WJACTV reported that a consumer protection lawsuit was filed against Pittsburgh-based Grane Healthcare Co., which manages and operates 12 skilled nursing facilities statewide, as a result of an investigation by the attorney general’s health care section.
Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer accuses Grane of misleading consumers by failing to provide basic services to elderly and vulnerable residents. Grane is also accused of the chain-wide practice of billing consumers and the commonwealth for services that were not provided. Grane violated Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law by making misrepresentations on its websites and in marketing materials regarding facility staffing and the basic care provided to the residents of its facilities.
“According to the lawsuit, Grane limited the number of certified nursing assistants on duty at its facilities, leaving the facilities incapable of delivering the basic care that Grane promised to provide. Despite that, Grane facilities advertised and marketed to consumers that they strive for a very high staff-to-patient ratio and that they base staffing on patient acuity levels, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit alleges that this conduct was deceptive, misleading and unfair.”
The allegations include:
· Incontinent residents were not checked and changed for hours at a time and were left in wet and soiled clothing and bedding. “I’d say about three or four times, they let me sit in my own crap and they take a long time to come in,” one female resident at LaurelWood Care Center said.
· Continent residents did not get timely assistance for using the bathrooms, causing them to urinate and defecate in their clothes.
· Showers were skipped or rushed.
· Residents were left in their pajamas during the day, because staff did not have time to dress them.
· Residents were not repositioned every two hours as needed, but instead waited intervals of three to four hours between repositionings.
· Certified nursing assistants used mechanical lifts to transfer and reposition residents alone, even though this practice risked injury for both staff and residents.
· Excessive and inappropriate use of physical and pharmacological restraints.
· Residents were awakened at 5 a.m. or earlier to be showered and dressed for the day because of inadequate staffing on the day shift.
· Residents faced long waits after ringing call bells for assistance.
· Residents who required assistance with meals missed meals or did not get enough to eat, because staff did not have enough time to feed them.
· Range of motion exercises were rarely done with residents, though CNAs were instructed to document that they had been done.
· Records were falsified, showing that residents received more care than staff had really provided to them.