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Lack of air conditioning only one problem at Ravenwood

It is no surprise that the corporate-owned Ravenwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center ("Heat forces relocation of dozens at nursing home," July 7), located in Baltimore City, was reported to be "plagued with air conditioning problems." The truth is that Ravenwood has long been plagued with numerous other problems as well, most of which violate the civil and human rights of residents there. As someone who has volunteered at the facility and as a disability rights advocate, I witnessed multiple inequities and maltreatment: people left in their beds for days, weeks or months on end; people not taken outside to see the sun except for bi-annual doctors' visits; people denied $14 a month when the corporation is paid an estimated $3500 a month for their "services;" and residents told that they do not have the right to choose where they live.

Now that Ravenwood finally has the attention of the citizens of Baltimore, it is time to expose the full spectrum of abuses that has existed there beyond lack of air conditioning. The State of Maryland has repeatedly classified Ravenwood as an "E" class nursing home—"E" signifying that the state has assessed the institution as having potential for more than minimal harm to residents. In 2004, for example, the State of Maryland recorded five "E" rating violations for the facility. These violations included: failure to offer residents care and services to achieve the highest quality of life possible; failure to make sure that residents receive treatment or services to continue to care for themselves; failure to have, at least once a month, a pharmacist check the drugs that each resident takes; failure to give or get lab tests to meet the needs of the residents; failure to provide services to meet the needs and preferences of residents; failure to make sure the residents are safe from serious medication errors.

To say that Ravenwood is the worst nursing home I have ever seen is an understatement. The corporation that profits off of the facility ought to be held accountable and the residents should be allowed the right to choose another place to live.

Zosha Stuckey, Syracuse, NY

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