South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

Nursing Home Information & Litigation

Wandering leads to Tragic Death

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing, Trial themes

KHOU reported the tragic and preventable death of a blind man in his 60s found dead after wandering away from his nursing home. Police said the man’s body was found by a jogger about a mile from the facility in a grassy area off Interstate 35.  Neighbors are asking why the man was out by himself to begin with.    A man who lived a few feet from the center did not want us to show his face or give his name, but said he often sees River City Care residents wandering the neighborhood, alone.

“I’m not surprised at all because we see people coming out of there with no one attending them, no one watching over them,” said the neighbor.  River City Care Center, the facility the man lived at, refused to comment about how he was able to get out of the facility without permission.  When KENS 5 reached out to the River City Care Center about how the man got out of the facility, they said a corporate spokesman would return our request for comment.  So far, no one has.

“These people, the sick people, they do what they want,” said Maria Rufina Marciante, River City Care resident. “They push the door to go outside. And they can’t do nothing if there’s one nurse or two nurses to take care of all the 60 people.”

 

Golden Living Centers Sued by Pa. AG

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Regulatory enforcement, Staffing, Trial themes

The Newton Patch reported the Pennsylvania Attorney General has filed legal action against national for-profit chain Golden Living Centers, a nursing home company with 36 locations statewide, for failing to provide basic services to “elderly and vulnerable” residents.  Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC manages and operates Golden Living Centers which operates 300 locations nationwide in 22 states. The legal action asserts Golden Living violated the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law by deceiving consumers through its marketing practices.

AG Kathleen G. Kane says residents at Golden Living Centers were left in soiled diapers for extended periods of time, were at risk for bedsores and were not routinely bathed, were often not escorted to meals as required, sometimes missed meals entirely and staff falsified records.  “The company advertised it would keep its residents clean and comfortable while providing food and water at any time. But its facilities were understaffed, leaving residents thirsty, hungry, dirty, unkempt and sometimes unable to summon anyone to help meet their most basic needs, such as going to the bathroom,” the legal action asserts.

Kane said the company preyed on the most vulnerable to make a profit. “These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents’ most basic human needs. That is simply unacceptable,” she said.

Interviews with residents’ family members and former certified nursing assistants who worked at Golden Living facilities revealed a widespread pattern of understaffing and omitted care. Those allegations include the following:

  • Continent residents left in diapers because they were unable to obtain assistance going to the bathroom.
  • Incontinent residents left in soiled diapers, in their own feces or urine, for extended periods of time.
  • Residents at risk for bedsores from not being turned every two hours as required.
  • Residents not receiving range of motion exercises.
  • Residents not receiving showers or other hygiene services as required.
  • Residents being woken at 5 a.m. or earlier to be washed and dressed for the day.
  • Residents not being timely dressed in order to attend their meals.
  • Residents not being escorted to the dining hall and sometimes missing meals entirely.
  • Long waits for responses to call bells or no responses at all.Staff, under the direction of management or fear of management, falsifying records to indicate residents received services when in fact they did not.
  • Improved staffing when state inspections occurred, leading to deceit about the true conditions at the facility.

 

Medicaid Expansion Would Save Lives and Money

Posted in Advocacy, Medicare, senior care, Tort Reform

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, expansion of Medicaid benefits has become available to all state governments that accepted the deal in 2014. Many states, however, are declining to participate in the expansion, despite the fact that it would be allocating tax dollars, already given to the federal government by the states, back to their poorest residents to cover their Medicaid costs. The plan outlined in the ACA provides for 100 percent of the funding of the expansion through 2016, and 90 percent of funding through 2022, which would go towards providing those who fall into the Medicaid eligibility gap with health insurance. Qualifying individuals whose total income falls up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line would then be covered with the health insurance they need so they won’t have to rely solely on over-capacitated free health clinics for health care.

While it would seem that any state governor would welcome a chance to provide healthcare for their most underprivileged residents, many governors are actually declining to accept the funds for Medicaid expansion because it is a provision of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia are among the 19 states that currently are not expanding Medicaid. These 19 states in total represent 6 million Americans, who would be eligible for coverage under the expansion, who are not receiving health insurance because their states have failed to expand the program. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia have 292,000, 593,000, and 682,000 residents, respectively, who will go without health insurance because of the states’ failure to accept the expansion.

Recognizing that this is a partisan issue, many Senate Democrats have begun to ask their Republican governors to put politics aside and “do the right thing” by expanding Medicaid in their states. Proponents of expansion say that everyone will save money by insuring individuals who would otherwise cost hospitals billions of dollars by seeking treatment without health insurance.  Supporters of expansion are still calling for a change of mind (and heart) by the governors who are against the effective policy.

Perhaps White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary said it best when he said, “The states that have blocked Medicaid expansion face a consequential choice: They can score short-term political points by attacking the Affordable Care Act and blocking Medicaid, or they can take action to save taxpayer dollars and extend access to thousands of citizens to quality affordable health care. For those politicians with the courage to put the interests of their state and their citizens ahead of politics, it shouldn’t be a tough choice.”

Police Need Your Help

Posted in Advocacy, Staffing

WRAL reported that Cary, North Carolina police are asking for the public’s help to identify two women who posed as nursing assistants to steal jewelry from residents at two retirement communities.  The first thefts happened July 4 at Cary Senior Living while the second incident happened July 11 at SearStone.

In both cases, police say the suspects entered the care centers wearing scrubs and went door-to-door checking for unlocked apartments. Neither woman wore any official identification, and other employees did not stop them or ask them any questions.

Police released surveillance photos and video showing the two women. One woman is described as 25 to 35 years old, between 5 feet 1 and 5 feet 5 inches tall with a medium build and dark hair. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail and she wore sunglasses on her head.  The second woman was also between 5 feet 1 and 5 feet 5 inches tall with a medium build. She was between 45 and 55 years old and wore a conductor-style hat with glasses. Police said she spoke with a heavy accent.

“Never hesitate to ask for proper identification from anyone in the service industry, and always keep your valuables locked up and out of plain view regardless of where you live,” Cary police Capt. Randall Rhyne said in a statement.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Town of Cary Police Department at 919-469-4012 or file a report anonymously with Cary Crime Stoppers at 919-460-4636.

 

Injustice of Mandatory Arbitration

Posted in Advocacy, Arbitration

John Suthers wrote an excellent editorial on the dangers of mandatory arbitration in nursing home admission paperwork.  Below is a copy of the editorial.

“A great injustice is taking place in this country: the use of pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home admissions contracts by the nursing home industry. These clauses provide that victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes give up their right to a jury trial. This directly undermines the spirit and intent of the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987: to improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens.

Elderly nursing home residents and their spouses are being pressured or mislead into signing arbitration clauses, frequently when they lack the mental capacity, authority or true willingness to do so. If arbitration was a level playing field and fair to both sides without any negative repercussions to the resident or family, does anyone really believe that the nursing home industry would feel the need to so aggressively enforce them and seek to bury these provisions within 50 pages of admissions materials?

Arbitration provisions lead to protracted litigation, not faster results or less expensive resolution of cases. The nursing home industry uses them to stall cases, take appeals and delay justice. An elderly surviving spouse may not live long enough to see justice when nursing home corporations take this approach.

In my experience as an attorney who has represented victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, arbitration provisions lead to the provision of poor care. Residents who have not signed arbitration provisions typically receive better care because the facility has a greater incentive to meet their needs. Arbitration clauses insulate the nursing home industry from liability, and with that protection, nursing home corporations feel free to cut costs, reduce staffing and sacrifice the quality of care.

There is only one way that arbitration can be fair and truly voluntary: that is to prohibit the use of pre-dispute binding arbitrations altogether. In other words, if and when a dispute arises, the parties may thereafter choose to arbitrate the case if they so desire.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is presently considering changes to the Federal Regulations that govern the operation of nursing homes, including a proposal regarding arbitration. There is a 60 day comment period during which citizens can go towww.regulations.gov, and let the government know that arbitration should be prohibited in nursing homes. CMS, in seeking to protect our elders and promote the quality of care in nursing homes, should ban pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses. It is the fair and equitable thing to do.”

Mr. Suther’s arguments are validated by the AON Report – done at the behest of the LTC insurance industry in 2013 – that lays out all the many reasons why it’s good for the industry and bad for consumers and victims of neglect and abuse.

The review concludes:

• Average total cost for claims resolved with arbitration agreements in place is 16% lower than for claims resolved without arbitration agreements in place.  20% of claims are rejected with no payments made.

• It is unclear whether claims resolved with arbitration agreements in place resolve more quickly than claims that are resolved without arbitration agreements in place.

 

CMS Issues New Rules

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Arbitration, Dementia Care, Infection Control, OBRA as standard of care

CMS’s proposed rule would require nursing home staff to be properly trained on how to care for dementia patients and how to prevent elder abuse and would require facilities to consider the health of residents when making decisions on the kinds and levels of staffing a facility needs.

The rule would require facilities to improve how they plan their care, provide more food choices for residents and allow dieticians and therapy providers the authority to write orders in their areas of expertise when a physician delegates the responsibility and when state licensing laws allow it.

Nursing home facilities would also be required to update their infection prevention and control programs. The rule would force facilities to name an infection prevention and control officer and create an antibiotic stewardship program with protocols and a system to monitor antibiotic use.

The proposed rule also aims to strengthen the rights of nursing home residents by placing limits on when and how binding arbitration agreements can be used.

Genesis Healthcare Purchases More Facilities

Posted in Tort Reform, Trial themes

 Genesis HealthCare (Genesis), one of the nation’s largest providers of post-acute care, announced that it has signed an asset purchase agreement with Revera Inc. (Revera), a leading owner, operator and investor in the senior living sector, to acquire 24 of its skilled nursing facilities along with its contract rehabilitation business for $240 million.  Genesis will acquire real estate for 20 of the 24 properties, and the remainders will be under a long-term lease agreement with Healthcare REIT Inc.  Genesis also will take over Premier Therapy, Revera’s contract rehabilitation business.

Currently, Genesis has 380 facilities, ranking it first on the American Health Care Association‘s list of largest nursing facility companies. The 24 new facilities are scattered among New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. They have 3,056 beds, bringing Genesis’ total bed count to 47,861. Genesis was ranked No. 13 on the AHCA’s top largest assisted living companies list, with 65 facilities in 20 states.

  The Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission discuss the foregoing risks as well as other important risks and uncertainties of which investors should be aware.

Peer Review Privilege Denied

Posted in Discovery issues

Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Program reports are not privileged or protected from discovery according to a West Virginia court.  The court said HCR ManorCare LLC must provide nurse consultant reports, also called Center Visit Summaries, as part of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by a resident’s family member against Heartland of Charleston. ManorCare claimed the reports were meant solely for the company’s Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Program, and were excluded from discovery.  Plaintiffs’ attorneys wanted the consultant reports to argue against a defense claim that it didn’t operate or manage any nursing homes.

 

NH Employee Found with “bags of cocaine”

Posted in Staffing

Click 2 Houston reported that Lajuanita A. Lister, a housekeeper at Lampstand Health and Rehabilitation Center, had bags of cocaine falling out of her clothes when police went to investigate claims she allegedly stole money and patients’ personal things, according to federal prosecutors.

Police, who were on hand while staff searched, said Lister acted nervously and kept reaching into her pockets and “fidgeting with her waistband, as if searching for something, and twisting her left foot onto the ground.”  When Lister walked back to the building, police noticed a bag with white powder on the ground where Lister has just stood.  Lister allegedly claimed “she forgot she had hidden this other bag in her shirt.”  Police say they found a total of 29.6 grams of white powder that field-tested positive for crack cocaine.

 

Alarm Bell Malfunction

Posted in Staffing

4029TV reported that after a power surge caused the alarm bells at Countryside Assisted Living to malfunction, it took staff 30 minutes to realize that resident Velma Hull had gone missing. They searched for the 88 year-old for two hours before notifying the police of her elopement. When she was finally found, Ms. Hull had been missing from the facility for 13 hours in almost freezing temperatures. According to Sean Ellis, Huntsville’s emergency manager, she appeared to have tripped and fallen and her skin was discolored from the cold temperatures.