JEFFERSON CITY - The Wilkes and McHugh Law Firm posted an advertisement in the city's local paper Sept. 25 claiming Golden Living Center has placed its residents in "jeopardy of harm."
"When we pulled up some of the information for this facility, we found that when the state had come in, they had found residents to be in immediate jeopardy of harm...they found some residents who had actually been harmed. And so we just used that information because the public should be aware of what's going on in these nursing homes, particularly when they're deciding where to place a loved one," attorney Cameron Jehl said.
The advertisement cited claims such as improper treatment leading to infections and sicknesses and failing to provide proper hygiene and dietary needs.
These claims are available to the public and can be found on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.
Jehl said he and his firm have received a number of calls complaining of the same type of problems, including some that they are investigating.
Golden Living Center rebutted the ad several days after its initial run with its own ad encouraging the public to visit the home. The ad said, "High-quality healthcare is something that is very important to all of us. We want the best possible care for ourselves and our loved ones...the shameful and misleading advertisement running in the newspaper last week was placed by trial attorneys who are fishing for clients. The ad focused on 'deficiencies' that were found during state surveys of our Living Center over the last few years. The ad makes it sound like these deficiencies still exist, which is just plain wrong. It needs to be clearly understood that steps were taken immediately at the time the deficiencies were identified to successfully correct them. In fact, our compliance in each instance has been verified by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services."
Executive Director Kay Mulligan said she and her company discussed the allegations and decided they did not want to draw any more publicity to them, but did agree to run their own ad.
"I mean we're talking about multi-million dollar companies that are profiting off of these residents. The residents should get the care they deserve during the final days of their lives," Jehl said.
The Department of Health and Senior Services inspects care facilities twice a year. These inspections include unannounced visits to each care facility to evaluate resident quality of care and life, environmental and dietary services, and fire safety.
The Golden Living Center ad stated, "Given the several hundred detailed state and federal regulatory requirements that a nursing home must meet, very rarely does a facility receive zero deficiencies. That would not be a very effective system if everyone received perfect scores. The survey process is designed to be rigorous and to encourage continuous improvement, which we welcome...the safety, care, and well-being of our patients and residents always comes first."
"The most important thing I can say for anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home is to visit regularly because what we find is that really the only way to police what's going on in the nursing home is to go in there and use your own eyes and ears and question the care that's being provided," Jehl said.
The Golden Living Center ad stated, "Visiting our Living Center is one of the best ways to decide if our home is the right place for your loved one. We encourage friends, family, and members of the community to visit us at any time to see for themselves the quality of care we provide."
Jehl said he expects lawsuits to stem the law firm's ad. Golden Living Center would not comment on the prospect of legal trouble.
For more information on care facility inspections, visit the health and senior services website.