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Posted September 18, 2006

Ask An Expert

Elderly Care: When Bumping Heads with a Care Facility

Q. I had to take my husband out of a care facility. He has Alzheimer's and type II diabetes. My pharmacist told me that the facility had run out of his Risperdal on August 15 and re-ordered. They were overmedicating him and had not taken his blood sugar tests in the two months he was there. I had to leave to go help one of my daughters and was gone for three weeks. When I returned he had not been bathed, hair was not cut and nails were long and dirty.

Is there any place I can report this negligence? I took him out within a week and they said I had to pay for a whole month and give them 30 days notice before I could take him out. I paid for the whole month of September and took him out on September 9. They were rude and could not find his monitor for the diabetes -- I had to return and look for it myself. I just do not want anyone else to go through what I went through. Thank you.

Lettie A., Corona, CA

A. There is a handy resource to help you with the situation you describe. You can forward your complaint to:

California Department of Health, Licensing & Certification Division

Ms. Joan Chang, District Administrator
Riverside District Office
625 E. Carnegie Drive, Ste 280
San Bernardino, CA 92408
Phone: (909) 388-7170
Toll Free: (888) 354-9203
Fax: (909) 388-7174
 
Also, send a copy of your complaint letter to this group:
 
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
650 Harrison Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 974-5171
(800) 474-1116
 
In writing your complaint letter, make sure that you are very specific about your facts. Send your correspondence Certified, and Return Receipt Requested. Also send a copy of the letter to the administrator of the facility you are writing about.
 
As far as getting your money back, I would try this approach: File a complaint in small claims court, http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/, against the facility, citing poor care and endangering the life of your loved one. Claim the maximum judgment allowed ($7,500 in California). Faced with any type of court proceeding, the facility may quickly return your money, rather then go to court.
 
Good luck.

This answer is provided by Jack Halpern, MPS, LNHA, an eldercare advocate and a licensed nursing home administrator. Halpern, a nationally recognized expert on eldercare issues, is the author of many articles on eldercare and nursing home abuse, and is the CEO of My Elder Advocate. His website is www.myelderadvocate.com, and he can be reached at jhalpern@myelderadvocate.com

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