LOCKHART, Texas — The call from the nursing home came just before dawn, jolting Martha Sherwood awake.
During the night, fire ants had swarmed over her 85-year-old mother, injecting their stinging venom into Natalie Sealy’s face, arms, hands and chest.
“She was just lying there being eaten alive,” said daughter Billie Pender, who said she and her sister had repeatedly complained about a broken windowsill in their mother’s room at Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
In 11 states, 40 percent or more of nursing homes get Medicare’s lowest two lowest rating.
Their mother had chosen the for-profit facility two years earlier because it was near her adult children. The family didn’t know that Parkview scored poorly on staffing and other quality measures.
This year, Medicare rates it one star out of a possible five stars — the lowest rating possible — on Nursing Home Compare, which was designed by the federal government to help consumers choose a long-term care facility.
The problem for Sealy’s family and residents of many parts of the country is they have few, if any, higher-rated options if they want their loved ones close by.
In 11 states, 40 percent or more of nursing homes get the two lowest ratings, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
Texas has the highest percentage of one-and two-star homes in the country: 51 percent of its nursing homes are rated “below average,” or “much below average,” on Nursing Home Compare, according to the analysis. Louisiana is close behind at 49 percent, with Oklahoma, Georgia and West Virginia tying for third at 46 percent. Continue reading