HOUSTON -- Gov. Ann Richards Wednesday repeated her promise to strictly enforce state regulations at nursing homes, saying she was sickened by the conditions she found at one Houston nursing home during an early morning raid.
'The worst nursing homes are being fined, taken over and closed,' she told reporters at a news conference several hours after she accompanied state health officials and investigators in raids on two nursing homes.
The unannounced raids were conducted in an effort to uncover any possible violations of state regulations. Richards went along to see for herself how well state regulations are met and enforced.
'It is really a new day in Texas nursing home care. We aren't going to stop until we can say nursing homes in Texas are a good place to put friends and family,' Richards said, adding such unannounced raids will continue statewide.
Officials visited the Montrose Care Center, which has a history of bad conditions, and also visited Manor Care-Sharpview, which has a good reputation.
'I'm really sick,' Richards said shortly after visiting Montrose Care Center, which had previously been inspected four times since last August. 'Honestly, my eyes sting from the urine in the atmosphere. I feel physically queasy. I am sort of emotionally undone.
'I kept thinking about my own parents, and (how) people ought to be able to end their lives better than this,' she said.
Inspectors reported problems with patient infections, dirty rooms and floors and odors at Montrose Care Center. They also discovered employees did not disinfect whirlpool baths that were used in the care of AIDS patients and chronically-ill teenagers.
Since a study late last year found lax enforcement at several nursing homes statewide, three homes have been closed, eight have been put under trusteeships or new management and legal action has been taken against 25 others.