Back in October, I had a first-hand experience of conditions at a Los Angeles nursing home. I was stunned by the blatant inhumanity: I don’t know what else to call it. How can this shit go on? How can people live with themselves after consigning a loved one to such misery and neglect?
Hearing about a 98 year old woman who killed a 100 year old roommate, my first reaction was to laugh. I guess it’s still funny on some level, but I’ve lost the thread of whatever black comedy I perceived there. Now that I’ve learned the circumstances, I am furious beyond words. It’s an obvious case of nursing home negligence, but the nursing home won’t be held responsible and for the administrators and stockholders, it will be business as usual.
Laura Lundquist strangled her roommate, Elizabeth Barrow, at the Brandon Woods nursing home in New Bedford, MA, after Barrow’s son made repeated complaints about Lundquist on his mother’s behalf. Lundquist believed that Barrows was “taking over her room,” and had already made threats to the older roommate as well as an attempt to block her from leaving her bed.
Guess what? When you complain about anything in a nursing home, NOTHING HAPPENS! People might nod as though they are listening, but nothing will happen. The staff is not there to provide care. They are there to earn a low wage and to bitch to each other about how annoying their duties are. The patients are discussed by their room and bed number. “24B needs service” announced on the intercom will not bring anyone to 24B’s room, not until some CNA is good and ready to walk her ass down the hall.
Lundquist has a lawyer who will argue that she has dementia. Of course she does! She’s 98 years old and rotting in a fucking nursing home! I don’t think Lundquist can be held responsible. But I’d like to see the administrators of Brandon Woods be restrained in their own nursing home for the next several years, subjected to bedsores and the ravings of mentally ill roommates.
The CEO of Brandon Woods, Scott Picone, says said the home was “deeply saddened by this tragic event, and our thoughts and prayers go out to both families.” He declined to comment further. But in another statement, the home said the roommates acted like sisters, walked and ate lunch together daily and said, “Goodnight, I love you,” to each other every night.
Here’s a story for you: Max’s last roommate at Kindred Hospital was a man named Willie. He is an elderly black man who has cancer and may have also had a stroke. At the time he arrived, he was unable to talk. He had a tracheotomy and had some plastic thing in his mouth. He could gesture with his hands though and he had a legal pad on his table where he could write to communicate. Just before Max was discharged, I saw that Willie had written “Why do they handle me like a terrorist??” Why indeed.
The next day, I paused outside the room and said to a nurse who had just exited: “Willie is such a sweet guy.” She replied: “Yes, he is. Doesn’t talk much, though.”
In the Q & A section of the Brandon Woods website, one is assured that: “Music, physical fitness, outings, and laughter are the key ingredients to enabling residents to enjoy their environment.”
Ha! Jesus. Off with their fucking heads.