WRAL News has learned the state is investigating allegations of abuse at Universal Healthcare North Raleigh nursing home that wee caught on video.  Rebecca Knapton, the patient’s daughter installed a hidden camera after her father complained about how he was being treated.

Knapton contacted WRAL News after seeing the video that was captured in her father’s room. According to the facility, staff members have been fired, but that doesn’t make the video any easier to stomach.

The video starts at about 4:20 a.m., when Knapton’s 68-year-old father, who is recovering from a stroke, slips off the bed. The volume on the TV is loud, but he can be heard calling for the nurses over and over.  He is on the floor for more than an hour before someone walks in at 5:25 a.m. She looks over the bed and walks out without speaking or checking on the patient.

The patient continues to call out for help.  It takes another 15 minutes for staff members to return. Instead of helping him, they start questioning him.

“What are you doing there,” a staff member says. “What are you doing on the floor?”

“I need help,” Knapton’s father replies.

The patient tells the staff that he had to go to the bathroom, but had an accident while waiting. The staff proceeds to change him on the floor, even though he repeatedly tells them he’s cold.

You were on the bed. You decided to go on the floor, so don’t complain that it’s cold,” a staff member says.

The same staff member even faults the patient for having a stroke.  “You had to do something very wrong with your life. What did you do? You’re suffering so bad, so you’ve done something wrong. Yes, you did,” the staff member says.

At around 5:40 a.m., after nearly two hours on the floor, the nurses finally lift Knapton’s father into the bed, but the berating continues.

“How old are you, one? You’re supposed to be enjoying your retirement. Instead, look what you are doing, pooping on yourself. Shame on you,” a staff member says.

The shaming continues as a staff member pulls the pillow from under his head, and with it more of the patient’s dignity.

“Shame on you. Shame on you,” the staff member says.

Choice Health Management Services, the parent company of Universal Healthcare North Raleigh, released a statement which said, in part:

“As soon as the facility became aware of the family’s allegations, an investigation was initiated. We understand the family’s concern and regret that this occurred. The staff involved were terminated for their inappropriate conduct. The remaining staff received additional in-service training.”

 

Law360 had an interesting article about the Trump Administration decision to ignore requests for public information about nursing homes.  At least four lawsuits have been filed in federal courts since early April accusing CMS of wrongly impeding access to various records. The allegations include improper redactions and charging of excessive fees in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Abuse and neglect in the nation’s 16,000 nursing homes is a widely recognized problem. Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice launched 10 task forces targeting “grossly substandard care” in nursing homes. Last year, a federal watchdog urged CMS to take “immediate action” to address the underreporting of physical and sexual abuse in the nation’s nursing homes.

“The Trump administration is hindering plaintiffs attorneys who investigate abuse and neglect of seniors by heavily redacting nursing home records and charging tens of thousands of dollars to produce such records, according to interviews, government correspondence and newly filed lawsuits.”

This is clearly a decision to help the nursing home industry cover up neglect and avoid accountability.   Some of the recent litigation brought by plaintiffs attorneys is aimed at gathering evidence of the administration’s motivations. In a lawsuit filed last month, two plaintiffs attorneys — Ernest Tosh of Tosh Law Firm PLLC and David Marks of Marks Balette Giessel & Young PLLC — sought any communications between CMS and third parties concerning the disclosure of nursing home records.  The attorneys want those communications in order to determine “whether CMS’ reversal of its prior policy regarding disclosure … resulted from, or was influenced by, pressure from nursing home industry representatives or others acting at their behest,” according to the suit.

Another lawsuit that Tosh and Marks filed last month accuses CMS of excessively redacting nursing home records. According to the suit, the federal agency in July 2017 demanded $9,000 to produce records, and so Tosh requested a sample of the records to ensure that they would be worth the money.

“The redactions included in the sample provided to Tosh indicate that any records [CMS] does eventually produce will be unlawfully redacted and functionally useless,” the lawsuit says.

Steele’s lawsuit is aimed at forcing CMS to certify its own estimates of appropriate staffing levels in nursing homes. CMS employees usually cannot be subpoenaed to testify about the accuracy of those estimates, and so certifications are essential to using the estimates as evidence that nursing homes were understaffed when patients suffered harm.

“It’s literally the only way we can use this in court cases,” Steele said.  “I think there absolutely was some sort of directive that came down … to cut off the spigot of data,” Steele said. “Because this data’s getting used effectively to hold these nursing homes responsible for the way that they’re treating their residents.”

The cases are Johnson v. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, case number 2:18-cv-00590, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, The Steele Law Firm LLC v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al., case number 4:18-cv-00275, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and Tosh et al. v. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services et al., case numbers 1:18-cv-00915and 1:18-cv-00949, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

 

PennLive reported the settlement involving Maple Farm Nursing Center and the family of a resident who was sexually assaulted by a fellow resident. The parties agreed to resolve the case for $6.75 million.  A jury had awarded $7.5 million to the family, and the home and its insurance carrier agreed to the lower settlement rather than appealing, said the report.

The suit was filed against the home and Glenn Hershey, who was convicted in 2014 with sexually assaulting the woman in the home in January 2013. He is serving a state prison sentence of 8-20 years.  The lawsuit claimed the home failed to ensure that Hershey, who was a registered sex offender, didn’t come in contact with the woman.

ABC6OnyourSide had an article about three nursing home employees indicted on charges that include involuntary manslaughter, forgery and gross patient neglect in the Jan. 7 death of 76-year-old Phyllis Campbell.  The three employees at Hilty Memorial Nursing Home in Pandora were on duty when a nursing home resident wandered off and died of hypothermia in January.

A state investigation found that Campbell left the facility around 12:30 a.m. Jan. 7 through a courtyard door equipped with an alarm. A device she wore apparently failed to alert workers. The low temperature that night was zero degrees.

 

 

The Journal-News reported on the rape of a nursing home resident by a mentally incompetent resident.  Gary Eugene Earls, who has limited mental capacity, was arrested by police after a incident at Close to Home.  Earls was indicted by a Butler County grand jury on two counts of rape in December.  Earls admitted to physically penetrating the 95-year-old woman during the early morning hours of Nov. 17. He said he went into the woman’s room and pulled down his pants. The woman was naked, Earls said.  The 95-year-old woman died just weeks after the incident. She suffered from dementia but was alert.

Prosecutors fought to keep control of the case to ensure Earls would not be placed in a facility where he could potentially assault another person. The issue surrounding what to do with Earls was “a black hole of the justice system,” Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.

“(The judge) ultimately has to make a determination that the evidence established that he committed the acts to constitute the criminal offense,” Gmoser said. “It is also a serious offense and the public has an interest in respect to public safety … the state is asking for her to approve his commitment to a mental facility equipped to handle these type of offenders.”

The rapist was committed to a psychological facility, Summit Behavioral Health, a facility for mentally ill adults.  In addition to the cognitive problems, Earls has a history of alcohol and drug abuse.

 

 

A scabies outbreak at Longmeadow Nursing Care nursing home in south Arkansas spread throughout the facility and into the community after those in charge failed to act. According to a government report, management told nursing staff in some cases not to leave any documentation indicating they were treating residents for scabies, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Residents with scabies weren’t isolated and proper procedures were neglected, causing employees to contract the bugs that spread outside the facility.  Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition caused by mites, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine.  The facility neglected to treat staff members who developed scabies, which eventually spread to their relatives, according to the report.

State regulators cited the facility in July for failing to properly address a smaller infestation affecting a few residents, just weeks before the condition struck every resident at Longmeadow. A nurse told inspectors the facility didn’t document the outbreak because of instructions from higher authorities.  The state Office of Long Term Care gave the violations the most severe rating.

Kelly Holland said her husband, Ralph, suffered from the scabies infestation.

“You could see where he had clawed them, trying to get to the itch,” said Holland.

She says the nursing staff tried to convince her that the itching was not caused by scabies.

“They kept saying ‘Oh it’s a side effect from one of your medications,’ … that was a lie … the whole thing was a lie,” said Holland.

“It was just torture for both me and for him,” said Holland.

Even though the facility has a way to track outbreaks like scabies, a worker told state inspectors higher’s up “Didn’t want us to document the residents had scabies on any of the paperwork, but that’s what we were treating them for.”

State records reveal that in some cases, nursing staff said they were told not to leave a paper trail and did not record whether its 28 residents received a topical cream prescribed by a physician during the December outbreak.

 

 

The Washington Post reported on a nursing home resident Rebecca Zeni who was “eaten alive” by scabies. Parasitic mites had burrowed under her skin, living and laying eggs all over her body. By the time she died, vesicles and thick crusts had formed on her skin. Her right hand had turned nearly black, and her fingers were about to fall off.  The scabies that infected Zeni’s body had become so severe that bacteria seeped into her bloodstream causing her wrongful death.  Zeni died June 2, 2015. An autopsy found that she died of Staphylococcus aureus septicemia due to Norwegian crusted scabies, a severe form of scabies that affects people with weak immune systems, such as the elderly.

Zeni’s death is now the subject of a lawsuit filed against PruittHealth, a for-profit company that owns dozens of nursing homes, including Shepherd Hills in LaFayette, Ga., where Zeni lived for five years until she died. Shepherd Hills, a nursing home that had multiple scabies outbreaks in recent years and a history of health violations, failed to follow policies and procedures to prevent the occurrence and spread of the highly contagious disease.  Instead of providing the care that Zeni desperately needed, the lawsuit alleges that the nursing home allowed her to die an agonizing death.

A lawyer for the company, Jeffrey Braintwain, argues that, among other defenses, injuries may have been caused by people PruittHealth cannot control. This includes Puryear and Zeni herself.  The nursing home is blaming the resident!!!

Federal health inspection records paint a troubling picture of the company, which describes itself as the “regional leader” of providing long-term health care to the elderly in the southeast. In August 2013, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 10 residents and 10 staff members were affected by scabies. In October 2014, the home’s internal infection log shows, at least six patients were affected. In May 2015, according to the Department of Public Health, 20 residents and another 15 staff members were affected.

Many PruittHealth-owned facilities have similarly dismal records. Nineteen other facilities in Georgia, seven in South Carolina and one in North Carolina received one- and two-star ratings from Medicare.  Of the 56 nursing homes owned by Pruitt in Georgia, nearly half (46%) are rated “below” or “much below average.” In total, Pruitt’s one and two-star facilities collected $221 million from Medicaid in 2016 and 2017.

Zeni’s death raises crucial — and familiar — questions about for-profit nursing homes that have long been accused of sacrificing patient care to minimize costs and maximize bottom lines. Nursing homes owned by big corporations and private investment firms consistently performed poorly in terms of quality of care and are more likely than nonprofit and government facilities to be cited for “serious deficiencies” that harm residents, according to 2011 and 2016 reports by the Government Accountability Office. Staffing levels are usually lower, meaning trained nurses spend less time with residents each day.

CNN Money published an article on the lack of available positions in nursing schools despite the nursing home industry’s repeated complaints of a nursing shortage.  Schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants as they struggle to expand class size and hire more teachers for nursing programs.  In America, experienced nurses are retiring at a rapid clip, and there aren’t enough new nursing graduates to replenish the workforce. At the same time, the nation’s population is aging and requires more care.

There are currently about three million nurses in the United States. The country will need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to fulfill its health care needs, according to the American Nurses Association estimates.  Robert Rosseter, spokesman for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, said  “There’s tremendous demand from hospitals and clinics to hire more nurses,” he said. “There’s tremendous demand from students who want to enter nursing programs, but schools are tapped out.”

In 2017, nursing schools turned away more than 56,000 qualified applicants from undergraduate nursing programs. Going back a decade, nursing schools have annually rejected around 30,000 applicants who met admissions requirements, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The Tribune reported the tragic consequences of allowing a nursing home resident to smoke without proper supervision and safety attire.

The father of a 55-year-old mentally impaired man living at a nursing home in San Luis Obispo alleges that staff there negligently gave the partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound man a cigarette and lighter shortly before he was found in a patio area “engulfed in flames.”  Compass Health, Inc., owns and operates Mission View Health Center.

A lawsuit filed by Floyd Lewelling, on behalf of his son Jeffrey Lewelling, says that staff at Mission View  should not have given the man his own lighter nor left him alone in the designated smoking area.  They should also provide a smoking apron.

The Lewelling family seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages for dependent adult abuse and neglect, negligence and violations of resident rights.

Fox2Now had a sad story about a nursing home resident covered in bruises with no explanation.  Bessie Wamsley is laying in a hospital bed covered in bruises and bumps. She has two black eyes, bruising inside her ear and marks on her face and neck. Doctors tell her family they don’t think she’s going to survive.  Her family is demanding answers as their grandmother lies in a hospital bed covered in bruises. The injuries occurred while she was in the care of Country View Nursing Facility in Bowling Green.

“The doctors kind of have the feeling that whatever happened to her lead up to the seizure and the stroke,” says Bella Avila.  The facility never notified her family that her grandmother was hurt because they don’t have power of attorney.  Staff later told them Bessie fell out of bed.

Police obtained Bessie’s medical records that show she was taken to the hospital for a fall on April 19 and was sent back to the nursing home. She says according to police, 10 days later she was sent back to Pike County Memorial and then flown to DePaul Hospital.

“Then the doctors and nurses came in to talk with us and said that if it happened on April 19, the bruising wouldn’t be that fresh,” she says.

“She can’t move. I don’t see her going out of bed. She can’t walk. She can’t be on her own let alone roll herself up,” says Jennifer Reeves, her other granddaughter.

This isn’t the first time the family has noticed injuries.

“She’s had many bruises before. They said she bumped it on the table or that she’s on blood thinners, so she bruises easily, and they always just kind of blew us off. We went up there before and she was missing a fingernail and we asked how and they said she slammed it in her drawer or something,” says Avila.

“I want my grandma back. I want justice for whatever happened. There’s other families that could be going through this and it’s not fair to them. We need answers,” says Reeves.