Natalie Sealy was an 85-year-old woman and mother with dementia. She had chosen her nursing home herself two years prior, choosing the nursing home because of its close proximity to her two daughters. But trouble ensued, quickly — and rather unexpectedly. Her daughter, Billie Pender, made several requests to the nursing home to fix a simple problem, a broken windowsill in their mother’s room.
The simple problem was not fixed and so, as it often happens in nursing home abuse cases across the country, the simple problem escalated into a bigger one: One morning Billie Pender woke up to an urgent call after her mother’s face, chest, arms and hands were bitten severely over the night by fire ants. The fire ants had swarmed over her face, chest, arms and hands so badly that her whole face was red, itchy, hot and oozing in pain.
And then that problem became even worse. Natalie Sealy’s health took a turn for the worse. She died just a few months later.
Maybe a story of fire ants swarming at night isn’t enough to make you scared about the state of nursing homes in Texas. Sadly, we’re not talking one story, one small problem leading to more and more problems. Instead, in Texas, we’re talking about the norm — an overwhelming majority of nursing homes that are injuring their residents with everything from pressure sores to head injuries to infection and sepsis when they should be helping them.
For Natalie Sealy, the nursing home that was close to her home turned out to have a terrible dark side, scoring poorly on staffing and other important quality measures. In fact, in 2015, Medicare rated Sealy’s nursing home — Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — a single one star out of five, the lowest rating possible on Nursing Home Compare.
Throughout Texas, providing awareness through these terrible stories, families are waking up to the reality that there are not nursing homes in their area that are safe enough for their elderly loved ones. Unfortunately, this is a problem that is particular to Texas, as Texas has the highest percentage of one- and two-star nursing homes in the entire country. Over half of Texas’ nursing homes are either rated “below average” or, even worse, “much below average” on Nursing Home Compare.
In addition, many Texas-based nursing homes, including Parkview, are receiving poor inspection reports. In 2013, Parkview, for instance, received reviews that implied there were problems capable of causing “actual harm or immediate jeopardy” to residents. 2013 was also the year the Natalia Sealy chose Parkview as her nursing home.
We need more families like Natalia Sealy’s to come forward with their own experience of nursing home abuse and negligence, of little problems that were ignored for so long that they became terribly big problems. By telling these stories of abuse and negligence, even when it isn’t easy to talk about, we’re standing up for elderly abuse in a big way.
Let’s make Texas safe for our elders. Share your story of nursing home abuse below or on our Facebook page.