2017-10-13 / On Second Thought

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Since reading about nursing home deaths in Florida after Hurricane Irma, I want to know how to report long-term care facility problems in South Carolina.
Compiled by Warren Hughes

Twelve people died in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma when they were not safely evacuated from a nursing home that lost power. While that outcome was tragic and extreme, the overall quality of nursing home care should concern everyone regardless of age or where you live.

At some point, many people will find themselves in need of such care. In a study released in August 2017, the Rand Corporation says the average American’s lifetime risk of using a nursing home is substantially greater than previously thought. Among people age 57 to 61, 56 percent will stay in a nursing home at least one night during their lifetime, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous studies had indicated that perhaps only 35 percent of Americans would ever need a nursing home. Researchers hope the new findings will help consumers better prepare for the care they may need in their later years.

The graying of the U.S. population and growing numbers of Americans needing expensive, longterm care could cause the rate of nursing home use to keep rising and increase pressure on Medicaid to cover the costs. Only some 11 percent of Americans have long-term care insurance. The federal Medicaid program pays for almost 40 percent of the nation’s long-term care expenses, and the share is growing.

In South Carolina, if you suspect abuse or neglect in a long-term care facility, call the Office of Aging Ombudsman in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, 1-800-868-9095. SCDHEC also investigates nursing home complaints. Mail complaints to SCDHEC, Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201 or fax the complaint to 803- 545-4212. If you are unable to e-mail, mail, or fax your complaint, call 803-545-4370.

We want to add to the community’s storehouse of knowledge, whether it is a neighborhood matter, a larger issue or a simple curiosity. We’ll do the footwork for you. Submit your questions to mimim@thecolumbiastar.com or pams@thecolumbiastar.com.

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