Senior Care Facilities in Georgia Are Subject to Little Oversight and Rarely Face Consequences
GEORGIA- When a 92-year-old woman wandered out of her senior care facility in Macon, an alarm was supposed to go off to alert staff, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC). The retired teacher and widowed great-grandmother was suffering from dementia and was in a confused state, and when she left the facility in her nightgown, she suffered a severe fall down an embankment. The woman broke her neck and tragically died before any of the people tasked with caring for her had even realized that she had left the facility.*
The doors at the senior care facility should have triggered an alarm and prevented the tragedy. If an alarm was triggered, it was not heard. Many would think and hope that such an event would lead to an investigation, and yet six weeks passed before the state sent anyone to look into whether the home failed to provide appropriate care. The ultimate citation was minimal, and the facility did not even have to pay a fine as a result of the incident.
The victim was one of the thousands of people in the state who reside in these facilities that the State licenses and inspects. According to the AJC, "many other states require more of their senior care facilities, levy large fines for wrongdoing and close down facilities in the most serious cases."
The agency responsible for inspecting these facilities is understaffed, and cases of abuse and neglect often go undiscovered or unpunished. The Department of Community Health, which is tasked with overseeing these facilities, has only 28 staff employees, with two spots remaining unfilled. This small task force is responsible for monitoring 2,675 facilities, not counting the investigations they must carry out at unlicensed care residences. Some state lawmakers are now looking to make changes to the laws impacting senior care facilities. In the meantime, families should be vigilant about ensuring the safety of their loved ones in Georgia senior care facilities.
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