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What to do if problems arise in a care facility

March 23, 2009

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- If you, a relative or a friend is in some type of care facility and has a problem, where can you turn?

Locally, the Washington County Commission on Aging has an ombudsman who visits nursing homes when there are complaints about the facilities, said Linda Crone, who deals with community-based programs at the Commission on Aging.

Senior citizens or their family members also can call the ombudsman for information about problems at local nursing homes, Crone said.

The ombudsman, Lynn Smith, can be reached at 301-790-0275.

Smith said she gets complaints about local nursing homes "all the time, daily," some of which are valid.

Some of the typical complaints about nursing homes involve relatives lying in soiled beds and "call bells" rung by patients in need of assistance not being responded to in a timely fashion, Smith said.

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Complaints such as response time to call bells usually are related to staffing issues, Smith said.

Smith said her agency also gets complaints about verbal or physical abuse in nursing homes, and such complaints sometimes result in termination of staff members.

The Maryland Office of Health Care Quality conducts regular reviews of nursing homes to make sure they are meeting regulations, Smith said.




Where to get help



Following are sources of information for those trying to choose nursing homes or other types of care facilities, or for those wishing to register complaints:

o Washington County Commission on Aging ombudsman Lynn Smith provides information or checks out complaints about nursing homes. Reach her at 301-790-0275.

o Maryland's Office of Health Care Quality, an agency within the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, conducts annual reviews of nursing homes. The public can see the results of the surveys at the federal Web site. www.www.medicare.gov/NHCompare

o Maryland's Office of Health Care Quality will provide inspection information by appointment or through a call to have the information mailed.

Call 410-402-8000 or write to: Office of Health Care Quality, Spring Grove Hospital Center, Bland Bryant Building, 55 Wade Ave., Catonsville, MD 21228

Attn: Public Information Request

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