Editorial: ‘Red flag’ nursing homes are unacceptable

Until the state addresses this crisis, there are plenty of measures Kansas families can take

Kansas Advocates for Better Care lists Topeka Presbyterian Manor as a “red flag” nursing home with 10 violations or more for three consecutive inspections. On the most recent inspection, Presbyterian Manor was cited for 21, tied for the second highest in Topeka. (2015 file photo/The Capital-Journal)

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is required to conduct regular inspections of the state’s nursing facilities. According to the agency’s reports, 68 Kansas nursing homes have received 10 or more infractions (KDADS calls them “deficiencies”) for three consecutive years, and six of these facilities are located in Topeka. A Lawrence-based nonprofit called Kansas Advocates for Better Care — which “monitors conditions in the state’s nursing homes” — gave each of these facilities a “red flag.”


KABC says facilities are cited with deficiencies when they’re “found to be out of compliance with a regulation intended to ensure residents’ health and safety.” There are 350 nursing homes in Kansas and almost 20 percent of them have repeatedly violated these health and safety regulations. And it gets even worse. According to KABC, “In the past 18 months, at least 44 facilities on the list were cited for deficiencies that resulted in ‘actual harm’ to residents or put them in ‘immediate jeopardy’ of being harmed.”

The commissioner for survey, certification and credentialing at KDADS, Codi Thurness, says the agency documented 132 “immediate jeopardy” incidents in 2016 — a dramatic increase from the 54 incidents in 2015. However, Thurness noted that this spike could be due to external factors: “There is probably more awareness of individuals voicing concerns they’re having. More people are educated and reporting to the hot line.” Regardless of what caused the increase, the number is a disturbing sign that too many Kansas seniors are at risk.

The Good Samaritan Society Center (a nursing facility in Minneapolis) received 46 deficiencies in the last inspection cycle alone — some of which harmed residents or put them in immediate jeopardy. KABC listed a few of these infractions: “Mistreatment of resident(s) resulting in actual harm, lack of proper treatment to prevent bed sores resulting in actual harm, lack of compliance with special or therapeutic diets resulting in immediate jeopardy for residents, and accident hazards which posed immediate jeopardy to residents.”

What is KDADS doing to ensure that red flag facilities like the Good Samaritan Society Center are improving? What penalties do the administrators and owners of these nursing homes face when they consistently fail to comply with health and safety regulations? Why did the state’s last inspection cycle take place over the course of 15 months instead of a year — particularly when “immediate jeopardy” incidents appear to be on the rise and more than one in five facilities in the state are chronically deficient?

KABC reports that “Kansas law requires that nursing facilities be inspected every 12 months, on average. KDADS, however, consistently fails to meet its own timelines due to budget shortfalls and not having enough trained inspectors.” Is anything being done to increase the frequency of inspections? What would it take for this option to be considered?

These are issues that state officials have a responsibility to address immediately, but seniors and their families shouldn’t wait to take action. If a loved one is a resident at one of the red flag nursing homes, demand answers from the facilities’ administrators. Contact your legislators. Contact KABC. Make sure all residents are aware of the KDADS Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation hotline: 800-842-0078. And be sure to do as much research as possible to help choose the right home for the people you love most.

Members of The Capital-Journal’s editorial advisory board are Zach Ahrens, Matt Johnson, Ray Beers Jr., Laura Burton, Garry Cushinberry, Mike Hall, Jessica Hosman, Jessica Lucas, Veronica Padilla and John Stauffer.



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