Nursing Home Residents Displaced

A Nacogdoches nursing home owner is coping with an administrator's nightmare. His nursing staff suddenly left on Friday after he made a decision they didn't like. The move left the families of more than 30 nursing home residents scrambling to find their loved ones new places to live.

Among them is Henrietta Coleman and her 31 year old physically handicapped son, Rex. Rex needs constant nursing care. When Pinecrest nurses left with no notice Rex had to be quickly moved. "Everything came too fast, too quick," said Coleman as she fed her son.

Pinecrest's new owner, Mike Drewery fired the medication aides. They hand out medicines so nurses have more time for patients. Drewery finds them an unnecessary expense. "Here in the state of Texas nurses are licensed to pass out medicines and I know they can do that," said Drewery.

Five vocational nurses and two registered nurses left Pinecrest. Some had been working there for more than a decade.

Registered Nurse Merry Thompson is being asked to come back to work. She said she can't do that unless the policy about medication aides is changed. "There was no way one nurse on a shift could complete all the duties to where the residents would get their meds on a timely basis--where all the patients would be cared for the nurse would be pulled in too many different directions." Thompson said the nurses quit out of concern for the residents' safety not because of extra work.

Caught in the middle are residents,their families and longtime staff who like Pinecrest's homey feeling. This, despite the facility's poor state rating and age. It's obvious people here care about one another.

Even when the Coleman's returned for some of Rex's personal belongings they hugged the familiar staff. Each one asked how their son was doing.

Those who are staying have faith things will get better. Nurse Aide Tina Winn said, "We are going to come back up. We may not get those people back, but we'll get new people. We're going to fix this place up and we're going to go about it a different way."

Drewery is putting a fresh coat of paint on the facility. Staffing problems can't be fixed so easily.

Meanwhile, Rex is adjusting to his new surroundings. New faces, new routines, but his parents provide the security. Mrs Coleman explained, "We do make decisions for him and it's's difficult. I can make them for myself rather rapidly, but for my child it's kinda different."

The Colemans say it's too early to decide where their son will live permanently. Right now their top priority is providing reassurance.

Caseworkers with the Department of Aging and Disability left Nacogdoches on Monday after monitoring the situation. They will return once Pinecrest is able to reopen.