Letters to the editor: 06-17-19

Independent oversight prevents abuse

As reported by this paper, Legacy Hilo Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and Kohala Hospital were recently cited in the top of the nation’s “troubled” nursing care facilities. That story should be a concern to everyone as it impacts our communities and our ohana. It’s notable that the failings of those local facilities were not reported voluntarily by them. Government oversight and reporting was what led to bringing travesties of non-care to light.

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As our island population ages, these risks are growing. Many more people will need to be cared for at these and similar care facilities in the future.

It’s nearly impossible to know 24/7 how our loved ones are being cared for when they stay in public or for-profit facilities like Legacy, especially if they are suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Despite interviews with a sampling of people who claim that treatment of their loved ones at Legacy Hilo is good (a single-star rated institution by U.S. News and World Report), readers need to look beyond those statements to better understand how complicated the situation can be and how speaking the truth while one’s loved one is being cared for could put that loved one at risk of retribution.

Agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require sustained, sufficient funding to provide the best up-to-date planning, personnel and oversight. Their important job of ensuring that people, especially our kupuna, are provided with care that is safe and dignified is paramount, and it requires sufficient resources for success.

Support this oversight process by contacting local, state, and federal legislators. Ask them to work toward better oversight and zero abuse at all care facilities, including larger ones like Legacy Hilo and smaller ones like individual care homes where abuse is reportedly becoming rampant.

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Janice Palma-Glennie

Kailua-Kona