Five Care Facilities Receive National Quality Awards

Five Connecticut facilities have won national quality awards and a West Hartford nursing home is one of only three homes in the U.S. to receive the highest level of recognition from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living. Hughes Health and Rehabilitation Center in West Hartford, which was started 55 years ago by Dr. Eugene Flaxman and is still owned by him, won the Gold Quality Award. Nationally, only 31 nursing homes have gained the distinction and before this, Manchester Manor Health Care Center and Glen Hill Center in Danbury were the only Connecticut homes to reach the gold level, Matthew V. Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, said in a press release. Touchpoints at Manchester received a Silver Quality Award, and three Connecticut facilities, Arbors of Hop Brook in Manchester, Lutheran Home of Southbury and Brighton Gardens of Stamford, received the Bronze Quality Award this year. Mark Finkelstein, the administrator and vice president at Hughes Health, said winning the award was years in the making.

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Drug Prices Keep Rising Despite Efforts To Reduce Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Michael Baudin of Manchester retired eight years ago after a career in auto repair, but now the 76-year-old is back working part time as a driver so he can afford prescription medications. “Every year premiums go up and my co-pay is increasing,” he said. “I take medication for cholesterol, hypertension, heart, prostate and digestion. My wife quit her job due to health issues and her medication is expensive too.”

Baudin says his out-of-pocket cost for a 90-day supply of just one drug, Creon from AbbVie Inc., which he takes for digestion, is $100. The drug does not have a generic equivalent.

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Two Nursing Homes Fined Following Resident’s Injury, Medication Error

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.

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Alzheimer’s Care Puts Financial Strain On Family Members

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.

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Disclosure Rules Don’t Stem Flow Of Pharma Cash To State’s Doctors

Dozens of Connecticut doctors accepted six-figure payments from drug and medical device manufacturers in 2015 for consulting, speaking, meals and travel, with six of the 10 highest-paid physicians affiliated with academic institutions, new federal data show. The top 10 doctors – less than 0.1 percent of the 11,000 who received payments – took in $3.6 million, or nearly 15 percent of the total $24.9 million paid out. Among them is the dean of the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Robert Alpern, who received $445,398 in 2015 from two companies – Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie – in consulting fees, meals and travel expenses for serving on the boards of both companies. In 2014, he received $458,194 from the two companies. The Yale medical school began a research partnership with AbbVie in 2013, after the pharmaceutical company spun off from Abbott Laboratories.

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State Disciplines Seven Nurses, Reinstates Two Licenses

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing disciplined seven nurses Wednesday and reinstated the licenses of two nurses who had histories of drug abuse. The board reinstated the license of Sara Kaiser of Cromwell, a licensed practical nurse whose license was revoked in 2010 because of her abuse of heroin and morphine in 2009. In 2009, the board had placed her license on probation for four years after she admitted stealing Seroquel, a drug used to treat mood disorders, while working at the Elm Hill Nursing Center in Rocky Hill in 2007, records show. State records show she also admitted failing to accurately document medical records and abusing heroin and cocaine from 2002 to 2007. At a hearing in July, Kaiser presented testimony on her sobriety and that she was safe to practice as a nurse.

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State Fines Two Nursing Homes

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).

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Yale Study: Clinicians Often Overlook Veterans’ Mental Health Disorders

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.

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Four Nursing Homes Fined For Lapses In Care

Four nursing homes have been fined by the state in connection with residents who broke bones, required surgery or wandered away. In two separate citations on April 8, Cassena Care at Norwalk was fined a total of $5,370 for a case in which a now former director of nursing blocked a resident from going to the hospital to maintain the resident count at the home, state records show. A day after the incident, on Oct. 10, the resident needed emergency cranial surgery and then was placed in hospice care, a citation from the state Department of Public Health said. DPH officials did not have information on whether the resident had died, department spokeswoman Maura Downes said.

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Medical Board Disciplines Six Doctors

The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday disciplined six doctors, including fining a Norwalk doctor $5,000 for prescribing high doses of opioids to a prison inmate and other patients without proper safeguards. The board also suspended the license of a family medicine physician from Westport, saying his excessive drinking of alcohol presents a “clear and immediate danger” to the public. In the Norwalk case, the board also reprimanded Dr. Martin Perlin and limited his ability to prescribe painkillers. Between 2013 and 2015, Perlin prescribed high doses of opioids without adhering to standard safeguards, state Department of Public Health records show. One of the patients was incarcerated during the time that Perlin prescribed drugs for him, the records show.

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