I read the most outrageous story.  Woodhaven Care Center nursing home killed a resident through their neglect and carelessness and then sued the family for the cost of the care provided!

The family is outraged after Woodhaven accepted liability for the man’s death but sued claiming the family owes money for the man’s stay there.

A jury awarded $1 million to the family of 82-year-old Salvatore Niosi after finding a nurse at the Woodhaven Care Center in Port Jefferson Station, NY, forgot to put in the man’s dentures and fed him a sandwich, leading him to choke on the food. Niosi’s chart specified he should be fed pureed food only, but the nurse did not read his chart or put his dentures in on the night of Dec. 13, 2013. He died within minutes.

“He didn’t deserve to die that way,” said Niosi’s daughter, Silvia Teixeira. “He deserved better. He deserved a different ending to his story.”

Teixeira filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home after learning from homicide detectives that her father’s death was caught on surveillance video by a camera at the nurse’s station.

“The facility was understaffed that night, so he wasn’t being supervised. And there was a lack of timeliness to call 911. It was about 20 to 30 minutes before they called 911,” Teixeira said.

“They did wrong, they know they did wrong and it’s like they’re benefitting from his death. It’s like somebody murdering somebody and then asking for money,” she said.

The Skilled Nursing News reported that Kansas will implement stricter vetting standards for nursing home owners and investors in the wake of several high-profile receivership cases over the past year.  The new law will require potential nursing home owners to submit detailed financial and historical ownership information before receiving approval.  Anyone seeking to buy a skilled nursing facility will need to provide a list of every other licensed property that he or she owns or has ever owned, either within Kansas or elsewhere in the United States.

In addition, the disclosure rule applies to ownership stakes in either the operations or the real estate associated with a nursing facility. Prospective buyers must further provide a 12-month operating budget for the facility, along with proof that he or she has sufficient funds to make that plan a reality.

The law will also make it easier for the state to revoke, suspend, or deny a license. Moving forward, anyone with any amount of ownership interest in a nursing home can find themselves on the blacklist; previously, such bans or suspensions only applied to people with direct or indirect ownership of 25% or more.

 

Matthew Christian is an attorney and partner at Christian & Davis LLC. His primary focus area is nursing home abuse and neglect.  He recently wrote the below editorial for the Greenville News.

“If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been required to sign a document with “fine print.”

This can be anything from credit card contracts, to your own employee handbook, to nursing home admissions forms. Any good lawyer would tell you to read the fine print, but few people actually do. That absence of understanding is where many problems can lurk for the average person signing their lives away to corporate giants.

One of the biggest problems that could result from that fine print is forced arbitration – the practice of forcing a consumer, an employee or a patient into closed-door “dispute resolution” outside of a court of law. This strips the individual of the right to seek public justice, hold the powerful accountable, and prevent the same corporate bad actors from harming other individuals.

I’ve spent my legal career fighting for justice for individuals who’ve been physically or financially victimized in the fields of elder abuse, personal injury and medical malpractice. I’ve consoled families whose elderly loved ones were abused physically and sexually by nursing home caregivers but are not able to seek justice against the nursing home in court because they signed on the dotted line below a forced arbitration clause.

You may remember reading about nearly 3,000 Chipotle workers barred by the Supreme Court from participating in a wage-theft lawsuit against the company. They had been forced to sign a class-action waiver before they were hired. So, consequently, they were removed from the lawsuit and stiffed of their hard-earned money.

I was reminded of that case recently when Upstate company Whiteford’s Inc. was ordered to pay back $32,000 in back wages to workers at 30 fast-food establishments operated by the company. Fortunately, nearly 300 workers will now be able to get their due wages, but imagine if red tape kept them from being able to fight for justice.

 You may know one of these people – they are your neighbors, in your Sunday School class, or the person who walks his/her dog by your house in the evenings.

Why should they be denied money due to them because a corporate giant wants to save a few bucks on litigation?

Forced arbitration is a travesty that strips people of a Constitutional right to a trial by a jury that is fundamental in our country. Fortunately, Congressional representatives have recently introduced the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act of 2019, seeking to end this unfair practice of mandatory arbitration in “consumer, civil rights, employment, and antitrust’ actions.”

This important bill, introduced in the US House and Senate, would give people back their voice, their rights, and their day in court when physically or financially hurt by a corporation.

I urge you to to contact members of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation and ask them to support the FAIR Act. This isn’t about politics. This is about common sense and protecting our neighbors. It’s about what is fair.”

 

 

Dr. Vipul Shah serves as the medical director for McLeod Hospice and Palliative Care.  He is board certified in internal medicine, geriatric medicine and hospice and palliative medicine. Dr. Shah wrote an excellent article about hospice for SCNow.com.

Dr. Shah dispels the four primary myths regarding hospice.

“These misconceptions contribute to the underutilization of hospice services. This is unfortunate, because many patients with life-limiting terminal illnesses could benefit from expert pain and symptom control, as well as the emotional, social and spiritual support that hospice care can provide.”

Myth No. 1: Hospice care means giving up hope: Many people mistakenly believe that patients who choose to enter hospice have given up hope, but the truth is that those facing a life-limiting terminal illness have chosen to redefine their hopes. Where a patient once hoped for a cure, he or she might now hope to live pain-free. For other hospice patients, hope might mean seeing a distant friend or relative one last time or taking a trip to the beach. For still others, hope could be as simple as wanting to spend as much time with loved ones as possible or remaining at home rather than going to the hospital or a nursing home.

Hope looks different in hospice care, but it is certainly not lost. A hospice team can help patients accomplish tasks, fulfill wishes and maintain hope during their remaining time.

Myth No. 2: Hospice means I must sign a DNR: A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is one of several legal documents people use when establishing their advance health-care directive. A DNR means that you do not want to be resuscitated via cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other means should your breathing cease or your heart stop beating. While many hospice patients decide to have a DNR order in place, signing a DNR is not a requirement to receive hospice care.

The goal of hospice is patient comfort with the patient directing his or her care. No decisions should ever be forced upon patients, including those in hospice.

Myth No. 3: Hospice is only for cancer patients: As of 2015, nearly three-quarters (72.3 percent) of patients were admitted to hospice with non-cancer primary diagnoses. This means that only a little more than one-quarter (27.7 percent) of hospice patients had a primary diagnosis of cancer.

While hospice nurses and other caregiving professionals are very skilled at managing the symptoms of cancer, they are equally skilled at managing the symptoms of many other forms of chronic illness.

The dying process takes time. Because of the highly skilled care that the hospice team can provide to their patients, hospice proves most effective when the caregiving team has time to deliver it. Patients and their loved ones need support, information and medical care. Social workers and chaplains need time to work with patients and their families to bring them to a place of acceptance. Nurses and doctors need time to optimally manage the patient’s symptoms.

Removing the stigma surrounding hospice and redefining end-of-life care are essential to the future of health care.

By 2060, the number of people age 65 or older in the United States is projected to reach 98.2 million, which will be roughly one in four Americans. That means more people will be living with chronic, life-limiting illnesses and will require expert end-of-life care.

Dispelling these four hospice myths can help bring us closer to providing high-quality, skilled care to all patients who need it at the end of life.

 

The Tribune reported on the lawsuit filed against Bella Vista Transitional Care Center for the neglect and wrongful death of resident Kathleen Hutchinson.  Hutchinson died in April 2018 after she was incorrectly given four doses of diabetes medication during a three-and-a-half-hour period.

She was a patient at Bella Vista for about eight months prior to her death and relied on facility staff for help with nearly all of her daily living activities, according to the lawsuit. The facility had four different administrators during Hutchinson’s eight months as a patient at Bella Vista.

On the day of her death, Hutchinson’s blood sugar was taken at 5:35 a.m. and was found to be dangerously high, prompting a doctor to order 10 units of insulin be administered. Hutchinson’s blood sugar was to be rechecked an hour later.

At 6:06 a.m., additional insulin was administered per Hutchinson’s typical medication schedule, in spite of the fact she’d received a previous dose about half an hour before.

Hutchinson was given more insulin at 7 a.m. after a staff member told the doctor a blood sugar reading taken at 6:06 a.m. showed her levels were still too high.

She was then given a dose of Metformin, a diabetes medication taken in conjunction with insulin, at 8 a.m., per her typical schedule.

At 9:40 a.m., Hutchinson was found not breathing and covered in vomit. Her blood sugar was so low the blood sugar monitor couldn’t read it. Two minutes later, she was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit claims Hutchinson died because staff followed her usual medication schedule on top of doctor-specified doses tailored to her condition the morning of her death.  These errors occurred due to Bella Vista’s understaffing issues according to the complaint.

A Department of Public Health (DPH) investigation into Bella Vista following Hutchinson’s death concluded the facility “(failed) to meet the professional standards of quality in providing care pursuant to care plans and treatment orders,” according to the lawsuit.

DPH also previously cited Bella Vista for failing to meet minimum staffing requirements, failing to ensure call lights were in reach of residents, failing to provide showers and asking certified nursing assistants to perform nursing assessments beyond their scope.

 

 

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating Phaire’s Care assisted living facility in Orangeburg County after receiving a complaint last month.  A woman said her sister lives in the facility and claims she went missing.  The woman said she filed a complaint with DHEC after that incident.

DHEC has found several problems with Phaire’s Care in the past, including medical policy violations. DHEC records from an inspection in January show the department recorded problems like facility staff not administering medication correctly, not keeping patient records on hand and not feeding residents properly.

In February, a man living at Phaire’s care went missing from the center and was found later that day.  Officials from DHEC also announced in February they were taking “enforcement action” against Phaire’s Care following a history of non-compliance.

Despite several attempts via telephone and in-person, officials from Phaire’s Care have not responded to DHEC’s inspection.

We wanted to let you know that tomorrow (Thursday May 16th) at 10:00 am, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law will hold a hearing on forced arbitration.  The Subcommittee, led by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI 1st District) will lead the hearing entitled: “Justice Denied: Forced Arbitration and the Erosion of our Legal System”.

Key witnesses:

  • Professor Myriam Gilles, Professor of Law, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law;
  • Ms. Gretchen Carlson, a journalist, author, and advocate;
  • Mr. Deepak Gupta, Founding Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC;  and
  • Mr. Kevin Ziober, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy Reserves.

We hope Congress listens to the experts who agree that forced arbitration is unfair and unjust.

A lawsuit accuses Willowbrook Residence and Rehabilitation Center and its management company of trying to cover up a sexual assault against a nursing home resident.  An extensive Health and Human Services report about the incident say the victim, a 65-year-old patient with dementia and stage 4 Parkinson’s disease, was sexually assaulted.

The lawsuit and report also detail failures by management staff at Willowbrook, including the facility administrator and the head nurse.  Neither reported or investigate the alleged crime despite credible evidence.  Staff placed the victim in her bed with the door open at 3:30 p.m. on March 22, 2018, the HHS report said.  Nearly two hours later, staff realized the door was closed and that the victim was using a service button to call for help. That’s when a nurse found another patient, Norman Eugene Lee, inside the woman’s room, sexually assaulting her, according to the report.

The HHS report concluded that the facility “failed to ensure all alleged violations involving abuse, neglect, exploitation or mistreatment were reported immediately.”

In addition, “the facility failed to provide evidence that a thorough investigation was conducted” and “the administrator failed to thoroughly investigate” the incident, the report said.

Finally, the report concluded, the facility “failed to monitor” Lee’s “behaviors when he was receiving” antipsychotic medication.

Willowbrook management told nurses to clean up the mess, the report said, and police were not called until five hours later when the alleged victim was at the hospital.

Police arrested Lee on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of an elderly and disabled female. His trial is set to begin in July.

 

Kathleen Menard is the six million dollar woman. Menard was a resident of the Harbor Place assisted living facility in Port St. Lucie.

In July 2017 Menard fell while walking without assistance or supervision outside the facility.  The facility had given her a safety pendant, where if she falls, she can press the pendant to get help and the staff were to come out and help. But there was one big problem: the staff never told her the pendant didn’t work outside.

A visitor found Menard unconscious. It is unclear how long she was lying on the ground.  She had suffered burns in the extreme heat and fatal heatstroke. She died 87 days later.

Menard’s family sued Port St. Lucie Retirement Investors. A jury compensated her and her family with a six million dollar verdict after winning a wrongful death lawsuit.

“I’m hoping legislation will change and it’ll also change for other people so nobody ever has to go through this. This is the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life and I will never, ever live it down,” said Menard’s daughter.

 

 

THI OF SOUTH CAROLINA AT CHARLESTON, LLC is a nursing home in North Charleston owned and operated by Fundamental Long Term Care Holdings LLC which is now known as Hunt Valley Holdings.  The facility is known as Riverside Health and Rehab.  The facility is awful as most of the facilities in that infamous national for-profit chain tend to be because of the policy to under-staff to increase profits.

Riverside is again facing a wrongful death lawsuit because a resident was neglected and died after the facility failed to take care of her.  An expert affidavit states that based on the medical records of the woman who died, it was documented the woman was at high risk for falls, but the facility’s employees failed to “properly implement fall prevention measures” to keep her safe.

The lawsuit was filed last month and claims a woman was admitted to Riverside Health and Rehab in September 2015.  About a year later, employees at the facility allegedly found her on the floor of her room with a laceration above her right eyebrow.  A couple days later, the resident got a fever and was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with dehydration and severe malnutrition.

A couple days after that, the lawsuit says that woman died as a consequence of the traumatic fall.

Public records from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control show this facility has a long history of complaints.

In the last five years, people have filed at least 43 complaints against Riverside. That’s more complaints than any other nursing home in Charleston County.