Holly Gould, a spokeswoman for Willows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Sun Prairie, insists there is nothing extraordinary about that facility being written up for "deficiencies" following a Jan. 12 inspection. "Any nursing home you go into you will find deficiencies," she says, and correcting them "is part of what we do every day."
But for Madison resident Michael Hansen, the inspection is more than that. It's his attempt to send a message over what he feels is the poor care received by one of his friends.
The friend, who has stage 4 prostate cancer, went into the Willows in mid-November after hurting his leg in a fall. During visits Hansen noticed - and complained about - what he felt were unsanitary conditions, including dried urine on the floor, feces underneath a toilet seat and a backed-up toilet that spewed waste.
Unhappy with the response, Hansen reported his concerns to the Division of Quality Assurance, part of the Department of Health Services, which promptly conducted a surprise inspection. It sampled six patients and issued three federal citations for multiple problems. These included "a nickel-sized piece of bowel movement stuck to the side of a toilet bowl" and a "black substance seeping out among the [floor] tiles."
The facility, according to the state's report, failed to provide "a safe, clean, comfortable and homelike environment for four resident rooms and two common areas."
Willows was mentioned in a recent Isthmus article (Watchdog, 1/21/11) because it paid more than $2 million last September to settle a lawsuit over the death of an older woman who received substandard care - the kind of suit that will be much harder to win under the "tort reform" enacted by Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP.
Isthmus' article drew on reporting by The Capital Times, which noted that the federal government flagged the Willows in late 2007 as being one of the worst in the nation. Willows officials were quoted as saying the facility was "now in compliance with all state and federal regulations."
Except, of course, for the ones it was just written up for violating.