A Canadian nursing home chain, Extendicare, has decided to do business anywhere but in Kentucky, where it just leased all 21 of its facilities to another company. The decision was made after the company failed to sway the Kentucky legislature to pass a measure into law that would make it more difficult to sue nursing homes for negligence and neglect. Some people see the action as evidence that Extendicare officials are aware of its own wrongdoing and have pulled the company out of the state in order to avoid being it being held accountable for its actions.
In 2008, three nurse’s aides were involved in the abuse of a nursing home patient in a facility that was owned by Extendicare at the time. The incident was caught by the placement of a hidden camera and the defendants received diverted sentences for their crimes by 2010. Since the incident, Extendicare has shown a greater interest in politics— by attempting to persuade lawmakers to make it more difficult for the abused and neglected to file lawsuits against nursing homes.
Undue Risk Exposure?
The decision to pull out of the state of Kentucky was reported to have been part of the company’s strategy to do away with operations that impeded its growth or created undue risk exposure. This statement pointed to the ability to be sued for the failure to provide standard care as an exposure to risk. The point was made by the founder of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, Bernie Vonderheide, that the risk of being sued would not be an issue of concern if nursing facilities provided the care that patients both deserve and pay for.
Extendicare has fought back, saying that Kentucky has become a state that targets large for-profit nursing home chains with litigation because those chains have more assets from which plaintiffs can collect if they are awarded damages. The claim that for-profit nursing homes are being targeted specifically might be substantiated, but for all the wrong reasons. For-profit skilled nursing facilities have been found to provide significantly worse quality of care than their not-for-profit counterparts.
Not a Loss
Advocates of nursing home reform are relieved to see Extendicare go and have no intention to make the company feel welcomed in the state of Kentucky again. Anytime a company makes an attempt to have legislation written that looks after its own interests, it makes people suspect that the company has something to hide. Extendicare may be fully aware of potential lawsuits that may be brought against it due to neglect or abuse.
The idea has been brought up that other nursing home chains will leave the state as well if it is too easy to sue them for improper care or negligence. Each time it is brought up, however, the retort by nursing home reform advocates is the same. Let them leave— if they really looked out for the best interests of our loved ones, really provided quality care that they could stand by and really took the proper measures to prevent abuse and neglect in their facilities then they would have no reason to fear being sued.
If you have a loved one who was mistreated at an Extendicare facility, inside or outside the state of Kentucky, our nursing home lawyers are interested in discussing your legal options with you. Our legal consultations are free and there is never an obligation to use our office for your case.
For laws related to Kentucky nursing homes, look here.