Former administrator of the Gill Odd Fellows Home in Ludlow is proving to be an odd fellow indeed.  According to Valley News, Leslie Anne Whittington was suspended for unprofessional conduct.  Whittington served as the home’s administrator from 2006 to 2010 where she engaged in a number of questionable behaviors and decisions, including when Whittington went “beyond her scope of ability and training.”  Whittington also disagreed with a doctor’s order about a dying patient’s medication and recommending falsely diagnosing patients so they would be moved to psychiatric facilities.

The court agreed with original findings that Whittington had engaged in a number of activities of improper conduct and improperly interfering with medication administration.  However, the Vermont Supreme Court held the punishment may have been too harsh.  The court overturned Whittington’s five-year license suspension and returned that issue to the administrative law officer to re-examine.

Why would anyone allow her to operate a nursing home again?

Nursing home residents now have one more thing to worry about, reports Bayou Buzz.  A bookkeeper at Vicksburg Convalescent Center in Mississippi pled guilty to stealing over $100,000 from elderly residents.

Elderly residents of nursing homes are vulnerable adults, and are often the victim of theft by people they trust such as bookkeepers, office managers, and leading administrators. Lee Ray Martin had been stealing from residents at the home for months before anyone noticed. This is partially a result of the lax investigation into nursing home workers, where many workers don’t even go through background checks.

Nursing home residents place their funds in trusts. What this means is that their funds are pooled together in funds which employees handle. While this makes it easier to handle resident’s requests, it also means that resident funds are accessible by employees.

Many residents have been the victim of theft by employees improperly accessing their accounts. The amounts stolen from residents can number in the hundreds of thousands. To combat this theft, some homes, such as the Bridgewater Retirement Community, are increasing accountability measures.

Bridgewater has residents sign request forms for funds and monthly account balances are sent to account holders. While this system isn’t perfect, it does allow for better accountability. Homes such as Bridgewater are continually trying to improve their system so that vulnerable adults aren’t taken advantage of. Currently, the guidelines for nursing homes’ handling of trust funds are not known or universal.

The Department of Health does not usually investigate homes for handling of funds and there needs to be more accountability and transparency in the way homes take care of resident accounts. 

See full article at WHSV here

Hospitals routinely charge uninsured patients rates that are 3-4x higher than those paid by insured patients. A heart attack that gets billed to an insurance company at $50,000, can easilly end up costing you $200,000 if you’re unlucky enough to suffer that heart attack while you’re uninsured. For years, the health care industry has deliberately taken ruthless advantage of the very people who are the weakest and most vulnerable—those who are poor or unemployed—and insurance companies and some politicians in their pocket seem to believe that this is a perfectly decent and moral way to provide health care.  It’s like kicking a beggar and stealing his coat just because you know the cops will never do anything about it.

This is something that Obamacare goes a long way toward fixing. If you’re covered by private insurance through an exchange, you’re not just protected against catastrophic illness. You’re also protected against being charged outrageous rates for non-catastrophic problems—broken legs, asthma attacks, etc.—just because hospitals have the brute power to do so.

Because of Obamacare, you no longer have to fear being shut out of the insurance market. But that’s not all. You no longer have to fear being gouged and possibly bankrupted because you’ve been shut out of the insurance market. Access to reasonable rates is one of the key benefits that Obamacare delivers to millions, and it deserves more attention.


WCSC reported that nursing home workers at Prince George Healthcare Center in Georgetown, S.C. have voted to unionize.  This means the nursing home employees will be able to negotiate their working conditions as well as their wages and benefits. South Carolina has the least number of union workers in the country, and get paid less and have less benefits and rights as a result.  South Carolina is a "right to work" state which means an employer can fire you for any reason at all and not even tell you why.

According to James Sanderson, the president of the steelworkers union in Georgetown, workers at Prince George Healthcare Center voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the union. The vote was 62 to 18.  According to Sanderson,Sanderson said, "This is a major milestone for health care workers in South Carolina."

I hope other nursing home workers in South Carolina follow suit.

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and Assisted Living reported on a appeals court decision that was upheld in response to a case of suicide at Del Rosa Villa Nursing home.  An investigation of Del Rosa Villa showed that a patient who injured himself in a previous suicide attempt was left unattended despite an order for him to be placed on 24-hour suicide watch.

This reckless disregard for required care led the patient to wander from the facility and take his own life.   CMS fined the facility for its negligence and cited it for failure to “adequately supervise a resident to prevent accident”.  The facility refused to take responsibility and appealed the fine to the HHS Departmental Appeals board and an administrative law judge, who decided to uphold the $10,000 fine.

The facility then took the case to federal court, which resulted in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit also upholding the decision to fine the facility.  The federal appeals court agreed that the accident was “reasonably foreseeable” and that the facility ignored the potential risk factors and failed to increase necessary supervision of the patient.

This case speaks to the necessary nature of Nursing Home facilities to adhere to proper care plans to insure the safety and care of the resident and their refusal to take responsibility and be held accountable for their neglect. 

After a call into Crime Stoppers on July 19, 2009, a police invesitgation was opened into a suspicious death at Caloola Centre nursing home.  The death of resident Heather Smith appears to have been covered up.  The police department is looking into the alleged false documentation on Smith’s death certificate. The doctor responsible for filling out the certificate claimed that Smith, 78, had hemorrhaged to death. The doctor attempted to cover up the disturbing truth of the causation of her death: a fall and fatal levels of morphine in her blood that were consistent with an overdose.

Three days prior to her death, Smith was dropped onto the floor, out of a mechanical sling, during a transfer of her bed to a chair.  With many questions still left unanswered, the inquest continues on today. It is clear that the nursing home should be held accountable for Heather Smith’s death.

Overmedicating patients to quiet their complaints of unmanageable pain is a common practice of nursing home staffs to keep residents in a chemically held state of passive oblivion. With this anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers concerning the death of Heather Smith, the next logical question is: how many other nursing home death certificates have been falsely reported to cover up the grim truths of resident’s neglect, overmedication, and lack of professional care.  See full article at The Herald.

A nursing home in Monroe, NC underwent a federal Medicare inspection in August of 2012 that, according to federal records, yielded an overall rating of 3 stars, and only two stars for “Health Inspections”.  However, the Brian Center has been falsely advertising itself as having a 5 star rating.  SavaSeniorCare, a national for profit chain, owns and operates the facility.  Channel 9 Eyewitness news from Charlotte first reported seeing the banner in May of 2012 while investigating allegations of theft at the nursing home.

Federal documents showed that the investigation revealed that aides were not properly administering medications, had expired medication on the property, and were serving food to the residents at cold temperatures.  Channel 9 then contacted representatives of the nursing home to clarify the situation. The representative provided statements via email that asserted “a plan of correction was accepted by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services” as well as down-playing the findings of the investigation.  The representative claimed that the findings were at “severity levels that do not reflect actual harm” and that the staff had received education and training in all of the problem areas.

The banner, which claimed the Brian Center as “Union County’s 5-star Facility”, was suddenly removed after the news team contacted the representative. See full article here.

Why would a male nursing home resident who had lost both of his legs buy a pair of women’s designer jeans?  This eyebrow raising question was the tip-off to uncovering the theft of over 100k dollars from nursing home residents in Mississippi.  The culprit was Lee Martin, the business office coordinator, who was dipping money out of resident’s trust funds to pay for her own personal luxuries. She’s not alone.

Take a look at Sidney Horton, an Augusta Georgia man who used is position as an administrator in a nursing home to take 160k to pay for gambling debts, or Judy Putman, a Texas woman in her 60’s who managed to take over 300k by forging checks before she was caught.

This article from USA Today details the stories of five thieves who took money from nursing home residents. Each story varies a bit, with different tactics for taking the money and different ways but the overall pattern is the same.  Unscrupulous people are given access to trust funds set up for the care and well being of nursing home residents, and find ways to take the money for their own purposes.  They have little oversight, the residents are unaware of the missing money and they are usually caught only by someone else noticing something odd and taking the time to investigate.

Debora Goyette, a nursing home employee, allegedly stole over $100,000 from residents at the Hillcrest Commons Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center which is owned and operated by Berkshire Healthcare in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania.  From January 2009 to October 2012, Goyette allegedly accessed residents’ personal accounts and siphoned funds to the tune of more than $100,000. The investigation is ongoing, and her case is scheduled to begin in February. While residents’ funds have been reimbursed, some commenters wondered how this could happen and what the home was doing to prevent it.