“No one else wants them”: The Unfair Targeting of a Nursing Home

SaysWomenNeedPlayEveryday (1)-page-001On the 25th of November, 1918, a piece  was published in the Times Picayune about the necessity of play and diversion in a housewife’s day. The article claims that to attain the balance and efficiency “for which American women are so justly celebrated”, some fun and frivolousness should be indulged in. The article cites Mrs. George Wiegand, a member of the board for the Home for the Incurables, who points out that women can sink into “a sort of apathy” if they do not plan fun activities into their day. The article strangely compares housewives to patients of the Home for the incurables by suggesting that both show better results when given time to “play”.

The House for the Incurables, which was established in 1891, still exists today. Now called the John J. Heinkel Home and Rehabilitation Center, the home is a non-profit organization located at 612 Henry Clay Avenue. Early on, the home served people with terminal illnesses and it was common for unwanted babies to be brought to the center (Alford). The home was often seen as a last resort for those who could not find or afford care anywhere else. Mary Brooks Rodrigue, the current owner of the home says of the history of Hainkel, “There weren’t very many other nursing homes that would take them, so they came to Hainkel,”.

Despite its necessity in New Orleans, the home received little state support through its history and many Louisiana Governors have tried to shut it down or deeply cut the budget. Former Senator John Hainkle pushed back by keeping the home open. The institution was renamed to Hainkle Home after his death in 2005 by then Congressman Bobby Jindal .

Hainkle Home continues to be one of the few options for New Orleanians on Medicaid or those who only receive Veteran’s Administration coverage. However, in 2012 Jindal tried to close the institution. Jindal’s case was supported by the State Department of Health who found many  violations in the home, warranting the home to lose its nursing home certification. However, it is important to note these deficiencies only dated back to 2011, a transitional period for the home, since it was leased to a new nonprofit at that time. These problems tended to be relatively minor and none presented a threat to life. Some of the problems identified by the state were also out of the home’s control. For example, in December of 2012 the home was cited for an incident in which a resident suffered a bath burn. The injury was suffered because a broken boiler that the state refused to replace (Alford).

Cheryl Gerber , The Advocate, James Cobb and patients of the Hainkel Home

Officials of the home at the time of the case said that the Department of Health and Hospitals was unfairly targeting the center. The Hainkel Home may have been targeted by the Jindal Administration in an effort to privatize health care. Another explanation for the push back against the home could be that sending its patients to another larger Louisiana home would bring the state additional Medicaid revenue. If the residents were moved to a facility in Jackson Louisiana, the State would earn $155 per day for each patient (Alford). When the State tried to close the home without due process in June of 2012, the case when to court with James Cobb as the Hainkel Home’s attorney.  In his defense, Cobb said of the residence “(they) are disabled, sick, mentally challenged. No one else wants them.”

Cheryl Gerber, The Advocate, Members of Hainkel Home’s staff

The Home ultimately won the case and stayed open. In 2014, the home received high marks on annual surveys carried out by the Department of Heath and Hospitals and no deficiencies were found (Cameran).


Today, the nursing home prides itself on individualized care and a loving staff. In addition to nursing care, physical, speech, and occupational therapy, the staff form bonds with the residence by knitting sweaters and buying gifts (Nulty). Volunteers from local Universities also lend a hand. Rodrigue says of the volunteers, “Some come and do activities … singing, dancing, anything to get them involved. Sometimes volunteers read to them, sometimes they just sit there and listen.” The home includes a barber and beauty shop on-site as well as a chapel, library, and courtyard. Residence are also visited weekly by dentists, podiatrists and ophthalmologists (Nulty).



Alford, Jeremy. “Closing Hainkel Home?” The Advocate, The Advocate, 16 Nov. 2012, http://www.theadvocate.com/gambit/new_orleans/news/the_latest/article_fc0d9a34-afe7-5b27-b103-32bd6be9c632.html

Blumenstein, Andrea. “John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehabilitation Center.” The Advocate, The Advocate, 27 Oct. 2014, http://www.theadvocate.com/gambit/new_orleans/cue_magazine/article_9123ef15-2d97-5418-ae25-f79a618145a3.html.

Camran, Mirella. “Hainkel Home Scores Top Marks.” Louisiana Life, Jan. 2014, http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Magazine/January-2014/Hainkel-Home-Scores-Top-Marks/.

Hearst Television Inc, director. State Tries to Shut down an Uptown Nursing HomeWDSU, WDSU, 5 Oct. 2017, http://www.wdsu.com/article/i-team-state-tries-to-shut-down-an-uptown-nursing-home/2567908.

“John J. Hainkel, Jr. Home & Rehabilitation Center.” Hainkel Home, http://www.hainkelhome.com/.

“John J Hainkel Jr Home and Rehabilitation Center.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes/area/la/john-j-hainkel-jr-home-and-rehabilitation-center-195149.

Nulty, Paige Rita. “What’s in Store: Hainkel Home.” The Advocate, The Advocate, 15 May 2017, http://www.theadvocate.com/gambit/new_orleans/cue_magazine/article_25461086-15dc-581f-83fd-58439059279d.html.

“The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi.” Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=mzbPAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA353&lpg=PA353&dq=Mrs.%2BGeorge%2BWiegand%2Bnew%2Borleans&source=bl&ots=bqpltRhx0G&sig=R8XbtU4xWFbyzwlOmaQzdhjvgKE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj35bvYi-LeAhVQeKwKHVOvAMUQ6AEwAnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=Mrs.%20George%20Wiegand%20new%20orleans&f=false.



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