Wood TV reported that Yahira Zamora, an employee at Crystal Springs assisted living facility, will spend six months behind bars in connection to the freezing death of an 85-year-old woman.  Zamora appeared in court for sentencing in the October 2016 death of Kathryn Brackett.  Brackett had Alzehimer’s disease. She walked out of the assisted living facility and froze to death outside.

A second worker – Denise Filcek – was also charged in Brackett’s death. She pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally placing false information on a health chart.  Zamora pleaded no contest to second-degree vulnerable adult abuse for allowing Brackett to get outside unnoticed. She admitted she heard an alarm go off, but never checked the door.

 

U.S. News reported that fire sprinklers inside a southeastern Idaho nursing home did not activate when a blaze erupted last weekend.  All of the 49 patients were evacuated and several were treated for smoke inhalation.  The fire likely started in the attic of the facility and was possibly sparked by a malfunctioning light fixture, authorities said.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Pocatello Fire Department are investigating the cause of the fire that destroyed the Safe Haven Care Center, the Idaho State Journal reported .

The facility was equipped with sprinklers but none activated during the blaze. “We are investigating why the fire suppression system didn’t operate as expected,” Smith said. “There is a question of whether or not the fire suppression system was turned on, and there are also some questions about whether or not the fire suppression system had some parts of it that were abandoned.”

 Department of Health and Welfare officials inspected the sprinkler system in August 2016, finding the facility did not maintain the system in reliable operating condition.

Reuters reported the federal jury in Dallas ordered Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit to pay $247 million to six patients who said they were injured by defective Pinnacle hip implants.  Six New York residents implanted with the devices said they experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they blamed on design flaws.  The jury found that the metal-on-metal hip implants were defectively designed and that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks.

 

The 11Alive Investigators have uncovered new information about the Atlanta nursing home, owned and operated by the chain SavaSeniorCare, accused of not responding fast enough to save a dying veteran.  11Alive introduced you to James Dempsey caught on hidden camera begging Sava’s nursing home staff for help before dying in 2014.

The 11Alive Investigators discovered a former employee claims she and others complained about staffing shortages for years before and after Dempsey’s death at the facility. The claims were made in a 2015 deposition from Mable Turman, a CNA, or certified nursing assistant, who is seen in the hidden camera video inside Dempsey’s nursing home room while is gasps for air.

Turman made those claims during a deposition with Mike Prieto, an Atlanta attorney representing the Dempsey family.

Prieto: “Did you personally make a request for an additional CNA on the Alzheimer’s ward on the night shift?”
Turman: “Me and the other CNA constantly have.”
Prieto: “Do you feel like the facility is understaffed?”
Turnman: “Now? Yes.”

The hidden camera video shows Dempsey pressing his call light for help numerous times. At one point, it took nursing staff eight minutes to respond.  In the video deposition, Turman did not seem surprised with the delayed response.

“I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think they have enough staff in order for me to get to that call light on a prompt basis because we have been asking for an extra CNA at night,” said Turman in the deposition.

After the deposition, documents show the nursing home continued to experience staffing issues.  According to a 2016 Medicare inspection report, an investigator identified “inconsistent staffing.”

11Alive requested an interview with Sava Senior Care, the owner of the nursing home. The operator did not provide a response.

Research proves higher staffing ratios improves care and provides better patient outcomes. According to a 2016 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institute of Health, “nurse staffing levels are too low in half of U.S. nursing homes.”

The study identified research that showed “numerous studies have consistently shown that higher state minimum staffing have had significant positive effects on staffing levels and quality outcomes.

Federal law requires nursing homes to have “sufficient staff to meet the needs of residents and one registered nurse (RN) Director of Nursing on duty for eight hours a day, seven days a week and licensed nursing in evening and night shifts.”

 

Medscape published an article from Margaret R. Nolan, DNP, GNP about taking away nursing home residents’ right to sue for abuse and neglect.  Margaret R. Nolan. Nursing Home Residents: No Right to Sue for Unsafe Care, and It’s Wrong – Medscape – Nov 14, 2017.

Litigation or Arbitration When Nursing Home Care Is Unsafe?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, under the new administration, has announced changes to nursing home residents’ and families’ ability to sue for episodes of substandard care. Under this new plan, incoming residents and their families will sign away the right to litigate upon admission and, instead, agree to solve disputes through arbitration rather than through the courts.

Unsafe levels of care in nursing homes are, unfortunately, common. The federal government attempts to provide close oversight of nursing homes; but, in spite of being placed on a strict oversight status, in many states, hundreds of nursing homes still provide unsafe care to patients. The courts are viewed as a fail-safe option for patients’ protection. Litigation is often the only means to force nursing homes to provide standard, safe care.

The new administration is supporting arbitration settlements alone for wrongful care of residents. Many consumer groups and attorneys general strongly oppose this plan and believe that litigation is an effective way to ensure that nursing homes deliver appropriate care to vulnerable residents.

 Viewpoint

The elderly residents of nursing homes or long-term care are highly vulnerable to abuse. The Obama administration attempted to make it easier for nursing home residents to litigate for suspected negligence or abuse, but the bill never became law. A particular concern was that the promise to arbitrate was often buried in nursing home admission documents so that families were often unaware of this option. Under the Trump administration, nursing home residents will continue to sign arbitration agreements instead of having the option of suing. If new residents refuse, they could be denied admission to the facility. The Trump administration has asked for more understandable language for incoming nursing home residents so that they can better understand what they are signing, but opponents argue that without choice, it’s still mandatory for the incoming resident to sign.

On a larger scale, the current administration is trying to cap medical malpractice claims and shorten the statute of limitation to 3 years. Many fear that this will also lead to more deaths and injuries and weaken safety for patients, especially those who reside in nursing homes.

This is a critical time for nursing leaders to speak up about geriatric care, safety, and abuse. Nurses need to help educate our leaders to make good decisions that will protect vulnerable residents in nursing homes.”

New York Magazine reported the latest on ObamaCare.  A government report from last week showed that 601,462 people had enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplaces during the first four days of open enrollment, up 79 percent from the same period a year ago. Twenty-three percent of those customers are new to the marketplace.

Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken, undermine, and subvert the Affordable Care Act, Americans are not only voting to expand the law but also racing to sign up for it in record numbers. (Maine became the 33rd state to expand the program — and the first via referendum — in a landslide vote that served as a rebuke to its virulently anti-Obamacare governor.)

Besides cutting the enrollment period, the Trump administration has eviscerated outreach funding for both advertising and in-person “navigators,” and has performed suspiciously timed website maintenance. In October, President Trump announced he would cut off key subsidy payments to insurance companies, a decision designed to boost customers’ premiums. He also announced that companies would now be able to forgo birth-control coverage if they had a moral objection to doing so, rolling back an important Obamacare mandate.

Polling shows that a majority of Americans now favor Obamacare, an extraordinary turnaround after years of public rejection.

The Pantagraph reported the lawsuit filed against Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community related to sexual images of residents posted on Facebook by caregivers.  The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home failed to protect residents of the dementia care unit.

Residents’ privacy and dignity were violated by the alleged unauthorized and inappropriate photography of residents, including “toileting, bathing, resting in bed” while partially nude and in embarrassing and humiliating circumstances.

 Criminal charges are pending against Samantha J. Brown and Michael Shawn Scurlock. Both are charged with nonconsensual dissemination of sexual images. The criminal charges resulted from a McLean County Sheriff’s Department  investigation that prosecutors said involved reviewing about 55,000 pages of documents, including records from Facebook and internet service providers.

The nursing home was fined $25,000 in July by the state Department of Public Health for allegedly failing to protect residents and failing to report the posting of unauthorized images on social media.

Nationwide, eviction is the leading complaint about nursing homes. In California last year, more than 1,500 nursing home residents complained that they were discharged involuntarily. That’s an increase of 73 percent since 2011.  NPR reports on AARP’s lawsuit against the illegal practice.  Nursing home residents have a lot of rights guaranteed in state and federal law. For example, they have to be given 30 days’ notice before they’re moved involuntarily. And the nursing home has to hold their bed for a week if they’re in the hospital.

The legal wing of the AARP Foundation asked the federal government to open a civil rights investigation into the way California deals with nursing home evictions. Now, they’re suing Pioneer House and its parent company. It’s the first time the AARP has taken a legal case dealing with nursing home eviction.

The California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association joined the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff. The organization represents long-term-care ombudsmen. Those are the public officials who track complaints about nursing homes and advocate for residents. But Leza Coleman, the group’s executive director, says the spike in complaints about evictions is so overwhelming, that it’s “impacting our ability to handle other complaints.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the tragic and preventable death of Pittsburgh businessman Robert Frankel who died from asphyxiation from an incident in which his neck was trapped in bed rails.  Mr. Frankel died late Sept. 17 at the nursing home from what the medical examiner deemed at the time accidental asphyxiation, “due to compression of the neck.” The Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has discontinued using such railings in response, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Health report.

“Based on review of facility policy and documentation, clinical records and staff interview, it was determined that the facility failed to identify a hazard created by the use of side rails resulting in the death,” the report said.   The report said that at 11:30 pm. on Sept. 17, “a nurse aide was performing first rounds to check on the residents and found Resident R1 (Health Department inspection reports do not identify individuals by name) pulseless and without respirations, lying with his body on the floor and his neck between the air mattress and the side rail.” A nursing supervisor pronounced him dead at 11:40.

 

WHNT reported another nursing home employee accused of sexually assaulting a nursing home resident at Mitchell-Hollingsworth nursing home.  Zack Reeves, a nursing home aide has been arrested and charged with sodomizing a male nursing home resident.  The 21-year-old was arrested following a week-long investigation into possible abuse on November 2nd.

Police say a co-worker witnessed an incident and immediately notified authorities.  Florence police say Mitchell-Hollingsworth is playing a crucial role in the on-going investigation by speaking with other residents.  “We are kind of letting them lead that part of it since they know their patients. We don’t want to cause any undue stress or trauma to any of the patients,” said Sgt. Greg Cobb with Florence Police.