The Daily Item reported the arrest of Jason Lee Daniels accused of injuring a patient while working at the Mount Carmel Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.  Daniels is charged with misdemeanor counts of neglect of care dependent person, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault, along with a summary count of harassment.

According to arrest papers, nursing home staff discovered bruising beneath each eye of Thomas Kiefaber along with bruising to his chest and called the 9-1-1 center for a police officer at 1:19 a.m. May 9. Kiefaber told police “the big guy,” referring to Daniels, struck him five to six times between 10 a.m. May 8 and shortly after midnight May 9.

Daniels admitted he might have been too aggressive in placing Kiefaber back into bed. Police said Daniels claimed he grabbed the patient’s hands and pressed them into his abdomen and pushed his forearm against the patient’s head.

‘(Daniels) said that he noticed a bruise on (Kiefaber’s) face, but thought nothing of it, that it could have been there the whole weekend,” arrest papers state.

 

The Daily Beast reported the judicial emergency caused by the Republicans obstinate refusal to approve the President’s judicial appointments.  The judicial confirmation rate under the Republican-controlled Senate is less than half of what it was when Democrats held power under George W. Bush. There are so few judges that it’s hurting the country.

New data that has emerged in the wake of the Garland stalemate, showing that his non-confirmation (and non-hearing) is the rule, rather than the exception, for the Republican-led Senate.

For example, Mike DeBonis at The Washington Post compared the confirmation rates of the Democrat-led Senate in 2007-08, the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency, with those of the Republican-led Senate in 2015-16. Over the past 16 months, the Senate has confirmed only 17 lifetime-appointment judges. In the same period in 2007-08, the Democrat-led Senate confirmed 45; in 1991-92, when Democrats controlled the Senate and George H.W. Bush was president, it confirmed 82. In other words, the GOP Senate is confirming just 38 percent as many judges as the Democratic 2008 Senate, and 21 percent of the Democratic 1992 one.

And it’s not just judges. The Congressional Research Service found that President Obama has had the fewest presidential nominees confirmed in decades: 198, compared with 345 for George W. Bush, and 268 for Bill Clinton.

A similar point was made in a New York Times op-ed by the recently retired Judge Shira Scheindlin. Scheindlin noted that since 2014, Republicans have confirmed only 15 of President Obama’s district court nominees, compared with 57 confirmed in 2007-08—again, when the Democrats controlled the Senate but a Republican was in the White House.

“The Senate majority’s policy of delaying qualified district-court nominations on purely political grounds undermines public trust in the impartiality and legitimacy of the judiciary,” Scheindlin wrote.

Indeed, the number of “Judicial Emergencies”—a formal designation by the federal court system for when the per-judge caseload is so high that it endangers access to justice—has nearly tripled in the last two years, from 12 in January 2014, to 32 in April 2016.

KY3 reported that Shauna Voskamp is going to prison for ripping off residents of a nursing home.  The Missouri Attorney Genera’s office has announced that Voskamp was sentenced to five years each for financial exploitation of the elderly and abuse of a health care recipient. Voskamp pleaded guilty in March to the charges.

While serving as the office manager and bookkeeper for Lawrence County Manor Nursing Home (LCM) in Mount Vernon, an investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Division found that Voskamp wrote checks from the LCM Residents Fund made payable to herself or to cash, and then she posted the withdrawals to the resident trust accounts of LCM residents in an attempt to conceal her unauthorized withdrawals.

“Shauna Voskamp betrayed the nursing home residents whose money she was supposed to be guarding,” Attorney General Chris Koster said. “We will continue to prosecute those who steal from our most vulnerable.”

Voskamp is also currently on federal supervision for credit card fraud and all restitution involved in the state’s cases had been previously ordered in the federal case.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

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.

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.