The state has ordered a Litchfield rest home to hire an independent consultant after finding various violations, including alcohol use and suspected marijuana use among residents. In a consent order signed Sept. 12, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) said Fernwood Rest Home Inc. has to hire an independent contractor, pre-approved by the department, within two weeks of the order’s signing. The contractor must be a licensed nursing home administrator and will work to ensure resident safety and legal compliance at the facility, according to the order. The contractor also will assess the ability and skill set of the “person in charge” at Fernwood, monitor corrective actions the facility has agreed to take, and submit written reports weekly to DPH.
State health officials fined two nursing homes following incidents in which residents were injured and suffered complications after doctors’ orders were not followed. Apple Rehabilitation of Middletown was fined $1,635 by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) following an incident December in which a resident chewed an index finger until bone was exposed. The resident had osteoporosis and dementia, and a care plan noted that the resident had a habit of chewing the right index finger, according to DPH. On Nov. 30, 2015, a physician directed staff to keep the resident’s right hand covered with a sock to prevent chewing.
Connecticut has a high prevalence of Medicare beneficiaries living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, often placing an enormous financial strain on caregivers who are spending thousands of dollars a year on care, reports show. “Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America,” said Jennifer Walker, vice president of communications and advocacy for the Connecticut chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “The cost of care is very high.”
Medicare covers most fees for doctor visits, and some hospitalization, if needed; but other costs associated with care—including home health services, transportation, diapers for incontinence—are not covered. People with Alzheimer’s often suffer from other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart and hypertension, which add to the out-of-pocket costs for care. The financial burden is forcing families who rely on Medicare to tap into retirement savings, cutback on food and medical care for themselves, reduce work hours or quit work altogether to be caregivers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association report Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
A growing number of adults—about 52 million—suffer from arthritis, and data show women are more likely than men to develop it. In 2014, 26.5 percent of women reported having doctor-diagnosed arthritis, compared with 20.5 percent of men, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention behavioral risk survey. Many women don’t realize they are at a higher risk than their male peers, said Dr. Abhijeet Danve, a rheumatologist and faculty member in Yale School of Medicine’s rheumatology division. “Of all the patients with arthritis, almost 60 percent of them are women,” he said. Several factors likely make women more susceptible than men: biological traits, genetics and hormones, Danve said.
The state has fined an Avon nursing home where a resident died and a Bristol home where staff did not document how 10 residents suffered a total of 47 injuries. In all, four nursing homes were recently fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for various violations. Apple Rehab Avon received two fines, totally $5,625, connected to a March incident in which a resident died and a nurse misinterpreted the medical file to contain a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order, according to documents. In the first citation, the facility was fined $3,000. According to the citation, on Feb.
In hospitals across Connecticut and nationwide, workarounds to compensate for medication shortages are daily routines for treating patients – and health experts say it’s not about to change any time soon. Some acute-care drugs in short supply nationally are antibiotics, antipsychotics, intravenous saline, and morphine, according to the most recent shortage list from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In Connecticut, hospital officials say they are turning to alternative drugs, rationing supplies, or seeking new suppliers to work around the shortages. At St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Dr. C. Steven Wolf, chief of emergency medicine, said doctors most recently have been dealing with shortages of dextrose, used to treat dehydration and low blood sugar, as well as intravenous saline and other basic medications.
The state has fined two nursing homes in connection with staff failing to follow notification procedures for changes in residents’ conditions and for a resident who fell and broke a bone. Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford Springs received two citations and fines, totaling $3,890. In one citation, Evergreen Health was fined $2,360 for failure to follow facility procedures and notify a physician on condition changes of two residents. On March 1, a resident with heart failure, anxiety and dementia complained of seeing spots out of the left eye. A neurological assessment was done, which produced normal results, but the resident continued to complain of a sight problem, according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH).
Nationally, at least one in five military veterans who experience trauma are at a heightened risk for depression, suicide or substance abuse but are often overlooked in clinical settings because they don’t fit the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a Yale University-led study. The research, published June 1 in the World Psychiatry journal, examined sub-threshold PTSD, which occurs when someone experiences trauma-related symptoms that aren’t severe or long-lasting enough to warrant a PTSD diagnosis. The study, which included 1,484 veterans nationwide, found 8 percent were diagnosed with PTSD but more than 22 percent met criteria for sub-threshold PTSD. Also, in addition to 4.5 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD within the last month, 13 percent had sub-threshold symptoms, the study reported. Veterans with sub-threshold PTSD had a 20 percent chance of suffering from major depression in their lifetimes, compared with about 4 percent of veterans without sub-threshold symptoms, the study found.
Over a dozen of the cooperative health insurers that started under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have failed, but leaders of Connecticut’s co-op say it is on track to turn a profit next year. “We’re very viable,” said Ken Lalime, CEO of Wallingford-based HealthyCT, a member-run, nonprofit health insurance co-op. “There are a lot of stable pieces of” HealthyCT. The co-op is enduring when others have died off, he said, by strategically adapting to changes in the ACA, and diversifying its portfolio. About a third of its business is insuring individuals, a third is small group policies and a third is large group insurance policies, he said.
Health risks challenging veterans, particularly those who have recently returned home from combat, is one of the topics of an upcoming conference for consumers and health care providers. The conference, “Better Health: It’s Your Health, Take Charge,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. CT Partners for Health, a coalition of dozens of stakeholders working to help consumers better understand health care, is organizing the event. Conference breakout sessions will address a wide range of topics, including caring for veterans. That discussion will focus on the health-related challenges veterans face after they return from combat zones.