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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Blame The Children Of The Nursing Home Residents?

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Just who is responsible for the timely and safe evacuation of the residents of nursing homes?

The Louisiana Attorney General has got it right. The professions who were entrusted with the lives of their residents had the responsibility to provide a timely and safe evacuation. The relatives of the deceased residents will forever live with their loss and do not need the additional burden of the “shame” suggested by the USA Today letter-writer.

Just who is responsible for the timely and safe evacuation of the residents of nursing homes?

An article and a letter in USA Today spotlight the dilemma of many who cannot provide proper care for a loved one and turn to a nursing home.

I have rarely seen a more hurtful sentence in a national publication than the one that will be quoted below from a letter to the editor.

The lead paragraphs of the article: “The Louisiana attorney general launched an investigation Monday into 14 deaths at a New Orleans nursing home that happened after the elderly patients were not evacuated for Hurricane Katrina.”

“Attorney General Charles Foti’s office has been besieged with complaints about patients being left at medical facilities during the hurricane or receiving shoddy treatment, said Kris Wartelle, a spokeswoman for Foti. She said state investigators are checking additional reports of patients and residents who died at 20 to 30 other hospitals and nursing homes.”

The letter to the editor in USA Today provides a totally different perspective to the nursing home deaths: “But where were the children of these patients? Did they all flee to higher ground and leave their parents or grandparents to survive on their own?”

Then comes the sentence that twists the knife (and reveals the prejudice of the writer):

“We all know that warehousing parents in nursing homes is a common practice in today’s world – but have the children any shame?”

The use of nursing homes may be common (for plenty of reasons), but “warehousing” is only used in America for products, not people. If the writer or the operators of nursing homes perceive the facilities to be mere “warehouses” it is they who have no shame.

The Louisiana Attorney General has got it right. The professions who were entrusted with the lives of their residents had the responsibility to provide a timely and safe evacuation. The relatives of the deceased residents will forever live with their loss and do not need the additional burden of the “shame” suggested by the USA Today letter-writer.