA to brush her hair, the CNA told her to “shut her a-- up,” according to the LDH records. 

In those records, state inspectors concluded, “Further review revealed the allegation of abuse was substantiated.” In consequence, the CNA was moved to another hall. 

In another interview by inspectors, a family member stated, “she witnessed a CNA throw the resident in bed and tell that resident not to bother her.”

The family member initially made a complaint to the nursing home’s staff, but it appears little to nothing was done. In their interviews with Plaquemine Manor’s top brass and nursing supervisors, the inspectors discovered that staff never bothered to perform a body audit on the resident, meaning they didn’t check for any injuries.

In a breach of strict protocol following an abuse allegation, the staff failed to interview any other residents that would have had services provided by the accused CNAs, the report stated.

The inspector noted the facility’s failure to “implement written policies and procedures that prohibit mistreatment, neglect, and abuse of residents.”

NURSING HOME OR NURSING “JAIL”?

A resident who spoke with the 9News Investigators says the nursing home staff has tried to prevent the residents from speaking with authorities whenever inspections are performed.

The woman, who asked to be identified only as Heidi, lives at Plaquemine Manor because of physical handicaps caused by cerebral palsy. 

Heidi says the staff sometimes gathers the residents into a room to watch a movie in an effort to distract them during inspectors’ visits.

Once, when a friend visited her in her room, a staff member remotely turned on the room’s intercom to eavesdrop on their conversation, Heidi says.

“I feel like I'm in jail there because I have no privacy in my own room,” she said. “If I'm talking to my friends, the intercom will click on and they'll be listening to my conversation when they not supposed to.”

Heidi says the administrator, Tracy Garcia, harasses her about the conversations she has with friends who visit, but she is more worried about the medication that has gone missing.

Not all is bad at Plaquemine Manor though, Heidi says. She likes living there for the most part, but felt it was time someone spoke up about what can happen when relatives, inspectors, and other visitors aren’t around. “The ones who can't do for themselves,” she said. “That's the ones that my main concern go out to and my heart breaks for.”

Garcia initially agreed to an on-camera interview, but later changed her mind and sent WAFB’s investigative team a letter via certified mail. 

In the letter, she declined our offer for an interview and stated, in part: "We take concerns and complaints very seriously and always work to address them with our residents, their families, and those at the state agencies who oversee our nursing home.”

STATE LEVIES FINES

LDH Chief of Staff Andrew Tuozzullo says he's quite familiar with Plaquemine Manor.

“We have, in this case, obviously, looked into this place a few times,” Tuozzullo said. “It's a big concern and we've had some incidents in this particular home that we have cited them.”

In the last year and a half, the state has fined Plaquemine Manor $23,000. The facility has also experienced some increased turnover with four different administrators in the last three years.

As of October 25, administrators have corrected the issues that inspectors found and noted in the last six months. Plaquemine Manor is up for recertification soon and inspectors will be taking a close look at the facility, Tuozzullo says.

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