All hands on deck!

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Friday on H.R. 1423, the FAIR Act—a bill to end forced arbitration in all its forms.

Help achieve passage of this affirmative, comprehensive legislation to help workers, seniors, and consumers!

Contact your member of Congress today. Your voice matters.

Use AAJ’s Take Justice Back Action Item to send your members of Congress an email (or call) urging the passage of H.R. 1423, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act.

For additional information about how forced arbitration devastates Americans, visit AAJ’s Faces of Forced Arbitration website.

The New York Times had a great article on the false promises and the Big Lie of the Assisted Living industry.  They sell themselves as the solution to everyone’s worries about old age built on the unrealistic dream that we will grow old while being self-reliant and live that way until we die.  The irony of assisted living is, it’s great if you don’t need too much assistance. But if you have trouble walking or using the bathroom, or have dementia and sometimes wander off, assisting living facilities aren’t the answer.

The assisted living industry is all about profit and has a financial interest in sustaining a belief in this old-age nirvana. Originally designed for people who were mostly independent, assisted living facilities have nearly tripled in number in the past 20 years to about 30,000 today. It’s a lucrative business: Investors in these facilities have enjoyed annual returns of nearly 15 percent over the past five years — higher than for hotels, office, retail and apartments, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care.

But when it comes to direct care, the facilities are often lacking.  Families and residents don’t realize that these facilities are not designed to provide more than minimal help and monitoring. Even those that advertise “24-hour” monitoring may have someone present round-the-clock on the premises, but may not have sufficient staff to actually monitor and assist the large number of residents.

“People’s defense against something horrible happening is, ‘Well, they have a right to be independent,” she said. “‘Yes, he did walk up the stairs with his walker and fall down and die, but he had a right to do that.’ That’s a horrible defense. You don’t just allow people to do unsafe things.”

Most residents of assisted living need substantially more care than they are getting. Half of those residing in assisted living facilities in the United States are over the age of 85, the Centers for Disease Control reports. The number of people 85 years of age and older in the United States will nearly triple to about 18 million by 2050, according to the Census Bureau.

“When you say nursing home, people say, ‘Yuk,’” said Eric Carlson, the directing attorney for Justice in Aging, a national advocacy group for low-income older Americans. “When you say assisted living, a lot of people say, ‘That sounds good.’ Nobody realizes the system is broken.” When something bad happens to a resident of an assisted living facility, “They just think it was that facility that was horrible,” he says.

Part of the problem is a lack of regulation. The federal government does not license or oversee assisted living facilities, and states set minimal rules.  Not surprisingly, complaints against assisted living facilities are mounting in courts around the country.

Assisted living has a role to play for the fittest among the elderly, as was its original intent. But if it is to be a long-term solution for seniors who need substantial care, then it needs serious reform, including requirements for higher staffing levels and substantial training.

That will raise prices, and assisted living already costs between about $4,800, on average, each month, and nearly $6,500 if dementia care is needed, according to the National Investment Center, a group that analyzes senior housing reports.

 

 

Flagler Live had an interesting article about a controversial issue in long term care especially for nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers who emphasize the sanctity and value of life.  The issue is senior suicide or “rational suicide”.  A six-month investigation by Kaiser Health News and PBS NewsHour finds that older Americans are quietly killing themselves in nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult care homes.  Descriptions KHN unearthed in public records shed light on residents’ despair: Some told nursing home staff they were depressed or lonely; some felt that their families had abandoned them or that they had nothing to live for. Others said they had just lived long enough: “I am too old to still be living,” one patient told staff. In some cases, state inspectors found nursing homes to blame for failing to heed suicidal warning signs or evicting patients who tried to kill themselves.

In a nation where suicide continues to climb, claiming more than 47,000 lives in 2017, such deaths among older adults — including the 2.2 million who live in long-term care settings — are often overlooked.  Analysis of new data from the University of Michigan suggests that hundreds of suicides by older adults each year — nearly one per day — are related to long-term care. Thousands more people may be at risk in those settings, where up to a third of residents report suicidal thoughts, research shows.

The fact that vulnerable residents are managing to kill themselves in what are supposed to be safe, supervised places raises questions about whether these facilities pay enough attention to risk factors like mental health, physical decline and disconnectedness — and events such as losing a spouse or leaving one’s home.

 

 

 

McKnight’s had an article about the issues and problems at California Villa in Van Nuys, CA, an assisted living facility.  Staff members were unable to identify a veteran in their care when a case manager from the Department of Veterans Affairs visited, resulting in the case manager reporting that she had visited with the resident — four days after he had died, according to the U.S. Office of Special Council.

The incident is part of a larger issue with the care of veterans in assisted living, according to the office. The alleged incidents are examples of how VA  “compromised patient care” because they “failed to take action on repeated allegations of patient care deficiencies and employee misconduct” at assisted living facilities where veterans live. The VA investigation concluded that because veterans, not the VA, pay assisted living facilities, VA officials did not oversee those facilities as “vigorously” as they did other programs funded directly by the VA.

California Villa was approved to care for veterans by the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, according to the OSC. When a case manager visited in October 2017 looking to meet with a specific veteran, however, staff members referred her to the wrong resident, a VA investigation found. The resident she had come to see actually had died four days before her visit.

The VA investigation also “confirmed longstanding and well-known” issues at the home, including a general state of disrepair and a disorganized medication room, the OSC said. Between 2015 and 2018, several veteran residents experienced “serious” medication errors, according to investigators.

For instance, staff members did not provide physician-prescribed antibiotics to a 100-year-old veteran with sepsis, the report said. In another case, staff members allegedly did not update records related to physician-canceled prescriptions, resulting in a veteran receiving double doses of medication on two occasions. And in a third case, staff members allegedly did not provide medication to a resident who did not leave his room.

“I am shocked that such lax oversight of facilities providing critical care for vulnerable veterans ever occurred, and I commend these whistleblowers for coming forward to shine a light on this serious issue,” he wrote.

The VA has agreed to begin monitoring more closely the assisted living communities caring for veterans. Also, the VA agreed to make the community care program coordinator a full-time position, and the person in the role now will visit all VA-approved assisted living facilities every month, according to the OSC. All facilities also will be independently reviewed, too, the office said.

Sherry Culp is Kentucky’s state long-term care ombudsman and president of the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, Inc. Natalie Brown-Radtke is director of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at Catholic Charities and district ombudsman for the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency. They wrote the below editorial for the Kentucky Courier Journal.

The unnecessary death of retired Judge Dan Schneider, as reported by Andrew Wolfson in the July 3 Courier Journal, might never have come to light had an unidentified person not written anonymously to Schneider’s widow Joann six weeks after his passing.

Our hearts go out to the Schneider family as they relive the nightmare of losing their husband and father in 2013 because of preventable mistakes, such as the pharmacy’s failure to check records to ensure Judge Schneider was receiving the medication his physician prescribed. Schneider was admitted to Masonic Homes for rehabilitation following a hip infection. His doctor sent orders for an antibiotic administered intravenously for 28 days.

He never received a single dose.

A federal investigation found that some Masonic staff members hid the truth from Joann Schneider and Norton Suburban Hospital, where Judge Schneider died. Last month, Masonic and MedCare Inc. settled out of court for $11 million and $1.9 million, respectively.

We may never know whether low staffing levels at the nursing home contributed directly or indirectly to Schneider’s death. We do know there’s ample research to indicate that more and better trained staff result in better care for residents. 

In court papers, Louisville attorney Chad Gardner, who represented the Schneider family, said “Masonic Homes botched Schneider’s care because of staff cuts designed to improve its bottom line.”

Gardner also said in an interview that “nearly every employee who was deposed said staffing was a problem and had told management so. They begged (Masonic Homes) to add staff.”

For years, the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass and the Kentucky State Long-Term Care Ombudsman have pleaded with Kentucky’s legislators to enact minimum staffing laws.

Crickets.

Which senator or representative will lead the effort to put the well-being of vulnerable, disabled residents ahead of the nursing home industry’s profit margins?

Let legislators know that you support better care for frail, helpless nursing home residents by calling 1-800-372-7181.

It’s high time we do right by Judge Schneider and others who have paid the ultimate price — and many more who will if legislators allow the status quo to continue.

 

 

One of the problems I see as a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer is with assisted living centers who treat the residents as hotel guests and not vulnerable adults who need supervision and assistance at times.  A recent article in InFORum sadly reminded me of that problem.

A state investigator has issued a finding of neglect and maltreatment against Hillcrest Terrace of Chisholm assisted-living facility after one resident allegedly raped another.  The report, concluded July 11 and posted by the Minnesota Department of Health, was forwarded to the Chisholm Police Department, the Chisholm city attorney and the St. Louis County attorney. The matter is being investigated by Chisholm police and she couldn’t comment further.

According to the report, the female resident states she was raped.  The male resident who allegedly raped her “had a history of touching other clients’ private areas to provoke them” along with a history of yelling, destroying property and impaired judgment when upset.

On June 17, the victim told the investigator that the male client struck her on the legs with a statue, pried her legs apart and raped her. She said she reported the incident to the staffer and asked her to call the police, but she was told to call the police herself.

According to the report, Chisholm police arrived about 7 that evening, collected evidence from the apartment and took the female client to the hospital for a sexual assault examination. Police then removed the predator from the facility, the report said. Hillcrest Terrace evicted him but he was allowed to return once to gather his belongings. The victim was kept in the nurses’ office during that time.

The employee on duty admitted that she had not been given vulnerable adult training, but her personnel file indicated that she had completed the training and received retraining two months before the incident. The staffer was placed on 90-day probation and assigned to a different facility where there always would be two staff members working, according to the report.  The investigator faulted the staffer, but also faulted the facility for not supervising the staffer and not providing retraining after the incident.

Low wages, high staff turnover and short-staffing have combined to create a “resident care crisis in Rhode Island nursing homes,” according to a report released by the District 1199 SEIU New England union.  A coalition of groups called for legislative action to remedy the situation during a press conference at Bannister Center.  The coalition is calling on the General Assembly to establish a minimum staffing standard of “4.1 hours of care per resident per day.” It also seeks an increase of the starting wage for a CNA to “at least $15 per hour” and “and a focus on training and workforce development moving forward as immediate first steps towards resolving Rhode Island’s resident care crisis.”

“Rhode Island nursing homes are understaffed and Rhode Island caregivers are underpaid,” certified nursing assistant Shirley Lomba said. “When our residents have more time with their caregivers, they have better outcomes. The lack of staffing standards forces us to rush through the very basics of care and doesn’t give us any time to answer questions or even just chat with our residents; basic things that are necessary to maintain quality of life.”

The eight-page “Raise the Bar on Resident Care” report states that CNAs in Rhode Island earn $14.42 an hour, compared to $15.54 in Massachusetts and $16.18 in Connecticut.  In comparison, the majority of CNAs in South Carolina get a little above minimum wage and rarely exceeds $12.00.

“I know that the people who provide residential care are engaged in holy work,” said Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, of Temple Sinai in Cranston. “They are the ones who pay attention to the needs of our elders, who care for some of the most vulnerable in our communities…

“It is our obligation as a society to make sure that these workers are treated according to the dignity of their profession. Nursing home residents deserve consistent staffing to assure that they are cared for, appreciated, known and valued. Nursing home workers deserve to work in an environment where they can see that the residents they care for are treated with dignity and love.”

The American Association for Justice released a groundbreaking report detailing the fundamental truths of forced arbitration using data provided by the arbitration providers themselves. The Truth About Forced Arbitration examines five years of data on consumer and employment forced arbitrations reported by the nation’s two largest arbitration providers and found that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to win in forced arbitration.

  • Though there are more than 800 million arbitration clauses estimated to be in effect, this new study found there are only 6,000 consumer arbitration claims filed every year. On average, only 382 consumers a year win an award in forced arbitration.
  • Similarly, 60 million workers are subject to forced arbitration, but only 0.02% of these workers tried to pursue a claim. Over the five years studied, only 282 employees were awarded monetary damages in forced arbitration, which is less than one-ten-thousandth of one percent of covered workers.
  • Over the five years studied, consumers brought 6,012 claims valued at at least $3.7 billion in damages. They won monetary awards in just 131 cases. In contrast, banks brought 137 cases, yet somehow won monetary awards in 314.
  • In the five years studied, there were only 16 nursing home arbitrations reported at AAA. Ten were brought by consumers and six were brought by corporations. No consumers won any of their cases while corporations won four of the six they initiated.

Given how prevalent forced arbitration clauses are, evidence of just how few cases are ever pursued through forced arbitration makes clear that forced arbitration is providing virtual immunity to Corporate America. As this report shows, there is a clear reason for the disparity between the number of forced arbitration clauses in effect and the number of cases that are ever filed by consumers and workers: forced arbitration is a rigged, secretive, corporate-designed system in which the odds are stacked against Americans.

The Huffington Post just published a story explaining how the report “shows that not only do companies typically emerge victorious from arbitration, but, perhaps more damning, they rarely even have to use the process.”

Travor Moore, a 5th grade teacher, is a dedicated son who takes care of his mother who has early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia and is non-verbal.  He decided to take a well-earned vacation but could not bring his mother along.  He chose to entrust his loved one to Hapeville Manor Assisted Living Facility.

When he came back, however, he realized something had gone horribly wrong, WXIA reports.  On Jan. 2, Moore picked up his mother from the facility to find her with bruises on her cheek and shoulder. It wasn’t until Moore was giving his mother a bath that he made another startling discovery: burn marks. The woman’s shoulders, legs and knuckles were dotted with small burns from a lit cigarette.

“He knew something had happened very badly to his mom, not only because of those marks, but she didn’t walk to him and she was shaking like she was scared,” Moore’s attorney Evan Jones said, according to WXIA.

Chey Higgins, the administrator at the facility, allegedly told Moore the bruises were from carpet burn. When pressed, she then said the carpet burn was caused by her glasses.

“I call it an act of torture,” Jones said.

The lawsuit alleges Britney Thomas, a woman with an extensive criminal history, was the woman’s caretaker and was responsible for the wounds, WXIA reports.

Thomas was fired once police started investigating and charged with aggravated assault.

We see this type of situation often as nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys.  If something like this has happened to you or your loved one, please give us a call; we can help.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal office in charge of supervising the care at nursing homes, keeps a list of nursing homes that consistently don’t meet standards and agreed to release a monthly update to that list in June. The most severe offenders are then designated as Special Focus Facilities. This designation increases the frequency that a nursing home must be inspected and sets guidelines for where and how quickly a facility must improve.

Two more facilities in Columbia and Myrtle Beach became the latest in South Carolina to be named on a congressional list of poorly performing nursing homes providing poor quality of care to their vulnerable residents.  Another one in Florence was officially flagged for the government to focus on.  Magnolia Manor in Columbia and The Retreat at Brightwater in Myrtle Beach were added to the list of candidates for the SFF program in July. Commander Nursing Center in Florence, which was a candidate for the program in June, was officially added as an SFF program.

Commander Nursing Center had 30 health citations at its most recent available inspection in July 2018, according to Medicare.gov, which periodically updates a nursing home database with health and safety information. South Carolina facilities typically average seven citations, the website states.  The facility was fined over $115,500 in 2018, records show.

Magnolia Manor had 25 health citations in a February 2019 health inspection and paid a $33,363 fine in 2017.  Manolia Manor-Columbia is owned and operated by the Fundamental chain which is a national for-profit chain with revenue over a billion dollars per year.  They have a long history of issues and problems ranging from fraud, short-staffing, and abuse and neglect.  As nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers for the last 20 plus years, Poliakoff & Associates have dealt with that awful chain often.

Riverside Health and Rehab in North Charleston was previously the only nursing home in the state designated as an SFF facility. They are also owned and operated by the Fundamental chain.  It shows the pattern of poor care provided at their facilities.

The Retreat at Brightwater had 16 citations in an April 2019 inspection and has not been fined in the last three years.

“It is outrageous that we continue to hear stories of abuse and neglect in nursing homes that do not live up to these high standards,” Casey said in a news release at the time. “Choosing a nursing home is a difficult and often painful decision to make. Individuals and families deserve to have all the information available to choose the facility that is right for them.”
After taking Micardis for a while, I suddenly started to cough. When I discontinued https://fdlist.com/ medication, there was a gradual recovery, i. the irritating cough disappeared. But what am I doing now with my hypertension?