KAKE reported the guilty plea of a former nursing home employee for abusing one of the facility’s residents.  Geoffrey Nyangweso had been charged with felony abuse. But on July 1, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of mistreatment of a dependent adult.  The alleged abuse was the focus of a KAKE News On Your Side Investigation entitled “Nursing Home Nightmare” parts 1 and 2.

The family of a resident at Victoria Falls Nursing Home in Andover used a hidden camera in 2013 to capture the suspected abuse. It showed a registered nurse leaving an elderly woman on the floor unattended for 45 minutes.

 

Robert Greco Jr., the former leader of the Cumberland County Republican Party, pleaded guilty to stealing an elderly man’s savings.  Greco is the owner and administrator for the East Creek Manor Residential Health Care Facility.  Greco persuaded a vulnerable resident at East Creek to sign over power of attorney in 2012, granting access over accounts and financial decisionmaking to Greco.  Greco then withdrew $149,000 from the resident’s bank account, according to his indictment.  Prosecutors said nearly all the money Greco withdrew was used for Greco’s business expenses.

Greco pleaded guilty to a third-degree charge of theft. Two other income-tax related charges were dismissed as part of the plea.  Greco will only receive a probationary sentence conditioned on his paying $139,420.56 in restitution to the victim by his sentencing. He had faced up to 20 years in state prison if convicted on all three counts in the indictment.

See full article here.

A Miami home health company has agreed to pay $17 million for paying doctors to refer Medicare patients.  Department of Justice officials said that the settlement with Hebrew Homes Health Network Inc. is the largest involving violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute by skilled nursing facilities in the United States.

Prosecutors said Hebrew Homes hired numerous physicians as medical directors, paying them large salaries even though they did little work and were only there to refer patients to their seven facilities. The number of patients at Hebrew Homes facilities increased exponentially once the medical directors were put on the payroll.

The Anti-Kickback Statute is intended to ensure that a physician’s medical judgment is not compromised by improper financial incentives.  The settlement resolves allegations brought in a whistleblower suit by a former CFO of the company.

In the case of Eliza Jennings (estate) v. Terrace Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a Madison County, KY circuit court jury returned a $18,000,000 verdict.  It included $4,000,000 for pain and suffering and $4.5 million more on resident’s rights claims.  The punitives totaled $9.5 million out of a maximum of $10 million.  See full instructions and verdict form JenningsVerdict.  The Terrace is a part of PMD Corporation, which owns 12 nursing homes across Kentucky.

“The facts of this case are horrific,” said Corey Fannin, an attorney with Wilkes & McHugh P.A. which represents Jennings’ estate.  The facility’s neglect caused Jennings to suffer several deep bedsores, including sores down to the bone and infections, including E. coli.. One deep-bone bedsore was the size of a softball and left her tailbone and nerve endings exposed. Evidence was presented at trial that The Terrace left residents in wet diapers for extended periods of time.

 

The website Courthouse News had an interesting article on the tragic choices made by American River Center, a nursing home in Sacramento owned and operated by Genesis HealthCare.  Bell, 49, was admitted to the nursing home owned by Genesis HealthCare after suffering a stroke and lived there for 21 months. His daughters say he lost 30 pounds and fell nine times while under the supervision of American River Center’s staff.

While recovering from a stroke, Jonathan Bell was mistakenly given morphine by his nurse and died the next day, his three daughters and granddaughter claim in Superior Court.  After mistakenly giving a dialysis patient a lethal dose of morphine, the nation’s largest nursing home chain tried to cover up its mistake by letting Bell remain in a catatonic state for more than 24 hours without medical attention and refusing to let an ambulance take the dying man to a hospital.  

Jonathan Webb, Bell’s roommate, pleaded with nurses to help Bell and eventually called an ambulance on his own after being ignored by staff, the complaint states. Then, though Bell had been unresponsive and asleep for more than 20 hours, American River Center staff turned away the ambulance and tried to have Webb removed from the room, according to the lawsuit.

Two hours after turning away the first ambulance and 24 hours after the lethal dose, the nursing home decided Bell needed emergency attention and called its own ambulance, but Bell quickly died in the hospital, the complaint states.

Genesis, based in Pennsylvania, is the largest nursing home company in the country, with 44,805 beds in 380 outlets and $4.8 billion in operating revenue, according to Providermagazine.com.

The Gazette Extra reported that Matthew G. Hendrickson, a physical therapist assistant at the Golden Years Retirement and Nursing Home, faces a maximum 10 years in prison after charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a patient were reduced.  Hendrickson is accused of sexually assaulting a now-80-year-old female during her physical therapy according to the criminal complaint filed in December 2013.  In an interview with police, Hendrickson said he worked with the patient at Golden Years and admitted touching her but “could not remember” certain specific actions, according to the complaint.

Hendrickson was initially charged with second-degree sexual assault by a treatment facility employee. A reduced charge filed charges the 57-year-old with third-degree sexual assault.  The amended charge was filed after defense attorney Mark Powers convinced the court Hendrickson was not an employee of Golden Years.

Powers argued Hendrickson was an employee of Premier Medical Staffing Services, which provides therapy services to Greenfield Rehab Agency, which contracts with Golden Years.

 

 

The Oklahoman reported that caregivers in Oklahoma nursing homes pleaded guilty to an assortment of crimes, including using patients’ names to obtain prescription painkillers and forcing a disabled resident of one home to lick dried spit off a wall while the incident was recorded on a cellphone.

Christina Deann Whalen who worked at Shady Rest Nursing Home pleaded guilty to single counts of obtaining a controlled substance and larceny of controlled dangerous substances after admitting to stealing more than 5,000 hydrocodone tablets over a three-month period in 2011 by completing fake prescriptions with the names and information of residents of the nursing home,” the release states.

In another case, a group of nursing home employees got into trouble after it was discovered they’d used the names of 19 residents to obtain prescription drugs. Beginning in June 2010, court records show, nurses working at Callaway Nursing Home phoned in fraudulent prescriptions in the residents’ names and eventually got away with 8,438 hydrocodone tablets and 600 tablets of phentermine, a stimulant often prescribed as a diet pill.

The worse incident involved a disabled vulnerable resident abused by caretakers.  Marcia Nicole Alaniz forced a disabled home resident to “lick dried mucus off a wall” while video was being recorded on a cellphone.  She pleaded guilty to single counts of verbal abuse by a caretaker, assault and battery and malicious intimidation and harassment.  Alaniz “taunted a developmentally disabled resident” and made two separate videos on her cellphone depicting abuse of the same individual, whose gender or age is not disclosed. One video depicted the mucus-licking incident, the other showed Alaniz and a co-worker harassing the person. Both videos were made in March 2014.

 

WGNO reported that the FBI arrested 46 doctors and nurses across the country last month in the largest Medicare fraud bust ever; 243 people were arrested in 17 cities for allegedly billing Medicare for $712 million worth of patient care that was never given or unnecessary.  Four people are charged for mass-marketing a talking glucose monitor and sending the devices to Medicare patients across the country who didn’t need or request them. They billed Medicare for the devices and received more than $22 million.  Health care providers paid kickbacks to “patient recruiters” who could get their hands on Medicare patients’ personal information (places like homeless shelters and soup kitchens where they offered money to those who would share their Medicare patient numbers) which allowed them to bill Medicare for bogus care.

A Los Angeles doctor is charged for allegedly billing $23 million for 1,000 power wheelchairs and home health services that were not medically necessary and often not provided. And in a Florida case, a health care provider received $1.6 million from Medicare for prescription drugs that were never purchased and never dispensed, said Lynch.

The DOJ’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force team led the investigations. Since 2007, it has charged 2,300 people who have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion. In recent years, the team has expanded from two cities to nine, thanks to an additional $350 million in funding from the Affordable Care Act.

The St. Cloud Times reported the ridiculous plea deal made for a caregiver accused of placing a pillow over the head of a resident and holding it there for 10-15 seconds.  Tammy Marie Gilbert was convicted of a gross misdemeanor for mistreatment of residents or patients after entering an Alford plea this spring. An Alford plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence that it is likely a jury would find her guilty.  She was sentenced to only 10 days in jail and a $300 fine as a result of the incident at Mother of Mercy Campus Care.

According to a Minnesota Department of Health report, a resident with dementia suffered bruising on her face and there was blood on the pillow case following the incident.  Gilbert will get credit for one day of time served and can complete the remaining nine days through community service work beginning Nov. 1 in lieu of returning to jail.

 

NBC Connecticut reported that Jessica Solomon, an employee of South Windsor nursing home, was arrested by East Hartford police after she was caught shoplifting at a Walgreens. Upon being caught for shoplifting police found “two driver’s licenses, two personal checks and three credit cards” in her hand bag that belonged to four residents of South Windsor.  Police also found a notebook in Solomon’s belongings containing dates of birth, bank information, social security numbers and names of numerous suspected victims of the South Windsor nursing home.  Police discovered that one check was endorsed to Solomon’s landlord for nearly $2500 along with $2500 in cash.

A supervisor of the nursing home confirmed that Solomon was an employee, but her job responsibilities are still unknown.  According to the nursing home supervisor Solomon has been suspended awaiting the outcome of the investigation.

Solomon has been charged with multiple counts of credit card theft and forgery, larceny, and was held on $50,000 bond at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, according to NBC.