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The Daily Tar Heel

Nursing nightmare: Reports of improper treatment and low ranking from Medicare raise questions at Britthaven nursing home

Report after report alleges that Britthaven of Chapel Hill has consistently failed to meet the reasonable standards of care demanded by those who invest in the nursing home facility for their loved ones.

Poor inspection reviews and serious complaints and allegations against the facility are disturbing.

And if proven true, they also represent a despicable breach of trust. It is often a very difficult decision to send a loved one to a nursing home. But people make that decision because they believe that their loved ones need the care of professionals that Britthaven purports to provide.

Yet Britthaven has consistently been found in violation of national standards. Medicare has listed it as a “Special Focus Facility,” meaning that it “has a history of persistent poor quality of care.”

It gives Britthaven only one out of five stars for its performance in health inspections.

And now, the State Bureau of Investigation has “begun an investigation into matters at Britthaven,” according to Noelle Talley, public information officer for Attorney General Roy Cooper. Talley stated that it was policy not to further comment on details of an ongoing investigation.

Britthaven did not return calls for comment on the SBI investigation.

In addition, the Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services handed down a decision last April stating that Britthaven was not in compliance with Medicare regulations.

The decision cites the improper treatment of a 95-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and scoliosis. Unsurprisingly, given her condition, part of her care plan included always being raised into bed using a special lift.

But a nurse aid disregarded this and lifted her manually under her arms and legs — even as she was screaming in pain, according to the department’s report. The bilateral knee fractures she sustained during this ordeal went unreported and untreated for two weeks, the report states.

Such treatment is inexcusable. Fortunately, the SBI is investigating Britthaven’s practices. Britthaven itself needs to seriously evaluate its commitment to those it serves. Real and fragile lives are at stake.

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