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Eviction of mentally ill residents

Published on June 19th, 2009

The West Virginia Gazette had an interesting article on a nursing home’s attempt to evict a mentally ill resident from the facility.  The judge has ruled that 77-year-old Helen Shank gets to stay at Golden Living Center in Morgantown…for now.  Medicaid must continue providing nursing home care for Shank, who is mentally ill and also a "brittle diabetic".

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services tried to take federal Medicaid benefits away from Shank, despite recommendations by several of her physicians and psychiatrists. 
Shank has lived in the Golden Living Center since October 2004. But last year, a DHHR evaluator said she no longer qualified for nursing home care.

Dr. Ward Paine, a physician who treated Shank at the Golden Living Center, said she would be at a "very high risk of hospitalization" if she were released from the home.  Others agreed, including: Dr. Pamela Sullivan, another physician who saw Shank, and Dr. Janis Boury, a psychologist and case manager who gave Shank a mental-health evaluation in June 2008.  Dr. Logan Graddy, a psychiatrist at West Virginia University Hospital, diagnosed Shank as suffering from developing dementia, "a severe, persistent and progressive psychiatric illness."

In his ruling, Judge Kaufman wrote, "The U.S. Congress defined a nursing facility as an institution which is primarily engaged in providing … health-related care and services to individuals who because of their mental or physical conditions require care and services which can be made available to them only though institutional facilities."   Shank’s failure to meet "the minimum five daily living deficits," which do not include any psychological problems, does not make her ineligible to receive Medicaid benefits under federal guidelines, Kaufman ruled.

Once again, the nursing home industry proves that they are more concerned about making money than providing the care thier residents need.

 

 

Joe Pioletti
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