WHNT reported another nursing home employee accused of sexually assaulting a nursing home resident at Mitchell-Hollingsworth nursing home.  Zack Reeves, a nursing home aide has been arrested and charged with sodomizing a male nursing home resident.  The 21-year-old was arrested following a week-long investigation into possible abuse on November 2nd.

Police say a co-worker witnessed an incident and immediately notified authorities.  Florence police say Mitchell-Hollingsworth is playing a crucial role in the on-going investigation by speaking with other residents.  “We are kind of letting them lead that part of it since they know their patients. We don’t want to cause any undue stress or trauma to any of the patients,” said Sgt. Greg Cobb with Florence Police.

 

WKYC reported the horrific death of James Dempsey, a decorated World War II veteran from Woodstock, Georgia.  An 11Alive investigation uncovered hidden camera video catching nursing home staff laughing while an elderly patient dies in front of them. The video was recently released as part of a lawsuit filed by the family.   Hidden cameras are an important way to prevent abuse and neglect and to prevent cover-ups like this one.

The incident happened at the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation owned and operated by the national for-profit chain, SavaSeniorCare.  Attorneys representing SavaSeniorCare tried to prevent 11Alive from obtaining the video. They asked a DeKalb County judge to keep the video sealed and then attempted to appeal to the Georgia State Supreme Court. The judge ruled in favor of 11Alive and the nursing home eventually dropped its appeal to the state’s highest court.

Watch the extended deposition here where her story changes after watching the hidden video.

The video includes almost six hours of video court deposition from a nursing supervisor explaining how she responded to the patient before she knew the hidden camera video existed. The video shows a completely different response. SavaSeniorCare was made aware of the video in November 2015, but the nursing home did not fire the nurses until 10 months later.

In the video deposition, former nursing supervisor Wanda Nuckles tells the family’s attorney, Mike Prieto, how she rushed to Dempsey’s room when a nurse alerted her he had stopped breathing.

Prieto: “From the time you came in, you took over doing chest compressions…correct?”
Nuckles : “Yes.” 

Prieto: “Until the time paramedics arrive, you were giving CPR continuously?”
Nuckles : “Yes.”

The video, however, shows no one doing CPR when Nuckles entered the room. She also did not immediately start doing CPR.  The video shows the veteran calling for help six times before he goes unconscious while gasping for air. State records show nursing home staff found Dempsey unresponsive at 5:28 am. It took almost an hour for the staff to call 911 at 6:25 a.m.

When a different nurse does respond, she fails to check any of his vital signs. Nuckles says she would have reprimanded the nurse for the way she responded to Dempsey. She called the video “sick.”  When nurses had difficulty getting Dempsey’s oxygen machine operational during, you can hear Nuckles and others laughing.

Prieto: “Ma’am, was there something funny that was happening?”
Nuckles : “I can’t even remember all that as you can see.”

11Alive showed the video to Elaine Harris, a retired nursing professor and expert in adult critical care. “In 43 years in nursing, I have never seen such disregard for human life in a healthcare setting, is what I witnessed,” said Harris.

In the video, nursing staff repeatedly start and stop doing CPR on Dempsey. Harris says once you start doing CPR, it should not be stopped until a doctor makes the decision not to resuscitate.  “That is absolutely inappropriate. You never stop compressions,” said Harris.

The nursing home operators, owned by Sava Senior Care, declined interview requests.

State health inspection records show Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation continued to have a history of  problems after Dempsey’s death. Medicare records show the nursing home facility was cited at least two dozen times for serious health and safety violations, including “immediate jeopardy” levels, the worst violation. Medicare withdrew one payment and the facility has been fined $813,113 since 2015.  The facility has a one-star rating from Medicare, the lowest score the agency can give. The nursing facility remains open today.

 

Forbes had an interesting article about nursing homes “dumping” residents.  This problem is only getting worse because it is becoming common corporate policy to evict low-income residents to make room for more lucrative Medicare or private pay residents. In other words, they dump Medicaid people so they can make more money on other residents who are paid by better sources than Medicaid.  Some elders are low income and receive Medicaid. Some live in nursing homes, as they need full time care. Medicaid recipients are vulnerable and can be subject to terrible treatment, including being kicked out of a home just because they have to get temporary treatment at a hospital.

“It is disgusting to think that a nursing home will not only violate the law in refusing to allow its own resident back into the home after going to a hospital, but it will callously separate spouses by doing so. Neither has the luxury of choice. One spouse can stay while the other gets the boot?”

The AARP Foundation, the affiliated charity of AARP, is fighting for the residents to stop this despicable practice.  According to Foundation attorney Kelly Bagby, a clear legal right to return to the place where she lived exists, and should be enforced by the state health agencies. The law prohibits it and the law is ignored.

If your own aging loved one is ever mistreated, threatened with being evicted or dumped from a nursing home, know that he or she has rights that can be enforced. The place to start is with the Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman. The ombudsman is assigned the task of being the liaison between the facility and the resident or resident’s family.

WPRI reported the family of an elderly woman who was assaulted at Coventry Center Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation nursing home has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the home and her alleged assailant.  On Oct. 14, police arrested Francis Kinsey on a charge of first-degree sexual assault after an employee at Coventry Center Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation reported seeing him assaulting an 80-year-old resident.

Now, the alleged victim’s family is suing Kinsey and the owners of the nursing home, Genesis Healthcare.  In the lawsuit, the family claims the suspect should not have been in the nursing home since he was out on bail from a pending child molestation charge.  Police learned Kinsey had been arrested for first-degree child molestation in 2012, and that case was still open at the time of the alleged nursing home assault.

“Genesis Healthcare, LLC knew or should have known that Defendant Francis E. Kinsey, Jr presented a danger to residents he came into contact with for reasons including, but not limited to, his arrest record,” the lawsuit states.  The family claims the nursing home did not take adequate steps to ensure the woman’s safety when Kinsey was moved to or allowed to roam a floor specifically treating mentally frail individuals, such as the victim.

 

WNCN reported that Natalia Mikhailovna Roberts has been accused of stealing medication.  Warrants state Roberts worked as a nurse for Lake Emory Post Acute Care in Inman.  Lake Emory is owned and operated by the national for profit chain Fundamental Long Term Care.

Authorities say there were 78 doses of Oxycodone for a patient when there should have been 96 doses. Warrants state Roberts “intentionally…omitted information” required for records keeping.

Records showed another patient was missing 124 doses of Hydrocodone on June 17, another arrest warrant states.

Roberts is charged with theft of a controlled substance and two counts of violating drug distribution laws by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.  A temporary order of suspension has been issued for Roberts by the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

It is unclear if she was using the pills or selling them to make money.  The investigation into why the facility failed to notice the missing opiods is ongoing.

National Geographic published Maja Daniels’ series “Into Oblivion,” a documentary project that exposed some of the many issues surrounding Alzheimer’s patients while also highlighting society’s generational disconnect from its elders. Shot over the course of a three-year period, “Into Oblivion” was the inaugural winner of the Bob and Diane Fund, a photographic grant that supports visual storytelling about Alzheimer’s and dementia.  The Bob and Diane Fund was started by National Geographic Creative employee Gina Martin in honor of Martin’s mother, Diane, who died from Alzheimer’s in 2011, and her father, Bob. The winning photographer receives a $5,000 grant to support his or her work.

While on a tour of a geriatric hospital in France, photographer Maja Daniels came across a locked door with portholes in it. Behind it, someone was trying to get her attention. When she asked, Daniels learned that the door led to a protective unit for the hospital’s Alzheimer’s patients, meant to keep them safe and to keep  them from wandering off and getting lost.

“I was just struck by the image of that door,” says Daniels.

When Daniels showed the staff her photos, they were shocked by the images of people by the door.

“Sometimes the hardest things to see are the things that are closest to us,” Daniels says.

Shortly after, they covered the door with wallpaper to make it blend in and defer patients away from it.

“Even those smaller changes are really important,” Daniels says.

 

 

The St. Louis Dispatch reported the tragic and preventable wrongful death of Donna Chapman who caught fire and suffered fatal burns in May while smoking a cigarette in her wheelchair.   On May 13, a member of the staff wheeled Chapman onto the patio, then left her alone to smoke a cigarette before dinner. Chapman somehow ignited her clothing and was found ablaze by an attendant.

“I am burning alive, I am burning alive,” Chapman kept saying, according to an investigative report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.   She suffered third-degree burns to her scalp, chest, neck and shoulders.

Chapman died May 15, two days after she caught fire while smoking unsupervised on a patio at NHC HealthCare. Her son, Dean Chapman filed the wrongful-death suit Oct. 23.

The suit claims the nursing home improperly left the disabled woman alone while she smoked without a special burn resistant apron that was supposed to protect her from ashes and dropped cigarettes. The suit also says the nursing home failed to adequately assess her ability to smoke unsupervised and detect changes in her mental and physical condition.

Chapman had dementia, and because of her paralysis, limited use of her legs and left arm. She was a longtime smoker. The nursing home performed eight “smoking assessments” for her between 2012 and March 17, 2017, the suit says. All of the assessments determined she could smoke without supervision, despite concern expressed by staff in October 2016 and the discovery of burn marks on her clothing in February, the suit adds.

In March, the nursing home did tell Chapman she had to wear a special smoking apron to protect her from hot ashes and dropped cigarettes. Despite concerns that her dementia was worsening and that burn marks continued to be found on her clothes, she was put on the back porch alone on May 13 without a smoking apron, the suit says.

Peimann, the nursing home administrator, told the Post-Dispatch in May that Chapman’s death was “a bad accident.”

David Terry, an attorney for Dean Chapman, said: “For a nursing home to provide a safe environment for its residents, there must be enough staff members to properly supervise the residents and the staff needs to be sufficiently trained to meet the needs of each resident. We believe in this case the NHC facility failed to do that.”

In 2014, when Florida officials wanted to permanently shut down the now infamous The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, Governor Rick Scott interceded on behalf of a lobbyist and frequent campaign contributor. The role of one of the Governor’s friends lobbying state officials on behalf of Dr. Jack Michel so Michel could obtain the license for the Hollywood Hills nursing home has not been previously reported.  An attorney for Michel said the lobbyist, Bill Rubin, “performed routine lobbying efforts in connection with assisting us with the AHCA regulatory process required for licensure.”

The nursing home is now drawing intense scrutiny following the deaths of more than a dozen residents after its air conditioning system lost power during Hurricane Irma. This case reveals the nature of how business is often done in Tallahassee where political connections are the currency of the realm.

In 2014, Michel wanted to buy the nursing home, whose owner at the time, Karen Kallen-Zury, had just been convicted of Medicare fraud and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Unfortunately for Michel, the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), was set to revoke both licenses, filing two complaints against the nursing home and hospital on February 14, 2014.

In April 2014, he hired Bill Rubin, founder of the Rubin Group. Rubin is powerful player in Tallahassee whose ties to Governor Rick Scott are well known.  Rubin had no trouble arranging a meeting between Michel and Dudek, the AHCA Secretary.  State records show that between April 2014 and September 2015, Rubin’s firm was paid between $100,000 and $160,000 by one of Michel’s companies.  And by October 2014, Dudek signed an order reversing AHCA’s decision to revoke the license thereby clearing the way for the licenses to be transferred to Michel.

Political leaders have questioned whether Michel should have been granted a license given the fact that Michel and two former business partners paid $15.4 million to the federal government to settle fraud claims.  Rubin also represents HCA, the hospital chain once owned by Scott.

For its part, given the deaths at the nursing home in September, the state is once again trying to permanently revoke the nursing home’s license. The nursing home, which is currently closed, is fighting the state. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for January.

The Des Moines Register had an article on the need for video surveillance of nursing home residents.  The article references the Des Moines Sunday Register investigation by Clark Kauffman that told the tragic story of Cheryll Scherf.   Her family installed a motion-activated camera in her room. This captured, among other incidents, staff repeatedly leaving Scherf in bed, naked from the waist down, with the door to the room left open. The video also showed she wasn’t given her prescription medication.

“A reasonable person would feel degraded, embarrassed and ashamed” by this treatment, according to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.  The family could not have proven neglect without the video.  The neglect was covered up with false documentation and tampering with patient records, according to criminal charges filed against the caregivers.

The story of this Iowa woman underscores the need to ensure all residents in long-term care facilities are guaranteed the explicit right to possess and use cameras in their rooms.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid should implement a rule specifically guaranteeing residents can use cameras for their own protection as long as the privacy of other residents is respected. The agency administers Medicaid, the federal health insurance program that pays the bills for more than 60 percent of the 1.4 million people in this country’s nursing homes.

Nursing homes should welcome such personal use of cameras anyway. Families bear the cost. Workers who know they’re being watched may be motivated to follow guidelines and provide good care. That helps protect nursing homes from allegations of mistreatment and vulnerable patients from abuse.

McKnight’s reported that a pharmacist involved in a scheme to repackage drugs that went unused by area nursing homes was sentenced to probation and community service.  Correna Pfeiffer, manager for Aliquippa Med-Fast Institutional Pharmacy, was part of an investigation into Med-Fast’s repackaging practices that concluded with a $2.7 million settlement and charges against an executive.

Pfeiffer, the first employee named in the case, pleaded guilty to charges that she helped facilitate a scheme in which the pharmacy would pick up unused drugs from nursing homes and bring them back. Pharmacy employees would then remove the medications from their original packages and restock them for use in future prescriptions, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

As a result, medications with different makers and expiration dates were mixed in with other stock. Employees would use fake labels on the repackaged drugs.