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ADDICTION BATTLE NJ nursing
‘Mom, dad, have national
you ever average
done drugs?’ 7.5 percent in state receive lowest
score, 60 percent rank above par
It’s a question parents face; how you reply matters
MARY JO LAYTON @MARYJOLAYTON
KEN SERRANO @KENSERRANOAP
Nearly 60 percent of New Jersey’s 358 nursing
“Mom, have you ever done drugs?” ♦ When Justine Frank’s son Jon posed that homes are ranked above average by the federal gov-
ernment, an increase from last year and well over the
question, she responded the way many parents do when their kids put them on the national average, the New Jersey Hospital Associa-
tion reported Wednesday.
spot. ♦ “I looked him right in the eye and I lied to him,” Justine said. “I had the best
And the number of facilities that received the low-
of intentions, but it was the wrong decision.” ♦ est ranking totaled 7.5 percent – less than half the 16.5
percent nationally ranked the worst by the federal
Since shortly after he asked the question in sophomore year of high school in 1999, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the as-
Jon, now 33, has struggled with heroin addiction. ♦ “I shut
Patients and their families can access much of the
my son down, so he couldn’t come to me with his information at Medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare
to learn how the federal government ranked facilities
vulnerabilities,” Justine, 55, of Hamilton said. on a scale of one to five stars based on health inspec-
tions, staffing and quality measures.
She was 38 when he asked. ♦ “Had I been able
Of Camden County’s 21 nursing homes, three
earned the highest five-star rating: Lions Gate and Po-
werback Rehabilitation in Voorhees, and United
See NURSING, Page 3A
to express that I went through these same
troubles I feel like he could have opened up
and we could have gone through this to-
See DRUGS, Page 3A
90% Just short of title
According to the For the fifth straight year, the Camden boys’ basketball
survey, “Four team fell short of a state championship, falling to Newark
Generations West Side in the Group 2 title game. SPORTS
Addiction,” 90 INDEX
percent of teens
whose parents Body + Spirit .......1D Obituaries ...........8A
told them of past Comics .................3D Opinion ...............4A
drug or alcohol Crossword ...........5F Television ............4D
use as teenagers
were likely to Vol. 142 No. 354
consider them to
be role models.
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Drugs for cancer pain and when he ran out, he turned to the FILE PHOTO
streets to buy painkillers. When the pills became too
Continued from Page 1A expensive, he turned to heroin. Nursing homes in New Jersey are rated higher than those
across the country.
gether,” Justine said. Jon said honesty from his mother, who raised Jon as
a single parent, may have shortened his path to recov- Nursing
She added: “At the time, I felt like I would have giv- ery.
en him license to experiment because I had,” if she Continued from Page 1A
were honest. “Had my mom come out and really gotten to the nit-
ty-gritty of everything she had done, I think I would Methodist Communities at Collingswood. Five are rat-
With the threat of the opioid epidemic reaching have been able to come out with all the details of what I ed below average (2 stars): Alaris Health at Cherry
more families, parents and guardians face increasing had done,” Jon said. “And I wouldn’t have had so much Hill; Elmwood Hills Healthcare Center in Blackwood;
pressure to talk to their kids about drugs, public health guilt and shame that I had to suppress and keep inside Laurel Manor Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
officials say. How they respond matters, according to a had I known that she had been down the same road that in Stratford; Majestic Center for Rehabilitation and
body of research from academic journals and nonprof- I had been down.” Sub-Acute Care, Camden; and Premier Cadbury of
it organizations. Cherry Hill.
On Feb. 20, Jon marked his second year of sobriety,
But that research differs on how to respond. And he said. Three earned one star: Avista Healthcare in Cher-
not everyone agrees that honesty is the only policy. ry Hill, Cooper River West in Pennsauken, and Voor-
Justine, who lives in Hamilton and is the volunteer hees Center in Voorhees.
Some psychologists stress caution. chairwoman for the Prevention Coalition of Mercer
Angelo Valente, executive director of Partnership County, is outspoken on what she now regards as the Of Burlington County’s 19 nursing homes, five
for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said the question should wrong decision – not disclosing her past drug use to her earned top ratings: Brandywine Senior Care at Moor-
be viewed as an opportunity. son. estown; Care One at Moorestown; The Evergreens,
“The fact that your child is coming to you is ex- Moorestown; Medford Leas, Medford, and Power-
tremely important,” he said, siding strongly with par- Studies differ back Rehabilitation Moorestown, Moorestown.
ents being honest. According to a 2009 survey by the Hazelden Betty
If dishonesty comes to light, it can harm trust and Four earned below average ratings: Baptist Home
that can keep a child from coming forward later, he Ford Foundation, 63 percent of respondents said that of South Jersey, Riverton; Burlington Woods, Burling-
said. hearing their parents’ stories about past alcohol or ton; Care One at Evesham, Marlton; and Virtua
“You want them to continue to be able to build drug use would make them more responsible about Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Mount Holly.
trust,” he said. their own use of drugs.
Along with any disclosure of past drug use, parents One facility earned the lowest one-star ranking:
should make sure their children know that drugs – The foundation, based in Minnesota, was formed Mount Laurel Center for Rehab and Healthcare,
from opioids to synthetic drugs like bath salts – are far when Hazelden Treatment Center, a 12-step recovery Mount Laurel. Designated as a “special focus facility”
more dangerous than most drugs were 20 or 30 years program center that started in 1949, merged with Bet- subject to more frequent inspections, the center re-
ago, Valente said. ty Ford Center in 2014. It is now one of the largest non- ceived 13 health deficiencies during its last inspec-
Whether parents should talk about their own drug profit treatment providers in the country with 17 pro- tion.
use depends on the context of the conversation, the re- grams in nine states.
lationship between the child and the guardian, and the Of Gloucester County’s 10 nursing homes, three
dynamics of the family, said Eriach Fox, managing di- The survey, “Four Generations Overcoming Addic- were given top ratings: Advanced Subacute Rehabili-
rector at Daytop New Jersey’s Pittsgrove residential tion,” also reported that 90 percent of teens whose par- tation Center at Sewell; Inspira Transitional Care
treatment facility for youth. ents told them of past drug or alcohol use as teenagers Unit, Woodbury; and Shady Lane Gloucester County
“I think there would be instances where it could be were likely to consider them to be role models, as op- Home, Clarksboro.
really useful and helpful, and there could be instances posed to 93 percent of teens who knew nothing about
where it would be damaging, where it could normalize their parents’ past. The point is that disclosure of drug Four others received below average ratings: Dept-
or glamorize substance use,” Fox said. use did little to harm the stature of parents in the view ford Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, Dept-
“Sometimes, kids will say, ‘You did drugs, why can’t of their children and that honesty about past parental ford; Kennedy Health Care Center, Sewell; Manor-
I?’ Sometimes, the opposite happens ... it can resonate drug use is a positive thing in terms of a child’s atti- Care Health Services, West Deptford; and Meadow-
very strongly with youth.” tudes about illicit drug use, according to the survey. view Nursing and Respiratory Care, Williamstown.
If a child is already in treatment, Fox suggests fam- Meadowview is a “special focus facility,” and re-
ilies should process the conversation with a profes- “We’re certain that young people want, need and ex- ceived 21 health deficiencies.
sional. If parents are struggling to decide, there are pect their parents to be their No. 1 source for accurate
government resources to help guide parents on how to information,” William Moyers, a spokesman for the Of Cumberland County’s six nursing homes, none
manage that, he said. foundation said. “If not us, who? The internet? Much of earned the highest five-star overall rating. Bishop
“I think it’s worthwhile for parents to consult with that information is dangerous, inaccurate or enticing McCarthy Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare
their other parenting friends as well,” Fox said. “ to young people.” in Vineland earned a below average rating, and South
The national organization, Partnership for Drug- Jersey Extended Care in Bridgeton earned a “much
Free Kids, provides advice on how to answer the ques- But research published in the social science journal below” average or one star rating.
tion in a tip sheet and a more detailed kit specifically Human Communication Research in 2013 warned that
about marijuana. disclosure could have a bad unintended effect. The The number of facilities that scored above average
“Kids want to have that open dialogue,” said Kristi study focused on 561 sixth-through-eighth-grade stu- – nearly 60 percent – improved from last year’s data,
Rowe, a spokeswoman for the group. “That doesn’t dents in Illinois. which revealed that roughly half received high
mean you have to give them all the detail in technico- marks, the association noted.
lor.” “Knowing that their parents tried substances may
One of the group’s broader points: the right ap- actually normalize this behavior for youth,” wrote the “New Jersey’s nursing homes and skilled nursing
proach depends on your child. study’s lead author, Jennifer A. Kam, then of the Uni- facilities provide so much of the care required by the
Telling the truth, for instance, carries its own pit- versity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Parents’ dis- elderly and most vulnerable in our communities,” said
falls, according to one prominent 2013 study by re- cussion of their prior use may in some ways downplay Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of the hospital associ-
searchers from the University of Illinois that says that the parents’ emphasis on the negative consequences of ation. “The work they do in quality improvement, in-
honesty leads to more positive feelings among chil- using substances.” novation and compassion reverberates throughout
dren about illicit drug use. the state.”
But few practitioners, if any, advocate lying. Parents’ references to their own drug use “actually
“It’s best to react with honesty,” said Tara Lally, a may be perceived as permissive,” she wrote.
licensed psychologist with a practice in West Long
Branch and an adjunct professor at Monmouth Univer- Even more disconcerting for truth advocates, the
sity. “If you lie, you damage your relationship.” study found that if parents did not disclose their own
Help needed drug use to their children but presented a strong anti-
Jon Frank agrees lying hurts. drug message, the children were more likely to have
At 6-feet-7 and 355 pounds, Jon won glory on the anti-drug attitudes. In other words, nondisclosure with
football field playing for Hunterdon Central High warnings about drugs worked. (The survey did not
School in the early 2000s, drawing attention from ma- deal with what happens if children find out if those par-
jor college football programs. ents had drugs in their past.)
But a cancer diagnosis ended his football dreams,
and he was initially given only a few years to live. His What you say
trials in life didn’t stop there. If a parent discloses past drug use to a child, regret,
Jon’s story became a tragically familiar one in the
opioid epidemic. He was put on a heavy dose of opioids bad judgment and the dangers of drugs are the correct
things to focus on, Lally said.
That discussion changes depending on the age of
the child. If a 7-year-old asks, it’s more important to
find out why they are asking, although lying would still
be unwise, Lally said.
A 17-year-old needs a more open discussion, she
said. But those parents boasting of their exploits with
drugs or merely focused on the fun of doing drugs can
urge their kids to follow their lead without meaning to.
Children view disclosures like that as a legacy they
must uphold, Lally said.
“They not only emulate it but surpass it,” she said.
REGION ROUNDUP Severe weather is the number one
Hotel manager stole more than $1 million cause of power outages in NJ *
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Woman who fatally beat family dog gets
two years probation at sentencing
TRENTON - A New Jersey woman who authorities
say used a shovel and claw hammer to fatally beat her
family’s dog and then bragged about it has been sen-
tenced to two years of probation.
Twenty-year-old Michelle Wankoff will also have to
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Wankoff apparently kept the dog in a freezer be-
fore she buried it.