Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Unbridled Kentucky Nursing Home Regulator

Until his recent termination, Moses Young had been the number two nursing home regulator for the state of Kentucky. According to an exclusive report by Mark Hebert, at WHAS television in Louisville, Young has been living, possibly rent free, in a $175,000 condo owned by Ralph Stacey Jr.

That is the same Ralph Stacey Jr. who owns the Garrard Convalescent Center in Covington.

Garrard is a nursing home. A nursing home that Young regulated.

It's like a DEA agent renting a house from a drug dealer.

There have been 23 complaints against Garrard since 2004. All have been dismissed by Kentucky regulators.

I wonder why?

Young denies that he was living rent free. He has a novel defense. Although he can't provide any receipts or bank statements, he claims he paid Stacey $1300 a month in cash.

Young must carry around a big bankroll.

The IRS and Kentucky Revenue Cabinet might want to knock on Mr. Stacey's door. If Young was giving him $15,600 a year, Stacey had better be reporting that cash on his tax returns.

Even if Young's "cash for a place to crash" explanation holds up, it would seem that Young could have found another landlord. There has to be another one somewhere that doesn't own a nursing home.

The story is evolving and getting uglier. Hebert is on top of it and posted several items to his blog at WHAS Political Blog He found that that Young called Stacey 427 times on a cell phone supplied by the taxpayers of Kentucky.

I've had several landlords but never called them more than a few times. Maybe Young drains were stopped up. .

The story is about more than a regulator possibly getting a sweet deal from someone they regulate. There is always going to be officials who get greedy or stupid. There are always going to businesspeople willing to feed that greed and stupidity.

My question is a bigger one. Are Kentucky's nursing homes good to their patients? How do we know the good ones from the bad ones?

We count on regulators to give us the answers. If regulators have a business relationship with nursing home owners its harder to figure out the truth.

If the allegations are true, I wonder why Stacey wanted some inside influence. If a nursing home is obeying the law, they don't need to manipulate the regulators.

It makes me wonder what is going on in the world of Kentucky nursing homes.

I know there have been problems.

Bernie Vonderheide runs Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform. He and his group and are ceaseless and selfless advocates for change. Lexington attorney Steve O'Brien won a multi million verdict against a nursing home in Frankfort and I know there have been other verdicts, settlements and fines.

Both of my grandmothers spent many years in and ultimately died in Covington nursing homes. One died in the home that Stacey now owns.

Suddenly, I'm faced with my own nursing home dilemma.

Two weeks ago, someone broke into my uncle's home in downtown Covington. They severely beat him, tortured him and robbed him. The attacker is still at large. The injuries mean that he will spend the rest of his days in a nursing home.

He's lived his entire life in Covington. Other than coming to my house, 100 miles away, I don't think he has ever been out of Northern Kentucky.

He's in a hospital unit in Cincinnati as he attempts to recover. Once he does, he wants to be near his friends in Covington.

How do I help him find a good Kentucky nursing home? After the incident with Young, I am not sure which homes are good and which are just cozy with the regulators.

The closest nursing facility to my uncles house is Garrard. It would be the logical place but I wonder why the operator felt compelled to play landlord, or possibly worse, for the people who are supposed to be watching him.

Kentuckian's uncles, parents, spouses and siblings need to know their loved ones are in a safe place, not just a well connected place.

Don McNay is the Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group and author of two books. You can read his award winning syndicated column at or write to him at

Author Note:

Although people may associate "Unbridled" with former Governor Ernie Fletcher (as in my book, "the Unbridled World of Ernie Fletcher") a more accurate use is anything with Kentucky government, since the state hung on to the "Unbridled Spirit" logo after Fletcher left.

The regulator mentioned in my column served under 3 governors before his recent termination.

Mark Hebert is the state's top investigative television journalist and he did an outstanding job in breaking the nursing home story. He hosted Comment on Kentucky last week and will this week.

No comments: