FRANKFORT, KY (2/17/12) – Kentucky lawmakers are showing their concern for personal home care residents by debating whether they are getting adequate care based on their individual needs.
On Wednesday, members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed Senate Bill 115, a proposal that would allow medical screening of potential personal care facility residents to ensure appropriate placement and care. The panel considered the bill after several unfortunate incidents over the years involving personal care facilities produced unwanted results, including deaths of residents.
The latest incident occurred last year when a central Kentucky man disappeared from a Falmouth, Ky., personal care home and was found dead along the Licking River in Pendleton County. Larry Lee, 32, was a resident of Falmouth Nursing Home, the personal care residence where he was placed as a ward of the state.
Lee, who had a history of mental illness, left the care facility and was not found until four weeks after his disappearance. Lee’s family and lawmakers alike agree that new rules would likely provide a needs-based approach to helping citizens in Lee’s position.
State Senator Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon sponsored the legislation that would allow medical professionals to determine if a personal care home is appropriate or if an individual’s needs require skilled nursing care or intensive therapy offered at another location.
Higdon spoke to the committee about the need for action, saying "[Lee] didn't get the care that he needed."
After clearing committee, Senate Bill 115 now goes to the full Senate where it is expected to pass overwhelmingly. The House has a similar bill making its way through the legislative process.
Statewide, several thousand people reside at over eighty free-standing personal care facilities that provide long-term care for those who need assistance but not full-time nursing care. Additionally, many homes serve mentally ill or mentally disabled people.
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