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BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly

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GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 07:02 AM
DMcG 13 Sep 05 - 07:33 AM
DMcG 13 Sep 05 - 07:48 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 07:59 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:11 AM
greg stephens 13 Sep 05 - 08:26 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:29 AM
DMcG 13 Sep 05 - 08:31 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:35 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:40 AM
DMcG 13 Sep 05 - 08:44 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:45 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:48 AM
freda underhill 13 Sep 05 - 08:51 AM
DMcG 13 Sep 05 - 08:56 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 08:57 AM
LilyFestre 13 Sep 05 - 09:11 AM
Charmion 13 Sep 05 - 10:27 AM
akenaton 13 Sep 05 - 12:57 PM
Wesley S 13 Sep 05 - 01:36 PM
jacqui.c 13 Sep 05 - 01:47 PM
Rapparee 13 Sep 05 - 06:18 PM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 09:11 PM
Bobert 13 Sep 05 - 09:36 PM
GUEST 13 Sep 05 - 09:53 PM

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Subject: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 07:02 AM

In the hierarchy of suffering which exists in our stratified society, there is always one group that ends up on bottom. Those on the bottom were left behind--no way to get to the roofs or into attics. Their caretakers abandoned them in large numbers. This is discrimination which isn't based upon race or class. It is based upon age.

I say this with near 100% certainty: the majority of the dead who will be found in New Orleans will be the elderly. Many will have been abandoned in institutions by the staff. Some will have been abandoned in homes by their families.

45 elderly patients abandoned in one of the hospitals, found dead this week.

20 elderly patients abandoned in one of the nursing homes, found dead this week.

You won't see much outrage about this fact in the mainstream media. In fact, you won't see much reporting about it at all, even though the fact that the majority of the dead will have been elderly people abandoned by caretakers and families. Best to just gloss over the nasty, pretend like it isn't there. It's one of those ugly secrets about ourselves none of us is willing to admit. We discriminate more against the elderly and disabled than any other demographic group in the US.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 07:33 AM

Yes, the majority of those found dead will probably be the elderly (and the very young.) But that's more because of an 'everybody for themselves' mentality than discrimination. It's because the elderly find climbing over obstacles more difficult and even if helped over them are more likely to break bones, etc, making escape even more difficult. It's because the elderly are more susceptable to pneumonia and other diseases. It's because the elderly are more likely to have such poor eyesight or other infirmity that they were unable to drive away when the call to evacuate came. There are lots of reasons. Discrimination is way down the list, I think. I do not condone the staff of institutions abandoning their charges either, but let's be realistic: many of the staff will also have their own families and, yes, their own elderly relatives at home to worry about. I do not defend their actions - but in many cases I can understand it.

I don't think you are entirely right about those 'abandoned by families', either. I would expect many of those cases to be where the younger members of the family have gone off to try to find food or other supplies for everybody and the elderly person was left alone while that happened. To say that they were abandoned in that situation is unjust.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 07:48 AM

But that's more because of an 'everybody for themselves' mentality than discrimination

... I should clarify that. The society as a whole encourages that mentality. But when it came to the crunch, we saw many examples in both New Orleans and New York where people rejected that self-centered approach and demonstrated a concern for others that was, in my book, magnificent.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 07:59 AM

I disagree. There is nothing noble about the fact that there are gruesome discoveries being made like these two examples:

From the Wall St Journal's Ken Wells, reporting from the remote St Bernard's Parish:

"On an implacably sunny day late last week, the Robins were trying to drive in Ricky's aquamarine minivan for the first time all the way down Highway 46, the parish's main thoroughfare, to the Florissant Highway, which doglegs almost due east to Yscloskey. They were stopped briefly at a checkpoint where police diverted traffic away from a street where a nursing home still holds the bodies of at least 30 elderly or infirm residents trapped and drowned by flood waters. Reports of the deaths tear like a sharp oyster knife through the fabric of conversation here. In an easygoing place where people pride themselves on looking after each other, no one can fathom how the nursing home didn't get its people out."

From the Associated Press:

"Search teams found more than 40 bodies, many of them elderly patients, inside a hospital that had been abandoned more than a week earlier after it was surrounded by floodwaters unleashed by Hurricane Katrina, officials said Monday.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. spokesman Steven Campanini said the people found Sunday died of natural causes and some had died before the hurricane hit. Many were patients of Lifecare, which contracts with Memorial to provide long-term acute care to people with serious ailments.

He said none of the deaths were from storm-related hardships.

The bodies were recovered Sunday, but the exact number remained unclear. Bob Johannesen, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Hospitals, said 45 patients had been found; Goodson said there were 44 plus three people found dead on the hospital grounds.

Dr. Jeffrey Kochan, a Philadelphia radiologist volunteering in New Orleans, spoke with the recovery team late Sunday after they had found 36 bodies floating on the first floor.

Police Chief Eddie Compass declined to answer questions Monday about the discovery, including whether police received any calls for assistance from inside Memorial Medical Center after the hospital was evacuated.

A spokeswoman for Mayor C. Ray Nagin, Sally Foreman, said the city knew there were people in hospitals who needed to be evacuated. The city's first priority had been to evacuate patients in critical care units.
The disturbing discovery was just the latest from a medical or health care facility in the region.

A recovery team found eight bodies inside Bethany Home, an assisted-living center near City Park, on Saturday. On Monday, mortuary workers removed human remains from Lafon Nursing Home of the Holy Family."

As I said, I am nearly 100% certain there will be more of these stories of the elderly being abandoned at institutions throughout the area, and many left behind in their homes by family members who never got to them before the storm hit.

If you don't believe it is discrimination, you haven't spent much time among the elderly, and know precious little about them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:11 AM

Here is another AP report:

Elderly abandoned to die in Katrina's fury

Vicki Smith and Malcolm Ritter
Associated Press and Bloomberg


September 8, 2005

When Katrina's fury bore down on the Gulf Coast, the old people were the least able to run. Some could barely walk.

Some were left in despair at a rural Mississippi school. Others drowned.

The story was especially grim just outside New Orleans. About 30 people died at a flooded nursing home in Chalmette, after staff left the elderly residents behind in their beds.

The 60 residents of St. Rita's Nursing Home had a plan to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Instead, the staff and patients remained as the storm flooded the low-lying parish of St. Bernard.

But now, the bodies of up to 35 residents are decomposing inside the one-storey facility in this area about 10 kilometres east of downtown where 67,000 people once lived.

The body of one elderly woman, clothed in a thin housedress, legs splayed, sits on the concrete floor of the front patio. A two-foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary still stands in the lobby, facing outward.

Nearby, the thin, bony body of an elderly man is draped over the back of a chair, where the receding waters left it. Outside, debris covers the roof of a Hummer sport utility vehicle, which local officials say belongs to a staffer.

"When we saw that Hummer still in the parking lot a few days ago, we knew we were in trouble because that's the first vehicle they would have used to escape," Parish Councilman Tony Ricky Melerine said Wednesday.

The shortage of manpower and impassability of roads prevented local residents from getting inside St. Rita's until Wednesday, nine days after Katrina.

"It doesn't look like anyone has been here yet to count [the dead]," Melerine said as he poled a skiff over the black muck of St. Bernard's, a bedroom community. "This was my district. We gonna have to do it."

The nursing home's dark interior is worse than any horror movie: It's real and it's accompanied by the sweet, tangy smell of rotting human flesh.

The signature of the brown high-water mark is near the ceiling inside the football-field-size structure of St. Rita's. An ankle-deep river of sewage, mud and putrefied tissue coats the floor in a slippery dark brown scum strewn with broken furniture, bodies and wheelchairs.

"This is the worst thing I've ever seen and I dragged bodies to the levee after Hurricane Betsy," said 60-year-old Raymond Couture. He and Melerine chopped their way out of the councilman's attic with axes at the height of the storm.

The horror at St. Rita's may be repeated elsewhere in St. Bernard Parish.

The lucky ones -- the tough ones -- got out.

The story of older people and Katrina does contain uplifting sights, like the elderly woman carried off a chartered jet from Baton Rouge by her son in San Diego last Sunday.

But consider Bay high school in Bay St. Louis, Miss. It was an unofficial shelter turned cesspool, that left Gary Turner, Trudy Roberts and Felix Ruiz repulsed.

The three strangers became a rescue team of sorts when they fled to the high school themselves and found people in their 70s, 80s and 90s wallowing in their own waste on the auditorium floors. They had been brought to the school and abandoned, most unable to move without help.

"Rats wouldn't even go in there," said Turner.

At night, as the older people tried to sleep, they became prey. The younger, the stronger and the ruthless came two nights in a row, stealing their money and medications.

Ruiz says he went to a nearby hospital for help but found none. Then he went to the National Guard. Finally, on Friday night, someone took the older people to what he hopes was a cleaner, safer place. The portable toilets arrived then, far too late.

Ruiz helped carry one of the women to the ambulance.

"She kissed my cheek and said, 'Thank you,' " he says, tears welling. "That's the only reason I came back to this hell hole."


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:26 AM

It's easy to point the finger, and maybe some carers did cut and run when morality dictates they should stay and help. But let's face it, we are talking about divided loyalties in most cases here. A single person who works in a hospital or care-home, OK their duty is to the inmates. But what if you have a partner, children and a mother at home, and your job is to go in to the hospital. Which is the priority? You tell me. I know which I would choose.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:29 AM

It will be drowning that killed some, the heat of the aftermath that killed others.

But the bottom line is: they were never evacuated to safety to begin with. While evacuations always result in the deaths of some of the most frail elderly residents of nursing homes (and all of the above examples are nursing homes NOT hospitals), most of the deaths were preventable--had they been evacuated, they wouldn't have died.

They were, simply, left behind. Left behind by their corporate owners. Left behind by their cities and towns, their states, their federal government.

No one ever planned to get them out. And that is the most chilling thought of all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:31 AM

I said nothing about nobility. There is rarely anything noble about death. I agreed that it is quite probable we WILL see more cases like the one you highlight. I also fully agree with you about the horror of the situation.

Where we depart our ways is in the matter of discrimination. To me, discrimination will have come into play in situations like a doctor with one dose of medicine having to decide which of two people he gives it to. It came into play deciding what to do with a boat that can carry four people when there are six standing in front of you. To 'discriminate' in some way at that point is unavoidable and may be made on good or bad grounds. But if I am reading you rightly, you are claiming something different: a deliberate refusal to use resources that are otherwise available because the recipients are elderly. And I remain optimistic that was extremely rare.

I also believe that in some cases the individual staff at the homes were in the horrendous position of having to choose to stay with their patients or try to rescue their own families. Ignoble, maybe. "Sophie's Choice", certainly. A decision the staff should never have been forced to make, without doubt. But that was the situation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:35 AM

greg stephens, you are a real despicable asshole.

Elderly people who live in nursing homes are NOT "inmates". They are residents. They are human beings, every bit as worthy of having their lives protected as you and your family are.

I'm not suggesting these staff weren't put in bad positions by the corporate and non-profit owners of the nursing homes who chose not to evacuate their residents because it would hit them in their bottom line. They were in a bad place. I'm not just pointing a finger at the staffs of these facilities: the decision not to evacuate was made by the owners of the facilities, by the mayors of the cities, parishes, towns, states, and our federal government.

As I said, there were never plans during this particular hurricane, to evacuate elderly residents of nursing homes to begin with.

Why is that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:40 AM

BTW, how much time do you two men spend with the elderly on a regular basis? Do you have loved ones living in nursing homes? Do you routinely spend time trying to get services for the elderly? Ever been to a city hospital emergency room, where elderly people are stacked in hallways waiting to be picked up by family members who neglect them, because the corporate policies of for profit hospitals won't allow them to be admitted? And then don't report the neglect by their families?


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:44 AM

how much time do you two men spend with the elderly on a regular basis?

- Several hours a week.

Do you have loved ones living in nursing homes?

- Yes

Do you routinely spend time trying to get services for the elderly?

- Yes
Ever been to a city hospital emergency room, where elderly people are stacked in hallways waiting to be picked up by family members who neglect them

- Yes
, because the corporate policies of for profit hospitals won't allow them to be admitted?
Fortunately, we have the NHS. It is by no means perfect, but at least sometimes the profit motive is not the be-all-and-end-all.

And then don't report the neglect by their families?

_ I have reported things.


Any more questions?


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:45 AM

And is it just coincidence that the first two responders to this thread have not spoken up on behalf of the elderly? I think not. The first two responders have spoken up to grimly say "c'est la mort" and to create an implausible scenario that the staff of the nursing homes were faced with a fanatasized choice of saving their families vs saving the residents.

This circumstance DEMANDS an independent investigation--of the nursing homes and the governmental authorities whose remit was to see that EVERYONE was evacuated in a timely manner.

As I said, the staff in these facilities were abandoned too. Told to stay on the job, not evacuate. It is being guesstimated right now that up to one third of the NO police force and possibly as many NO firefighters, abandoned their posts while on duty as well. But nobody wants to talk about that one either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:48 AM

I think you are a liar Dave. It's real easy to answer yes when being challenged in a chat forum, to make yourself look good and score debate points.

Like I said, if you had people you really, truly, deeply loved and cared for in a nursing home, you wouldn't be defending the abandonment of the elderly like you are in this thread. You refuse to even acknowledge that any discrimination against the elderly exists. So that tells me a whole lot about you. You are one of those people who shoots off their mouths, voicing an opinion in chat forums before engaging their brains.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: freda underhill
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:51 AM

...excerpts from an article published on Sunday, September 11, 2005 by the Long Island, NY Newsday (Be Angry, Be Very Angry   - Editorial )

What was it like inside? Well, here's what Dr. Greg Henderson told TIME magazine after he arrived at the Convention Center on Friday: "They're stacking the dead on the second floor. People are having seizures in the hallway. People with open running sores, every imaginable disease and disorder, all kinds of psychiatric problems... "

St. Rita's. This small nursing home in St. Bernard parish, just east of New Orleans, had about 60 residents when the hurricane approached. For some reason, administrators did not evacuate and a last-minute rescue effort removed only about half of the patients. The rest of them died.

Imagine the scene: 32 bedridden elderly folks, up on the top floor awaiting help, expecting help. Picture the water rushing in, splashing against the legs of the beds, soaking the mattresses, rising, rising. The patients must have realized they were not going to be rescued. They must have called out. Probably they prayed. Probably the sound of rosary beads was heard as the water rose. And then 32 helpless people drowned in their beds.
.........................


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:56 AM

You are free to believe anything you like. It does not alter the truth one way or the other.

This was an important issue to raise. But your subsequent responses seem to be heading towards trolling, by claiming I said things I have not and heading into generalized abuse, so I decline to comment further. Take this as a victory if you wish.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 08:57 AM

It sounds appalling. Do you have a minister for pensioners or the elderly there? Or pensioner lobby groups?


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: LilyFestre
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 09:11 AM

What can anyone possible say to your threads Guest? Yes, it absolutely is a horrible situation and to have left people behind to die is unimaginable...why it happened, who's to say? People were filled with panic, it was a true life or death situation, there was no plan on how to get everyone to safety and the list goes on. Does that make what happened acceptable? Of course not. It very well could be a case of discrimination but there may be other reasons as well. Thirty out of how many were left behind? Is it possible that people were being taken out in shifts and the final shifts simple could not get back to get the others out? Could it be possible that some of them refused to go? Requested to stay? I've seen footage of that very thing happening.   I don't know why those people were left in the nursing home but I find it very hard to believe that it was done out of malice. They "why" of it all is something I think that we will never get an answer for.


And before you jump on me, yes, I have had family members in a nursing home, yes I have made reports when necessary and yes, someone dear to me lives in a nursing home right now. I also think that very little credit has been given to those folks who take care of the residents....it's a hard, hard job with ridiculously low pay that involves thought, muscle and heart. Thanks to those folks who did go back, to those who risked their own lives to help someone who wasn't able to help themselves.

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: Charmion
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 10:27 AM

And by the way, GUEST, please reveal your own name(s) when you call other posters "despicable asshole" or "liar".

Charmion Chaplin-Thomas


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: akenaton
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 12:57 PM

Guest I agree very much with your point of view.

Here in the UK the elderly are treated in a despicable fashion, marginalised and excluded from mainstream society.
Personally I think that this marginalisation is a large factor in the downward spiral in behaviour and values.

Old people in the UK are expected to live on a pension which is nothing more tha a pittance. They then have to negotiate the huge amount of paper work required before supplementary benefits are given.
I'm sure this is done on purpose, as many of the old folk are to proud or perhaps too confused to fill in the forms.

I spend as much time as I can talking to the local old folk, It's a wonderful reward to see their faces light up when they realise that someone is actually listening to them and finds their views worthwhile.

The Old folks Homes here are also a disgrace, staffed by people who are on the minimum wage and who generally couldn't care less for the people in their care. I have no doubt that if the same disaster happened here the old people would be abandoned just as happened in NO

We are all to blame for our society's callous attitude towards the elderly, and as in many other things, the ones who will suffer most in the long term will be ourselves...Ake


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: Wesley S
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 01:36 PM

If it's any comfort Guest - you can be assured that these nursing home owners and administrators will be tied up with lawsuits for the rest of their days because of this situation. That's a reality of the world as we know it today. They will never be allowed to forget about what happened. Small comfort - but the lawyers will be at their heels as long as they have a penny to their names. Let's hope that a reasonable portion goes to the families.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: jacqui.c
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 01:47 PM

The UK papers were reporting that, in some hospitals, staff were hastening the deaths of terminal patients as they knew that getting them out was going to be impossible. Is it possible that this is what happened in some nursing homes?

Maybe it was felt that to try and evacuate those in extremis would kill them anyway and that it would be a mercy to release them from suffering.

I'm not saying that Iwould agree with that course of action but then I have never been faced with such a situation and hope that I never will be. Unless you were there you will never know for sure why those people were left. Unless you have gone through that sort of experience you must not condemn, out of hand, those who maybe had to make some very difficult decisions.

I will always take media reports with a large pinch of salt - they sensationalise to sell papers for pity's sake! Hopefully there will be an enquiry into the whole mess - I think that this is too big for the shrub to sweep it under the carpet - and maybe the true facts will emerge. If decisions were made which unfairly targeted certain groups in that society then the decision makers must face the consequences but right now is a time to try and help those who survived and to mourn those who died.

Leave recrimination to a later time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 06:18 PM

First you gotta catch 'em:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The owners of a New Orleans-area nursing home where 34 patients died in Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters were charged with negligent homicide Tuesday.

The owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish "were asked if they wanted to move (the patients). They did not. They were warned repeatedly that this storm was coming. In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these patients," Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti said.

Mable B. Mangano, owner and administrator of the nursing home, and Salvador A. Mangano, a co-owner, surrendered and were jailed.

Foti said his office is also investigating deaths at a hospice in New Orleans.


They're starting to catch 'em....


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 09:11 PM

My first job out of school was working for an insurance company in Chicago, that insured many nursing homes in the area. They were at the epicenter of one the largest nursing home scandals in the US, at a time when many other nursing home scandals were also hitting the front pages around the country, due to corporations getting in on the ground floor of a nursing home boom by speculators who leapt in when Medicare/Medicaid laws changed in the 1950s.

Recurrent scandals of theft, maltreatment, food poisonings, and deadly fires prompted hearings in the Senate Aging and Finance Committees. In 1971, Nixon made speeches deploring nursing home conditions and presented a plan for tougher regulations. Although they were once the hottest stocks in the market, by 1972 nursing home stocks went bust. Corporate financial fraud, securities violations, and reports of inferior care and patient abuse fueled investor concerns. Far worse for stockholders, nursing home owners had badly misjudged Medicare. The windfall expected by posthospital payments ended up covering less than 2% of expenses, whereas Medicaid accounted for nearly half of long-term care reimbursement and was far less lucrative. At times, conditions worsened because some nursing homes cut back on food or staff to maintain profitability.

You have no idea what bad is, until you have been inside some of these places. I know what these scumbags are like. Jail time is much too good for them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: Bobert
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 09:36 PM

Well, time will tell, but I think that what will be found is a disporportioate number of both black and elderly who will be the folks who were fatally hit the hardest by Katrina...

Either way, America has a lot of discussions waitin' to be held...

Too bad that under the current administartion we don't have discussions... What we have is Karl Rove, Karl Rove and more friggin' Karl Rove... He is the one single most obsticle in preventin' history (*htink Katrina here...) from reoccurin'...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Left Behind in New Orleans: the elderly
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 09:53 PM

News is now reporting that autopsies will be performed on the 45 bodies found in the "medical center" that said all had died of natural causes before the staff left.


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