Florence Ko, 81, had lived at Nu’uano Hale, a nursing home in Honolulu, for 18 months when a week before Christmas nursing home staff dropped her off at Straub Clinic & Hospital Emergency Room dressed in a hospital gown and holding her only personal belongings – a purse and a cell phone, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
The nursing home claimed she had not paid her bill in months, and they had no choice but to discharge her. With no family to call on, nursing home officials dropped her off at the next best place they could think of, the hospital emergency room. Later that evening, Ko was taken to Aiea respite home for temporary care.
“I wish someone (at the nursing home) had the courage to tell me what was going on,” Ko told the newspaper reporter.
A Hawaii state agency determined that that no abuse had occurred because the nursing home had dropped Ko off at a safe place, a hospital. However, the Department of Human Services called the drop-off inappropriate, and said it would refer the case to the Department of Health.
Nu’uano Hale is rated as “poor” on a new rating system recently unveiled by the federal government, earning one star out of a possible five.
Ko is in a situation referred to by officials as the“gap group.” Her personal finances did not allow her to qualify for Medicaid but she earned too little from Social Security and an annuity to cover nursing home costs.
“We will likely see more people needing assistance,” says Anne Holton, a long-term-care ombudsman specialist with the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging. “With the boomers coming up, there’s going to be a whole new tide of people looking at that.”