Petaluma Patch and The Argus Courier had articles on a recent lawsuit filed against Petaluma Health and Rehabilitation, a facility with a history of well-documented problems.  Petaluma Health and Rehabilitation is owned by Evergreen Healthcare, which operates nursing homes throughout California, Oregon and Washington. According to California’s Health Facilities Consumer Information System, the Petaluma facility has received dozens of complaints in recent years. These include complaints about not properly hydrating patients, not doing enough to prevent accidents and not providing proper diets.

A lawsuit filed by Billie Walter on behalf of her mother, Elizabeth Walter, claims she was denied appropriate care and neglected on a repeated basis, so much so that just month later she was sent to the emergency room with a serious infection.  In her time at the home, the staff “repeatedly failed to perform basic wound monitoring, nutrition and hydration,” so that the woman’s ulcer condition worsened.  The nursing home operator engaged in elder abuse and reckless neglect by not carrying out basic treatments and assessments and by failing to develop and follow a nursing care plan for the patient.  As a result, the elder Walter was admitted to the hospital on March 12 suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and serious infections.

The suit also names EHC Management, LLC and Evergreen at Petaluma LLC as owners and operators of Petaluma Health and Rehabilitation. 

California Health Care Foundation’s website (http://www.calqualitycare.org/) rates home health care services and nursing homes in the areas of staffing, quality of facility and quality of care. It gives the 98-bed Petaluma Health and Rehabilitation a poor rating based on the number of federal deficiencies, state citations and substantiated complaint and incident reports over a three year period. To receive that rating, the facility scored among the worst 20 percent of facilities of a similar size around the state.

 

A former nursing home executive named Antonio Giordano who was jailed for conspiracy and embezzlement has filed for bankruptcy. As a result, the government cannot recover millions of taxpayer dollars that authorities say Antonio Giordano and his associates skimmed from failing nursing homes. The Providence Journal reports that Giordano filed for Chapter 7 protection on Oct. 13. He claims he cannot pay nearly $800,000 he owes to the Internal Revenue Service.

The filing puts on hold a lawsuit accusing Giordano and others of enriching themselves by illegally diverting more than $6 million meant for resident care from two nursing homes.  In 2006, Giordano admitted to skimming money from three nursing homes as they defaulted on federally backed mortgages. 

 

New report shows hypocrisy of Institute for Legal Reform’s corporate board members that aggressively litigate while blocking justice for everyday Americans.  As the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) holds its annual summit – a strategy session on eliminating Americans’ access to the civil justice system – a new report exposes ILR’s corporate board members that hypocritically use the courts for their own gain against competitors, customers and even each other.

 

In its newest report, Do As I Say, Not As I Sue, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) exposes the hypocrisy of 10 ILR board members that regularly use the legal system to advance their own agendas, while at the same time advocating legislation that would close the courthouse doors to anyone who would hold them accountable for their own wrongdoing.

 

“These corporations, like all Americans, have a right to seek justice through the legal system,” said AAJ President Gary M. Paul. “What makes their actions shameful and hypocritical is that these companies are members of ILR’s board for the sole purpose of denying American workers and consumers this same right.”

The Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has the sole
mission of restricting the ability of individuals harmed by negligent corporations to access the
civil justice system. According to the multinational corporations that finance ILR, American
businesses are hindered by too many lawsuits. Yet these same corporations show no hesitation
in liberally using the courthouse themselves.

Caterpillar for instance, one of ILR’s board members, sued Disney because it felt the depiction
of bulldozers in the straight-to-video movie George of the Jungle 2 was overly villainous.
FedEx, another stalwart ILR board member, took a “stand for justice” by suing a man for
making a chair out of FedEx boxes. And Johnson & Johnson used the civil justice system to take
on a most unlikely foe – the Red Cross.

However silly these lawsuits may sound, they share one common theme: the company
fi ling the lawsuit had the Constitutional right to do so. What makes their actions shameful
and hypocritical is that these companies are members of ILR’s board for the sole purpose
of denying Americans this same right, especially when severely harmed or killed by the
companies’ products and services.

 

One ILR board member highlighted in the report is Honeywell International, which has regularly taken competitors to court, but would prefer not to be held accountable for distributing defective body armor to law enforcement personnel across the country, or downplaying the dangers of asbestos exposure.

 

In return for its financial contributions to ILR, Honeywell has received policy and public relations help when its negligence has been uncovered. Four days after an Illinois jury delivered a multi-million dollar verdict against Honeywell for conspiring to hide the dangers of asbestos, ILR issued a press release stating that the decision “confirms a troubling trend in the State of Illinois where there is a hostile ligation environment.” Additionally, the Madison County Record, an Illinois-based propaganda-as-news outlet fully owned by ILR, featured an article headlined, “McLean County Continues Inching Closer to Becoming a ‘Judicial Hellhole.’”

 

The irony does not stop with Honeywell – AAJ’s report also highlights the litigation hypocrisy of ILR board members FedEx, Dow Chemical Company, General Motors Corporation, Caterpillar, State Farm, Koch Industries, Abbott Laboratories, Prudential and Johnson & Johnson.

 

 

Meanwhile in Texas, the owner of a nursing home was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for his role in a massive health care fraud conspiracy.  Umawa Oke Imo is the owner of City Nursing Services of Texas Inc.  He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 39 counts of health care fraud, three counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering on May 27, 2011.  Investigators said the conspiracy resulted in the billing of the federal Medicare and Texas Medicaid programs for $45,039,23.00 over 2.5 years.

 

 

Health care in Texas has worsened in key respects since the institution of damage caps.  A recent report  called "Tort Reform: A Failed Experiment from Public Citizen proves that tort reform causes a decline in quality of care.

Since Texas implemented tort reform:

Medicare spending has increased faster than the national average;

Premiums for private health insurance has increased faster than the national average;

Texas has the most uninsured citizens and the percentage is increasing;

The growth of doctors practicing in Texas is slower than before tort reform; and

Insurance profits have skyrocketed without a decrease in premiums.

 

The Texas Tribune reported the arrest of nursing home employee Amber Leigh Fox on several felony drug- and non-related warrants. Fox is a 33-year-old nurse at Pine Shadow Retreat Nursing Home.   A deputy took the nurse into custody at her place of employment.  Fox was indicted on four counts of fraudulent possession of a controlled prescription substance and one count of engaging in organized crime. 

Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden was unsettled on many levels about the situation.

“It’s disturbing to find someone who has been indicted on five felony drug charges is a nurse, but it’s worse to learn she’s employed at a nursing home,” Hayden said. “And this was not even the first time we’ve arrested Ms. Fox.”

 

Delaware Daily Times had an article on the tragic case of abuse and neglect suffered by Lois McCallister at the Quadrangle Sunrise Senior Living facility.  Her daughter Mary French used a "nanny cam" to secretly record workers abusing her mother. French placed a secret camera in the room of her mother after she complained that staff had abused her.  Since the incident, the couple has moved McCallister to their Havertown home.   The video led police to arrest Quadrangle workers Samirah Traynham, Ayesha Muhammad, and Tyrina Griffin on assault, harassment, and other charges. Each has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial next month.

The facility’s refusal to accept responsibility led French to file a lawsuit contending that Sunrise Senior Living Inc. failed to properly train its care workers, grossly understaffed the facility, and violated state regulations.   According to the complaint and video, Quadrangle employees Samirah Traynham, Tyrina Griffin and Ayesha Muhammad physically abused McCallister in March by taunting, humiliating and assaulting her as she stood naked from the waist up.  In a video, the victim can be seen trying to escape her alleged tormentors, only to be pulled back into her room and further ridiculed.

“Her tormentors changed her life permanently,” French said, as she and her husband, Paul, spoke to reporters in their Havertown home. “Our mother has never been the same since the abuse. She entered the Quadrangle a happy, hopeful person, and now she is totally demoralized.”

Paul French said the couple had received letters from relatives of other Sunrise residents who thanked them for bringing the issue to light.  French said she and her husband filed the complaint to help ensure no one placed in a care facility suffers the way her mother suffered.

See article at Philly.com.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the Florida Attorney General’s Office is looking into a chain of nursing homes in Pahokee, Gainesville and Bradenton investigated by The Palm Beach Post on matters from executive pay and perks to maggots in a patient’s eye.  The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the chain in January 2010, three months after The Post published the first of several articles, according to a whistle-blower lawsuit filed Sept. 9 in federal court in Gainesville.   In the lawsuit, Richard Castillo, the chain’s former chief human resources officer, claims he was fired in May after cooperating with the state. Castillo seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

The Attorney General’s Office, which is authorized to investigate Medicaid fraud, focused initially on Glades Health Care Center in Pahokee and Gainesville Health Care Center, Castillo’s suit said. The inquiry expanded to Riverfront Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bradenton, the suit said.

All the nursing homes report to a parent organization, the Council on Aging of Florida, controlled by CEO Maxcine Darville of Okeechobee.  Darville and her daughter, Jody Watson, held two of three seats on a "nonprofit" board that oversaw distribution of more than $1 million in "management fees", The Post reported in October 2009.   The money was siphoned away from the facility to pay for luxury cars and a hot tub while two of the homes received the lowest possible rating from regulators.

Maggots were discovered last year in the eye socket of a 76-year-old patient who had been under the care of Gainesville Health Care Center, which the man’s daughter called "absolutely inexcusable."  The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration cited the nursing home for failing to notify a doctor about problems with carrying out a physician’s order to change eye dressings twice daily.

 

 

Toll Free Nationwide Call-In Service on November 10th

 

Kiplinger, along with several national organizations, is holding a toll free, nationwide call-in service on Tuesday, November 10th from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm EST.   The service, entitled Protecting Americans from Financial Abuse, will provide free advice and guidance on how to protect yourself and your loved ones against investment swindles and financial abuse. Members of the Financial Planning Association, National Adult Protective Services Association and health care professionals will answer your questions. 

Use the following phone numbers for questions on specific topics:
General Finance Questions: 888-227-1776
Medical Questions: 888-303-0430
Financial Abuse Questions: 888-303-3297
For more information about the event, visit the
Investor Protection Trust’s website.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported the guilty plea of the infamous "Angel of Death" Marty Himebaugh who was a nurse charged with overmedicating residents at Woodstock Residence nursing home where six patients died suspiciously.   As part of the guilt yplea she admitted she gave one patient a drug he had never been prescribed.

"Marty Himebaugh — whom McHenry County prosecutors said had been described as the “Angel of Death” by a co-worker — faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to felony criminal neglect.  In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped five other felony counts against Himebaugh, whose nursing license was suspended by state regulators in 2009 following a probe of suspicious patient deaths at the former Woodstock Residence nursing home where she worked."

Himebaugh faced charges of giving patients medications they hadn’t been prescribed and of dosing some with excessive levels of morphine. In pleading guilty to criminal neglect, she admitted giving the anti-anxiety medication Ativan to an agitated male patient, even though he hadn’t been prescribed that drug. That patient fell several hours later and received a head injury.