CBS Chicago reported on the tragic case of Letasha Mims who suffered from severe mental-health issues, including dementia, and ended up needing full-time care at Alden-Wentworth Rehabilitation.  Her mother, Mary Mims, says her daughter died after suffering repeated abuse and neglect at a nursing home. That same nursing home is facing nearly 90 lawsuits against it. Letasha died in 2014. What she went through is difficult for her mom to handle.

Mims says Letasha couldn’t speak or use her arms or legs, yet was repeatedly left in her own feces. Mims took pictures to document the alleged neglect, which she says resulted in bed sores and wounds.

“I’ve never seen a wound as bad as my daughter’s. It was all the way to the bone,” Mims says.

She says there were even bugs in her daughter’s bed and that Letasha went through drastic weight loss – Mims says because of starvation.

Letasha had a sexually transmitted disease and was treated for it but the facility failed to call police.  Mims says her 36-year-old daughter was nonverbal and incapable of giving consent to sex.  Because no rape kit test was done on the nursing home resident, there is no chance of ever catching the offender.



CNN had an article with a video showing a resident assaulting another resident for several minutes before staff intervened.  The video is tough to watch.  The beating, which was first reported by the Gainesville Sun, lasted on and off for nearly 2 minutes. The beating occurred October 3 in a secure unit of Good Samaritan, a 45-bed assisted living facility.  It occurred in a common area of a secured unit within the facility while other residents ate and watched television mere feet away. The video of a resident beating another resident raises new questions about the safety of the elderly in places meant to protect and care for them.

In the video, a 52-year-old resident is seen punching an 86-year-old resident with dementia more than 50 times as the older man lay curled up on the floor. The younger resident accused the older resident of eating his cupcake, according to law enforcement.  At the time the beating took place, there was no staff member attending to residents in the unit, and no one had been assigned to monitor the unit’s video surveillance, according to official reports.
The video was taken by the facility’s closed circuit surveillance system in October and later turned over to the police, who shared it with CNN.
The facility — the Good Samaritan Retirement Home in Williston — had a history of violations, and more sanctions in the past five years than any other assisted living facility in Florida. In December, two administrators were arrested in connection with separate incidents on charges of neglect of the elderly.  One of the facility’s administrators, Nenita Alfonso Sudeall, later broke down and cried as she told police she was “overwhelmed” at the facility, which she said was short-staffed and had poorly trained employees, according to a police report.
The elderly resident was hospitalized with bruising and swelling to his face, as well as hip pain, according to the police report.
Also earlier this year, a CNN report found that the federal government has cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse at their facilities between 2013 and 2016.
“There are far too many cases of abuse and neglect happening in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, a national advocacy organization for residents and their families. “We’ve been seeing cases for decades. This one incident in Florida shows how bad the problem can be.”

St. Louis Today had an editorial about the recent NY Times report on the outsourcing of management and “back office”support services to companies owned and operated by the owners of the nursing home. These business dealings, known as related-party transactions.  In the nursing home industry, however, with its reliance on taxpayer dollars, related-party transactions can also encourage insider dealing, maximizing profits for the outside vendors while siphoning off funds needed for patient care and staffing.

“So the question of who’s profiting from meeting — or not meeting — their needs is a matter of great public import. People’s lives can and do hang in the balance.”

In a remarkable story published Dec. 31, Kaiser Health Newsreported that the owners of nearly three-quarters of the 15,600 nursing homes in the United States buy a wide variety of goods and services from companies in which they have a financial interest or control. Nursing home owners can rent the land to themselves at above-market rates, or own the staffing company that provides nursing care and management.

 Relative to homes that don’t have related-party transactions, Kaiser reported, nursing homes that do deal with related parties have an average of 8 percent fewer aides and nurses on staff and are 9 percent more likely to have injured a resident or put him at risk. They have 35 percent more complaints and are fined 22 percent more frequently by government regulators.

For nursing home owners, a complex web of related-party transactions can offer a shield against lawsuits or governments seeking restitution for Medicaid overpayments.

This is outrageous. America’s vulnerable elderly shouldn’t be a profit center. Government should protect people and tax dollars, not profits.

The New York Post reported that New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement with a shady real-estate group that bought city nursing homes and flipped them to developers who sought to convert them into luxury condos.  The settlement between the attorney general and The Allure Group includes measures to reform the process that led to the closure of Rivington House on the Lower East Side and CABS Nursing Home in Brooklyn — in addition to levying $2 million in penalties to the developers, Schneiderman said.

“We’re requiring Allure to open new health-care facilities in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, and make major improvements to its Harlem facility, while also providing $1.25 million to nonprofits serving vulnerable New Yorkers.”

As part of the settlement, Allure must create a new health facility on the Lower East Side to “fill health-care gaps caused by the closure of Rivington House,” Schneiderman said.

After purchasing the CABS nursing home in Bed-Stuy in 2015, Allure allegedly forced out frail patients — leading to the untimely deaths of some residents, according to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The court papers charge that Allure repeatedly lied during the bidding process.

The settlement with the attorney general also requires Allure to open a “new Central Brooklyn health-care facility to offset lost health care services resulting from the closing of the CABS Nursing Home.”


Cleveland19 reported that Alice Ramsey pleaded guilty to patient abuse and reckless homicide in the death of an 85-year-old patient at the Hubbard Road Meadows Group Home in Madison.

Mary Srpan was injured in an incident at the group home on Jan. 3, 2017. She was brought to the Lake Hospital Madison Emergency Department and died on Jan. 17, 2017.  It has not been explained or released how Srpan was injured.

The New York Times had a great article explaining how and why for profit chains game the system by siphoning funds to owners instead of to patient care.  Contracts with “related companies” accounted for $11 billion of nursing home spending in 2015 — a tenth of their costs — according to financial disclosures the homes submitted to Medicare.  A Kaiser Health News analysis of inspection and quality records reveals that nursing homes that outsource to related organizations tend to have significant shortcomings: They have fewer nurses and aides per patient, they have higher rates of patient injuries and unsafe practices, and they are the subject of complaints almost twice as often as independent homes.  For-profit nursing homes utilize related corporations more frequently than nonprofits do, and have fared worse than independent for-profit homes in fines, complaints and staffing, the analysis found. 

“In what has become an increasingly common business arrangement, owners of nursing homes outsource a wide variety of goods and services to companies in which they have a financial interest or that they control. Nearly three-quarters of nursing homes in the United States — more than 11,000 — have such business dealings, known as related party transactions, according to an analysis of nursing home financial records by Kaiser Health News. Some homes even contract out basic functions like management or rent their own building from a sister corporation, saying it is an efficient way of running their businesses and can help minimize taxes.”

“These arrangements offer an additional advantage: Owners can arrange highly favorable contracts in which their nursing homes pay more than they might in a competitive market. Owners then siphon off higher profits, which are not recorded on the nursing home’s accounts.”

“Such corporate webs bring owners a legal benefit, too: When a nursing home is sued, injured residents and their families have a much harder time collecting money from the related companies — the ones with the full coffers. Courts set a high bar for plaintiffs to bring these ancillary companies into their cases.”

“Almost every single one of these chains is doing the same thing,” said Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus of the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. “They’re just pulling money away from staffing.”

Kaiser Health News’s analysis of inspection, staffing and financial records nationwide found shortcomings at other homes with similar corporate structures:

■ Homes that did business with sister companies employed, on average, 8 percent fewer nurses and aides.

■ As a group, these homes were 9 percent more likely to have hurt residents or put them in immediate jeopardy of harm, and amassed 53 substantiated complaints for every 1,000 beds, compared with 32 per 1,000 beds at independent homes.

■ Homes with related companies were fined 22 percent more often for serious health violations than independent homes, and penalties averaged $24,441 — 7 percent higher.

The Record Online reported that New York Department of Health is investigating staffing levels and living conditions for seniors at Sapphire Nursing and Rehab at Goshen, amid calls by local politicians to do so.   Last month, the home formerly known as Elant at Goshen laid off more than half its nurses, according to layoff letters and staff memos obtained by the Times Herald-Record.  Since the recent completion of its sale by nonprofit Elant to for-profit Goshen Operations, the home was rebranded Sapphire.

Sapphire’s nurse tally has fallen 54 percent since June to 17 nurses, including two registered nurses and 15 licensed practical nurses, according to 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.  Six months ago, there were 37 nurses — 12 RNs and 25 LPNs, the union said.

This month, the 120-bed home began using one LPN per every 40 residents from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. compared with one LPN per 20 residents previously, the union said. Seven of the home’s leaders, including Sapphire Executive Administrator Crystal Cummings, and key staff members have either resigned or been laid off since mid-December, the union added.

“The reports we’re getting from family members of folks at Sapphire and the local health care community are incredibly disturbing, and we must get to the bottom of it,” Maloney said in a statement. “Denying these older Americans the dignity and comprehensive care they deserve is infuriating, and Assemblyman Skoufis and I will stay on this until we’re sure they’re getting the level of respect and care they deserve.”

“Patients, family members and their nurses deserve far better than what we’ve seen out of Sapphire,” Skoufis wrote. “From the reports I’ve received, the level of care has been ravaged due to the for-profit owners’ excessive cuts. The Department of Health needs to intervene, and quickly.”


WABE reported on the problem of infections in Georgia nursing homes.  The article was written by Andy Miller, editor and CEO of Georgia Health News. Kaiser Health News study and analysis of federal inspection records found that 43 percent of Georgia nursing homes have been cited for infection-related problems in recent years.  The KHN analysis of four years of federal inspection records shows 74 percent of nursing homes nationally have been cited for lapses in infection control — more than for any other type of health violation.

Nationwide, only one of 75 nursing homes found deficient in those four years has received a high-level citation that can result in a financial penalty, the analysis found.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has required long-term care facilities to establish better systems to prevent infections, detect outbreaks early on and limit unnecessary use of antibiotics through a stewardship program.  Infections cause a quarter of the medical harm cases that Medicare beneficiaries experience in nursing homes, according to a federal report. They are among the most frequent reasons why residents are sent back to the hospital.

As average hospital stays have shortened from 7.3 days in 1980 to 4.5 days in 2012, patients who a generation ago would have recuperated in hospitals now go to nursing homes for short term rehabilitation.  This increases the acuity and needs of the residents without a corresponding increase in the necessary staffing.

You’ve got this influx of vulnerable patients, but the staffing models are still geared more to the traditional long-stay resident,” said Dr. Nimalie Stone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s medical epidemiologist for long-term care. “The kind of care is so much more complicated that facilities need to consider higher staffing.”



Freelance Contribution from Nick Johns

The corruption of Big Pharma are well known. But these facts demonstrate just how insidious their influence is.

  • In the first quarter of 2017 alone, the pharmaceutical and health products industry spent a total of $78 million in lobbying, a $10 million increase from the same time period in 2016.
  • The 21st Century Cures Act loosened regulation of the approval process for drugs and medical devices. Critics of the bill including Public Health Citizen’s Research Group believe the Cures Act will “endanger public safety” because it weakens FDA standards.
  • Pradaxa Manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim has faced thousands of lawsuits because of the internal bleeding side effects and reached a $650 million settlement in 2014 to resolve roughly 4,000 claims.
  • Larger companies have employed “Pay-for-Delay” agreements, offering patent settlements to generic drug manufacturers in order to delay or block the release of lower-cost, generic versions of medicine.
  • The Prescription Drug User Fee Act passed in 1992 requires the FDA to answer drug applications within 10 months of receiving them. It has been argued that the shortened timeframe can negatively impact drug safety.

For more Big Pharma facts, read an article on the 21st Century Cures Act (how lobbying dollars mean more than patient safety), and an article on one pharmaceutical company’s major contribution to the opioid epidemic.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter


Accepting that our parents and grandparents are no longer as astute as they once were is a painful process. However, no matter how difficult this may be, it is our responsibility as their children and grandchildren to take care of them as they grow older. It is also our responsibility to protect their legal interests.

Some seniors are still in perfect health but others are not so lucky. In fact, one in eight people over 65 have dementia. According to a 2014 estimate, approximately 5.2 million people in America live with Alzheimer’s disease. This cognitive impairment affects memory and communication and it can be a painful ordeal for those who are taking care of parents or grandparents with this condition.

The Best Care Possible

For individuals with relatives who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the best care possible is desired. Obtaining nursing home information and learning the rights of your parents and grandparents is a must. Nursing home abuse is rampant and it is something that every family should know more about before sending an elderly relative into the unknown.

Some seniors experience symptoms such as malnutrition, bed sores, pressure ulcers, bruising, hip fractures, physical and sexual abuse, dehydration, and general abuse while living in a nursing facility. This is something that every son or daughter should keep in mind since a third of families in America have an elderly relative who had to endure this kind of abuse. As one can imagine, elderly Americans who have dementia are some of the most vulnerable residents in nursing homes.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is basically a set of symptoms that happen due to disease or injury. It is typically caused by brain damage, Hungtington’s disease, or stroke.

Symptoms such as subtle short-term memory changes i.e. forgetting what they ate for breakfast, difficulty in understanding conversations or not knowing the right word to use, and disinterest in hobbies and activities they used to love are some of the early signs of the condition. Those with dementia also have difficulty accomplishing tasks that require planning and concentration. Some even have periods of mental confusion.

It must be noted that the symptoms mentioned above usually show up before an official diagnosis. However, experts remind family members not to jump to conclusions until a doctor has seen the patient. If you suspect that your parent or grandparent is showing early signs of dementia, it is best to visit a physician immediately. A General Practitioner (GP) with an expertise in memory problems will be able to rule out other possible conditions that can cause the problems mentioned above.

Talking to a Loved One with Signs of Dementia

Talking to your parent or grandparent who might have a dementia diagnosis can be challenging. This is because most people who have this condition will either be confused or in denial of what is going on.

Experts note that you can talk to your elderly family member about the symptoms and whether he or she have noticed it.

If the diagnosis is dementia, make sure that you tell your parent that knowing what it is will help you and the whole family in taking the right steps towards managing the symptoms.

Legal Planning

Early diagnosis can help you and your parent or grandparent prepare for the future. Legal planning for those with Alzheimer’s can be empowering because this means that the one diagnosed with the condition knows that his or her wishes will be met. Legal planning involves power of attorney for healthcare, durable power of attorney for properties and finances, among other legal concerns.