CNN couldn’t have been more timely for Arkansas with a monumental investigation of nursing home abuse cases around the country.
It’s not specifically about Arkansas, but we are not immune from negligence and abuse cases here. CNN focused on sexual abuse cases.
In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations — or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.
It’s these systemic failures that make it especially hard for victims to get justice — and even easier for perpetrators to get away with their crimes.
That’s a worthy topic of discussion. But the current relevance is this: the effort in the legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to reduce attorney fees and awards in damage cases of all sorts, but particularly nursing homes. The amendment effectively sets a cap on the life of an elderly person in a nursing home, with no earning ability, at $250,000, for the worst sort of abuse.
Comments from Martha Deaver, president of Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents, and Retired Col. Mike Ross of North Little Rock, chairman of the board for Veterans Villages of America.
From Martha Deaver:
“Wednesday morning, CNN released an in-depth report on an epidemic of rape and sexual abuse in America’s nursing homes, many of which are corporate-run homes. The report detailed horrific abuses, the likes of which have occurred right here in Arkansas. This is a glaring reason why corporate nursing homes should not have special protections like those offered in SJR8. Nursing home residents who are often as vulnerable as infants and unable to fight off an attack are suffering the worst indignities and abuse. People should be very alarmed at what’s going on and consider that in neighboring states like Texas, the people have no way to hold corporate nursing homes accountable.
This explosive CNN report comes on the heels of the 2017 AARP report just released in January, which outlines the horrific abuses going on in over 900 Texas nursing homes, the majority of which are corporate run. Every nursing home resident deserves to be kept safe, but SJR8 will take away our ability to protect them.”
From Col. Ross:
“What CNN reported is disgusting. Rape and sexual abuse should never happen to anyone, but horrifically, this and other types of nursing home abuse happen more than the average person knows about. It appears that some of our legislators have sided with special interests who want to pass the proposed constitutional amendment SJR8, which will allow corporate nursing homes to budget for abuses like rape and sexual assault. But we still have the chance to fight for the safety of our nursing home residents by telling our representatives to vote no on SJR8. If we don’t fight to protect our vulnerable citizens now, then we may not have anyone fighting for us when we are lying in the nursing home beds. I urge everyone to call your state representative today and tell them to vote no on SJR8.”