Rebecca McCarthy, a former executive for CareOne nursing home chain, is slated to receive more than $6 million because a jury agreed with her claim that she was fired because of her race.  After a trial before Judge John O’Dwyer, a jury ruled in her favor and awarded her $4.1 million in punitive damages, more than $1.8 million for past and future lost wages, and $5,000 for mental anguish, according to documents posted by the New Jersey Law Journal.  Care One discriminated against her African American identity when a senior vice president tried to demote her and later fired her from her position at a senior rehabilitation center in Bound Brook.

A few months later, an executive who had just taken over as administrator of the Bound Brook facility asked McCarthy to return to her former role.

“I don’t want a black person walking around here in a suit as VP,” the executive, Alison Fitzpatrick-Durski, told McCarthy, according to her suit. “I want you in scrubs, flats and a lab coat.”

Defendant argued that “Ms. Fitzpatrick-Durski was previously married to an African American man and is the mother of three (3) children who partake of African American heritage,” the motion reads.

McCarthy was fired the following day and replaced by a white woman, according to her civil complaint filed in Superior Court in Bergen County. (Care One is based in Fort Lee.)

This is not the first time the company has gone to court over its treatment of employees. In 2016, a federal appeals court ruled the company violated fair labor practices when nonprofessional workers at its Morristown facility were trying to organize a union.

“We Are Family” by Sister Sledge played in the background as the pictures rolled.

Using those photos, without employees’ permission, to imply those smiles conveyed support of the company’s anti-union stance was ruled an unfair labor practice.

A registered sex offender named Olander Grant was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman who has an intellectual disability at Brentwood Place nursing home in Dallas, police say.  Grant is 59 and was booked on one count of aggravated sexual assault. He remained in custody Tuesday, with bail set at $100,000.  Officers were called to Brentwood Place, a 450-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility after a sexual assault was reported.

How did a registered sex offender gain access?  Where was the staff?  How long had he been doing this? Outrageous.

WTKR reported on the issue of sexual assaults in nursing homes.  The problem has been there since the beginning of institutional care but it has significantly increased in the last couple of years.  Many experts and consumer advocates question whether nursing homes that have demented and vulnerable adults attract sexual predators or if the failure to supervise and monitor employees allow for such assaults to occur regularly.  There were several cases in 2018 of medical staff accused of patient abuse in nursing homes and hospitals, and a 2017 CNN report found the federal government had cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for failing to prevent sex abuse at their facilities or mishandling the reports.

The article on WTKR has many tragic examples which illustrate a troubling concern for patients and families involved with medical facilities: Staff who may take advantage sexually of the weak and most vulnerable, regardless of age.

“I’ve wondered if nursing home care draws that particular type of predator,” said Dominique Penson, a partner at the law firm Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson.  Penson believes many of these abuses happen on overnight shifts and early morning hours.

“I think it’s pervasive,” Penson said of alleged abuse in nursing homes and other medical facilities.

“I don’t think there’s any question it’s pervasive.”

“Unfortunately, it could be a physician, it could be some sort of health care professional, it could be maintenance,” forensic psychologist Dr. NG Berrill said of the staff who have access to patients.

Psychologist Dr. Patrick Suraci said this kind of sexual activity is like a fetish that stops just short of necrophilia, sex with dead people.

“In this case, what these men are doing, it’s a minor form (of necrophilia) because they will have sex with a living body, but also one that cannot respond. So, they have complete control over this body.”

“And this is exciting to them,” Berrill said.

“It’s sort of an issue of power and it probably fulfills some sort of morbid fantasy.”

In New York City, Dr. David Newman, once an emergency room doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four female patients.

One of the women said he immobilized her with the anesthetic Propofol and ejaculated on her chest. She was able to preserve DNA evidence.

Newman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in state prison.

 

 

Stephanie Thomas, a nursing home employee at the Berks Heim Nursing and Rehabilitation facility, faces abuse of corpse charges after allegedly photographing dead residents, according to a criminal complaint provided to BuzzFeed News.  Police say Stephanie Thomas is a certified nursing assistant who took several photos of residents after they’d died and sent them to friends and coworkers.  Wait, what?

Police seized the woman’s phone as part of the investigation.  According to police, Thomas admitted to sending the photos, telling the officer it was a mistake and that she did it because her ex-boyfriend “liked that kind of thing.”

According to the criminal complaint, in addition to the photos of the deceased residents, they found numerous pictures of dead animals, including deer skulls, decapitated deer heads, an online image of a dog skull, a small embalmed shark, and a photo of herself posing with a deer skull and antlers.

Witnesses who were interviewed by police said Thomas had shown them up to seven different photos of dead residents. One witness said Thomas collects “dead things” and has “an obsession with death.”

Another witness said they’d been shown a photo of a dead resident emitting a bloody discharge, adding that Thomas said “it looked cool.”

Police also interviewed the families of the deceased residents, all of whom “expressed disgust” at Thomas’s alleged actions, according to the affidavit.

“None of the family members consented to these photographs and were outraged such conduct would take place in a senior living facility,” police said.

Thomas was charged with abuse of a corpse, a second-degree misdemeanor. She faces a maximum sentence of one to two years in prison, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams told BuzzFeed News.

 

 

A forum to discuss the need for safe staffing was recently held in Rhode Island.  The coalition is made up of consumer advocates, staffing experts, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) 1199 Rhode Island, Sista Fire, Fuerza Laboral, Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Organizing Project. Several caregivers talked about the need for adequate staffing in nursing homes.  A report prepared by Raise the Bar and made available to those in attendance found that numerous studies conclude that nursing homes have serious quality of care deficiencies that can be traced to a decrease in staffing.

“Rhode Island’s lack of staffing standards force caregivers to rush through the very basics of care tasks like feeding, bathing and dressing residents. Nursing staff do not have adequate time for answering questions or providing the type of social interaction with residents that is essential for maintaining quality of life.”

The coalition defines the issue as “the nursing home staffing crisis.”  It sets forth three easy steps to solving the crisis: A minimum staffing standard of 4.1 hours of direct care per resident per day; a raise in wages for caregivers and to recruit more staff; and to provide training opportunities for caregivers to match the increased complexity of resident care. 

The coalition urges people to spread the word of falls, lack of hygiene and insufficient staffing to family members and to contact legislators.

Stefania Silvestri of Warwick, a nurse, told of how she had found her aunt in tears due of the pain of being left alone on a toilet in a nursing home. She noted the home had only two to three staff to serve at least 31 residents and questioned how personnel could be expected to perform a variety of tasks – from combing hair and assisting with brushing teeth to washing and dressing patients, no less feeding them.

Amanda Sawyer described “extremely stressful” conditions where she worked third shift and was in charge of 24 beds. She said the home management disconnected bed alarms that alert staff when a resident has left a bed that made for quieter conditions yet required her to be constantly on the lookout.

“A fall can end somebody’s life,” she said. Additionally, she said she was forced to choose what policy to break in order to have enough time to serve each of her patients. In place of showers, she said she only had the time to “focus on hands, faces and butts,” and when another caretaker is absent “it means someone is not walking to dinner.”

“I had to quit my job, I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

Nursing homes can be dangerous places. In the past 20 years of reviewing and investigating nursing home abuse and neglect cases, I have heard and seen some unbelievable acts of greed, cruelty, and exploitation but this latest story is one of the sickest.  A teenager named Josh Howarth has been arrested for attempting to rape an elderly woman in a ‘sickening attack’ as she lay in her nursing home bed.

Howarth, 18, broke through a ground floor window to try to attack his vulnerable victim – in her 80s – in the early hours of August 4. He was disturbed by a member of staff at New Thursby Nursing Home at around 5am and fled the scene.  He was found after a manhunt and arrested on suspicion of attempted rape.  Unfortunately, his victim never saw Howarth brought to justice as she died on October 24.

Detective Inspector Jamie Lillystone of Lancashire Police said: ‘This was a sickening attack on a vulnerable elderly lady at a place where she should have felt safe. ‘Howarth went to great lengths to break into her bedroom and had intentions of carrying out the most despicable crime. ‘The only consolation is that he was disturbed by a member of staff, but nonetheless this was an extremely traumatic experience. ‘Haworth’s actions were predatory and dangerous. He will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars.’

 

 

 

The next state-operated, federally funded nursing home for veterans is likely to land in Sumter. Thanks to Representative Murrell Smith.

“There are a lot of retirees in Sumter, and they’re aging. They’re going to need these resources in these later years of life,” state Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, said. “It’s a perfect opportunity.”

Smith is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and is on the Joint Bond Review Committee; he claims it’s a win-win for both Sumter and the state.

“It’s a way to show appreciation for our members of the military who served, who were stationed here at Shaw [Air Force Base] and to incentivize them to retire here,” he said.

Members of the state General Assembly’s Joint Bond Review Committee agreed to a new project last month for what would be the sixth such facility in South Carolina. The homes are funded based on a cost-sharing formula between the Veterans Administration and state Department of Mental Health, with the VA providing 65%.

There are already three state veterans’ nursing homes in South Carolina: The E. Roy Stone Veterans Pavilion in Columbia, the Richard Michael Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson and the Veterans’ Victory House in Walterboro. Those are at capacity with a total of 530 veterans.

According to The Post and Courier, more than 1,000 veterans throughout the state want to live at a state nursing home, which are touted as high quality and low cost.

Three new homes received federal approval in April 2018, starting the design phase in Florence, Gaffney and Columbia, but construction costs increased since the state applied for the federal funds in 2015, Binkley said. When two facilities could be built, according to 2015 estimates, for about $82 million, the state is estimating only one for that much.

“We’re estimating high to not get caught short again,” Binkley said. “In 2015, we thought it would take about $40 million for one, but when we bid it in 2019, the low bids were in the $60 million range.”

Not having enough money allocated in the state budget to build three nursing homes, the Florence and Gaffney facilities were approved in June by the VA. The Columbia facility was nixed, the process starting over with an eye on Sumter.

Binkley is requesting $37 million in state appropriations in next year’s budget to put toward the Sumter facility and one more, if approved, at an undetermined location.

Using the $20 million leftover from not building the Columbia location, the $37 million includes $9.1 million that the General Assembly must appropriate in its spring 2020 session to meet an August 2020 deadline certifying the state has matched enough funds for the Sumter location. The rest is for what would be required in state matching funds for the seventh state nursing home.

The Florence and Gaffney homes began preliminary site work in May for an anticipated opening date of summer 2021, Binkley said. Sumter’s facility may be ready by 2023, but after the state funds are matched and certified, the VA still must appropriate its share. The state should know by June 2020 if the VA will match.

The 148,000-square-foot facility in Sumter would serve 104 residents and employ a 100-person staff. Binkley said the state is looking at modifications in design to lower construction costs for any future sites, such as semi-private rooms and eliminating in-home dining, that are permitted using state rather than federal guidelines.

State Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, said while Sumter has always been at the forefront of prioritizing South Carolina’s veterans, he is seeing a “rapid change” across the rest of the state.

“Sumter is a natural fit for something like this. We’re very welcoming to our military and very friendly with our military out at the base,” he said. “Our delegation consistently advocates for issues that are important to veterans, and this was just the icing on the cake. Everything has lined up well for Sumter.”

U.S. News & World Report recently issued their annual rankings of nursing homes.  The methodology is unclear and the ranking are not that helpful.

There are about 1.4 to 1.5 million people living in nursing homes and typically need assistance with one or more activities of daily living (ADL) such as:

— Eating or preparing meals.

— Bathing and dressing.

— Going to the toilet.

— Managing medications.

— Moving around in the residence or getting to other locations.

As we age, these activities tend to become more challenging. Many of these problems occur simultaneously. Some people need more help than others. Assistance feeding and bathing or medical care might be top priority for some, while others may have issues with mobility function or being able to transfer from sitting to standing on their own. All of these needs could mean that an individual will need the type of care that a nursing home can provide.

However, despite the fact that nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities, care for a lot of older adults, it’s a common misconception that nursing homes are only for the elderly. Skilled nursing facilities actually look after a wide range of people, and some are well younger than 65. True, older adults do make up a large proportion of the people who reside in nursing homes.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report that in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available:

— 7.8% of nursing home residents were 95 years of age or older.

— 33.8% were 85 to 94 years old.

— 26.4% were 75 to 84 years old.

— 16.5% were 65 to 74 years old.

This means 15.5% of the nursing home population is under age 65. Those younger residents (and some of the older residents too) may not be planning to stay there for the duration of their lives, but rather need rehabilitative care after a surgical procedure or injury. Some younger people with certain disabilities that require constant care, such as severe developmental disabilities, may also live in a skilled nursing facility.

Across the board, women make up about two-thirds of the nursing home population (65.6%) and the CMS reports that nearly four of five nursing home residents (77.9%) are non-Hispanic whites. The racial/ethnic mix depends on the community. More urban areas have a more racial and ethnic mix. You didn’t use to see a lot of Latino or Asian residents in nursing homes.

Residents in nursing homes typically have at least one chronic condition for which they need some ongoing medical care, and some have experienced falls or other injuries that have necessitated more intensive care. However, CMS reports that just 5.3% of nursing home residents in 2014 had recently experienced an “injurious” fall. Another 11% had fallen recently but weren’t injured.

While some people may assume that nursing home residents all have cognitive difficulties such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, that’s not the case. Nearly 20% of residents have no impairment to their activities of daily living and “more than one-third (38.7%) had no more than mild cognitive impairment; further 11.1% had no ADL (activity of daily living) impairment and little or no cognitive impairment,” the CMS reports. Those with significant cognitive impairment, meaning they had difficulty with five or more activities of daily living, represented just shy of 15% of the nursing home population.

Genworth Financial, a financial advisory firm, reports in its 2018 Cost of Care survey, the most recent data available, that the median monthly cost of skilled nursing in a private room at a nursing home will set you back $8,365 per month, adding up to more than $100,000 per year.

For example, Genworth reports that Alaska, Connecticut and Hawaii have the highest daily costs for private nursing homes at $907, $452 and $449 per day, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri are the least expensive areas, with per day costs of $174, $182 and $182, respectively.

 

Boston 25 News obtained a letter sent out to residents, their families and staff members at Lutheran Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Worcester discussing what they are calling “an isolated incident.”  The alleged isolated incident is the tragic and wrongful death of a resident under suspicious circumstances.  As a nursing home attorney for over 20 years, we can smell a rat.

The incident in question involves a certified nursing assistant and one resident dead. A state investigation is underway.

The facility released a meaningless statement that omitted any key facts:

“The resident was injured and sadly passed away the following day at the hospital. As a result of this unfortunate event, Lutheran is the subject of various enforcement actions and additional review by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.”

The center’s administrator, Ziad Baroody, declined to go in front of a camera, but sat down with Boston 25 News to answer some questions.

While Baroody could not comment on the specifics of the incident, he confirmed the nursing assistant involved is no longer employed by Lutheran and the rest of their staff has undergone additional training and new safety measures related to the incident have been implemented. The type of training was not mentioned.

In a statement, a DPH spokesperson said that after the serious incident on Sept. 15 they “immediately conducted an unannounced onsite inspection to ensure the health and safety of residents, imposed a freeze on admissions and continues to work with the nursing home on a corrective action plan to address identified deficiencies.”

 

Mecklenburg Health and Rehabilitation Center nursing home facility in Charlotte was fined, and could lose its Medicare provider agreement after at least two elderly residents received “poor patient care,” following an inquiry that stemmed from a FOX 46 investigation. An official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is treating the findings of its investigation “seriously.” Last month, FOX 46 discovered the nursing home let a 71-year-old dementia patient, Alexander Rose, sign his own discharge papers put him in a taxi to his son’s locked and empty home.  He was found disoriented and lost wandering around the neighborhood, Rose said.  He could have died.

“You can’t do an elder like that,” said Alexander’s son, Tarance. “You can’t just put them in a cab, incompetent, not knowing where to go and not know what to do.”

A court deemed Alexander incompetent this year and awarded guardianship to Rose, who says he was caught off guard when he received a voicemail that his dad was discharging. He says, by law, he should have signed off on his father’s release.

“Like a relief off my shoulders of joy that the state and federal [officials] went in and found information saying this facility was doing wrong things to the elders,” said Rose.

CMS found Alexander’s discharge to be improper, noting there was no post-care plans in place.

Mecklenburg Health and Rehabilitation Center was fined $10,210 for its handling of the Rose case, which FOX 46 first uncovered, and for another situation where a resident was now allowed to return after a four hour therapeutic leave.