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Letter: Refusing Ruthie’s Law is harming elderly patients

Despite the recent enactment of “Ruthie’s Law” instructing nursing homes to inform client’s caretakers of medical concerns in a timely fashion, several nursing homes, such as one in particular have refused to observe the new law.

My mother, Nancy Starr, was placed at the center in 2017, where she had to contend with an environment infected with administrative indifference and incompetent medical staff. As my mother’s condition deteriorated, a housekeeper and nurse asked me to call the police as part of an eventual futile attempt to save her life, by moving to another facility. After my mother’s death, the New York State Health Department – in the following year – conducted a survey of the nursing home. What they found was alarming: Conditions that could have negative effects on the health of individuals who were already compromised by illness.

The state revealed various staff not properly certified and neglected standard hygiene protocol. Lack of documentation of patient’s injuries and medical supplies were in constant short order-such as inhalers. Inspectors also discovered insect infested debris in proximity to the nursing home and vermin were seen in the vicinity as well.

Lack of administration oversight of pharmacological services and distribution was common. Hydrocodone and other drugs were unaccounted for. When questioned, management could not confirm who was responsible for administering medications. Patient gradual drug reductions were inaccurately recorded, and records of patients’ medical intakes were faulty and cabinets full of prescription substances were unlocked – vulnerable to potential theft.

I guess one can’t blame the nursing home for not complying with “Ruthie’s Law.” I don’t think anyone would knowingly want their loved ones to experience what my mother did.

Jody Starr


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