In previous post, I wrote about how the Assisted Living Facility ran out of dad’s blood pressure medications. I was upset when I found out he was without his medications and followed up immediately to remedy the situation. Because this was the second time this facility had allowed dad to go without his blood pressure medications, I told the Administrator that I would be filing a complaint with the State Board of Health. I think this comment helped get them moving very fast this time to obtain dad’s medications. However, even after the situation was resolved, I felt I had to follow through and not let this end up as an empty threat.
I finally filed my complaint with the NY health department yesterday. I had called the ombuds person about 2 weeks ago but they had never called back. I called again yesterday and just spoke directly with the managers of the program and then got referred to the new person who has the same number as the former ombuds person. I left the new ombuds person a phone message and sent her an email.
She got back to me pretty quickly and was very helpful. She had referred my original phone call to the local volunteer ombuds person for that ALF and that person had not yet followed up with me. The new county ombuds took full responsibility and we talked for awhile. She felt I should file a complaint with the state, especially since the same situation happened a year ago. She gave me the phone number to call at the state level.
I called the State Long Term Care Complaint Hotline using the number the ombuds person gave me. The call was answered immediately by a human (always a nice touch).
I explained the situation and the state employee felt it warranted a formal complaint. It took 40 minutes all together for that conversation. As I explained the situation about the delayed shipment from Medco, the fact that it was a very similar situation as last year, I realized it was very complicated for her to follow.
It took her awhile to understand that Medco/Express Scripts was a mail order pharmacy as well as the insurer and the only pharmacy that dad can get his medications from under his (employer-provided) insurance. He can get short-term medications like antibiotics locally, but anything that he takes for more than 90 days must come from this mail order pharmacy or his insurance won’t pay for it.
I was told they would send me a letter within a week. The state will also have 90 days to contact the Assisted Living Facility (ALF) and do an on-site audit there. I’m sure that will make me very unpopular with the ALF, but I felt I had to put the whole situation “on the record” in order to protect the other residents there as well as dad.
I asked what the state requirements were for an ALF. She said in order to give medications; a staff member is only required to have 40 hours of training to become a CNA, not to be a nurse. And to give medications, 16 of those hours must be in medication management. She also said though that the ALF is required to follow doctor’s orders.
For instance, they could refuse to take dad’s blood pressure as I had refused last year because there were no orders to do so. Once I got the doctor to order that they take his blood pressure every day for 2 weeks, then they had to follow that order. Similarly, just giving him his daily medications is a doctor’s order. They have no leeway on that. They must give his medications as ordered. It doesn’t hold water to blame the mail order pharmacy for not sending the medications. No matter what, they have to do whatever it takes to get him his medications as ordered.
That was exactly what I expected. Shifting the blame does not work. Yes, Medco/Express Scripts was late in sending the medications. But that is a separate issue. The ALF has to obtain the medications (as they did in the end by having his doctor call it in to a local pharmacy). They should have done that BEFORE he was totally out of his medication.
I felt very relieved when I finally got done with that conversation. The whole situation has been hanging over me for about 2 weeks since I learned dad ran out of medications. I just wanted to be done with it. Of course, right after that, I felt a bit bad for the ALF Administrator, who I like, but she is ultimately responsible for what the nurse and staff do or don’t do.
I know retaliation is illegal and I hope I don’t see any sign of that. It is a small place and everyone knows me and dad. Most of them love dad and that helps. I just want to see them all do their jobs!