‘Listen to your loved ones:’ Man advocates for elderly after grandmother’s nursing home experience
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A grandson says he will continue to advocate for his grandmother after what was supposed to be a short stay at a nursing home turned into her health declining.
Messiah reached out to 12 On Your Side, upset over his 87-year-old grandmother’s experience at Westport Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Henrico.
“She will never ever go back to Westport Rehab. I don’t care if that is the last place in the world. I will take care of her,” said Messiah.
Messiah says his grandma went to Westport Rehabilitation and Nursing Center to regain strength and walk again after a leg wound.
“In late 2022, she had injured her leg on the side of her oven door. It punctured her leg. Over time, it got worse and worse. One of the vascular doctors said it was a like an ulcer. It exploded to a big wound. That is how she got to the rehab, so she could learn how to walk again. It was hard to walk with the wound,” he said.
His grandmother was only in the facility for less than a month. He would visit her often but said those visits and calls became increasingly concerning.
“She would hit the red button because she needed something like pain pills or use the restroom. She would need to [be] changed or cleaned up. It would take the nurses almost 2 hours to come,” Messiah explained. “My grandma told me there would be nights she felt like she wanted to die. Laying in the bed knowing you can’t move and you have feces running down your leg, it’s urine all in the bed. You are hitting the red button--the nurses and doctors take forever to come.”
Messiah says his grandmother’s former roommate witnessed the issues as well.
“They would not change her clothes. There has been plenty of occasions where they would not change her clothes for two or three days. I wouldn’t know until she would call and tell me, and I would go down there or call the front desk and ask why when she had a new set of clothes in the closet,” he said.
Messiah says he would reach out to administrators and staff about the issues his grandmother was experiencing, but April 3 brought the boiling point of their family’s concerns.
“When I saw she was sedated and she would not wake up, by the time she woke up, she could not talk,” he explained about the day he visited. “When I got there, it took me 30 minutes to wake her up.”
He says his grandmother was heavily sedated and in pain. He said she was not coherent when she woke up but could squeeze his hand to communicate.
“I said do you think I should call a hospital? She squeezed my hand, and I kept asking questions, and she would only respond by squeezing my hand,” he said.
She was taken to Henrico Doctor’s Hospital, where Messiah says doctors and nurses quickly diagnosed her with an infection in her leg.
“The day she left Westport Rehab, they didn’t report to us that she had an infection in her body,” he said.
Messiah says he reached out to his grandmother’s insurance and found a new facility for her to transfer to following the hospital stay.
“My mom passed away in 1991. I didn’t have a father in my life. My grandmother took me in. She was my mom, my dad, my best friend, my teacher, my everything. That is why I am fighting for her to this day,” Messiah explained.
He contacted Henrico’s Adult Protective Services. In a statement, the agency wrote the following to the On Your Side Investigators:
Henrico County Department of Social Services is unable to confirm an investigation of Westport Rehabilitation and Nursing. Such records are protected from disclosure per the Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5(3).
“Listen to your loved ones. If they are feeling sick, they say they can’t do it anymore, search other options out there. If you have to call 12 On Your Side or social services or the insurance company to try to move her--do what you can,” he said.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services inspection, Westport Rehabilitation and Nursing Center have an overall 1 out of 5-star rating based on three categories: health inspections, staffing and quality measures.
It scored 1 out of 5 stars in health inspections and staffing and 3 stars in quality measures.
Quality Measures are calculated from 2 types of quality measures: short and long-stay resident quality measures.
Westport scored 4 out of 5 stars for short stays, classified as 100 days or less, and 3 out of 5 for extended stays.
The most recent health inspection from October 2022 found 26 health citations. According to CMS, the average number of health citations in Virginia is 11.3, and the average number of health citations in the U.S. is 8.7.
In a 71-page summary of deficiencies and plan of correction, inspectors found facility staff failed to provide showers for residents, failed to follow physicians’ orders for five of 78 residents and also failed to provide routine dental services for a resident, among other findings. The full report can be read here.
In a statement to 12 On Your Side, Westport Rehabilitation and Nursing Center wrote:
“Westport Rehabilitation and Nursing Center’s singular focus is resident care and welfare. While we have achieved 3 stars on quality measures from CMS and did not receive any high-level deficiencies on our last survey, we constantly strive to improve. Whenever we fail to meet our own expectations or that of a resident, we learn from that experience and grow as a community.”
Messiah says he wanted to share their story to possibly help other families and the residents still living at Westport.
He tells NBC12 the infection in his grandmother’s leg has impacted her overall health and that she has good and bad days. Messiah says he remains in close contact with his grandmother and her care team. He hopes other people will advocate for elderly loved ones who may be in the care of a rehab or nursing facility.
“I’m not [speaking just for] my grandmother. I’m being a voice for a lot of people in that place who don’t have family or friends to fight for them or be the voice for them,” he said.
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