13WMAZ reported that the Jeffersonville Nursing and Rehab Center which is owned and operated by New Beginnings Care is closing on March 6th after an alarming health inspection on January 13th. The health inspection discovered neglect and unsafe conditions including overflowing toilets and the smell of feces. Just two weeks later, the nursing home’s Medicaid and Medicare funding was taken away forcing them to close their doors. The nursing homes parent company, New Beginnings Care, has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

WMAZ talked to a former employee hired as a sitter, but she says the conditions were so bad for the patients that she quit after a few weeks. The former employee says she was hired by a temp agency to start working at the nursing home on January 8th and by January 14th, a day after the inspection, she quit. She says the home never asked her for a background check and had her apply for the position on her first day on the job.  She even wrote a letter to the state board warning them of the health deficiencies at the center.

No background checks. No fingerprints. No drug test. Just be there. So nothing was basically by the rules at all.

She says one of the conditions at the nursing home that made the frail patients even more sick were the cold temperatures in the rooms.

She had went and pulled her chair to the hallway. She said she was trying to keep warm through the sunbeam that was coming through the window. So I knew then it was really cold. I’m like why won’t they fix the heat?”

The court documents on this case also describe an odor complaint of feces that may have from the overflowing toilet. The former employee says the staff would only change the patients once at the start of every shift, every eight hours.

The patients would walk around with feces coming out of the bottom of their pants…on their shoe. They’d track it up the hallway. It takes them a minute before they do decide to come clean it up. They only change them like the first of each shift.”

She says the patients never ate their meals on a set schedule and that the food would sit out on the carts for at least a 30 minutes before it would be served to the residents. She says she asked one of the residents about the food once.

You know, is the food good? She was like ‘it’s okay, you know I have no choice or whatever.’ I’m like well is it cold? She was like honey I can’t remember the last time I had a hot meal.”

 

The federal agency rates homes from one star to five in four categories: health inspections, staffing, quality measures and overall. They gave Jeffersonville Healthcare & Rehab just one star in each category. They say a one-star rating means much below average. You can look up the ratings on some of these local nursing homes at Medicare’s website.

 

 

Stephen Malmgren faces four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault for an incident that happened at Lutheran Hillside Village on North Galena Road.  Employees told police they stumbled upon Malmgren assaulting the victim while they were looking for him to treat another patient.  According to court records, Malmgren was working an overnight shift when two employees say they went looking for him to treat a different patient and stumbled upon him in the resident’s room, witnessing the assault.  Those employees reported it to the nursing home administrator.  The Illinois Department of Public Health is also looking into the nursing home and its handling of the situation.

 

 

The Boston Globe had a sad but enlightening story about how nursing homes cover up residents’ injuries caused by neglect and short-staffing.  The article discusses the tragic case of Mary Meuse who was neglected at Woodbriar Health Center which is owned and operated by Synergy Health Centers.

A certified nursing assistant using a mechanical lift to move Meuse from her bed to a wheelchair Christmas morning violated a cardinal safety rule, according to a former Woodbriar staffer and a report the nursing home filed with Massachusetts regulators.  Mechanical lifts require at least two people for safe operation, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But the 21-year-old nursing aide, with no assistance, improperly placed Meuse in the lift, according to the report, and Meuse slipped out, crashed to the ground, and broke both legs.

Meuse’s daughter, Brenda Murray, said her younger sister, Sandra, visited the nursing home late Christmas afternoon and was assured by a staffer that X-rays taken after the accident showed no broken bones.

“We were told everything was OK,” Murray said.  It wasn’t until her phone rang at 8 a.m. the next day that she was told by a nursing home worker Meuse was in considerable pain and needed to go to the hospital immediately, Murray said.

Meuse, who was on blood-thinning medication for heart problems, was not sent to a hospital until the next day. By then, she was bleeding internally. She died in the hospital Dec. 27.  Meuse’s death certificate states she died from “complications of blunt force trauma” and pointed out that she was on blood-thinning medications for heart problems. The certificate noted that Meuse died as a direct result of her injuries.

The nursing home has been cited by state inspectors for a number of problems, including crumbling plaster, cracked tiles, or clogged drains in nearly half of the bedrooms inspected in August, according to federal records.  Those same records show that the wrong urinary catheters were ordered for one patient and that a nurse failed to wash her hands before giving medicine to another patient.

Synergy bought its first Massachusetts nursing home in December 2012, and reports of substandard care — festering pressure sores, medication errors, poor infection control, inadequate training, and short-staffing — have mounted. The company now owns 11 facilities in the state, licensed to care for more than 1,200 residents.

 

 

Serious injuries and deaths from falls in nursing homes are not unique to Synergy-owned facilities. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 1,800 deaths every year involving nursing home residents who fell.

But Woodbriar stands out, with nearly twice the state and national averages for the percent of falls resulting in major injuries among long-term residents, according to the latest data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

 

The federal data rates a nursing home on the total hours worked by all of its nurses in the two weeks before its last inspection, and on this measure Woodbriar rates above average. But the data also show that the nursing home is “well below” the average for the number of hours worked by registered nurses, which can lead to issues regarding leadership and decision-making. Registered nurses receive substantially more training and education than other nurses and are generally expected to do more critical thinking on the job.

 

I’ve been doing this a long time and thought I heard it all but this may be the most disturbing scandal.  Investigators say Channing Butler tried to pay other men to have sex with patients in a memory care facility and videotape it.  Butler pleaded not guilty to six counts of soliciting to commit sexual assault. Prosecutors say one of the men he tried hiring to do it came forward and an investigation into Butler’s email accounts revealed his plot.  Police say Butler was letting people into the Bickford Senior Living Center all summer. He allegedly was trying to get them to have sex with memory care patients and return with taped evidence.

Butler’s potential victims had “profound” memory problems. It was also revealed Butler knew and worked with people from several senior care facilities in the area.  Besides working at Bickford, the sheriff’s office says Butler used to work at the Champaign County Nursing Home. Administrators at Helia Healthcare confirmed he also used to work there.  Former coworkers say he worked at C-U Nursing and Rehab for awhile and family members of patients say Butler was employed at the Autumn Fields Assisted Living Community, in Savoy; a total of five locations in Champaign County.

 

 

 

 

The New York Times reported on the bill attempting to reform how arbitration agreements are used against consumers.  The bill would limit the use of arbitration, a process used to resolve legal disputes and evade accountability, that is often stacked against consumers.  Embedded in tens of millions of contracts, the clauses prevent Americans from joining in class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way that an individual can do battle with a wealthy corporation.

The bill would prevent civil rights cases, employment disputes and other crucial lawsuits from being forced into arbitration, where judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients.  If enacted, the bill would make claims brought under laws like the Family Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act exempt from arbitration.

Legal fine print tips the scales against us,” Mr. Leahy said. “It is forcing consumers into private arbitration, denying us of our constitutional right to protect ourselves in court.” Regulators and lawmakers have been pushing to prevent companies, large and small, from inserting arbitration clauses in contracts. It is virtually impossible to rent a car, open a bank account, get a job or enroll an elderly parent in a nursing home without signing away the right to take a case to court.

In its investigation, based on thousands of court records and interviews with hundreds of lawyers, judges and arbitrators in 35 states, The Times found that by using arbitration clauses corporations can circumvent the courts and quash challenges to discrimination, predatory lending and even wrongful death.

Behind the latest bill is an acknowledgment that critical laws resulting from the civil rights and disability rights movements are fatally undermined by arbitration.

The NY Times have had a series of articles critical of the widespread use of mandatory pre-suit arbitration agreements in consumer contracts such as nursing home admissions paperwork.  Arbitration clauses have proliferated over the last 10 years as companies have added them to tens of millions of contracts for things as diverse as cellphone service, credit cards and student loans. Nursing homes in particular have embraced the clauses, which are often buried in complex contracts that are difficult to navigate, especially for elderly people with dwindling mental acuity or their relatives, who can be emotionally vulnerable when admitting a parent to a home.

In their most recent installation, the Times discusses the case of Elizabeth Barrow.  In September 2009, Mrs. Barrow was found dead at a local nursing home, strangled and suffocated, with a plastic shopping bag over her head. The killer, the police said, was her 97-year-old roommate.  Workers at the nursing home, Brandon Woods in South Dartmouth, Mass., had months earlier described the roommate in patient files as being “at risk to harm herself or others.”

The roommate was charged with murder. The authorities did not focus on the nursing home, though. More than six years after the killing, Mrs. Barrow’s only son, Scott, is still trying to hold the nursing home accountable. “The woman had a history of problems,” Mr. Barrow said of the roommate in an interview this month. “She should not have been living in that room with my mother.”  Having been blocked from court, Mr. Barrow was forced to go to arbitration. The nursing home had to turn over files that included the details about Ms. Lundquist’s past behavior.

In January 2009, court records show, workers at the nursing home reported that at times Ms. Lundquist “became jealous of her roommate, who she perceived sometimes got extra attention.”

Her agitation, the records show, grew when Mrs. Barrow had visitors. Ms. Lundquist also accused Mrs. Barrow of having “too many flowers and of taking her belongings,” according to records made by workers at the home just a month before the death.

Mr. Barrow was barred from taking Brandon Woods to court in 2010 because his mother’s contract with the nursing home contained a clause that forced any dispute, even one over wrongful death, into private arbitration. His legal team discovered that the arbitration firm running the hearing had previously handled more than 400 arbitrations for the law firm representing the nursing home company.  The arbitrator ultimately ruled in the nursing home’s favor but provided no explanation. His ruling consisted of a single check mark, indicating that Brandon Woods had not been negligent in its care of Mrs. Barrow.

He has been trying ever since to get back to court, and next month he will finally get that chance. A Massachusetts state court is scheduled to hear Mr. Barrow’s case against the home, which has evolved into much more than a lawsuit about one woman’s death. It has become a crucial test of a legal strategy to prevent nursing homes across the country from requiring their residents to go to arbitration, where there is no judge or jury and the proceedings are hidden from public scrutiny.

State regulators and consumer advocates are concerned of the secretive nature of arbitration which obscures patterns of wrongdoing. Recently, officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia urged the federal government to deny Medicaid and Medicare money to nursing homes that use the clauses. Between 2010 and 2014, hundreds of cases of elder abuse, neglect and wrongful death ended up in arbitration, according to an examination by The New York Times of 25,000 arbitration records and interviews with arbitrators, judges and plaintiffs.

Judges have consistently upheld the clauses regardless of whether the people signing them understood that they were giving up their constitutional right to a jury trial.  Mr. Barrow’s case is pivotal because, with the help of his lawyers, he has overcome an arbitration clause by using the fundamentals of contract law to fight back.

As is often the case when elderly people are admitted to nursing homes, Mr. Barrow signed the admissions paperwork containing the arbitration clause on his mother’s behalf.  Although his mother had designated Mr. Barrow as her health care proxy — someone who was authorized to make decisions about her medical treatment — his lawyers argued that he did not have the authority to bind his mother to arbitration. In 2014, a judge ruled in his favor.

Appeals courts across the country have been throwing out arbitration agreements signed by family members of nursing home residents.  For years, judges hearing elder-abuse cases rejected arguments that arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts were patently unfair because they were signed by people who did not understand them or perhaps even realize they existed.

Any normal human being would say that these contracts don’t pass the smell test. But the courts don’t accept this,” said Martin S. Kardon, a plaintiff’s lawyer in Philadelphia with a focus on nursing home cases.

North Carolina Lawyers Weekly had an article on a recent Sanctions Order issued by a South Carolina trial judge against a North Carolina lawyer and his client for engaging in abusive discovery tactics during a wrongful death case.  Discovery abuse including obstruction and delay are rampant in nursing home litigation.  The Court found order that a senior living and healthcare facility operator, Five Star Quality Care Trust Inc., and its Charlotte-based attorney, Gerald Stein II of Hedrick Gardner, turned the discovery process into a game of Go Fish.  She wrote that “defense counsel makes opposing counsel ‘go fish’ until they happen to stumble upon crucial witnesses and critical documents.” She specifically found that Stein and Five Star failed to produce appropriate witnesses, ran afoul of the rules of alternative dispute resolution and withheld a key document.

This court recognizes it bears responsibility for protecting our civil justice system from abuse,” she added, “yet it finds no pleasure in admonishing fellow attorneys.”“Issuing an order of sanctions is a somber task for circuit judges,” Richland County Circuit Judge Tanya Gee wrote in a Jan. 27 order denying reconsideration of her sanctions award.

Gee ordered Stein and Five Star to pay $34,955 to the plaintiff’s attorneys. They represent Patricia Greenburg in a wrongful death suit against Five Star, which operates the The Haven in the Summit senior facility in Columbia, where Greenburg’s mother, Constance Chandler, fell several times causing her death in 2010.

It strains credulity to believe that the Five Star defendants were surprised to learn that the plaintiff sought information pertaining to the timeframe identified in the complaint as the time during which Ms. Chandler had numerous falls and died,” she wrote in her order.

She also scolded Five Star and Stein for failing to hand over during discovery a mock survey that included information that was responsive to at least six of the production requests from Rikard’s firm.  The survey came to light during a deposition. She testified that the survey was prepared the same month that Chandler died and described the document as a “good audit tool of how the community is doing.” The survey included details about the facility’s policies and procedures, staff training, incident reports and fall prevention programs.

Stein argued at the sanctions hearing that he first learned about the survey at the deposition. But before the hearing, he had argued in a memo opposing the motion for sanctions that the survey was not responsive to the discovery requests.

While honest mistakes happen during document production,” Gee wrote, “defense counsel’s written assertion that he had no obligation to produce the mock survey suggests counsel purposely withheld the document, not – as defense counsel later argued – that the document had never been revealed until the deposition.”

It’s rare in South Carolina to have this kind of sanctions order from a state court. But it is necessary and much needed,” he said. “I hope this is an order that will signal what will happen in the future when people play games with the discovery rules.”

 

A federal jury has ordered Ron Lusk (who owned the the Quail Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center facility when horrific abuse occurred but attempted to evade responsibility by selling the nursing homes while litigation was pending) to compensate the family through the money who siphoned away from the facility.  It’s the latest legal battle surrounding a disturbing video showing two nurse’s aides abusing a 96-year-old woman.

The video is still hard to watch for the Mayberry daughters, which shows their 96-year-old mother, Eryetha Mayberry, being abused by nurse’s aides. One aide is seen stuffing a latex glove into Mayberry’s mouth, and the other aide thumps her on the head.

Two families had to go back to court after Lusk refused to pay them after the first round of lawsuits.  Lusk sold the nursing home while the lawsuits were pending, and spent millions on a home and a yacht.  “He took the money, almost $4 million, out of Oklahoma back to Texas, spent it on his mansion, spent it on his yacht, spent it frivolously in all kinds of ways and said he was not personally responsible,” Wes Bledsoe, with A Perfect Cause, said.

 

 

A similar tragedy happened to another Oklahoma family at Lusk’s nursing home. Tim Kingsbury’s mother, who was on a special diet, choked to death eating sausages while in the nursing home’s care.

Several pieces were pulled out of her throat,  and there’s no way someone would not know that was happening. Somebody was mad at my mother, and they were just killing her,” Kingsbury said.

A jury awarded Tim Kingsbury’s family nearly $350,000.  He’s never seen a dime, just like the Mayberrys.  The two families didn’t give up.  They filed a fraudulent transfer action, claiming some of that money should have gone to them.

A federal jury just decided in their favor again and ordered Lusk to pay almost $1.6 million for fraudulently transferring money from his nursing home’s bank accounts to avoid paying two court judgments.   Lusk must use his personal funds to pay the judgments.   Court documents show Lusk sold the nursing home in June 2012, receiving $2.85 million in net proceeds and another $1.14 million from accounts receivable or reimbursements.

 

The Journal Star reported another horrific sexual assault of a nursing home resident by a nursing home employee.   Stephen P. Malmgren was employed to care for elderly residents at The Lutheran Home.  Malmgren has been charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, both Class X felonies, and is being held at Peoria County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.  He faces up to 30 years in prison, accused of sexually assaulting a patient, and the nursing home is under investigation for its handling of the matter.

He was arrested Dec. 30, a few days after allegedly sexually assaulting a disabled elderly resident at The Lutheran Home, the 85-bed skilled nursing facility that offers 24-hour care within a larger retirement community known as Lutheran Hillside Village.  According to court records and witness accounts, Malmgren was working an overnight shift when the alleged assault occurred in the resident’s room. Two other employees who were looking for Malmgren to apply a treatment to a patient in a different room happened upon Malmgren and the patient and witnessed the assault.

No question about it — I know exactly what I saw, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chakara Bush-Flynn, who was working that night and told police she witnessed the assault, told the Journal Star. “It hurts me, it makes me cry.”

 

Syracuse.com reported that Noelle Otto, a nursing home worker at Crown Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, was arrested by state authorities for physically abusing a female resident.  Otto is accused of covering the patient’s mouth, slapping her arms and legs, and slamming her arms against the bedside table. Otto then allegedly made a false statement to the facility about the incident.  Otto is a certified nurse aide and charges include falsifying business records, endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, and willful violation of health laws, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced.

“Nursing home residents are among New York’s most vulnerable citizens, and they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and compassion by those responsible for their care. For a patient to be abused by someone whose job it is to ensure their well-being is disgraceful,” Schneiderman said.

Otto pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on her own recognizance. Judge Elizabeth Burns scheduled a pretrial hearing for March 2, 2016.