According to the director of public policy and advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, nursing home abuse is a “persistent and pervasive problem.”

In an attempt to address this problem, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began adding a red icon to facility listings in its database to warn consumers about verified allegations of abuse or neglect. When CMS launched this new icon, it flagged issues in approximately 15,000 nursing facilities across the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that about 5 percent of nursing home listings were flagged with the icon.

CMS provides its database to assist families with finding safe and quality nursing facilities for their loved ones. The past three years’ worth of health and fire safety inspections are provided for each facility, as well as a star rating on the quality of care and staffing the facility provides. However, long-term health experts say that the information in the database should be only the first step in selecting a facility.

Described below is information from the CMS database listing for NHC Healthcare – North Augusta. If you or your loved one is harmed there by the staff’s negligence or malice, please call the nursing home abuse attorneys at  Hughey Law Firm now. We want to help you.

About NHC Healthcare – North Augusta

The Hughey Law Firm has successfully pursued claims against this facility.

NHC Healthcare – North Augusta is a large nursing home facility located at 350 Austin Graybill, North Augusta, South Carolina. The for-profit, corporately-owned facility features 192 Medicare-certified beds. The facility provides short-term stays for rehabilitation patients transitioning from the hospital to home after a major medical issue such as a heart attack or stroke. It also provides long-term stays for residents who are no longer able to live independently.

The facility is rated below average for staffing. Residents at NHC Healthcare – North Augusta receive less time with licensed nurses and nurse aides than either the national or state average. Below learn more about the North Augusta NHC Healthcare deficiencies so you can look for the potential signs of nursing home abuse.

February 2017 Inspection

The February 2017 inspection at NHC Healthcare – North Augusta yielded one violation that posed the potential for more than minimal harm. The violation was described as follows:

  • Failure to make sure that the nursing home area is free from accident hazards and risks and provides supervision to prevent avoidable accidents. Based on interviews, review of records and facility policy, and observations, CMS inspectors discovered that the facility failed to provide adequate supervision and assistance to a resident who was smoking. The resident had been found sitting in his electric wheelchair in an area outside Unit 4. Paralyzed from the waist down and with a prosthetic left arm, the resident was under no supervision and staff had not provided him with a smoking apron. The resident had previously been caught smoking and had declined the offer of a nicotine patch. The resident’s care plan did not address his smoking habit. The facility has been smoke-free for years, but there was still an ashtray outside Unit 4. The administration decided to remove that ashtray, in part to prevent the resident from taking cigarette butts out of it. The resident, who had been living at the facility for five years, was well aware of the smoking policy, as staff had talked with him about it each time they took away his cigarettes or lighter. He stated that the staff were unaware that he frequently obtained cigarettes from a friend.

June 2019 Inspection

The June 2019 inspection yielded seven violations at the facility. NHC Healthcare – North Augusta can be subject to penalties or fines for any of these violations. The violations were described as follows:

  • Failure to honor the resident’s right to a dignified existence, self-determination, communication, and to exercise his or her rights. Based on observations, interviews, and review of company policy, CMS inspectors found that the facility failed to treat residents in a dignified manner when delivering their lunchtime meals. Facility staff were observed knocking on residents’ doors and then entering their rooms without waiting for permission to enter with a lunch meal tray. Additionally, staff were observed placing clothing protectors on residents without first asking the resident if they wanted to wear the clothing protector.
  • Failure to honor, facilitate, and promote the resident’s right to self-determination through support of resident choice. Based on record review, review of facility policy, and interviews, CMS inspectors determined that the facility failed to ensure that a resident had the right to make their own choices regarding basic day-to-day functions such as when they got up in the morning or went to bed at night and what type of bath they received. The resident’s assessment included questions about the importance of getting to make these decisions for themselves. The resident indicated during the assessment that being able to decide when to get up and what kind of bath to have were very important. The resident indicated that deciding what time to go to bed was somewhat important. There was no documentation in the resident’s file describing the resident’s preferences and their importance to the resident, even though the facility’s care plan policy requires individualized care plans based on the resident’s preferences, choices, values, and beliefs.
  • Failure to assess the resident completely in a timely manner when first admitted, and then periodically, at least every 12 months. Record review, observation, and interview led inspectors to determine that the facility failed to properly assess the wounds on a resident’s bilateral upper extremities. The resident was admitted with dressings on bruises and blood blisters. The family members stated that the resident had recently undergone surgery and that the wounds were caused by anticoagulant medication that the resident was given at the hospital. Inspectors’ review of the resident’s assessment upon entering the facility did not show that staff had checked the dressings. The Director of Nursing stated that they do check to see if the wounds were assessed upon admission.
  • Failure to provide appropriate treatment and care according to orders, resident’s preferences, and goals. This violation was also related to the facility’s failure to provide documented proof that the resident in the previous violation had received care for their wounds that had resulted from anticoagulant medication after surgery.
  • Failure to provide appropriate pressure ulcer care and prevent new ulcers from developing. Based on record review, observation, and interviews, the inspectors determined that facility staff failed to provide proper treatment for pressure ulcers that had developed on a resident’s heels. The wounds were reported in the resident’s admission assessment. However, the treatment administration record for one month did not indicate that the wounds had been treated, in spite of instructions that the wounds were to be cleaned and the dressings changed every three days or as needed if the dressings became soiled or dislodged.
  • Past noncompliance – remedy proposed. Inspections revealed that the facility had failed to appropriately communicate with a medical center that was providing continuous treatment to a resident for a specific medical diagnosis. There was no documentation in the resident’s record indicating that any communication had taken place.
  • Failure to provide and implement an infection prevention and control program. Observations, record reviews, and interviews revealed to inspectors that facility staff failed to utilize standard handwashing policies when caring for one resident’s wounds. Inspectors observed a Licensed Practical Nurse changing the dressings on the resident’s wounds without washing their hands between removing the dirty dressing and applying a clean one, although the nurse used gloves and changed them during the process. The facility’s handwashing procedures require the staff to wash their hands between taking off the gloves worn when removing the dirty dressing and before putting on gloves to apply the clean dressing. Additionally, a Certified Nursing Assistant was observed during meal time removing lids from food containers without first washing their hands, and staff were observed setting up meal trays and providing silverware for residents after pushing other residents around in wheelchairs without washing their hands.

What Other Information Should You Consider?

When searching for a nursing home, the information on the CMS Nursing Home Compare website is an important first step in narrowing down your choices. However, you should also do, ask about, and consider the following before you make a final decision:

  • Ask what the facility has done to correct the deficiencies described in its most recent health inspection report. Opponents of the new red flag abuse icon state that the icon is unfair because it causes consumers to make a judgment about a nursing home or even dismiss it without taking a look at the efforts the facility has made to correct the situation. When touring a nursing home facility, one of the questions you should ask of admissions and administrative staff is how they are working to improve their services to their residents.
  • Tour the facility twice. You should schedule your first tour with admissions staff. The second time you visit should be unscheduled and take place at a different time of day and day of the week. By making this second, unscheduled visit you can see how staff interact with residents when they’re not expecting company.
  • Speaking of staff interacting with residents, you should pay careful attention to this during both of your tours. Are the residents engaged in activities? Do the staff seem to be interacting warmly with the residents, or are residents simply slumped in chairs with nothing to do? Do the staff seem frantic and hurried in their interactions or are they taking time to converse and meet the needs of each resident in a calm manner? Do the residents seem to be well-groomed? If you are present during meal time, look to see if the residents are given a choice about the food they are served, if they seem to be enjoying their meal, and if staff is present to assist those who are unable to eat on their own.
  • Keep in mind that the leading cause of complaints in nursing homes is inadequate staffing, which can lead to frustrated staff and even abused or neglected residents. Ask during your tour about the staff turnover rate. You should also ask to meet with the nursing home administrator and the director of nursing, as those two members of the staff are largely responsible for setting the tone and culture at the facility. If they are unapproachable or cold in their interactions with you, then you should wonder if that is the culture and tone they’re setting.

Call Our South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Today

Were you or your loved one injured through neglect or abuse at NHC Healthcare – North Augusta, or any other nursing home or long-term care facility in South Carolina? The Hughey Law Firm has the experience to help you. We focus much of our practice on helping victims of nursing home neglect and abuse find justice and recover compensation for their injuries.

Let us help you understand your legal options. Contact us at (843) 881-8644 or write to us using our online contact page for a free consultation.

Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: 843-881-8644