Shephard Spruill, the CEO of Carolina Support Services, has received a prison sentence in connection with a Medicaid fraud scheme in North and South Carolina.  A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said Spruill was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.  According to prosecutors, he supplied hundreds of patient names to third parties who illegally billed millions in fictitious mental health services defrauding the U.S. taxpayers.

Prosecutors say Spruill has been ordered to pay nearly $6 million to the Medicaid programs in North and South Carolina, as well as to one of the individual victims. He also has to forfeit nearly $1 million in criminal proceeds and is banned from Medicaid for life.

“Do not for a moment believe that we have given a pass to those who steal from taxpayers through fraud,” Higdon said. “This case shows our continuing resolve to bring all to justice, even CEOs who commit their crimes with lies instead of guns.”

 

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.

 

 

Authorities are investigating the strangulation death of 75-year-old Rebecca Eudy, who was found April 5 at Open Fields Assisted Living in Tarboro.  Open Fields is an adult care facility, which houses the elderly and also some people with severe and persistent mental illness.

No arrests have been made yet.  Her death certificate says Eudy asphyxiated and suffered traumatic injuries to her neck.  Eudy was charged with assault in December after a fight with a 46-year-old man living at Open Fields who allegedly exposed himself to her.

Eudy’s daughter has filed a complaint with the state Department of Health and Human Services after learning that her mother’s death was being treated as a homicide.

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.

 

 

Human scabies results when an adult female human itch mite burrows into the top layer of your skin, otherwise known as the epidermis. There the mite can hang out, poop, and lay eggs. The eggs can then produce new mites, leading to more and more mites in your skin. Each mite can live a couple months in your skin. That is the Circle of Mites.

Image result for scabies mites picture

When the infestation is ignored, thousands of mites may be reproduced.  Norwegian or crusted scabies tends to occur when your immune system is weak, allowing the mites to reproduce more. With so many mites, the skin forms crusts that are thick, gray, and crumbly.

The mites are so small that you can’t see them. A simple view from a microscope will allow caregivers to figure out if a resident has scabies.  Tthey can be passed unknowingly from person-to-person via skin-to-skin contact. Transmission only occurs via human-to-human contact.  The contact has to be prolonged and intimate.   This should not happen in a nursing home since caregivers are required 1) to wear sterile gloves before caring for a resident, and 2) wash their hands before caring for a resident.

The mite can survive on objects such as a blanket, other bedding, clothes, and furniture for about 3 to 4 days, so you could catch scabies from such items. Therefore, make sure you thoroughly wash (using the hottest temperature possible) or seal in a bag for at least a week any object that may be affected.

Symptoms can take anywhere from a few days to 4 to 6 weeks to appear. The itching tends to be worse at night and can keep you awake. The classic appearance of the rash is a line of little bumps, as described by the American Academy of Dermatology. The rash can become scaly and look a bit like eczema.

Image result for norwegian scabies crusted

Scratching can convert the rashes into sores. Sores can lead to infection. Infections can potentially lead to death, especially if you are in a weakened condition.  An elderly person’s immune system is weaker and won’t attack the mite as vigorously. If not treated, the mites will multiply indefinitely. A patient can have thousands of mites in his or her body. They form crust on the skin. The crust sheds, carrying mites and eggs with it. The outbreak spreads.  Tomorrow, we will discuss a recent nursing home case involving scabies.

 

Fox40 had an article about for-profit nursing home chains in California that illegally prioritizes some patients over others based on how much of a payout insurance will pay the individual nursing home for each.  As soon as a resident goes from Medicare (where reimbursements are high) to Medicaid (where the nursing home gets a flat fee), the chain tries to get rid of them.  These chains discharge residents without proper notice or a legal reason.  It’s called patient dumping and it’s illegal.  Under California law, nursing homes need to notify patients 30 days before they’re let go.

“What’s happened is the money’s gotten the best of the providers,” Tony Chicotel, a spokesman with the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform,  said. He urges consumers to follow the money. “Medicare pays a significantly higher rate per day for nursing home care than [MediCal] or even private pay dollars do,” he said.  According to Chicotel, the problem is Medicare only provides a few months’ worth of nursing home care to patients. When that runs out, he says some nursing homes rush to fill her bed with someone else on Medicare.  “The more you occupy your beds with Medicare residents, the more money you’re going to make. Sometimes three or four times as much.”

He’s working on a class action lawsuit filed against SavaSeniorCare, a national for-profit billion dollar chain.  SavaSeniorCare has over 200 facilities nationwide including 4 in South Carolina.  SavaSeniorCare is also part of a False Claims Act case in Tennessee.  See Hayward doc 59.

“It’s a very widespread problem. It involves dozens of nursing home chains in California, hundreds of individual nursing homes. It’s a problem that’s affected northern, central, southern California. We hear about it everywhere,” Chicotel said.

A representative from Mission Carmichael, a care facility owned and operated by Sava, did respond to the lawsuit, saying only that they’re “aware of the case” and “cannot comment about the specifics”

 

6ABC reported on the recent audit by the Federal Government which found an alarming number of nursing homes failing to report suspected abuse, including sexual abuse.  Action News Investigative Reporter Chad Pradelli has been investigating the nursing home industry in Pennsylvania for the past year.  Pradelli looked at every state inspection report in the 5 county region for 2016 and 2017.

He found dozens of cases where nursing homes failed to properly investigate and report neglect, abuse or possible abuse both physical and sexual.  The investigation found state inspectors cited nearly half of all nursing homes in the 5 county region for either failing to investigate and/or properly report possible abuse and neglect in 2016 and 2017. 85 facilities in all were cited.

Attorney Sam Brooks of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia said, “It’s not in the nursing homes interest to properly report issues and enforce regulations because it affects their bottom line.

Sam Brooks is a nursing home advocate who’s been investigating nursing home abuse. He says not only are facilities failing to report abuse or possible abuse, they do not adequately investigate.

He blames both nursing home staff and the State Dept. of Health that is responsible for overseeing them. He looked at every inspection report of nursing homes in Philadelphia from 2012-2014.

“We found 9/10 if you filed a complaint against the facility the Department of Health was not substantiating that complaint. So hundreds and hundreds of complaints were dismissed,” said Brooks. “What we were shocked by is over 3 years of complaints in Philadelphia we didn’t find one violation for sexual abuse or purposeful harm,” said Brooks.

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.