Call Kurtis Investigates: No phones at West Sacramento nursing home
WEST SACRAMENTO – A Manteca viewer says the phone lines went down at her husband’s West Sacramento nursing home and she couldn’t reach him.
When she felt ignored, it was time to call Kurtis Ming.
When Kurtis first contacted the nursing home, a staff member confirmed that the cell phone they bring to patients did not work and they could not give me a solution to contact a patient. The viewer lives more than an hour away from her husband and can only visit him on Fridays. She is worried.
“I can’t get hold of my husband,” says Ana Phillips, who calls her husband, Rob, every day between her weekly visits to see him at River Bend Nursing. “I want to know how he feels every day. If he’s hungry.”
Rob has been at River Bend since 2021, recovering from a serious head injury. But Ana says that starting in mid-January, workers at River Bend said they couldn’t get a phone to her husband, claiming the phone system was down.
“I can’t even get hold of the person who is in charge of the phones,” she said.
Kurtis was also told when he called that the portable phones they bring to patients were not working two weeks ago.
But under federal law, anyone in a nursing home “is entitled to reasonable access to the use of a telephone,” according to the Code of Federal Regulations. Access to the phone means a lot to Anna and her husband.
“It helps him, it helps his mental health and mine too,” she told CBS13.
Tony Chicotel, a senior attorney with the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform says the right to communicate is a critical right for patients.
“We know that isolation takes a huge toll on residents’ health and psychological well-being,” said Chicotel, who added that absent exceptional circumstances, “it would be illegal for a facility to go two weeks or more without phone access for residents”.
Kurtis repeatedly contacted the River Bend Nursing administrator over the course of three days and received no response. So the team tracked down one of the owners, Richard Martin, who didn’t seem to know what CBS13 was talking about. He later told the station: “We just became aware of this issue with residents’ cordless phones… we purchased cell phones available for anyone who wants to use them… we appreciate the concern and will continue to try to make sure our patients are well cared for.”
Ana confirms that she finally got through to Rob.
“I hope they get an updated phone system,” she said. “So that this never happens again to any family member.”
Ana says she would like to move Rob to a facility closer to her, but says this is the only facility with his Medi-Cal insurance.
Each region has a long-standing care ombudsman program, which advocates for people in nursing homes. After CBS13 contacted them about River Bend, they sent someone to the facility who confirmed the temporary fix with a permanent one on the way, as well as a recent change in management.