25 Investigates obtains report: Local nursing home patients roaming halls, waiting for medication

A staffing shortage at a Chelsea nursing home left some patients without anyone to care for them, according to a report 25 Investigates obtained from the city’s fire department. Firefighters and EMT’s responded to AdviniaCare Eastpointe at 255 Central Avenue Saturday afternoon when a woman visiting the facility complained that an elderly patient with diabetes had not received her insulin.

In the report, a Fire Lieutenant described, “Five to seven patients lined up at a medication cart, waiting for their medications.” on the 3rd floor. Firefighters, “were initially unable to find any LPN’s or RN’s on that side of the nursing home with multiple patients roaming the hall,” according to the one-page narrative.

First responders treated several residents and transported one woman who was complaining of back pain to the hospital. They were told the nurse who had been working on the floor earlier had left after a double shift and there was no one to replace her. Another nurse on the floor said he was taking care of his own patients, “and if he had time he would go to the other side and give out their medication,” the report said.

Dr. Heidi Kummer of Boston is a clinical care physician and the President of the Patient Advocate Certification Board. She said Medicare.gov lists the turnover rate for registered nurses at Eastpointe at 70% which is higher than the national average of 52% percent. Kummer called staffing shortages the biggest patient safety issue in all sectors of healthcare right now.

“This is a case in point where you have a nurse who worked two shifts back-to-back, probably not planned to, probably stayed on because there was nobody to cover. But after two shifts, you yourself aren’t safe anymore to be taking care of someone else and giving out insulin,” Dr. Kummer said.

AdviniaCare Eastpointe is operated by the Pointe Group Care. The company’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Hannon released this statement to 25 Investigates:

“AdviniaCare Eastpointe had a staffing challenge on a shift this past Saturday, which was addressed very promptly on that same day through the deployment of additional personnel from our company and supplemental staff through the Mass. Department of Public Health’s rapid response team. We are grateful for the team’s support, and as always, the support of our local health and safety officials. Staffing has now stabilized in the building. Despite the situation on Saturday, all residents received proper and necessary care. At no time was there a need to consider transferring residents.”

The MA Department of Health confirmed it sent a rapid response medical team to the nursing home Saturday when it learned of the staffing shortage. DPH has launched an investigation at the facility.

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