The Boston Globe
ran a story about the problems hat can arise when people with a history of substance abuse enter LTC.
Kenneth “Bubba” Levesque was taking medicine to quell his cravings for heroin when he entered Braemoor Health Center last summer. Massive infections had forced the amputation of his lower left leg, and he needed help learning how to walk again with a prosthetic limb.
Levesque, a teddy bear of a man, seesawed between addiction and recovery many times over the years, and told his family that this was his wake-up call, that he was finally going to “get clean” while in the Brockton nursing home.
But state records show that three days after Levesque was discharged from Braemoor in March, the 43-year-old was dead from an opioid overdose, a grim coda to his seven months at the nursing home.
During those months, according to state reports and Levesque’s family, he received escalating doses of opioid medications and no substance abuse counseling — at the very time he had vowed to banish narcotics from his life.
Even as regulators and health leaders have launched myriad initiatives to combat the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, nursing homes — where potent pain medications are routinely administered — remain distant outposts.
Few nursing homes are prepared to identify and treat residents with a history of substance abuse, and even when they do, services to care for such patients have typically not been a priority, say addiction and long-term care specialists.
The issue became news this summer when Braemoor became one of at least two Massachusetts nursing homes where state inspectors declared patients in “immediate jeopardy” because of serious violations, including lack of substance abuse treatment and staff training.