OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma nursing homes have received a failing grade by an advocacy group called "Families For Better Care." Oklahoma ranked 48 out of 51 states and the District of Columbia in providing safe, quality nursing home care and security.
The author of the report went as far as to say "Nursing" should be taken out of the title "Nursing Home" because the author says staffing is so low. Now a group of lawmakers are hoping they can help bring change.
Representative Richard Morrissette said, "Do those seniors we love have a right to quality of life? We have a duty as a society to show them compassion."
Three Oklahoma City sisters know all to well the downside to nursing home care. Their mother, Eryetha Mayberry, was abused at the hands of nursing home employees they trusted.
They said, "For quite a while when we would go in there she would say, 'Somebody help me.'"
Representative Morrissette is taking this issue on, leading an interim study on what changes need to be made and what the biggest problems are.
Morrissette said, "Under staffing is the number one reason people are being damaged."
Morrissette says his study was denied but he's going forward with it anyway, fighting for Oklahoma senior citizens. He plans to look at issues like requiring the State Department of Health to investigate all allegations of abuse which result in death.
He also wants to look at the issue of prescribing psychotropic medications and requiring emergency medical resuscitation equipment and training in nursing home facilities.
Morrissette said, "This is not a partisan issue this is about special interest."
Mayberry's daughters are also fighting for change, taking their mothers story to the capitol and hoping it, along with this newly released failing grade, can bring attention to this issue.
Her daughter's said, "We know what mother would say, she'd say you girls get these people. You don't let them get by with this. You go to your grave making some changes."
Morrissette is hoping the governor will consider taking this issue up during an upcoming special session.
We spoke with the governor's office. We're told she is aware of the rating and is interested in pursuing legislation or policy change to improve the quality of nursing homes in Oklahoma.
However, her office says it would be legally impossible for them to look at this issue during a special session because it is so complex.
To see Oklahoma's 2013 Nursing Home Report Card go to www.nursinghomereportcards.com
Joining Chellie Mills in the KFOR TV Studios to talk about Oklahoma's dismal situation in our nursing homes and how to turn it around is Wes Bledsoe with "A Perfect Cause."
This is not a new fight for Bledsoe. It started when his grandmother suffered abuse and neglect in an Oklahoma nursing home.
He discusses the key reasons Oklahoma gets a failing grade in nursing home care.
Bledsoe says this year a law was passed allowing families to install hidden cameras in nursing home rooms and this was a good first step in improving care.
He also discussed those improvements to safety and staffing could be a cost burden on families they may not be able to handle. For more information on Bledsoe's "A Perfect Cause" visit their website here.