Can a Nursing Home Be Less Institutional?
August 30th, 2010
We all know the current state of our nation’s nursing homes. “Deplorable” is not too strong a word. Some of the problems are simply structural–the average facility is about 30 years old. Some of the problems are due to poor management and lack of caring, and some problems lie in the dehumanizing nature of large institutions.
An article in today’s Boston.com talks about a different kind of nursing home, a “Green House.” Compare the typical nursing home with this image, as described by writer Kay Lazar:
The aroma of spaghetti and garlic bread wafts from the kitchen as Marie Burke aims her walker toward the dining room table, where several of her housemates, a couple of them in wheelchairs, already have taken positions. Lunch is being dished up family style, and the conversation bounces from favorite meals — meatloaf and brisket — to friendly ribbing about who in the house is the real card shark.
Forget the long sterile corridors, antiseptic smells, and assembly-line feel. In this nursing home, elders rule. Residents decide when they want to get up, what they want to eat — and it’s all freshly cooked by specially trained nursing assistants who pull up chairs, fill their own plates, and join in the conversation.
This describes life in the $34 million Leonard Florence Center for Living–a new Green House Project home–in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The Green House concept was created by Harvard-trained geriatrician Dr. William Thomas to provide residents with an environment that fosters autonomy, personal choice, and social interactions.
The good news: Green House nursing homes have operating costs on par with traditional nursing homes. That means quality of life with no additional expense.
The bad news: There are only 89 Green House nursing homes, in only 16 states. An additional 27 are in development. Compare that with a total of about 16,000 traditional nursing homes across the country.
Could homes on this model be one way out of the nursing home mess our country is in? We certainly hope so. One thing’s clear: Most of us would never choose to live in a traditional facility. Is a little humanity too much to ask in our final years? The nursing home abuse attorneys will keep their eyes on these new nursing home models–if they maintain their integrity and caring, we’ll be happy to call ourselves supporters.
For more information:
Green House Project
HensonFuerst Nursing Home Abuse Team
Youth Concussion Rates Skyrocket
August 30th, 2010
It may seem like we keep banging the concussion drum, but this story doesn’t go away. According to new information published online today, the number of concussion-related hospital emergency visits for children ages 8-13 doubled between 1997 and 2007 (a 100% increase). For youth age 14-19, the increase was 200%, a 4-fold increase.
The cause of this increase isn’t clear, but the researchers note that most of the concussions happened as a result of sports, even though fewer kids participate in organized team sports. So…if fewer kids play organized team sports, but there are more concussions due to sports, what exactly is going on?
According to the experts, there are a few potential explanations:
- while there are fewer organized team sports, there are more sports activities available;
- organized sports today are even more competitive today than they were in 1997, which puts kids at higher risk;
- practice and play times have become more intense.
There is also the possibility that parents and coaches are more aware of the symptoms of concussion, and are therefore more likely to take an injured child to the hospital.
No matter the reason(s) for the increase, everyone agrees that action needs to be taken to bring these rates down. For example, there need to be clear, comprehensive, and age-appropriate return-to-play guidelines for all young athletes. In the future, we may also see use of MRI scans, balance tests, and neuropsychological testing to take the guesswork out of concussion diagnoses. Helmet use should be required in sports that currently have no helmet rules (such as for skiing)…and other equipment could be modified to reduce injury risk (for example, padding goalposts, or decreasing mass and air pressure of soccer balls).
For more information, see this story posted by NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129519808
The original medical journal article is available online: Pediatrics
The reference is:
“Emergency Department Visits for Concussion in Young Child Athletes,” by Lisa L. Bakhos, Gregory R. Lockhart, Richard Myers, and James G. Linakis. Pediatrics, online publication August 30, 2010.
Need to Know! Bicycle Helmets
August 26th, 2010
The average cyclist crashes about every 4,500 miles. Kids? Seems like at least once a week. Wearing a helmet has been shown to prevent up to 75% of cyclists’ head injuries… and are required by law in the state of North Carolina for all cyclists under age 16.*
Here’s what you need to know about choosing and wearing a bicycle helmet.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A HELMET
- Helmets must meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standard. Look for one of the following stickers: CPSC sticker, or ASTM’s F1447 sticker, or Snell’s B-95 sticker. (CPSC and ASTM standards are identical; Snell’s is even tougher, but you’ll rarely see these.)
- Choose color with visibility in mind: white is still best, next in line come other bright colors that are easily seen by drivers.
- Choose a helmet that is totally smooth, with no points that can snag. A good helmet is designed to protect your head in case the worst possible event occurs: if you are hit by a car. It needs to be smooth to “glide” along pavement (instead of catching in a way that bends your neck), and to prevent any protrusion from catching under the bumper of a car.
- If you ride a mountain bike, look for models that offer protection from trailside hazards.
- If you have unusual needs–or if you simply want help with your helmet choice–ask for help at a specialized cycling store, which will have a wider range of products and the expertise to help. For example, there are helmets to fit unusually large heads…padding to fit unusually small heads…helmets with “ponytail ports” for people with long hair…helmets with no large top vents for people with sparse or no hair.
WHAT TO AVOID
Avoid anything that prevents you from wearing a helmet properly, or which violates the definition of a “good helmet” listed above. In particular:
- AVOID dark colors
- AVOID extreme aero shapes, which provide a convenient “lever” for knocking the helmet aside in a fall
- AVOID squared-off, ridged, ribbed, or spiked shapes
- AVOID helmets without a standards sticker on the inside
- AVOID helmets with thin straps (more likely to break)
- AVOID helmets that don’t allow good visibility
- AVOID helmets that don’t fit properly
- AVOID helmets with strap adjustments that are too complicated for comfortable, everyday use
WHEN TO REPLACE A HELMET
- For sure, if the last time you bought a helmet was before 1999, the last time the U.S. government updated safety standards.
- Replacement recommended every 5 years, but can go longer if you don’t ride often.
- For sure, if the helmet has a crack or dent.
- Recommended after any crash–some damage may not be visible.
- If your helmet shows bubbling or other signs of heat damage
HOW TO WEAR A HELMET
For a video on how to do a helmet fit test, click here: Helmet Fit Test Video
For an illustration of the right and wrong ways to wear a helmet, click here: “Do you know the right way to wear a helmet?” or here: “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet”
- A helmet is properly worn level on the head–not tilted forward or backward.
- The helmet should sit low on the forehead, one or two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
- The strap should be fit snugly–not loose, not too tight for comfort.
- Once on the head, try to move it with your hands. The helmet shouldn’t move more than an inch in any direction no matter how hard you try.
SPECIAL INFORMATION ABOUT HELMETS FOR KIDS
- Every child who rides alone or on the back of an adult’s bike needs a helmet. However, until a child reaches age 1 year, the neck muscles aren’t strong enough to support a helmet. If you have questions about riding with a toddler, talk with your child’s pediatrician about the best protection.
- Replace a helmet as often as you need to assure a good, safe fit. Consider a helmet at least as important as shoes.
- Some child helmets have several foam inserts of different thicknesses. These can be changed out to accommodate a growing head. (And the different thicknesses do NOT affect the protection offered by the helmet.)
- Teach your child that bike helmet is for biking or skating with in-line skates only. Skateboarding requires a different helmet.
- VERY IMPORTANT WARNING: A child SHOULD NOT wear a bike helmet on the playground. Children have died due to crush or strangulation when the helmet got caught on climbing equipment. For more information about this topic, click here: “Wear Bike Helmets On Bicycles – Not On Playgrounds”
HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO WEAR A HELMET
- Start by being a good role model: Wear a helmet yourself while riding!
- Make wearing a helmet a requirement right from the first day your child starts riding a 2-wheeler. If you make it an important rite of passage, it will feel more like something to be proud of. (Do you remember the day your training wheels were finally taken off? That kind of pride.)
- Explain why wearing a helmet is important.
- Talk with the parents of your child’s friends to let them know that you require your child to wear a helmet…and that you would like their help in applying that rule. This is a great opportunity to ask if they also require their children to wear helmets–kids are more likely to wear helmets if their friends also do.
- Point out cyclists wearing helmets as you’re driving, or if you watch bike races on television.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS…
From actual people who crashed:
- “I didn’t think I needed a helmet–I was only going about a mile.”
- “I don’t know what happened. The brakes locked on a turn and I flipped over the front wheel.”
- “I wasn’t expecting that rock to be there.”
* While your child’s brain depends on a helmet, don’t forget that your child depends on you and your healthy brain. The HensonFuerst traumatic brain injury team has seen too many people suffer permanent, catastrophic brain damage from bicycle accidents.
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Helmet Laws by State
ASTM International: Standards Worldwide
REI: How to Choose a Bicycle Helmet
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Wikipedia: Bicycle Helmet
Student becomes victim of Greensboro wrongful death
August 26th, 2010
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University officials will look into the circumstances surrounding the Greensboro wrongful death of a student, according to news-record.com.
The student became victim of the Greensboro wrongful death after collapsing during tryouts for the track and field team. The 20-year-old was in a supervised voluntary open tryout before the Greensboro death.
Do you think the weather had an effect on this Greensboro wrongful death? Do you think an undetected medical problem could have caused this Greensboro wrongful death?
If your loved one or the loved one of someone you care about has become the victim of a Greensboro wrongful death, the Greensboro wrongful death layers at Henson Fuerst can help.
New "Need to Know" Blog Feature
August 25th, 2010
We’re starting a new “Need to Know” feature on the HensonFuerst blogs. This gives us an opportunity to write about all the health and safety topics that are near and dear to our hearts. Some of these “Need to Know” blogs will give a basic refresher… some will give research updates… and some will give brand new, state-of-the-art health information. One thing you can count on: Details. Lots of details.
Watch for them in all the HensonFuerst blog content areas, with direct links on our Facebook page. (Become a fan and get health, safety, and legal updates daily!)
Safety Tips for Back to School
August 25th, 2010
Here in North Carolina, school is back in session. After a fun and relaxing summer, and weeks of shopping and haircuts, there’s one last bit of business that needs to be addressed: Safety.
According to the Rocky Mount Telegram, police want to remind parents about some general safety steps to make part of your family’s routine:
- Tell children never to give the impression they are home alone to anyone over the phone or in person.
- Always lock doors and windows, even if you are just going to be gone for a few minutes dropping off a child for school.
- Teach children about dialing 911 in case of an emergency.
- Show children safe places to go along their walking route to school in case they are being followed or need help.
- Be cautious of putting a child’s name in a visible spot, such as on the child’s bookbag or lunchbox because an abductor might use that information to develop a sense of trust with the child.
- Teach children to trust their instincts, including saying “no.”
- Discuss strangers with children, including some of the ploys they might use.
- Take notice of lurking strangers or cars driving slowly through the neighborhood and report them to police with as many details as possible.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, some of the ploys strangers might use are:
- A nice-looking stranger approaches your child in the park and asks for help finding the stranger’s lost dog.
- A woman who lives in your neighborhood but that the child has never spoken to invites your child into her house for a snack.
- A stranger asks if your child wants a ride home from school.
- Your child thinks he or she is being followed.
- An adult your child knows says or does something that makes him or her feel bad or uncomfortable.
- While your child is walking home from a friend’s house, a car pulls over and a stranger asks for directions.
“STRANGER DANGER” AND McGRUFF the CRIME DOG
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, which created the character of McGruff the Crime Dog, parents should educate kids that:
A stranger is a person whom you have never met. You may have seen the person before but don’t know anything about him or her. Strangers don’t look like monsters, aliens, or the bad guys you see on TV. They look like ordinary people.
Most strangers are nice, but some are not. You can’t tell if a stranger is nice or not by looking at him or her. But you can tell if a situation is good or bad.
What should kids do? McGruff says:
- Be aware of dangerous situations. If a stranger asks you for help or to keep a “special secret,” it could be a dangerous situation. Say no and tell a trusted adult.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel scared or uncomfortable, get away from the situation. Make an excuse or just run away, and go to a safe place.
- Know what to do. Think No, Go, Yell, Tell. If you’re in a dangerous situation, say no, run away, yell as loud as you can, and tell an adult.
- Ask your parents first. If a stranger invites you to go somewhere, offers you a gift, or just wants to talk, say you need to ask your parents for permission first. Then go do it.
- Stick with friends. It’s always safer to play in a group
(That’s the version written for kids. For more info about how adults can explain “strangers” to children, go here: What to Teach Kids About Strangers)
The McGruff website has more great information for kids, including stories about how McGruff deals with strangers, safety games (including mazes, trivia, jigsaw puzzles, card-match, and word search), comic books, and more! When presented calmly, this information can make children safety-smart, not fearful.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
The National Crime Prevention Council provides some additional safety tips for adults, in addition to teaching children how to recognize and handle dangerous situations and strangers:
- Know where your children are at all times. Make it a rule that your children must ask permission or check in with you before going anywhere. Give your children your work and cell phone numbers so they can reach you at all times.
- Point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take, and safe places to go if there’s trouble.
- Teach children to trust their instincts. Explain that if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable, they should get away as fast as they can and tell an adult. Tell them that sometimes adults they know may make them feel uncomfortable, and they should still get away as fast as possible and tell another adult what happened. Reassure children that you will help them when they need it.
- Teach your children to be assertive. Make sure they know that it’s okay to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in dangerous situations.
- Encourage your children to play with others. There’s safety in numbers!
HensonFuerst wishes kids and parents a happy, healthy, and safe back-to-school week!
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Rocky Mount Telegram article: http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/police-offer-tips-safe-start-school-year-23066
National Crime Prevention Council: http://www.ncpc.org/
McGruff’s site for kids: http://www.mcgruff.org/
Retirement Home Residents Removed from Substandard Facility
August 24th, 2010
WRAL reports that Hill Forest Rest Home in Chatham County (Goldston, NC) had its license suspended today after an on-site visit found that conditions presented:
“…an imminent danger to the health, safety and welfare of the residents, and … emergency action is required to protect the residents,” officials [from the Adult Care Licensure Section of the Division of Health Service Regulation] said in a letter to Warren Gold, administrator of Gold Care Inc. in Rocky Mount, which runs the retirement home. [from WRAL.com]
The 24 residents of the facility are being relocated.
According to the news report, Hill Forest has a long tradition of substandard care. In 2008 and 2009, inspections turned up several violations, including lack of food for the residents. In March 2010, its license was revoked, but residents remained because the owner of Hill Forest Rest Home appealed the decision.
WRAL’s article makes it sound as though things went from bad to much, much worse:
An April inspection found moldy showers, roaches and flies in the kitchen, residents using bed sheets to cover windows for privacy and bathroom doors propped open, according to state Department of Health and Human Services records. A follow-up inspection in June found violations of fire and electrical codes and exterior doors that didn’t lock properly, records show.
If the June violations of fire and electrical codes didn’t cause an immediate shut-down of the facility, it makes one wonder what the inspectors found this time around.
People in nursing homes, rest homes, retirement homes, and assisted nursing facilities deserve the best care a society has to offer, not the worst. Residents and their families should never have been subjected to this kind of a nightmare…one that lasted, presumably, for several years. It’s shameful that Warren Gold and Gold Care, Inc., seem to have put playing the system above caring for senior citizens.
Stories like these are exactly why HensonFuerst Attorneys spend every day fighting for the rights of abused and neglected elderly residents. Thousands of other seniors are stuck in homes just like Hill Forest, individuals who are at the mercy of the facilities they live in. People who need someone to stand up for their rights…and their basic human dignity. The HensonFuerst nursing home abuse team provides a voice for those who cannot always speak up for themselves, and for families who don’t know how to make things better for their loved ones.
If you suspect abuse or neglect at any long-term care facility, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. We’ll walk you through your options, and help you take legal action to get your loved ones to safety. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so someone is always here to answer your call (1-800-4LAW-MED). You can also visit our Nursing Home Abuse webpage: HensonFuerst Nursing Home Abuse page.
Remember, if you have questions, the attorneys of HensonFuerst have answers.
What You Need to Know About the EGG RECALL
August 23rd, 2010
There has been a lot of information (and rumors) floating around about the giant, multi-state egg recall over the past few weeks. Here is the latest information, from an update released today by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration:
Why are eggs being recalled?
The recalled eggs were distributed by two companies (Hillandale Farms and Wright County Farms) due to laboratory-confirmed illnesses. They are assumed to have a relatively high risk of transmitting Salmonella.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is both a bacteria, and the name of the illness people can get if they eat eggs (or other foods) that have been infected with the Salmonella bacteria. The official name of the illness is Salmonella Enteritidis, or simply Salmonella.
Is Salmonella serious?
It can be. Even moderate symptoms are no laughing matter. A healthy person infected with Salmonella may experience fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses, such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.
Children, older people, and people with compromised immune systems who become infected with Salmonella will experience more severe symptoms, and may even develop fatal infections.
How do I know if my eggs have Salmonella?
First, you can never tell just by looking at the eggs themselves–they won’t look “rotten” or have any outward signs of being infected.
Second, always discard old eggs–the longer an egg sits in your refrigerator, the greater the risk that Salmonella has been growing. Refrigerations slows, but does not stop, Salmonella bacteria from multiplying.
Third, with regard to this current egg recall, look at the egg carton to determine if your eggs have been recalled. You’ll want to look for two numbers: the PLANT number, and the 3-digit JULIAN DATE. Both these numbers are found under the “Sell By” date on the end of the carton. (See photo below for details)
Hillandale Farms egg cartons affected by the recall will have these numbers:
- P1860 – Julian dates ranging from 099 to 230
- P1663 – Julian dates ranging from 137 to 230
The Wright County Farms eggs that are being recalled are:
- P1720 and P1942 – with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 229
- P1026, 1413,1946 – with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225
The companies have identified more than 16 brand names under which the eggs were sold, but that information is incomplete. Some eggs were sold individually rather than in cartons, so they could be repackaged under other brands. This means that we cannot say with any certainty that a particular brand or grocery store is “safe.”
What should I do if I have a carton of these recalled eggs?
If you have recalled eggs, throw them away or return them to the retailer for a refund. If you are unsure about the source of your eggs, throw them away. (When it comes to food-borne illness, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.)
Yoga Helps Prevent Workplace Injuries
August 23rd, 2010
Many workplace injuries can be attributed to lack of balance, coordination, and self awareness. Yoga improves all three. This discipline has been around for thousands of years. Through practice, you can increase flexibility, reduce stress, and gain a greater understanding of how your body functions. All of these improvements can lead to reducing workplace injury: http://neckarthritistreatment.org/45494/practice-yoga-prevention/
Woman on trial for Raleigh wrongful death
August 19th, 2010
A woman is facing trial as prosecutors accuse her of the Raleigh wrongful death of her 19-month old son, according to news14.com.
The woman is accused of the Raleigh wrongful death after prosecutors say she doused her son with bleach and hid his body in a plastic tub in her closet.
Prosecutors say the woman tried to claim it was an accident, but she didn’t call 911 following the possible Raleigh wrongful death.
Do you think a Raleigh wrongful death of a child should have a harsher punishment than a Raleigh wrongful death of an adult?
If your loved one or the loved one of someone you know has been involved in a Raleigh wrongful death, the Raleigh wrongful death lawyers at HensonFuerst Attorneys can help.