Some 270 nursing home caregivers, members of 1199SEIU, who work as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, dietary aides, housekeepers, and activity aides are going on a 24-hour strike at 5 a.m., this Friday, June 23. because of the infamous Michael Konig.

Nursing home operator Konig, once dubbed “landlord from hell” by the New York Daily News and with a decades-long legal history—including payouts to resolve allegations of resident neglect and failure to abide by wage and hour laws—is now under fire for poor working conditions and unfair labor practices at three NJ facilities.

          Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has issued the following statement on the upcoming strike: “Nursing facilities which receive significant funding from public tax dollars have an obligation to use those resources with the utmost responsibility.  The women and men who do back-breaking work caring for our elderly loved ones deserve fair treatment and respect.  Michael Konig must bargain in good faith with his employees and reach a settlement that values these caregivers for their essential work.”

Nursing home workers who are members of 1199SEIU have announced a 24-hour strike at three facilities operated by Michael Konig, owner of Broadway Healthcare Management, to protest unfair labor practices and demand that their employer invest in better jobs and staffing levels for caregivers.

Each of the three nursing homes—Amboy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Perth Amboy, ManhattanView Nursing Home in Union City, and Teaneck Nursing Center in Teaneck—has staffing levels for certified nursing assistants (CNA) that fall below state averages on a majority of shifts, according to data from the NJ Department of Health.  CNAs are responsible for providing direct care at the bedside, including feeding, dressing, and bathing residents.  The overnight shifts are especially understaffed, with levels within the bottom fifth of all nursing homes in the state.  Caregivers say lack of sufficient staff makes it difficult to provide the type of quality, one-on-one care that residents need.

Residents want to get up at a certain time of day, but sometimes they’re stuck in bed because we’re so short-staffed and there’s no one available to assist them,” said Cerese Abraham, a certified nursing assistant at Teaneck. “Short staffing is becoming the norm.  A lot of us have high blood pressure from all the stress that brings—one CNA even passed out during a recent heat wave because she was so overworked.”

Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued complaints against all three facilities for failing to bargain in good faith with the workers’ union, 1199SEIU.  After a thorough investigation, the NLRB also charged the nursing homes with failing to make the required contributions into the employees’ education fund.  And at Amboy Nursing and Rehab, the NLRB has issued a complaint for the company’s failure to make the necessary contributions into the employees’ health benefit fund, which resulted in some workers being left without health insurance.  A similar investigation regarding employee health benefits is currently underway at ManhattanView.  All of the charges are being consolidated into a single case by the NLRB, for a trial slated to take place later this summer.

For months, nursing homes operated by Michael Konig have engaged in a pattern of unethical and illegal behavior that violates employees’ rights and jeopardizes their ability to deliver quality care to their patients,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU.  “It is incredibly irresponsible for Mr. Konig to force caregivers into a position where striking is the last option they have.  We do not want to strike, but we cannot allow this employer to undermine job standards in nursing homes.”

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1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New Jersey and nationwide. We represent over 16,000 healthcare families in New Jersey and over 400,000 total members throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C.   Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

SavaSeniorCare is once again accused of defrauding the government by accepting kickbacks, the original Complaint filed in 2015 was unsealed, revealing that the whistleblower who filed the suit believed the core motivation behind the scheme was revenge on a competitor.  The rest of the filings in the case remain sealed except for the original complaint, as the decline of the governments to intervene triggers the unsealing.

The whistleblower who originally filed the case two years ago, August Bogina III, said in the complaint that he was personal friends with one of the men integral to the scheme, Michael Tutera, who died in 2010. According to Bogina, Tutera was one of two men who ran an insurance brokerage business in Kansas City, and was caught up in the alleged scheme when he and his business partner, Brian Davidson, became acquainted with Jimmy Abrams a principle owner of Illinois-based medical supply company Medline.

Davidson became the point man for a deal in which the three men teamed up in order to get nursing home chain SavaSeniorCare business with the skilled nursing facilities. To kick off the partnership, Davidson allegedly met with Sava owner Murray Forman in New York City in 2005, and the two exchanged a briefcase full of $100 bills, which Bogina said could have been $50,000. The money, which was provided by Medline and given to Davidson to give to Forman, was just the second part of the deal.

In another twist, Forman allegedly told Davidson that he wanted to “exact revenge” on rival skilled nursing facility chain Triad, which Forman said had burned him in a real estate deal a few years earlier.

“To exact such revenge on Triad, Davidson and Tutera met Abrams and proposed a business arrangement whereby Abrams would provide the money necessary to purchase several mortgage notes on real estate where Triad nursing homes were located,” the unsealed complaint said.

Medline’s Abrams allegedly provided $2 million to fund a limited liability company in Texas, Texas LLC, run by a man named John Connolly in order for the company to purchase the mortgage notes on real estate where Triad nursing homes were located. Then shortly after the purchase of the three mortgage notes, Connolly, acting through the Texas LLC, declared Triad in default on the mortgage notes, according to the unsealed complaint.

“With Triad declared in default on mortgages on three properties, Forman was ecstatic with Davidson, Tutera, and Abrams,” the complaint said. “Their roles in the Triad ‘take down’ induced Forman to pursue, on behalf of Sava-Mariner, an agreement for Sava-Mariner to purchase its [durable medical equipment] for its nursing homes from Medline, rather than from its DME supplier at that time, Gulf South Medical Supply.

In order to induce Sava-Mariner to purchase medical supplies from Medline instead of Gulf South, Medline paid illegal remuneration in the form of bribes and kickbacks to Forman, Tutera and Davidson, according to the complaint.

It’s not clear why the governments did not intervene in the case, triggering the unsealing of the complaint. But this complaint is not alone in cases against SavaSeniorCare. A trio of 2015 cases that was consolidated in Tennessee federal court alleges that SavaSeniorCare billed Medicare for unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services in violation of the False Claims Act.

According to the complaint, SavaSeniorCare LLC would pressure its facilities to meet unrealistic financial goals, which would lead to employees’ providing “medically unreasonable, unnecessary and unskilled services” that it would bill to Medicare. Between October 2008 and September 2012, Medicare paid Sava $1.4 billion for inpatient services, the suit claims.

The case is U.S., ex rel, et al. v. Savaseniorcare Administrative Services LLC, et al., case number 1:15-cv-04763 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

NJ.com reported that three certified nurse aides were indicted over claims they abused patients at residential care facilities across the state, authorities said. The caregivers were charged in separate indictments according to the state Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

Danny Brown worked at Lopatcong Care Center nursing home. Brown was witnessed by coworkers punching a 53-year-man in a wheelchair and threatening to break his neck. Brown was indicted on third-degree charges of making terroristic threats and endangering another person.

Cairy Chrisphonte is accused of hitting an an 87-year-old dementia patient in the head and arm in front of coworkers at the Daughters of Miriam nursing home. She faces charges of fourth-degree assault upon an institutionalized elderly person.

Debra L. Matela was caught on a surveillance camera kicking a wheelchair out from under a 73-year-old woman at the Northbrook Behavioral Health Hospital. She was charged with third-degree aggravated assault.

“We are putting the health care community on notice that we are prepared to use every law available to protect New Jersey’s elderly and disabled patients from abuse,” said acting state Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu in a statement.

Last year, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced a new program loaning out hidden cameras to New Jersey residents who fear their elderly and infirm relatives are being abused by home care workers. State authorities later expanded the program, “Safe Care Cam,” to include patients at residential facilities as well.

 

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported the arrest of James Royce Weber charged with raping a resident who has dementia.  Farmington police were called to Presbyterian Manor last month after concerns were raised by a visitor. Police say that after Weber left the room of a 74-year-old resident, a supervisor went into the room and found her partially unclothed.

 The woman told authorities she had intercourse with Weber. Police say Weber admitted to having sex with the resident on two occasions about three weeks apart.

Quality Care Properties Inc., one of the largest U.S. healthcare landlords, said it is meeting with lenders to discuss up to $500 million in funding to acquire its main tenant, No. 2 U.S. nursing home chain HCR ManorCare.

HCR, which accounts for nearly all of Quality Care’s revenues, failed to make a full rent payment in June. It owes about $300 million in past rent, the landlord said in a regulatory filing.  Moody’s downgraded Quality Care and put the rating on review given uncertainty surrounding its ability to reach an out-of-court restructuring deal with HCR.

Quality Care said it is asking lenders for a term loan of up to $400 million and a $100 million letter of credit to refinance current debt and provide working capital. The company said it hoped to have a commitment by tomorrow.

Private equity firm Carlyle Group bought HCR ManorCare in a 2007 leveraged buyout for $6.3 billion and sold the properties to HCP for $6.1 billion in 2010.

 

 

Philly.com had an interesting article about lack of staffing at nursing homes compared to what CMS expects the staffing to be based on the resident’s needs.  An Inquirer analysis of data from Medicare cost reports provided by SNFdata Resources LLC found that the median nursing home (half are above; half are below) in the eight-county Philadelphia region provided 71 percent of the registered nursing care expected by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on how sick the facility’s residents were during the annual inspection.

Brookside Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center provided 39 percent of the registered nursing a day expected by federal regulators during a recent three-year period.  Advocates, academics, and other experts state that’s a sign of a company out to boost profits.

For overall nursing care, which includes RNs, LPNs, and nursing assistants, Brookside’s 4.1 hours per patient day was well below the 4.9 hours a day expectation calculated by federal regulators based on the mix of patients at Brookside during annual inspections.

The federal expectation is not a legal requirement but what is expected by CMS based on reimbursement and payments.  “That’s one of the problems. They don’t have to use the money that they get for staffing, and they don’t have limits on administrative costs and profits,” said Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus at the University of California-San Francisco, who has found that RN and total nursing hours correlate with better care. “The whole point of the money is to give it for nursing care.”

Shareese Reynolds, an LPN who has worked in nursing homes for 20 years, said she has seen the gap between RNs and other nursing staff firsthand. RNs who serve as unit managers are sometimes counted as direct-care staff, but they don’t give much direct care. “They are in meetings all day, and I believe they leave it up to LPNs to really do most of the work,” Reynolds said.

The public’s view of staffing is expected to improve next year, when CMS starts publishing staffing data that come straight from nursing homes’ payroll systems.

A rat-infested nursing home littered with dead flies has been shut down after caregivers were accused of disconnecting a call bell because they thought it was “irritating”. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission found residents wearing the same clothes for days, dead flies in a potato peeler and people “not treated with dignity” at Bentley Care Home in Liverpool.

The report added: “The premises were not safe, with faulty electrics regularly giving staff static shocks, and people permitted to smoke in their bedrooms – putting everyone at a potentially devastating fire risk.”

Debbie Westhead, CQC deputy chief inspector for adult social care, said: “The care we found provided at Bentley Care Home was appalling. It’s disgraceful the call systems were broken, or taken away from people who required help because they were described as a nuisance.

In December, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sued Neiswanger Management Services.  The lawsuit contends the firm wrongfully evicted patients without their consent once their Medicare coverage ran out, and without the planning the state requires for placing them in a safe, secure environment.  Frosh accused the company of evicting hundreds of vulnerable residents, in some cases dumping them in homeless shelters or unlicensed facilities, to maximize payments from public health plans.

Federal and state officials have terminated NMS Healthcare of Hagerstown from being authorized to serve Medicare and Medicaid consumers, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services informed the facility in a May 19 letter that it would be dropped from the Medicare program because it was not in substantial compliance with federal regulations.

 

WSOCTV reported that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services investigators visited Lake Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center three days after Channel 9 exposed allegations of patient abuse.  Investigators spent four days at Lake Park nursing home and found repeat problems.

State officials said that their visit was in response to a new complaint in March.  The investigation stated that a patient had not received a shower in two weeks and staff provided him with a washcloth to wash his face, “but that’s it.” The facility was also cited for “neglecting to feed and provide incontinence care for dependent residents.”

Channel 9 uncovered two lawsuits against the facility that are alleging sexual assault and abuse.

The continued failure of the facility during three federal surveys of record show a pattern of the facility’s inability to sustain an effective Quality Assurance Program.

Lake Park nursing is a special focus facility, one of only about 80 in the country, which means it has a history of persistent poor quality, according to Medicare.  Medicare said the facility has shown ‘no improvement for 12 months.

In the report, the facility’s administrator blames family members. “One of the biggest barriers to achieving substantial compliance is difficult families,” it read.

 

Regency IHS of Windsor Duval, LLC and Regency Integrated Health Services, LLC has been sued because an employee at the facility posted videos on the internet that show someone smearing feces on her body and face allegedly taunting the woman with a feather as she smeared her own feces on her face.

83-year-old Mary McCaughan filed the lawsuit alleging negligence. Chandler McCaughan — the son of Mary — cites Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Services of Duval for allegedly failing to report the incident to law enforcement and their family.

The lawsuit says Carlos Alberto Santa Cruz, a certified nurse aide at Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Services of Duval, is “a despicable human being who proved himself to be someone who has no business caring for another helpless and defenseless human being.” He allegedly photographed the woman’s naked body and posted video on Snapchat showing someone smearing feces on her. A Snapchat photo shows someone tickling the woman’s nose to make her touch her face with her hand, KVUE-TV reported in March.

The lawsuit also accuses the nursing home of negligently hiring Carlos Santacruz. The lawsuit claims Santacruz should not have been hired to work at the nursing home because he has a lengthy arrest record which includes drug charges, criminal mischief and fraud.  As a result, the lawsuit alleges more people at the nursing home were at risk of being “abused.”

Chandler McCaughan removed his mother from the nursing home after the incident. In a previous interview with KVUE, he said he hoped the District’s Attorney’s Office would step in to hold the nursing assistant accountable.

Rather than notify authorities, the nursing home “lied, denied and covered up the abuse.”

See articles at KHOU and American-Statesman.