South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

Nursing Home Information & Litigation

Prison Time For Nursing Home Aide Who Fractured Resident’s Elbow

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Staffing

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that Cynthia Elmore, a Certified Nurse Aide, was sentenced on her guilty plea to Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the Second Degree to six months in prison and five years’ probation for striking a 92-year-old nursing home resident, causing her elbow to fracture.

“For an aide to deliberately strike an elderly nursing home resident in their care is utterly reprehensible,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Nursing home residents and their families deserve to know that compassion and respect will be shown by nursing home staff. Under no circumstances should residents or their families have to fear that an aide might physically assault a resident. My office will keep working to hold accountable any professional who physically harms someone in their care.”

Elmore’s sentenced was based on her admission that on May 12, 2015, at Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in the Town of Onondaga, she struck a 92-year-old female resident on her left elbow, causing it to fracture.  The entire incident was captured on a hidden tape recorder secreted in the resident’s room by her family. 

Elmore resides in Syracuse.  She worked at Van Duyn for five years.

Stories of Neglect

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Staffing

Families and a whistleblower who allege neglect and abuse in a lawsuit filed against several nursing homes in New Mexico are sharing their stories with Action 7 News.

The lawsuit was filed by New Mexico Attorney General in December of 2014.  The AG sued Preferred Care Inc. and Cathedral Rock.  Preferred Care operates a number of nursing home facilities in New Mexico, and took over several facilities owned by Cathedral Rock before the company went bankrupt and dissolved.

The investigation found that many were understaffed and poorly managed.  In the revised complaint, several incidents are documented where poor care led to death or severe injury.

One story involves Becky Russell and her husband Henry. Russell says she regrets ever admitting her husband to the nursing home. “It’s very sad. I nearly lost my lifetime companion at the hands of people I entrusted his care to,” Russell said.

In 2013, the lawsuit says Henry was admitted to Bloomfield Nursing Home after having a major stroke. Russell says she found her husband in bad shape several times, but she decided to pull him out after an incident in 2014.

“I went over to the nursing home and found him lying in urine,” Russell said. “And the pool of urine had been there long enough that it was starting to dry. There was a brown ring around the bottom of the sheet.”

Russell sent her husband to the hospital. She says doctors found an infection on her husband’s foot, that he was deathly anemic and had internal bleeding.

“He had been so degraded, so taken down that it was worse than I treated my dog,” Russell said.

Darlene Goodman’s mother, however, didn’t survive a Preferred Care facility.  “I feel like I constantly had to remind them of their duties,” Goodman said.

Goodman’s mom, Minnie Rivera, was admitted to Santa Fe Care Center in 2013 for rehab. It also says that Rivera, 68, was classified as a high risk for falls. Yet, Goodman says her mother routinely wouldn’t get the help she needed.  Rivera was only supposed to stay a month, but she didn’t make it that long.

The suit says that Goodman was informed one day that her mother was found on the floor of her room, and that the right side of her face was bruised.   Rivera’s eye socket was sunken in and her jaw was broken. Rivera died later that day.

Goodman believes her mother died because no one was there to help her out of bed. Goodman said “That fall led to her death.”

His introduced us to a woman, who used to be the charge nurse at Casa Real nursing home in Santa Fe. The woman says she was only given one nurse’s aide for her 22 patients. She says some didn’t get bathed, changed, or toileted as a result.  

No one deserves to be treated in a demeaning way, to have their dignity taken away, no one deserves that,” the woman said. “I questioned as a nurse how quality care could be given.

 

 

 

Evictions Rise

Posted in Advocacy

WNEM had an article about the power of nursing homes to evict (or euphemistically involuntarily transfer) residents they deem high maintenance or low income.

One family named Hotchkiss shared their story of their 93-year-old family matriarch being moved to a nursing home further away from her loved ones.

What the Hotchkiss family experienced with one nursing home can impact every Michigan family with an elderly loved one needing nursing home care.

The family has been forced to fight over the care of his mother Phyllis. In March she was moved from Hickory Ridge Nursing Home nearby to another nursing home 30 minutes away, against the family’s wishes and despite two court battles.

At 93, on Medicaid and suffering dementia, Phyllis is typical of patients nationally. Pawned off, without the permission of families, to other homes and facilities because they’re high maintenance or low income.  It’s called involuntary transfer and it’s quite legal. But it’s hard on patients and their families.

“The transition to the other nursing home was, you know, we’ve seen her decline in the last maybe six weeks since she’s been there,” Glenda Hotchkiss said.

Her husband said they have no choice.

“If the nursing home decides to give you about involuntary transfer and the judge OKs it, you’re basically gonna be moving somewhere,” Glen Hotchkiss said.

Advocates are pushing for a national discussion on involuntary transfer, but for now, families are powerless.

The Hotchkiss family even had a personal advocated, but it didn’t help.

CNA Indicted for Elder Abuse

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Staffing

The Times Daily reported the indictment of CNA Nadia Ann Freeman after being accused of physically attacking an elderly dementia patient at Florence Nursing and Rehabilitation.  Freeman was indicted on second-degree elder abuse and neglect. Freeman was arrested July 2015 after an investigation into the allegations by the Florence Police Department.

According to the indictment, Freeman “intentionally abused an elderly person.” The indictment goes on to point out the abuse caused “physical injury” to the victim.

Police Detective Kevin Jackson said the incident occurred May 9, 2015, while Freeman and another nursing assistant were making rounds. He said Freeman is accused of becoming aggravated with the woman and became physical with her, injuring her.

According to the complaint, Freeman “slapped” the woman twice in the stomach, then grabbed her arm, which caused skin tears to her forearm and mid-arm.

“She had bruises and tears on her arms,” Jackson said. “Plus, she had a couple of knots on her head where (Freeman) had thumped her with her finger.”

The complaint adds the other nursing assistant tried to get Freeman to leave the room several times because she was “antagonizing” the victim and causing her to become “combative.”

It’s pointed out in the complaint that after Freeman realized she had injured the woman, she tried to get the other nursing assistant to say the skin tears occurred when the victim scratched off a scab. The other nursing assistant refused and reported the incident.

Iowa’s Windfall to Nursing Home Industry

Posted in Advocacy, Tort Reform

The Des Moines Register reported the disgraceful windfall for Iowa nursing homes, and questions whether political campaign contributions were the reason.  Immediately after the 2016 legislative session ended, industry lobbyists alerted its members that it had succeeded in winning lawmakers’ approval of a new program that’s expected to generate a cash windfall for nursing homes at the expense of federal taxpayers.  Assuming this legislation — which generated no public debate at the statehouse — is signed into law by the governor and approved by the federal government, nursing homes and hospitals in Iowa could collect an additional $206 million annually from Medicaid.

Through a complex ownership scheme in which the homes transfer their state license to a county hospital but maintain ownership and management control. The license transfer is designed to make it appear the homes are operated by hospitals. That’s desirable because Medicaid pays county hospitals and their affiliated nursing homes more than it does other nursing homes. Under this new “supplemental payment program,” the hospitals and homes would split the new Medicaid revenue, and the homes could use their share to pay for things like construction and renovation.

This scheme won’t have any impact on Iowa’s state budget because the hospitals will reimburse the state for its share of the Medicaid expense, while keeping the much larger portion of Medicaid money that comes from the feds.  If that sounds like a scam, it’s because it is.  While it’s true these contrivances don’t cost the state treasuries anything, they most definitely cost the taxpayers — in Iowa and elsewhere — a fortune in federal taxes.  Why would Iowa politicians agree to the scam?

On one single day last October, the political action committee of Iowa’s nursing home industry made 83 campaign contributions to various statehouse candidates.  Several weeks later, on a Wednesday morning in late December, this same PAC hosted a political fundraiser for Gov. Terry Branstad at the West Des Moines office of the Iowa Health Care Association. Forty-five checks, totaling $59,825, from nursing home executives and lobbyists were delivered to the Governor Branstad Committee that day. It was a very successful event, particularly since the governor wasn’t even running for office.

 

Rep. Dave Heaton, a Mount Pleasant Republican,  floor-managed the bill.  Asked why the program was approved with no virtually public debate, Heaton said the measure was backed by the Iowa Health Care Association — Heaton’s biggest campaign contributor — and no one spoke in opposition to it.

Each year, the average Iowan pays $9,485 in federal taxes. It’s flat-out irresponsible for legislators to green-light the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid to the coffers of private industry without even inquiring as to the cost to taxpayers.

 

_______________________________________________________________

Letters to the Editor–Des Moines Register.

Another day, another giveaway to nursing homes and the health care industry in Iowa. Since Terry Branstad left his sinecure at Des Moines University to resume his role as governor, he has reduced staffing and oversight of crucial government functions, starting with the firing of Dean Lerner, head of the Department of Inspections and a thorn in the side of the state’s nursing home industry.

May 8 we read of the latest “big taxpayer giveaway” to Iowa’s health care industry by our executive and legislative branches, possibly as high as $206 million. This industry has been a significant contributor to the governor’s political campaigns and was the biggest contributor to the Republican representative who floor-managed the bill.

Coincidence or quid pro quo? You decide.

— Kathy Eckhouse, Des Moines

__________________________________________________________________________

The fact that the governor accepts funding from the Iowa Nursing Home Association even when he is not up for election is amazing. Similarly for legislators such as Rep. David Heaton, who managed the floor bill for its “quiet” passage, without public notice or hearings, but received money from the Iowa Nursing Home Association. Heaton then said that the $206 million in federal expense was not their concern because it is not state money.

Well, Rep. Heaton, most Iowans pay federal taxes as well as state taxes, and the will of those who drafted Medicaid and Medicare laws did not intend that you use it for things like building renovation/construction. The intent of that revenue was to aid those who have the need for individual medical needs. One of those individuals was my son.

People in the disability community need to rise up and say “no more” to Branstad and those like Heaton in the Legislature. Hopefully someone will have the will to stand up for Iowans living with disabilities rather than playing “Iowa nice.” We do have organizations who are supposed to take a strong stand against these kinds of activity by elected officials. Who has the courage to stop these politicians?

— Sylvia Piper, Disability Advocacy Now, Ankeny

Privacy and Dignity

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Staffing

Boston’s WFXT reported the humiliating case involving nursing home resident Jane Bousquet.  While Jane was living in Wingate at Belviderehere, undergoing treatment for dementia and Parkinson’s, two nursing aides took unflattering videos of a confused Jane and shared them on Snapchat. Prosecutors said Jane wasn’t their only target.  FOX25 Investigates has learned of several cases in Massachusetts where nursing home employees were accused of posting degrading photos.

“All of the victims in this case were vulnerable elderly women that had dementia,” said prosecutors in court.

Jay Bousquet hid his face to protect his mother the best he can after what he says was the ultimate betrayal of the 76-year-old resident.  “It breaks my heart for what happened to my mother, it breaks my heart for what happened to the other victims,” he said.  “They abused their responsibilities, they abused the trust that they were given to take care of these people,” said Bosquet.

The two nursing home employees Sabrina Costa and Kala Lopez pleaded guilty to elder abuse, apologizing for their actions in court.  Sabrina Costa and Kala Lopez were sentenced to only probation.

Eviction Epidemic

Posted in Advocacy, Staffing

Modern Healthcare had an interesting article about the use of evictions by nursing homes to get rid of “difficult” residents or those residents who do not generate enough profit for the nursing home facility.  Rather than a long-term Medicaid patient, many facilities would prefer to fill a bed with a private-pay resident or a short-term rehabilitation patient, whose care typically brings a far higher reimbursement rate under Medicare.

Complaints and lawsuits across the U.S. point to a spike in evictions.  Those targeted for eviction are frequently poor and suffering from dementia, according to experts and consumer advocates. Removing them makes room for less labor-intensive and more profitable patients.  Manpower levels are another factor, according to Charlene Harrington, a University of California-San Francisco professor whose research has focused on nursing homes.

These worst homes are allowed to have staffing at just dangerously low levels,” she said. “If they had staffing at the level that’s recommended, they wouldn’t be having problems with these patients.

Federal law allows unrequested transfers of residents for a handful of reasons: the facility’s closure; failure to pay; risk posed to the health and safety of others; improvement in the resident’s condition to the point of no longer needing the home’s services; or because the facility can no longer meet the person’s needs.

“It’s not just losing their home. It’s losing their whole community, it’s losing their familiar caregivers, it’s losing their roommate, it’s losing the people they sit with and have meals with,” said Alison Hirschel, an attorney who directs the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative and has fought evictions. “It’s completely devastating.”

An Associated Press analysis of federal data from the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program finds complaints about discharges and evictions are up about 57 percent since 2000. It was the top-reported grievance in 2014, with 11,331 such issues logged by ombudsmen, who work to resolve problems faced by residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other adult-care settings.

That is often because the resident came to be regarded as undesirable — requiring a greater level of care, exhibiting dementia-induced signs of aggression, or having a family that complained repeatedly about treatment, advocates say.
“What they look for and what they want is basically the family to drop Grandpa off at the front door and not be involved,” he said. “They don’t want anybody monitoring them, they don’t want anybody complaining. They just want to take care of that person until they die and collect that check.”

“It’s an epidemic,” said Sam Brooks, who has litigated evictions for Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. “It’s a hard thing to catch and it’s a hard thing to enforce.”

The numbers of both nursing homes and residents in the U.S. have decreased in recent years; about 1.4 million people occupy about 15,600 homes now.

Caregiver Charged with Abuse

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing

New Castle News reported that nursing home employee Ashley Nicole Wilcox turned herself in to authorities after being accused of abusing dementia patients at Golden Hill Nursing Home & Rehab, owned and operated by its parent company, Quality Life Services.

Wilcox was charged by police, based upon allegations by her former coworkers at Golden Hill Nursing Home. Wilcox, who was a nurse’s aide at Golden Hill, said she had worked at the nursing home for about 10 months before she was terminated. She is a student at Butler County Community College, pursuing a registered nursing degree, her attorney said. She hired him March 22 as her attorney, he said.

 

Left Alone in Sun

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Staffing

WTSP reported the tragic and suspicious death of  Wilbert Moten—the nursing home resident who died after suffering from dehydration and second-degree burns while outside of the GraceWood Rehabilitation and Nursing Care.  Police state that the elderly adult male may have been left outside the nursing home and are investigating.  Moten was bound to a wheelchair.  Moten was left outside  in the sun and, as a result, received second-degree burns and became severly dehydrated. At the hospital, he went into cardiac failure and died.

But the man’s guardian tells 10News WTSP that somebody is responsible for his death.

He had no terminal disease and he didn’t deserve to die,” says Fernando Gutierrez, registered professional guardian for Wilbert Moten.  “It seems to be that the facility was negligent in observing the patient,” says Gutierrez.  He wants answers.  “The fact that they never called me and notified me they were sending the patient out there, their credibility is lost with me. It makes me think ‘what else are they hiding or what else did they not report?’” says Gutierrez.

10News WTSP has uncovered two lawsuits filed against the facility over the years—all claiming medical negligence.  According to state and federal records, Gracewood has been fined several times the last four years for different violations. In 2014, the facility settled with the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration for $2,500 regarding allegations of unsafe use of mechanical wheelchair lifts.

 

“I think the greatest asset any family member can have is making frequent visits at all times of day; evenings and weekends,” says Gutierrez.

 

 

HCR ManorCare is SpinCo

Posted in Advocacy, Tort Reform, Trial themes

McKnight’s reported that HCP Inc. will “spin off” beleaguered HCR ManorCare, its skilled nursing and assisted living portfolio, into an independent real estate investment trust, the company announced.  HCP purchased HCR ManorCare’s real estate assets from private-equity firm The Carlyle Group in 2010 for $6.1 billion.

The HCR ManorCare business has been a nagging worry for HCP ever since the U.S. Department of Justice sued the unit in April last year over its billing practices.  After the spinoff, HCP expects to have more than 860 properties generating an estimated annual income of about $1.4 billion.  The new REIT, SpinCo will also hold some other nursing facilities of HCP, and over 320 properties with estimated annual rent of about $485 million.

Mark Ordan, former chief executive officer for Sunrise Senior Living, will lead SpinCo as CEO once the spin-off is completed.  SpinCo also will be tailored to address ongoing changes across the skilled nursing and post-acute care industry, and help “unlock value in the HCR ManorCare portfolio,” Ordan noted.

The decision to spin off ManorCare follows a lawsuit filed against the provider by the U.S. Department of Justice last April, claiming the company “knowingly and routinely submitted” false claims for therapy services. The portfolio also suffered from declining admissions, according to reports.

ManorCare “has been a terrible drag on [HCP] for years,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jeffrey Langbaum told Bloomberg.  Pressure on HCP “to do something” about ManorCare increased last April after Ventas announced it would be spinning off its skilled nursing facilities into an independent, publicly traded REIT called Care Capital Properties Inc., Langbaum added. That spin-off was completed in August.