Report Ranks Oklahoma Among Worst In Nation For Nursing Home Care
OKLAHOMA CITY - A national report has given Oklahoma's nursing homes a failing grade, ranking them among the worst in the nation. Now, advocates are calling for change.
Last year's report from citizen's advocacy group 'Families for Better Care' ranked Oklahoma 48th in nursing home care.
This year, the ranking dropped to 49th, which created another piece of motivation for advocates.
The photos shown are just some of the images that have blackened the landscape of nursing home care in Oklahoma.
Last year, it was Mrs. Mayberry whose caregivers shoved dirty gloves in her mouth. Anita Rich was another victim, whose nurse was just convicted of abuse by a caregiver. Last month, that nurse was sentenced to four years in prison.
Now those stories are depicted in a nationwide study, ranking Oklahoma third worse in nursing home care.
"It's god-awful, it's gut wrenching," said Wes Bledsoe with advocacy group 'A Perfect Cause.' "In spite of all our efforts, we continue to fail and drop."
Advocate Wes Bledsoe has been fighting for nursing home reform for years.
He said he feels vindicated when reading the report that also states 1 in 4 nursing homes were cited for actual harm to residents.
"We believe 3,500 people in the state of Oklahoma are dying in the nursing home every year," said Bledsoe.
Last session, Bledsoe and his advocacy group met with representatives from Governor Fallin's office, who have continuously said she welcomes constructive conversation about how the state can improve safety and care in nursing homes. But a bill backed by a Perfect Cause eventually died in the House.
This session, Rep. Joe Dorman will be holding an interim study on the issue.
"We must do a better job at providing the proper resources and regulations make sure seniors are protected," said Dorman.
Until those changes, Bledsoe can only give advice.
"If you see any abuse if you see any neglect then call 911, these are criminal offices," said Bledsoe.
A Perfect Cause has plans to push for 23 bills next session, dealing with senior care.
The interim study is set for Oct. 21.
The states that rank worse than Oklahoma, are Louisiana and Texas. Rhode Island is number one with the best care, according to the report.