To the Editor:
I write this letter to you and your readers for the sole purpose of expressing our thoughts on the misfortunes my father endured in nursing homes in Rhode Island. Now that my father has passed, our thoughts are turned to the kindness as well of others. Our story played out over and over again on news stations and newspapers about his unthinkable and harmful care while a resident at Pawtuxet Village Nursing Home. For those that followed the story, my father was overdosed while in their care and ultimately ended up in the Phillip Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence in a coma for 19 days. By some miraculous spiritual healing, he came out of that coma, when daily we were told he would pass at any time. My father was not the only victim of these heinous people running this facility; there are many more stories just as terrible out there. Just as bad, maybe worse, is West Shore Health and South County Nursing and Rehab center (all places Dad has spent time at). They, as I would like to put, just haven't been outed yet as to how bad their lack of care is as well.
We were not supported by the Department of Health nor the Ombudsman’s office. These agencies were designed, so we thought, to support and back families in their time of crisis. It is important for families to know that Ombudsmen (for lack of a better phrase) are also in the pockets of big nursing home corporations and only present themselves as advocates for patients. AARP is also an agency only in print that is there for elderly; they too, are a moneymaking, for-profit agency. Families must advocate, must continue to monitor daily the goings-on of family members in nursing homes. This, and only this, is the way to gain a full "daily" picture of what transpires. Weekly or monthly visits will never provide the "care picture" families must have. Though at the time we were thought to be the troublemakers for continuing to ask questions, and yes to get "into the faces" of those paid to provide adequate care. As we now know with the forced closing of Pawtuxet Village, all the advocacy in which we had given my father was indeed on the mark, though to see how they presented us as the "troublemakers"; they were harming patients dating way back to the year 2004.
Moving past, now, the closure of Pawtuxet Village, my father, ultimately waking from his coma, regained some strength and was moved to Kent Regency in Warwick. I want to paint a picture of a place with the continuous care from the same people on a weekly basis (no agency help with no vested interest in their placement for an evening or weekend), compassionate hardworking people, who care. No place is perfect, and we had minor instances of problems there, very minor in comparison to the places he was previously. It was Kent Regency, as close to perfect as can be in comparison to the others. The administrator Stella is in touch with patients and family nearly on a daily basis, thus allowing her a clearer picture from patients as to their concerns; she literally reaches out to them [because] she wants it the best it can be. We believe that the placement at Kent Regency allowed my father to continue life for an additional year and a half that we probably would not have had.
I close with our heartfelt thanks to the Barrett Cotter Funeral Home. They provided genuine, compassionate help to our family in a time of crisis. My father looked 20 years younger, and if you hadn't seen him the previous weekend when he was about to pass (or throughout his illness), you never would have believed the man was sick a day in his life. Their work is exceptional, as is their professionalism. They extended themselves as well to other senior members in our family, making sure they were OK at the funeral with help with walkers, etc. They are to be commended for their outstanding job.
Debra J. Norman