September 16, 2014
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LETTERS
Fierce advocate for elderly responds to letter

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. 

Kathleen Heren

Rhode Island Long Term Care State

Ombudsman


Comments
3 comments on this item

Ms Heron, your concern over your agency is duly noted. But it appears to me reading this letter it is about "image/damage" control. Though you state you are for the elderly what bills exactly has your office supported this past year? Did those bills make it though legislation? Please for the benefit of those reading this what strides has your office made in terms of the elderly? What have you done to change things, things that are on paper and can be documented for readers. No one wants to dsst an organization believed to help the elderly, but please provide that proof.

As a reader I've seen at least 3 different cases in the RI news about abuse (Smithfield your office tried to get whistleblowers fired), overdosing (PV in Warwick) & death (Coventry) ~ is the cap 3 or is it 10 or how many does it take before YOUR office advocates for the elderly in a response that the public can see?

The legislation presented for nursing home monitoring was a very good bill. It is not you sitting in a nursing home, it was not YOU that was to be paying for this monitoring but that of families. Safety trumps privacy (most certainly when a patient or family agree to it), your agency is not God nor should it present itself to be you shouldn't be the decision makers. Families should have the right when patients can't do it on their own to have a choice. Had it NOT been for the camera's in Coventry the gentleman murdered there & the perpetrator of the crime ever be caught? Furthermore yes I would like to be present for my father or mother's care, even a cath insertion if necessary, most abuse takes place at just these times....I sincerely hope you have family to take care of you and will not be depending on only a nursing home watching out for you. That Ms. Heron is the bottom line. Folks like you advocate instead of families. FAMILIES MUST ADVOCATE! The Norman's were on the money and ruffled feathers, this is why we don't need folks like you running the show, laughing at families testifying for what they believe and know in their hearts happened, DOCUMENTED PROOF!

By denouncing the Norman family & their efforts you denounce Jim Taricani of WJAR AND his extensive work on his coverage of this, denounce Helen Glover of WHJY, Tara Granahan & most Carolyn Medeiros of the Alliance for Safe Communities, all highly respected individuals that many times got to the root of the continuous problems within nursing homes. To make such a statement to Ms. Norman "I can truly understand the feelings of Ms. Norman on the loss of her father" her fathers death plays little role in what agencies did not do. Are you new to this position? Factual findings date back to 2004 where were you between 2004 -2013 in getting changes made at PV before all the disgusting & disturbing things happened there to finally close then down. Or will your agency take credit for that too? We know that they were not the only family having problems there. And why when an attorney requested notes from care plan meetings that your agency was involved in with the Norman's were they not turned over? What is being hidden? One has to have questions in order to get answers, this isn't a battle of wits, this is common sense; would you not agree?

I live in RI I am not interested in the reports of the Midwest, I am however very interested in documented proof from your office on what you've done in this state.

There are chameleons without a doubt Ms. Heron, most I believe to be in your office.

As for Rep McNamara if put this out to him as well, what legislation has come through your committee this past year concerning elderly that has NOT been put out for further study (or for layman) ignored and put aside to have to be resubmitted year after year after year??? This is a fair question. TO the best of my knowledge I believe it to be one bill of many submitted that has gone forward. That bill being; workers obligation to report abuse if they know about it. We won't have Calamari as an state appetizer it appears, and we wont' be protecting our elderly either.

The abuse and disrespect of the elderly will continue because these are the people at the helm that are not taking the responsibility of elder care seriously.

Your letter at the core really says nothing. You toot your own horn...and as most state/government jobs....tries to make yourself look indispensable....

...and tries to discredit the person introducing the bill, and perhaps writing the letter.

Your letter really says nothing. You toot own horn...and as most state/government jobs....tries to make yourself look indispensable....

...and tries to discredit the person introducing the bill, and perhaps writing the letter.

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