LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — An investigation conducted by the New York Times has shed light on the realities of a five-star reporting system used by many to measure the quality of care at nursing homes.
In an effort to analyze the reliability of the ratings--one for the worst, five for the best--the Times built a database that included details submitted to the government by more than 10,000 nursing homes.
The star system, which is based on 15 metrics--including staff levels and residents' safety--is calculated based on self-reported data. The Times found that hundreds of facilities inflated staffing levels and did not disclose instances when a resident had fallen or was hurt.
One of the facilities mentioned in the Times' story is Brookdale Richmond Place in Lexington.
"I wanted to run and go home," said Carrie Johnson, 79. "I did not want to stay, but I had no other choice."
Johnson said that in late 2017 she and her family thought Brookdale would be a good facility to recuperate from her spinal fusion surgery, given that it was close to her home and the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services' website showed that Brookdale had a five-star rating for staffing.
That trust soon evaporated, after Johnson said she had a difficult time getting the attention of any nurses. In one instance, she claimed, after ringing her call bell for so long, she ended up sitting in her own urine and feces. She said that a maintenance man who was passing by ended up helping.
"I never had peace when I was there," she said, recounting her three-week stay in an interview with LEX 18 Sunday.
A lawsuit filed by Johnson accuses Brookdale of negligence and alleges that she developed an infection because there was not adequate staffing and her surgical wound was never treated.
Nearly four years later, Johnson is unable to walk and spends most of her day in bed. The Times reported that her muscles atrophied due to the infection.
The Times also reported that Brookdale reported to C.M.S. that each resident received an average of 75 minutes of daily care, but that in reality, nurses allegedly spent an average of less than 30 minutes per patient.
LEX 18 tried to contact Brookdale, but as of Sunday night, we have not heard back.
Heather Hunter, a spokeswoman for Brookdale, did not address Johnson's accusations, but told the Times: "While The New York Times has the right to print unproven allegations from one side of a lawsuit seeking monetary damages, we choose not to litigate unsubstantiated facts in the press."