To the Editor:
I write today in response to the letter to the editor published on July 4, 2013 entitled “Families must monitor families.” As the Rhode Island Long Term Care State Ombudsman, I feel that a response to this letter is necessary.
My office is located in Warwick, and is mandated through the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs to serve as an advocate for residents who reside in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care and hospice care. Each state has a long-term care ombudsman. I have also been a long-term care nurse for 25 years. To insinuate that I or anyone else in my office is in anyone’s pocket is not only untrue, but sad. The one thing that anyone knows about my agency and me is we are all fierce advocates for the elderly and carry no one’s water. I can truly understand the feelings of Ms. Norman on the loss of her father, but can assure all of the readers of the Warwick Beacon that my agency did everything possible to advocate for her father when the family called upon us.
It is noteworthy to mention that the person who wrote the first comment in Ms. Norman’s letter failed to explain the circumstances behind her proposed legislation. The bill submitted was to pass a law that would have allowed cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms during care. As well intentioned as that was, to pass such a bill would have invaded a resident’s right to privacy. Can you imagine recording a resident having a wound dressing change or a catheterization insertion? The states that have passed such a bill had rampant cases of physical abuse or not enough surveyors to inspect the homes. The real insult was when she wrote into the bill a statement that included the Long Term Care Ombudsman as part of the evaluation process without even consulting me. The legislator that is referred to is Chairman McNamara, who is the Warwick State Representative. Chairman McNamara works diligently not only in promoting bills to protect the elderly, but also in protecting school children. God bless representatives like Chairman McNamara for always demonstrating ethical and professional behavior.
In closing, I want to let your readers know that anyone involved in long-term care in the state of Rhode Island has been working very hard to promote culture change in nursing homes. Rhode Island has been the forerunner in the United States to ensure the implementation of this concept. Are nursing homes perfect? Of course not. Try looking at the conditions in the Midwest and southern states if you do not think we are among the best states for long-term care. Chameleons have their own agenda and will stop at nothing for their own notoriety, which includes attacking the privacy and dignity of the Rhode Island elderly. They will always find a fierce opponent in this office.
Rhode Island Long Term Care State