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Fleming Island woman petitioning for bed alarms in long-term care facilities

Push for Bed Alarms in Long-Term Care Facilities
Push for Bed Alarms in Long-Term Care Facilities

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – A Fleming Island woman is fighting to have bed alarms installed in long-term care facilities after she said her father fell several times at the one where he is living, which has caused his health to rapidly decline.

Charlotte Herbert told News4Jax her father moved into a facility in Fleming Island in March after a series of strokes. His most recent fall sent him to the hospital, where she was finally able to see her dad. Herbert is now fighting to add new safety measures to protect others.

Herbert lives less than five miles away from her 85-year-old father, David, who lives in PruittHealth in Fleming Island. She hadn’t seen him since March, that’s until this past weekend when he took a fall.

“Since this recent fall as serious as it was he lost 20%-30% of his blood before he got to the hospital, and so now we’ve made the decision to bring hospice in,” Herbert said. “It has been too detrimental. He’s gone downhill so fast, just with being isolated he tells me every day I’m just done I don’t wanna be here anymore.”

Herbert said the paramedics told her he was found in “a literal pool of blood.” After the fall, she asked her dad’s facility about bed alarms.

A spokesperson sent me News4Jax this statement: "Bed alarms are not permitted at PruittHealth as there are several important and more effective fall prevention measures in place including regular screening and assessment of patients for fall risk."

News4Jax asked Herbert how long her father he been on the ground until paramedics or someone found him? “I didn’t get an answer on how long,” she said. “The answer I received from the nursing home is that we can do more frequent checks but with the fall and a bleed like that it doesn’t matter he would’ve bled out so fast.”

Brian Lee is the executive director of Families for Better Care. He said the Federal Government changed the classification on bed alarms, in facilities, in 2017.

"It now appears the federal regulation guidelines stipulate that these types of bed alarms are classified as physical restraint," Lee. "I think the reason why the feds have moved away from these because it decreases mobility, loss of dignity."

“There’s not a whole lot more that I can do for him but if I can get this changed and keep someone else’s family from having to go through this is what I want,” Herbert said.

Herbert has created a petition online to allow bed alarms in facilities to prevent families from going through this in the future.

There is conflicting evidence to support the use of bed alarms. UF researchers report they do not decrease patient falls and related injuries, but they are more likely to be used in facilities where they are allowed.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services discourage the widespread use of bed alarms in nursing homes, arguing residents may be too afraid to move to avoid setting off the alarm.

A major milestone for Florida families this week. They are one step closer to seeing and potentially touching their loved ones in long-term care centers.

READ: Some physical contact to be allowed at long-term care facilities

Under new recommendations to Governor DeSantis, essential caregivers would be allowed close contact - during limited, scheduled visits while wearing personal protective equipment.

If approved -- Florida would be the first state, since the start of the pandemic, to allow touch in nursing homes and other care centers.

The task force will send its recommendations to the Governor this week. He has not said if he’ll approve it, but the state’s surgeon general has some reservations and said the virus does not compromise.

About the Author:

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.