August 24, 2005
It’s highly contagious and very painful. One nursing home resident has had scabies for nearly two months. Inez Cooley’s friends want to know why it wasn’t taken care of sooner. News 12 is on your side investigating the scabies problem at Jennings Health Care and what’s being done about it.
Inez Cooley is a resident at Jennings Health Care off of Deans Bridge Road. For two months she’s been miserable. Friend Libbi Hinton visits her weekly. She did not want her face on camera.
“She has just been in misery, she has cried, she has told me that she would rather be dead than to live like this. They didn’t seem to be doing anything for her over there,” Hinton said.
Two months of intense itching, finally diagnosed with the highly contagious infection scabies.
“These mites will burrow into the skin and they will lay eggs and the result of that is intense itching and scratching,” said Emmitt Walker.
After an anonymous call to the Richmond County Health Department, an investigation turned up two cases of scabies. Libbi says the nursing home’s lack of concern could have put other residents at risk to the parasites that spread rapidly in crowded conditions like nursing homes and institutions.
“They have not told people to stay out of the room. They have put a sign up on the door that says wash your hands but other than that they’ve done nothing,” Hinton said.
“It is certainly something that needs to be addressed,” Walker said.
Although Inez Cooley invited News 12 to talk with her about the scabies problem, administrators at Jennings Health asked us to leave the property.
“It’s sores where she has scratched so bad I mean she just broke out really bad,” Hinton said.
And while a couple of other residents have reported itching from the mites, the heath care facility says they have it under control.
“We were ensured that that institution or that facility was following the prescribed method in terms of protocol by public health,” Walker said.
Scabies is not considered a notifiable illness like TB or Meningitis. So heath care facilities, childcare centers and institutions are not required to report cases to the health department unless they have attacked a cluster of people.
Jennings Health Care has been cited for 14 health deficiencies within the past year. The heath care facility has been sued in the past for allegedly neglecting a patient who died in their care.
News 12 is on your side with how nursing homes are inspected. In Georgia, the Office of Regulatory Services, or ORS, inspects them and keeps the records. It typically happens once a year. If they find a deficiency, the facility is required to submit a plan of correction. The homes must meet certain requirements for Medicare and Medicaid funding. Click here to see the reports at ORS’ website.