Nursing Home Accused Of Fraud

Jerry Rankin was told he was on the road to recovery when doctors checked him into a California nursing home for a short stay to heal sores on his legs caused by diabetes.

But as CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, Rankin says his room was so filthy he almost lost his legs.

"I looked down at my left leg and it was totally covered with ants," says Rankin. "I mean, thousands of ants on my leg."

When his legs got worse, his family insisted he be taken to the hospital.

"It's not a pretty sight ... I laid in a hospital bed for almost a year trying to get these legs healed," he says.

Rankin is now suing Manorcare, one of the nation's largest and most profitable nursing home chains.

"They always talked about quality of care," he says. "Maybe some people got it, but I never got it."

A major lawsuit against every Manorcare home in California accuses the company of fraud -- putting "profits over proper medical care."

In fact, families across the country are suing nursing homes, claiming the care they were promised is not what loved ones got.

To find out exactly what families are told, CBS News went undercover, posing as a couple trying to place a loved one at the Manorcare where Rankin stayed. The facility appeared clean.

"We help them with everything," CBS was told. "We totally assist with their feeding their bathing, their eating, giving their medications."

But inadequate help with feeding, personal care and medication is exactly what was cited in recent inspection reports. CBS' guide said the home had minor violations and showed us the reports. But she insisted none of the problems affected patient health.

Basic care was an issue for Bruce Lemoine at one Manorcare. He died from exposure after he was left outside, strapped in his wheelchair, in near 100-degree heat. The home settled his family's lawsuit and paid the state $52,000.

Catherine Sharbaugh is suing because she says her father was neglected at another Manorcare.

"When he went back into the hospital, the doctor that received him in said, 'I've never seen anything like that. He's so dehydrated. He's like a mummy,'" says Sharbaugh

Manorcare would not talk on camera. But in a written statement, the company said when inspectors find problems, "Manorcare has quickly implemented appropriate corrective action."

Manorcare's Chief Operating Officer Keith Weikel spoke at a recent hearing in Florida: "Manorcare is not perfect, but no one should question our commitment and effort to provide quality care."

But for quality care, don't rely on the tours. Take the time to look at complaint files, inspection reports and lawsuits that reveal a nursing home's true track record.
  • Jaime Holguin

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