The Toldeo Blade reported a significant verdict in a recent nursing home trial in Michigan.  The family of Burr Needham,  who died in 2002 of a morphine overdose while undergoing physical therapy at Mercy Memorial Nursing Center, has been compensated $4.85 million by a jury aftera three-week trial with the jury finding that a doctor and nurses were negligent.

Mr. Needham’s family filed a civil lawsuit in 2005 against the home, contending that Dr. Arun Gupta and five nurses were responsible for the overdose of the painkiller administered to Mr. Needham after he entered the center April 26, 2002. 

The Wayne County medical examiner said the May 2, 2002, death of Mr. Needham was caused by acute morphine intoxication and ruled his death a homicide. The jury determined that nursing home staff were professionally negligent in the care and treatment of the 76-year-old man.

Court records showed that the jury awarded $3 million of the judgement to Mrs. Needham for the noneconomic loss of society and companionship she experienced in the loss of her husband. 
The panel decided that Mr. Needham should get $1.5 million for the pain and suffering he experienced in the nursing home. The remaining $350,000 was awarded to the family to pay for damages that Mrs. Needham incurred, including burial costs and the loss of gifts and valuables she would have received until her death on Oct. 24, 2007.


McKnight’s had an article about the recent name change of a nursing home resident advocacy group.  The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) said that it is expanding its advocacy priorities and will change its name to The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, or Consumer Voice, for short.

“While the Consumer Voice’s work has historically been in nursing homes, we’re expanding to meet changing needs for long-term care,” said Consumer Voice Board President Norma Atteberry, RN, in a statement from the group.

The organization’s expanded priorities will include “enhanced advocacy” at nursing homes, representing assisted living and home-care consumers, building a grassroots network, and furthering a policy agenda focused on its current role in nursing homes and other areas of care.

Consumer Voice’s policy agenda includes reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, implementation of long-term care provisions in the healthcare reform law, and development of policy on non-nursing-home settings, including assisted living.


The Jackson Sun News had an incredible story about a nursing home who hired a woman with a long history of fraud and forgery.  Sheila Watson was arrested and charged with one count of identity theft, four counts of criminal simulation, four counts of forgery, one count of criminal impersonation and one count of theft over $1,000.  Watson was the social services director at Bells Nursing Home.  Watson is also an ex-convict who has used at least half a dozen different names in a long history of state and federal fraud, forgery and theft convictions.

The investigation into Watson — who has worked at the nursing home since July — began when the nursing home received a call from a state agency.  The investigation is still ongoing but "They said she did a great job and was a good employee," Klyce said. "We’ve looked at her computer and couldn’t find any evidence at this point."


When the Sheriff’s Department began investigating, authorities soon discovered Watson’s job application was only the tip of the iceberg, he said:

She had borrowed money from the Bank of Crockett County using false documents. She was wanted in Iowa on charges of theft over $10,000. She was on probation but was using a different name and job description to report to her probation officer.

Watson was arrested as Sheila F. Hayes in November 2002 on federal charges of forgery, theft of property and identity theft, according to The Jackson Sun’s archives.

She was accused of stealing mail from 135 victims in West and Middle Tennessee for the purpose of stealing identities and embezzling money. She later pleaded guilty to one count of mail theft and was sentenced to five years in prison and three years’ probation.

At the time, the judge said Hayes had the highest criminal history score of any woman he had seen in his 20 years as a judge. The bulk of her prior convictions were for theft and fraud, but she was also convicted of escape from a Metro Nashville jail. Watson had charges stretching back to 1989, most of them in Middle and West Tennessee. She reported to a probation officer in Jackson under the name Sheila Hayes and told them she worked for a construction company.



Amarillo Globe News had an interesting article about new technologies at Texas long term care facilities to help care for Alzheimer’s patients and give them more freedom.  The article mentions The Garden at Childers Place and its "plush accommodations".  The 20-bed "neighborhood," preferred over the term "unit," was built in 2007 and recently became a state-certified facility for Alzheimer’s patients.

Childers Place is now one of four Amarillo facilities that are state-approved for Alzheimer’s patients. The other three are: Ussery-Roan Texas State Veterans Home, Ware Memorial Care Center and Windflower Nursing, a part of Craig Methodist Retirement Community. All four combined have capacity for 155 patients.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and fatal brain disorder affecting 5.3 million Americans, the majority of which are 65 or older. The disease also is the most common cause of dementia, a mental disorder characterized by loss of memory and other intellectual abilities, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than 80 percent of dementia cases are attributed to Alzheimer’s.

Childers Place is operated by the Bivins Foundation. Residents living in one of the neighborhoods can move into The Garden if their condition deteriorates or they need more assistance. The layouts of the three communities are the same, allowing for as smooth a transition as possible.

The facility can only be entered by key-card access, required by the state. The wing is divided into two sections, with 10 rooms down each hallway. Each room has its own bathroom and shower, and residents are encouraged to outfit it with their own furniture.  Each section has its own communal living room, immaculately set with furniture and a fireplace. A communal kitchen also is available and equipped with staff-operated safety features to avoid any harm to residents.

The use of technology is likely the facility’s greatest asset. Motion sensors in the room alert the nurses’ station and pagers can notify staff members if a resident leaves a room. A resident who needs to use the restroom at night need only get out of bed, and a weight sensor placed in the bed gradually turns on lights in the room and bathroom. The lights turn off whenever the patient returns to bed. Residents who need help getting to the restroom are a fall risk, and staff members are quickly alerted so they can come to help.

"The smart-room technology keeps staff from hovering over a patient, and it gives them more freedom," Hendley said. "It really cuts down on (patient) anxiety."




Grace Miller is an 87-year-old resident of Dorchester Senior Center, a south suburban assisted living facility in Dolton, Ill.   Miller claims she was unfairly and forcibly evicted from her home for a second time.  The 87-year-old says she moved from Nebraska into the Dorchester Senior Center as a part of what she believes to be her spiritual ministry.   Miller served in the military during World War II.   Dorchester Senior Center is managed by the daughter of town’s mayor, whose name is Angelic Lewis.

Miller says the trouble started after other residents began to join her in complaining about the facility and how it is run.  Miller received a non-voluntary removal in March but appealed it and was allowed to stay.  Residents say Miller– who must use a wheelchair– was ordered by Lewis to be handcuffed and restrained after she, once again, complained about the food served at the facility.  At the demand of the nursing home, police forcibly removed her from her unit at an assisted living community because of what she calls a vendetta against her by the facility’s manager.

"They literally cuffed my feet and cuffed my hands and lifted me out of my chair, and I want you to know, before they cuffed by hands, I took a swing at one of them. I think I slapped one of them pretty good," Miller said.

 Witnesses claim Lewis then had officers take Miller to a Hammond, Ind., hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.  When Miller returned to the Dorchester the next day, she discovered the locks to her apartment door had been changed and that she had been evicted by the management company hired by the village to run the facility.

Several residents claim the Dorchester has been cited for violations by the Illinois Department of Public Aid more than a half-dozen times since January.


WLWT out of Indiana had an article about nursing home employees named Gale Willman and Jody Holton accused of taking prescription pills from their patients and selling them.  Police investigators said Gale Willman, a licensed practical nurse, and Jody Holton, the assistant director of nursing at Woodland Hills Care Center, worked together to steal hydrocodone and oxycodone.  Willman and Holton have both been released on bond and have already found other nursing jobs.

A similar situation occurred at Woodland Hills previously, with nurse Heather White sentenced to a year in jail for stealing ocycodone from a patient.  Prosecutors said 87-year-old Anna Jordan slipped into coma and later died after White stole her pain medication.  The pain and torment included profuse sweating, excruciating headaches and having to be held down as she tried to jump off her bed, all because of withdrawal from oxycodone. White served only six months of her sentence.

The family members are shocked at the latest incident.

"I’m disgusted by it. It makes me question how many more people must be seriously injured or die before something is done at this facility," Jordan said.

Albright and Jordan said they believe monitoring at nursing homes should be stricter and random drug testing should be used. They said there should be investigations if someone suspects prescription drugs are being stolen or misused..


According to the AmLaw Daily, another disgruntled investor has filed a civil suit against Troutman Sanders, real estate partner Leonard Grunstein, and corporate partner Lawrence Levinson.   Also named as defendants are Murray Forman, an investment banker and business partner of Grunstein’s, Harry Grunstein, the lawyer’s brother, along with several entities created and controlled by the defendants that operate and control nursing home and health care investments.
The action comes after the three were named as defendants in a civil suit filed in state court in Manhattan by New York real estate investor Rubin Schron.

In this latest lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, plaintiff Allen Bodner accuses the defendants of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty as part of a scheme to divest Bodner and a company he controlled of an interest in a lucrative health care and real estate venture.

Bodner’s 54-page complaint claims Grunstein, the former head of Troutman’s real estate capitalization and investment practice groups, "accounted for a substantial portion of the revenues of Troutman’s New York office, much of which was attributable to the legal representation of Rubin Schron and companies associated with him."   Grunstein served as his attorney and was the "mastermind" and "legal architect" behind a series of transactions named in the complaint. Bodner further claims that Grunstein concealed his "conflicting personal financial interests" in several of those transactions, which allowed Grunstein and the other defendants to misappropriate "the real estate and health care assets" that were under the control of Bodner and his holding company.

According to a letter filed by Coles in the Schron suit, several firms have lined up advisory roles as the litigation expands. Arent Fox, Latham & Watkins, Atlanta’s Arnall Golden Gregory, and New York’s Brodegaard & Simone are representing several companies named as defendants in the dueling civil suits. Grunstein’s brother, Harry, who now lives in Israel, has retained New York’s Davidoff Malito & Hutcher, while Troutman and Levinson have turned to New York’s Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman.

WKYT News reported on the verdict of a nursing home negligence trial in Kentucky.  The jury determined that an aide at the Hillcrest Center was responsible for abusing resident Grace Fugate.   Fugate sued Hillcrest Nursing Home claiming an act of negligence changed her life forever.

She moved into the nursing home in July 2003 for short term rehab and recover from knee surgery. But on August 9th, when she needed help going to the restroom, the aide came in and  told Grace she knew she could transfer herself, that she was ‘busy, she had other things to do, get up and get to the potty.  Grace eventually attempted to move and reach the restroom herself. Her still mending knee could not handle the strain, however, and she ended up falling. 

She eventually lost so much blood after the fall that she had to be resuscitated at a local hospital. Fugate then fell and damaged her knee even worse.  The injury was so bad that 6 years later she lost her entire leg.  The aide that refused to help her get to the bathroom was uncertified and showed a history of poor work habits.

A Laurel Circuit Court jury agreed with Fugate and compensated her more than $7 million in damages.  Fugate wants to hire a nurse and move into a private home.

See article here.

WREG out of Memphis reported a story from The Mountain Press about a Pigeon Forge nursing home aide pleading guilty to taking photos and video of nude patients. The Mountain Press reported 50-year-old Mary Ann Burgess entered guilty pleas to health care abuse charges.

Burgess and another nursing assistant at Pigeon Forge Care and Rehabilitation Center, April Longmire, were indicted in September on four counts each.  The newspaper reported the photos were discovered when Burgess apparently forgot her cell phone at a restaurant and employees found the pictures while trying to find out who the phone belonged to.


News4Jax had an article about a nursing home Administrator indicted for embezzlement, money laundering, credit card fraud and identity theft, accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Riverview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  Mary Burroughs stole the money over a one-year period from the center, a nonprofit organization that received millions of dollars in federal funding.

"The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting financial fraud and regaining what victims of these crimes have lost," U.S. attorney Edward Tarver said in a news release.

According to the indictment, between May 1, 2009, and April 30, Burroughs used her position as administrator to cause Riverview to issue multiple checks from its Wachovia money market account to cash, which she then used to purchase cashier’s checks made payable to Burrough’s Heating & Air and others.  Burroughs embezzled more than $235,000 from the Riverview money market account.  In addition, the indictment says that Burroughs used a Riverview credit card in the name of an employee she had terminated to make thousands of dollars of unauthorized and personal charges.

The indictment also says that Burroughs, without permission or authority, had others rip out copper piping and other metal objects from a Riverview building to be sold as scrap metal.

The indictment charges Burroughs with five counts of stealing from a program receiving federal funds and one count of credit card fraud.  Finally, the indictment charges Burroughs with one count of aggravated identity theft, which requires a two-year consecutive prison sentence to any other sentence imposed.