The Ledger-Enquirer reported that a preliminary hearing was held in a nursing home assault case last week.  Columbus Police Officer Joshua Bailey said he was called to the Magnolia Manor nursing home on Nov. 10 after it was reported that a resident had been assaulted the day before at 10:15 p.m.  A certified nursing assistant allegedly assaulted a resident with dementia in November by slamming her onto a bed at a nursing home.  Diane Ruby Blair pleaded not guilty to one count each of simple battery and exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults and elder persons. However, testimony last week supports her arrest.

Bailey spoke to a LPN who saw 57-year-old Blair forcefully handle a resident with dementia after the woman got tangled in bedsheets.  The witness said the defendant closed the curtain between the victim and her roommate. She then jerked the victim up by her arm, shoulder and neck before slamming her back onto the bed, Bailey testified.

During the incident, Blair allegedly told her, “Bitch, I’m not doing this mess tonight,” according to police.

Another witness said “Blair was very rough with (the victim) given her age and condition.” Authorities said the victim struggles to communicate effectively because of her illness, but she confirmed that she was assaulted.

Blair was terminated from the nursing home after working at the facility for one month.

 

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the lawsuit filed on behalf of a nursing home resident that  “developed a sexually transmitted disease as a result of being raped” while a resident of GlenShire Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre.  The 63-year-old woman who died last year claims she was sexually assaulted during her seven-week stay at the facility.

The woman, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was admitted Dec. 7, 2014.  The woman lost nearly 30 pounds before she died Jan. 16, 2015, the suit alleges. An autopsy found the Harvey resident died of sepsis from a urinary tract infection, with heart disease contributing, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Her death was ruled natural.

The five-count wrongful death suit claims she was neglected by her doctor and the staff at the facility, where “no plan was implemented to prevent sexual abuse” given her condition.

 

What the heck is going on in Arkansas?

Rosey Perkins and Rhonda Coppack, daughters of the late Martha Bull of Perryville, have sued nursing-home owner Michael Morton and former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, a lobbyist and political fundraiser.  The sisters contend the men conspired to bribe former Circuit Judge Michael Maggio to lower a Faulkner County jury’s $5.2 million judgment to $1 million in an earlier negligence lawsuit over Bull’s death in 2008.

In January 2015, Maggio pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge and has since been sentenced to prison. He implicated Baker and Morton in his plea agreement. Baker and Morton have said they believe the agreement was referring to them.  Morton still owns and operates nursing homes in Arkansas.

Attorneys for the two sisters want Maggio’s plea agreement and sworn statements to be accepted as evidence in the current lawsuit, though Morton objects.

At the same time in another case involving Morton, Justice Rhonda Wood, an Arkansas Supreme Court justice, says she won’t recuse herself from hearing an appeal related to a wrongful-death lawsuit against a nursing home owner Morton despite the fact that Morton donated thousands of dollars to her campaign.

Wood cited several reasons for declining the motion, noting that Morton wasn’t involved in her campaign and didn’t host any fundraisers for her.

The Columbus Dispatch reported the sentencing of Susan Gwynne, the former nurse’s aide who made a living stealing valuables, keepsakes and trust from at least 46 senior center residents for more than 12 years, to 65 years in prison. Gwynne “frowned but showed little other emotion” as Judge David Gormley began reciting her prison sentence for each of 46 counts — each a charge related to one of Gwynne’s victims.

She feigned kindness and dedication to betray her former profession by stealing — in a prolific, multiyear spree — jewelry, credit cards, keepsakes and memories from those who were ill, confined to a bed or just in need of companionship.

Surveillance video showed Gwynne, dressed as an employee, entering rooms carrying an empty purse that was bulging when she left. She was charged with 31 counts of felony burglary and theft and 15 misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property.

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.

CBS News reported the arrest of nurse Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer for the first-degree murders of eight elderly people at nursing homes in southwestern Ontario over a seven-year period.

“The victims were administered a drug. We’re not in a position at this time to comment further on the specifics of the drug as it forms part of the evidence that is now before the courts,” Ontario Provincial Police detective Dave Truax said. Truax would only say that a number of drugs were stored and accessible in the nursing homes where the suspect worked.

Wettlaufer was employed by Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes, which operates 15 facilities in small Ontario towns. Police said seven of the victims died at a Caressant nursing home in Woodstock. She was also employed at the Meadow Park facility in London, where the other victim died.

The victims have been identified as James Silcox, 84; Maurice Granat, 84; Gladys Millard, 87; Helen Matheson, 95; Mary Zurawinski, 96; Helen Young, 90; Maureen Pickering, 79; and Arpad Horvath, 75.

Police said they believe Wettlaufer also worked at other long-term care facilities in the province but could not specify which ones, nor would they speak about a possible motive.

The FCPA blog which focuses on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act had a great article on two whistle-blowers–Tammie Taylor and Glenda Martin formerly worked for Life Care Centers of America Inc.  Life Care is based in Cleveland, Tennessee and owns and operates more than 220 skilled nursing facilities across the country including South Carolina.

These heroic ladies proved that between 2006 and 2013, Life Care engaged “in a systematic effort to increase” its Medicare billings. They alleged in qui tam suits that Life Care knowingly caused skilled nursing facilities to submit false claims to Medicare and another government program for rehabilitation therapy services “that were not reasonable, necessary, or skilled.”

The greater the skilled therapy and nursing needs of the patient, the higher the level of Medicare reimbursement.  The top level of Medicare reimbursement for skilled nursing facilities is for “Ultra High” patients who require a minimum of 720 minutes of skilled therapy from two therapy disciplines (e.g., physical, occupational, speech), one of which has to be provided five days a week.

Life Care instituted corporate-wide policies and practices to place as many residents in the Ultra High reimbursement level ignoring the clinical needs of the patients — “resulting in the provision of unreasonable and unnecessary therapy to many beneficiaries.”  Life Care also tried to keep patients longer than necessary to continue billing for rehab therapy, even after the treating therapists thought therapy should be discontinued.

Taylor and Martin were awarded $29 million as part of a False Claims Act settlement.  The False Claims Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims for government funds and to receive a share of any recovery.

 

According to a report by the Connecticut Post, the U.S. Department of Labor has sued Chaim Stern, chief financial officer for Bridgeport Health Care Center, accusing him of diverting $4 million in retirement plan assets to a New York-based religious corporation and to himself.  The suit notes that Stern serves as the sole person responsible for a retirement plan for the company’s employees and beneficiaries and those of another nursing home, Bridgeport Manor.

According to the Labor Department, an investigation by its Employee Benefits Security Administration found that Bridgeport Health and Stern, who also serves as the company’s chief operating officer and nursing home administrator, have been redirecting funds from the retirement plan since at least January 2011 to themselves and to Em Kol Chai, a corporation that lists Stern as its president.

“The best interests of plan participants are paramount under federal law, and this agency will seek every remedy when retirement dollars are misdirected,” said Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security, in a statement. “The alleged breaches in this case are certainly serious enough to take to court, and based on our investigation, have clearly had a negative impact on plan participants.”
The lawsuit asks the court to remove Stern as plan fiduciary and appoint an independent fiduciary, permanently prohibit Stern from serving as a fiduciary to any federally covered plan, require the company and Stern to restore to the plan any losses by undoing their transactions, and perform an accounting of all plan transactions from Jan. 3, 2011, to the present.

The News Journal reported that the family of Sylvia Pierce, a third-grade teacher with the Capital School District for 25 years, is suing national for profit chain Genesis Healthcare for improperly giving her antipsychotic medications without their consent, which led to her death.

Prior to her admission, Pierce had been able to stand, talk and feed herself, even playing word games and trivia. Between the time she was moved to the Milford Center through November 2014 the lawsuit said that Sylvia was given drugs “as a chemical restraint to stop her from yelling out.” One of the drugs she was administered was Zyprexa, approved for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  The lawsuit states that the drug has a “black box” warning label that reads “elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.” She was also given the antidepressants Remeron and Sertraline.

The lawsuit states that the Milford Center nursing home provided negligent care and treatment by prescribing her drugs risky for dementia patients and failing to get legal consent from the family. She died a short two months later.

“We believe that the drugs were not administered for any medical purpose. It was more of a restraint type of purpose,” said Chase T. Brockstedt, legal counsel for the family. “This is just another example of how nursing homes can just run roughshod over patients and families’ rights.”  AARP Foundation Litigation is also representing the family.

Inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing facilities is a national problem and tragedy

The Globe Gazette reported on the nursing home trial in Iowa involving Good Shepherd nursing home.  Maria O’Brien’s children claim their mother died as the result of Good Shepherd’s negligence.  O’Brien was at Good Shepherd for two and a half years. She was admitted to the hospital in late March 2015 and died in early April 2015.

Byron Arbeit, a licensed nursing home administrator from Florida who now acts as an expert consultant for nursing homes, testified O’Brien developed avoidable conditions such as severe weight loss and skin problems.  Arbeit testified that the facility provided substandard care for Maria.  Good Shepherd did not meet the standard of care for Maria O’Brien that “respected her dignity as a human being,” said Byron Arbeit.  O’Brien also had avoidable falls while she was at Good Shepherd, according to Arbeit.  Steps could have been taken to prevent O’Brien’s numerous falls at Good Shepherd, such as having her in a common area rather than in a room by herself.

Mice in her room left droppings on her bed, her bedside table and her religious icons, he said. Bedbugs were also an issue, according to Arbeit.

During his opening statement, Benjamin Long, one of the attorneys for O’Brien’s family, said she initially was placed at Kentucky Ridge Assisted Living due to a mild case of dementia but went to Good Shepherd so she could recuperate from a broken pelvis after she fell.  O’Brien weighed 127 pounds when she was admitted to Good Shepherd but only weighed 84 pounds when she went to the hospital a few days before her death, Long said.