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Patients Still Missing After Hurricane Nursing Home Evacuation

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In the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy’s arrival on the east coast, alerts were all over the media, warning people to prepare for the impact the storm was certain to have. Parts of New York City were particularly hit hard. But even with all the advance warnings and alerts given, it appears that the Promenade Nursing Home in Rocky Park, Queens failed to prepare and ensure the safety of its residents. The facility is now under investigation by the State Health Department after employees, federal, city and hospital officials, and shelter directors have all accused its owners of not even providing the most even the most basic care to its patients.

The force of the storm blew parts of the Boardwalk into the nursing home building, shattering windows and allowing waves to crash into the first floor, quickly putting it underwater. The facilities’ back up generator was located on the first floor, leaving the building completely without power. The kitchen also flooded but the owners hadn’t stocked up enough food. They also hadn’t scheduled extra staff for the storm, something they are required to do by law. They didn’t stock up on extra medicines and even ignored the need of having flashlights. And no preparation of patient records were made in the event evacuation would be necessary.

Patients were left cold, hungry, thirsty and alone. Finally, ambulances arrived to evacuate the 200 patients. In most cases, no staff member accompanied a patient, and no medical records (both violations of state regulations). It took several hours to transfer all the residents to emergency shelters. Weeks later, family members are still searching for their loved ones, with no help from Promenade. According to a report in the New York Times, many of these patients have been scattered across the region, living in shelters, hospitals or other nursing homes.

Although the state’s health commissioner has stated that they are aggressively investigating Promenade, questions have arisen as to whey his office did not order the evacuation of nursing homes in the areas expected to be hardest hit by the storm. In prior years, with less intense storms, evacuations have been ordered. However, nursing home owners have complained about the high cost of those evacuations. Cost vs. safety?

Weeks later, one woman is still searching for her 93 year old mother, who is blind and suffers from. “I don’t know where my mother is,” the woman told the N.Y. Times. “I want to know where my mother is.” Cost vs. safety at what price?

The negligence displayed by this nursing home is terrible, but it's not an isolated incident. Unfortunatley, many nursing homes acorss the country are operated in a shoddy fashion, either being under-staffed or staffed by poorly trained and incompetent workers. It's unacceptable that our nation's seniors have to suffer during what is suppose to be their "golden years".

About the Editors: The VA nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton include lawyers licensed in both Virginia and Carolina. Check out our case results to see our track record of success in medical malpractice and nursing home abuse lawsuits. Also, read our in-depth report on nursing home abuse and neglect law in Virginia. Rick Shapiro and James Lewis have been listed among the Best Lawyers in America since 2008. They, along with fellow attorney Randy Appleton, have also been named Virginia Super Lawyers since 2010, an honor fewer than 5 percent of practicing attorneys receive.