In Georgia, if you aren’t the politically powerful, policymakers just don’t care about you. GPB recently reported about how Georgia’s elderly, increasingly placed in nursing homes, must contend with terrible conditions and poorly trained, poorly paid staff.
Georgia Public Broadcasting, citing a Kaiser Family Foundation report, says that “the state consistently ranks at the bottom in terms of care and quality.”
One Atlanta woman experienced this when her grandmother, who does not speak English, went missing after there was a fire in an adjacent room.
Staff could not tell her what had happened to her grandmother, or where she was.
“So we didn’t know if she ended up in the hospital if something happened. But all we knew was that the fire happened next door, so we thought the worst,” Victoria Huynh said in an interview with GPB.
They found her, covered in soot.
“She looked dazed, confused, of course…No one really probably asked her in her own language — Chinese or Vietnamese — to figure out if everything was ok,” Huynh said.
The Kaiser Family Foundation report found that nearly half of Georgia’s nursing homes only receive one or two stars (on a five star scale) for nursing home quality.
Georgia has nearly 34,000 folks living in 355 nursing homes. About two-thirds of these nursing facilities are for-profit.
This past session, the legislature spent plenty of time making sure investors and owners would be protected, although you can hardly say the same for residents.
The governor signed one bill to make sure that “violation of certain regulations shall not constitute negligence per se.” Residents in nursing homes are facing abuse and inadequate care in violation of the law. Shouldn’t that be considered negligent behavior?
More bafflingly, the governor signed a bill to protect investors in these nursing homes. This bill served to “restrict civil actions against passive investors in nursing homes.”
It seems as though Deal and the supporters of this bill don’t care about violating the law — and injuring or killing elderly residents along the way — as long as they make a buck.
Making sure the elderly have safe places to receive long-term care just isn’t a priority for Gov. Deal and the current leadership in Georgia.
The editorial board of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer made this point quite well, in a recent op-ed that touched on the disturbingly poor services and inadequate resources made available to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children and those with disabilities.
For Georgia’s vulnerable populations, like the elderly, they often, ”do not have a large, vocal or well-funded lobby to compete for money with other interests that are quite adept at getting it. That doesn’t change their need for our help, or our moral obligation to provide it.”