Back in the late 1960s, a Lawrence, Kansas community activist by the name of
"Petey" Cerf was doing her usual weekly book reading session for a bedridden
nursing home resident when she heard another resident in a nearby room cry out
for help. A nursing staff person, who was walking by the hurting resident,
shouted back, "Shut up!" and kept on walking. Petey felt distressed at how
roughly the nurse had treated the hurting resident. Two days later Petey was
stunned to read the obituary of that same resident. Petey got angry and told all
her friends what she had seen and heard. That was the start of the
nursing home reform movement in Kansas.
By the early 1970s Petey had garnered active interest from more than 100
people across the state. Petey called a meeting in Wichita to discuss their
concerns about the care being provided to nursing home residents. A committee of
the group traveled across Kansas and visited several dozen nursing homes, taking
notes at every stop. They saw abuse and neglect almost everywhere. They saw
residents slumped in wheelchairs, groggy from drugs. They smelled urine soaked
clothes on residents. They heard moans and crying from bedridden residents. The
group testified to the Kansas Legislature and the Governor about the poor
quality of care they observed. Petey's group stated their mission
as "advocating for quality long-term care."
Elected leaders listened and believed. Some state laws for nursing home
reform were passed. For example, now nurse aides are required to take 90 hours
of training before they can provide direct care. The group incorporated as a
non-profit and the momentum continued. Thirty years later Petey is gone but her
legacy, Kansas Advocates for Better Care (KABC), remains a strong
consumer voice for residents of licensed adult care homes in Kansas.
We must continue the mission. Of the nearly 22,000 nursing home residents in
2004, there are about 5,000 who live with poor quality care. Join
us. Call KABC in Lawrence at 842-3088 or call toll-free 1 (800) 525-1782.
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