Free Consultation with a Morgantown, WV Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer
Call us today to speak with a narrowly focused Morgantown nursing home abuse attorney and learn more about your rights under West Virginia law.
At Senior Justice Law Firm, nursing home abuse and neglect cases are all that we do. Let our narrow focus help your family get justice after a preventable tragedy occurs inside a West Virginia nursing home or ALF.
Receive your free Morgantown nursing home abuse attorney case consultation at 304-915-2255.
Morgantown Nursing Homes Have a Spotty History of Substandard Care
Morgantown, West Virginia catches eyes across the country as one of the most appealing cities in the state. From dense, suburban atmospheres to a bustling college demographic, it’s no wonder that the city is the largest in north-central West Virginia. Among the many people who call this area home are an increasing number of older folks drawn by the appealing lifestyle and even the weather. However, local resources have not been able to keep up; only four nursing homes are located directly in Morgantown. While there are 16 within 25 miles of the city center, it is not just the number of facilities that is causing problems.
Historically, Morgantown area skilled nursing facilities have been cited for abuse and neglect, and given substandard inspection ratings.
The care within these locations is also suffering, and Morgantown has struggled to keep pace with the quality of service that is offered in other locations across West Virginia. During its inspections, Medicare has even labeled locations within the city with their notorious “red hand” symbol—a warning that the facility has been cited with at least one confirmed case of abuse or negligence.
However, even in facilities where red symbols haven’t yet been levied, abuse can still run rampant; in fact, it is estimated that for every one nursing home abuse case that is reported, as many as 24 are never brought to light. As an individual whose family member or loved one is in a nursing home, you have every right to file a lawsuit and make the proper reports if you suspect negligent or abusive behavior. But before that, it’s important to first learn how to identify abuse.
Identifying Abusive and Negligent Nursing Home Behaviors
First and foremost, if you believe that your loved one or someone you know is in imminent danger, call local law enforcement or an ambulance right away. For emergencies, call the Morgantown Police Department at 911. Their non-emergency line is available at 304-284-7522 if you have less urgent questions. To reach the Ruby Memorial Hospital with any pressing medical concerns, contact 304-598-4000 and follow the prompts to be directed to a nurse who can help you identify what’s going on.
Abuse is not always as clear-cut as you may imagine. You see a bruise on your loved one, or maybe a cut that wasn’t there last time. Surely just an accident, right?
In reality, physical abuse can take the form of broken bones, bruises, unexplained and sudden weight loss, and much more.
Bed sores are a clear giveaway, because there is no medical condition that causes them other than neglect. A nursing home may try to tell you that these increasing bruises and scrapes are just a part of getting older, but this excuse may mask a facility that is not doing its due diligence to keep your loved one safe.
Repeated falls indicate a lack of supervision, and can result in fatal injuries like brain bleeds or broken bones.
Additionally, caring for basic necessities when nursing home residents are unable to care for themselves is part of a facility’s responsibilities. Residents showing signs of dehydration and starvation due to improper care from the staff are most likely experiencing consistent nutritional neglect.
Emotional, mental, and even sexual abuse can also manifest itself through PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral symptoms. If you notice that your loved one appears inexplicably withdrawn, displays agitated behavior, or seems to be behaving differently, this is a basis on which you may be able to establish a pattern of some form of emotional or mental abuse.
Morgantown nursing home abuse or neglect injuries are subtle, so if you suspect neglect, report it immediately. If a family member suffered any of the above ‘red flag’ nursing home injuries, call Senior Justice Law Firm now at 304-915-2255.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse in Morgantown, West Virginia?
If you suspect that your family member, friend, or loved one is being abused in their nursing home, you can file a complaint with the West Virginia nursing home long-term care ombudsman. The victims of abuse themselves can also make reports of their own, but you do not need to wait for them to do so (either because they cannot or because you, as the family, are more equipped).
To report nursing home abuse in Morgantown or the rest of West Virginia, you can call 1-800-834-0598 to talk with an ombudsman representative directly. From there, they will give you any information or access to forms that you need to proceed with your report. You might need to fax documents or photos to them; if you don’t have a fax machine available to you, try your local library, bank, or even office supply store.
You can also make direct reports to the local Department of Health and Human Services during normal business hours (from 8:30am to 5:00pm) or call the 24-hour hotline that specifically deals with nursing home complaints at 1-800-352-6153. For healthcare facility complaints, use (304) 558-0050, and for the home health hotline, use (800) 442-2888.
The Department of Health and Human Services also offers an online complaint form if you do not have access to a phone, which you can find here.
Even though many of the resources that can take your complaint are outside Morgantown, rest assured that they can help you document everything that you need. Charleston is the hub for many such services, such as the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification. You can mail a complaint directly to them at:
Attention: [Health Care Facility Type] Complaint Intake
Office of Health Facility Licensure & Certification
408 Leon Sullivan Way
Charleston, WV 25301-1713
The West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services will also be interested to hear about abuse or negligence that you have noticed. Their phone number is (304) 558-3317 or (877) 987-3646, and any relevant information can be faxed to (304) 558-5609. Direct mailed evidence to 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, WV 25305.
Once you have made all of the relevant reports, it is your decision whether or not to pursue legal action against the nursing home for their behavior. Remember: your lawsuit can force the facility to change its behavior, improving the quality of life for dozens of other residents who call that location home. Even if you have no interest in compensation yourself, your lawsuit can still make a difference.
Morgantown, West Virginia Nursing Home Abuse Cases
The New York Times recently shared a piece discussing the country’s nationwide issue with publicizing the poor behavior within nursing homes due to the secretive nature of the legal appeals process. Morgantown, West Virginia is no exception, and dozens of allegations and even fines have been levied without much (or any) public statement. However, the news has still caught wind of some of the cases facing local nursing homes.
Golden Living Center, a nursing home in Morgantown, mistakenly removed safety features from a resident’s bed––which led to his death after he fell. Cases of physical and verbal abuse were documented, in which the facility knew such abuse was occurring but deliberately turned a blind eye to it. In a determination by the HHS, which sustained the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s findings, Golden Living Center was found not to have complied with certain regulations to keep residents safe and was forced to pay a per-day fine. Another patient at the facility sustained injuries due to staff who did not properly assist during a shower.
Golden Living Center is not the only nursing home that’s been under fire as of late. The Madison was given a “red hand symbol” by Medicare, which indicates that the facility was confirmed to have at least one case of abusive or negligent behavior that led to actual and substantial harm. This is reflected in the location’s one-star health inspection, which indicates that staff did not send a resident to the hospital for evaluation after he fell and broke his hip and was bleeding from his face.
Another resident at The Madison was also included in this health inspection after he, too, fell. No neurological examination was performed to ensure that he had not sustained a head injury.
West Virginia Laws That Protect Nursing Home Residents
The laws in West Virginia require nursing homes to have written regulations that specify the rights of nursing home residents in their care. Additionally, the regulations should not only be announced or made known to the incoming residents and their family members, but they also must be displayed conspicuously at nursing home facilities.
Both federal and state laws require nursing home managers and staff or nurses to treat residents with respect and dignity—which is part of what ensures that the residents should not be subject to abuse, neglect, and mistreatment.
Nursing homes in West Virginia are also required to provide, develop, and implement comprehensive care plans for each individual resident. The plans should be subject to periodic evaluations.
Residents have the right to proper dietary, pharmaceutical, nursing, and rehabilitative care that corresponds to their individual needs. They have the right to be informed of and involved in their own medical care, as well as to be notified of any changes in the implementation of said care. Aside from that, nursing home residents also have the right to refuse medications or other medical treatments.
West Virginia laws also regulate the privacy of residents; they have the right to keep their belongings, as long as this does not interfere with other people’s needs or privacy.
Individuals also have the right to choose and maintain their own schedules, activities, and preferences, as well as manage their own money unless they are helped by someone with a POA.
These rights and regulations are located in the West Virginia Code of State Rules Agency 64 – Health, Title 64 – LEGISLATIVE RULE WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN RESOURCES, Series 64-13 – Nursing Home Licensure Rule, Section 64-13-5 – Quality of Life and TITLE 21 LEGISLATIVE RULE.
Learn more about legal protections afforded by the state by contacting our West Virginia nursing home abuse attorneys.
Free Morgantown Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Consultation
Our Morgantown nursing home abuse lawyer is here to help get your families answers, and justice, for what your loved one went through.
Senior Justice Law Firm handles cases throughout West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania that involve bed sores, patient falls, medication errors, physical and sexual abuse, untreated infection, and wrongful death.
Attorneys Ryan Duty and Avery Adcock narrowly focus on claims against nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. With two decades combined experience, our Morgantown nursing home neglect lawyers have the experience needed to maximize your case’s value.
Best of all, Senior Justice Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis, so you do not need to pay us any out of pocket retainers. We only get paid a percentage of what we recover on your case, if we are successful in obtaining a settlement or judgment on your behalf.
Call us today at 304-915-2255, live chat with us, or submit your case facts in the box below. Share as many case facts as possible and we will promptly get back with you and let you know if we believe you have a viable West Virginia nursing home negligence case.