Local, state, and federal investigators in Atlanta are looking into suspected abuse at New London Health Center nursing home.
Snellville Police began looking into New London Health Center in April after they were contacted by the family of 77-year-old Carol Sheppard. She had been taken to the hospital with a three inch gash in her head that required staples and a bed sore “to the bone”.  She subsequently died.

“Because it was not reported to the family, the family felt that someone may have caused the injuries to her as opposed to it being an accident which obviously would be criminal,” says Capt. Cary Roberts .

Several other families have also come forward regarding loved ones with unexplained injuries and now the state’s Office of the Inspector General is investigation with assistance from the FBI, Roberts said

“The nursing home is still operating,” says Roberts. “It was reported to us that there has been a change of personnel there.”

CVS plans to spend $12.7 billion to buy pharmacy-service provider Omnicare Inc. to gain a larger foothold in the long-term care industry and specialty pharmacy market.  The Wall Street Journal reports  that the deal, which includes about $2.3 billion in debt, will increase CVS’s presence with long term facilities.  Omnicare is currently the largest provider of pharmaceutical services in nursing homes, and operates 160 locations in long-term care facilities in 47 states.  The deal will be lucrative for CVS. In 2014, Omnicare recorded a revenue of $4.75 billion in the long-term care market and $1.67 billion in specialty pharmacy services.

The Congressional Budget Office expects that one-fifth of the total U.S. population will be 65 years of age or older by 2050. Many of those consumers could find themselves residents of nursing homes and residential care centers, nearly all of which offer on-site pharmaceutical facilities.

The transaction, which is expected to close later this year, is just the latest in what appears to be a trend in acquisitions related to how drugs are sold and distributed, indicating that health-related companies are looking to the future of consumer care, according to the WSJ.  UnitedHealth Group purchased Caramaran Corp. for $12.8 billion earlier this year. Shortly before that deal was reached Rite Aid bought pharmacy-benefit manager Envision Pharmaceutical Services for $2 billion.

CVS Buys Drug Provider for $10.4 Billion [The Wall Street Journal]
CVS buys Omnicare for $12.7B to expand senior care business [USA Today]

The Utica Observer Dispatch reported the credible accusations of abuse and cover up at Mohawk Valley Health Care Center.  MVNH Associates LLC, which operates the Mohawk Valley Health Care Center, is charged in a 45-count indictment that details alleged crimes committed by four individuals, and management’s attempts to cover up the situation.

Specific charges include:

* Owner Gerald “Jerry” Wood III, 30, of Dix Hills: Two counts of willful violation of health laws, one count of eavesdropping and one count of fifth-degree conspiracy.

* Owner Justin Wood, 29, of Dix Hills, one count of fifth-degree conspiracy.

* Director of Nursing Nicolle Wagner Stinson, 39, of Fort Plain: Two counts of willful violation of health laws, one count of eavesdropping, one count of fifth-degree conspiracy, eight counts of felony tampering with physical evidence, 18 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, one count of third-degree forgery, and 12 counts of third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

* Licensed Nursing Home Administrator John Prendergast, 46, of Utica: Two counts of willful violation of health laws, one count of fifth-degree conspiracy and two counts of felony tampering with physical evidence.

The Wood brothers have a total six percent ownership of the company since 2010. They also own a percentage of the Batavia Health Care Center since 2012.  The charges arose from two incidents that took place in May 2013, and a subsequent cover-up by nursing home officials following the incidents, according to the Attorney General’s Office.  One incident involved a “serious medical error” that went unnoticed for several days, according to the news release. The second involved a resident with dementia engaging in unlawful sexual conduct toward another resident in an unsupervised dining room.

When the incidents came under the focus of the Attorney General’s Office, owner Wood III allegedly eavesdropped on investigators from the office while they were conducting an interview with a nursing home employee about the incidents. The indictment also alleges a conspiracy involving facility part-owner and technical manager Justin Wood and other defendants destroying electronic evidence of the events.


The Boston Globe reported the pattern of problems with the care provided by Synergy Health Centers.  State inspection reports of Synergy’s nursing homes routinely show striking increases in problems since the company arrived in Massachusetts.  Synergy’s expansion in Massachusetts has been rapid — the chain has purchased 10 nursing homes since December 2012 — and with the expansion have come complaints.

For example, the adult diapers supplied by the new owners were so flimsy they left elderly residents soaked in urine. A representative from the state ombudsman’s office insisted that the owner of the nursing home buy a better brand.  The decline has been especially striking at New England Health Center in Sunderland, where families of residents complain about tepid meals, a lack of fresh fruit, insufficient nursing staff, spotty dental care, and questionable treatment for pressure sores.  At Braemoor Health Center in Brockton, which had a blemish-free state review before Synergy took over, health inspectors have been summoned three times in the past year. They found lax infection control, among other concerns, and the nursing home was ordered to make improvements.   In one home, a patient’s pressure sores were neglected for weeks. In another, racks of dishes and utensils floated in dirty water just before they were used to serve food. And in a third, there were not enough nurses.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which shares oversight of nursing homes with state health officials, determined that nurse staffing levels — particularly certified nursing assistants, who provide much of the hands-on care — were not sufficient to meet the needs of patients. And several of the benchmarks that regulators use to measure overall quality of care had slipped, with a growing percentage of the facility’s patients developing pressure sores and urinary tract infections and receiving powerful antipsychotic medications, despite federal warnings about potentially fatal side effects of such medicines for older people with dementia.

At the same time, Synergy’s nursing homes are paying hefty “administrative fees” to “related companies”, which are also owned by Synergy’s founders and chief executives, the company’s financial reports for Sunderland and Brockton indicate. That structure has become increasingly common among nursing home chains, a practice that elder advocates say decreases quality of care and prevent accountability.  The Synergy experience underscores the increasing reach of corporate chains in nursing care and the mounting concerns of patient advocates about the quality of their services.

Annual financial reports from nursing homes open one of the few windows onto the murky inner-workings of such companies, particularly privately held ones such as Synergy. These reports, which the companies must submit to state regulators, require them to detail information about their facilities and list expenses, including the constellation of fees they pay to related companies.

Chains nationwide are increasingly using such fees to shift money to subsidiary companies, shielding nursing home profits if they are sued, said lawyers who represent patients who are harmed. But the accounting practice, they said, makes it hard to track how much money nursing homes are spending on care.

Chains “siphon money away that can be better served and used for the care of the residents and training of staff, and for more staff and supplies,” said David Hoey, a North Reading attorney who has cited this issue in successful lawsuits against nursing homes.  “They will have a realty company, a management company, an employment company that hires the staff, and specialized companies for physical therapy and occupational therapy. It’s a shell game,” said Kris Sobczak, a law partner of Hoey’s.

Genesis HealthCare, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, bought competitor Sun Healthcare Group in late 2012, acquiring more than a dozen Massachusetts nursing homes. An uproar soon followed among its Massachusetts employees over the company’s “poverty wages” and unaffordable health care, according to caregivers.

Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus of sociology and nursing at the University of California San Francisco has studied nursing home oversight issues for more than a decade and has concluded that the system is broken.

“The fact is we don’t have a transparent system and the accountability is ridiculous,” Harrington said. “We are paying billions of dollars out with very little accountability.”

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The American health-care system by and large runs on what experts describe as a “fee-for-service” system. For every service a doctor provides — whether that’s a primary care physician conducting an annual physical or an orthopedic surgeon replacing a knee — the doctor typically gets a lump sum of money.

American doctors aren’t paid on whether they deliver that improved health. Their income largely just depends on whether they performed the surgery, regardless of patient outcomes. Their patient’s knee could be good as new or busted as before at the end — but in most cases, that doesn’t factor into the surgeon’s ultimate pay.

However, a key pilot program in the federal health law saved Medicare nearly $400 million over two years and is the first alternative-payment model certified to cut costs while improving health-care quality, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.  See article at Wall Street Journal.  The program is part of the national healthcare reform law, or the Affordable Care Act, which aims to cut national healthcare spending through a variety of measures including more preventive health services and the extension of insurance to most people.

Reuters reported that the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACOs) test program with doctors and hospitals slowed healthcare spending in Medicare coverage for the elderly and disabled by hundreds of millions of dollars in 2012 and 2013.  The Journal of the American Medical Association study looked at beneficiaries in 32 Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), in which hospitals and doctors follow 33 quality and care standards for Medicare fee-for-service patients. In return they can receive a portion of any healthcare savings back from the government.

This worked out to a savings, on average, of about $300 per patient each year.  This wasn’t because doctors skimped on care: quality metrics show that patients in and outside the Pioneer ACO program generally reported similar satisfaction rates. And in some ways, the Pioneers did better: patients in those programs reported more timely access to their doctors, perhaps because hospitals wanted to put more effort into preventing costly complications down the line.


The Virginian Pilot had a great article on Jane Casey’s fight for video cameras in Virginia’s nursing homes.  Casey set up a hidden camera and shared what she found with the facility’s Administrator. The facility told her to remove the camera, and that led Casey to ask Virginia legislators to change the law to allow families to use electronic monitoring in residents’ rooms. Her efforts resulted in a new set of regulations that address getting residents’ consent and posting signs where cameras are used. But they fell short of what Casey hoped for because of this: Long-term-care facilities can still refuse to allow cameras in residents’ rooms.

Casey’s story resonates with many in an era where cameras appear to be everywhere and monitoring of everyday life is ubiquitous. Consider the growing role of cameras, such as a South Carolina video showing a police shooting. Parents use “nanny cams” to monitor in-home child care. Stores use cameras to track customer buying patterns. Nursing homes are another arena where the use of cameras is gaining traction with families who want to monitor the care of relatives, often people who can’t communicate well because of illness or disease.

Supporters say the cameras can give peace of mind to relatives of those in nursing homes and act as a deterrent to abuse and neglect. Videos have provided evidence that led to prosecution.

Casey said she’s going to continue to fight for a law that requires long-term-care facilities to allow families to monitor care.


Nursing homes with visiting physicians or providers should uncover their troubled histories with Medicaid or Medicare programs in other states or face billing nightmares, and worse, federal scrutiny.  Reuters investigation has revealed that practitioners often go undetected as practitioners in one state after being involved with or kicked out of programs in another state.

Reuters found that more than one in five of the thousands of doctors and other healthcare providers in the U.S. prohibited from billing Medicare are still able to bill state Medicaid programs – a violation of the Affordable Care Act provision that requires states to suspend the billing privileges of most providers who have been “terminated” or “revoked” by another state or Medicare, Reuters reported.

The news organization exposed about 1,800 providers who had slipped under the radar. After reviewing the list, 32 states and the District of Columbia supplied data showing they paid at least $79 million to 269 of the providers after their terminations elsewhere. Reuters said possibly “hundreds of millions” of such claims have likely been made since so much of it goes unnoticed because of inadequate state and federal data.

Georgia’s health department terminated optometrist Dr. Jeffrey Sponseller on Feb. 20, 2013, the same day he pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud. He claimed that in a single day, he conducted 177 eye exams that would have taken 132 hours to perform.  Sponseller remained on South Carolina’s Medicaid rolls for almost a year afterward, until Reuters asked about him.  Sponseller, now serving a 33-month sentence in federal prison, was unavailable for comment.

If you hadn’t brought this to our attention, we don’t know when we would have known about this,” said Kim Cox, director of communications for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. South Carolina has not attempted to recoup the money.  


WISTV reported that Morris Rosley Nelson went to Fairfield Healthcare Center in Ridgeway last Wednesday and  tried to sexually assault a 56-year-old woman by attempting to have intercourse with the vulnerable woman.  Luckily, an employee walked in and was able to stop the assault from continuing.

Douglas says this was not a random attack and that Nelson is an acquaintance of the victim.  A spokesperson for Fairfield Healthcare Center’s parent company Laurel Baye Healthcare, which is owned and operated by Dennis Wheeler, refused to discuss the incident. Karl Eleazer said the safety and privacy of their residents come first and Laurel Baye Healthcare is cooperating with the investigation.


The Inquisitr reported two daughters in New Jersey want answers after their 76-year-old mother, Rosemarie Terlizzi, developed a horrifying bruise across half of her face.  Alison Scioscia and Debbie Noce said they’d been “trying to get answers” for the better part of a week after discovering the bruises. The explanation they were given by the Care One facility in Holmdel just isn’t cutting it, reports Brick Patch.

“They believe she hit her face on the fax machine behind the nurses’ station,” the women said they were each told by staff.  Rosemarie has another story, saying, “They hit me.”


In the police report, the officer said that it was “unclear” what may have caused Terlizzi’s injuries. The patrolman who wrote the report did confirm that Terlizzi had said the hospital hit her. She later expressed wanting to leave the facility because “they hurt her,” the report stated.

“I inspected the area of injury on her face; she had a large contusion surrounding her left eye, the upper part of her left cheek and the side of her face which extended up around the side of the forehead. There were no lacerations or any other evident injury which would indicate if the mechanism was an assault or fall, or if it was accidental or intentionally caused.”

At this point, it’s difficult to say whether nursing home abuse is actually the reason behind the massive bruise. The Care One Holmdel facility has never had a formally documented allegation of abuse.

According to a report from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), “female elders are abused at a higher rate than males and the older one is, the more likely one is to be abused.” However, it is difficult to lock down just how many cases of elder abuse there are across the country since many are never reported.


The Banghor Daily News reported that the owner of several assisted living facilities will pay $300,000 to resolve a federal lawsuit charging it allowed a subcontractor, RehabCare Group East, Inc., to routinely submit inflated Medicare claims for rehabilitation.  The federal government charged that before Oct. 1, 2011, Rousseau submitted or caused the submission of inflated Medicare claims for providing “unreasonable, unnecessary, unskilled rehabilitation therapy, or therapy that was not provided at all,” Ortiz said.  The federal government alleges that even after Oct. 1, 2011, Rousseau Management failed to prevent a number of other practices of RehabCare Medicare reimbursement, including automatically placing patients in the highest reimbursement level and reporting that time spent providing unskilled palliative care was time spent on skilled therapy.

In March, Bangor nursing home Ross Manor agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve similar allegations concerning claims for therapy purportedly provided by RehabCare Group East, Inc. The rehab provider was part of similar settlements in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Missouri.

Rousseau Management Inc. owns Horizons Living and Rehab Center, Skolfield House, and Dionne Commons in Brunswick and previously provided administrative management services to Amenity Manor nursing home in Topsham.

Rousseau Management subcontracted with RehabCareGroup East, Inc., a subsidiary of Kindred Healthcare, Inc., to provide rehabilitation therapy at Horizons Living and Rehab Center and Amenity Manor, according to a release from Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen M Ortiz.

These defendants allegedly made decisions based on profitability, rather than on patient care,” Vincent B. Lisi, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston, said in the release. “These actions not only affect patients, but have a ripple effect on taxpayers who pay into the system. The FBI will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to make sure those who abuse the health care system are brought to justice.”