Minnie Graham, a 98-year-old great-great-grandmother, kept telling her family that people were hitting her at Garland's Winters Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. When her loved ones found her eyes blackened and her arms bruised, they demanded answers. Graham, they were told, had fallen out of her wheelchair. Her granddaughters didn't buy it.
So, they set set up a clock with a hidden camera in her room and waited. What it documented was horrifying, as you'll see in the CBS News video above. Graham was slapped, pushed, pulled, sprayed in the face with water and gagged with a towel that had just been used on her body. At one point, she's crying out, "Somebody help me." She died not long thereafter. Because of her treatment, her granddaughters think she had simply lost the desire to live.
Her case may be extreme, but it's a symptom of a far larger, just as insidious pattern of neglect and lax oversight in Texas. According to a report from the organization Families for Better Care, which analyzed staffing data, performance measures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and complaints from the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Texas nursing homes are the worst in the country.
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Fewer than 15 percent of its facilities are staffed at above-average professional nursing levels, while nearly 70 percent hire below the minimum number of caregivers needed to properly meet the needs of its residents.
"Texas epitomizes what's dreadfully wrong with nursing home care and oversight in America," Families for Better Care executive director Brian Lee said. "State officials and industry representatives should be ashamed of their abysmal nursing home record."
Though nursing home performance in Texas is apparently deplorable, so too is the performance of the regulators tasked with keeping it in line. Texas levies some of the lowest fines anywhere in the country. While other states may fine nursing homes up to $90,000 for documented deficiencies, Texas usually exacts around $7,000, which may be greatly reduced if the facility doesn't fight the charge.
As for Graham's tormentors, they were indicted in July 2012, but according to court documents, their cases have been pushed back repeatedly. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability did not cite the nursing home.