Marci DeLong has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cheyenne HealthCare Center, alleging the nursing home neglected the care of her husband so badly that it caused his death.  Cheyenne Healthcare Center is owned and operated by SavaSeniorCare.  SavaSeniorCare is one of the largest national for-profit chains in the country.  They have a terrible history of poor care, regulatory noncompliance, and short-staffing.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports Marci DeLong filed the lawsuit on June 18 against SavaSeniorCare, a Delaware company that owns and operates Cheyenne HealthCare Center. She is seeking damages for the February 2017 death of 49-year-old Robert DeLong.

Court records say Ronald DeLong was taken to the nursing home in September 2016 following complications from a stroke.

Nursing home staff took him to the hospital on Jan. 24, 2017. Doctors noted DeLong suffered acute kidney failure, upper GI bleeding, severe sepsis and urinary tract infections while under the care of the nursing home.

 

New data from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ranked North Carolina the 33rd worst state when it comes to the number of complaints at nursing homes. North Carolina families have demanded more regulation by state agencies after filing complaints on local nursing homes.

Fayetteville native Margie Whitehead said her family filed complaints on a Fayetteville nursing home in the past. “This can’t go on. It just can’t, “said Margie Whitehead. “I would find him wet, find him scratched up or find him scarred up. I would find him laying as I left him. Because I always would date and time his diapers when I put them on at night.” Whitehead took photos of her brother’s body when she was unsure of how he was cared for at the facility. CBS 17 blurred some the photos because of their graphic nature. The pictures  showed sores, bruises, and scratches on his face, back, and abdomen.

After taking her complaints to the nursing home staff, she contacted The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The agency is over is N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR). DHSR is the state department that specifically oversees nursing homes complaints.

“When I called the state department, they told me they had to actually see the event taken place. Although I had pictures and showed them pictures, they told me they had to actually see it for themselves. They had to actually be present when things happened,” said Whitehead.

But Whitehead decided to speak out about her brother, after our story on another family at Whispering Pines. In April 2019, Tracey Ervin contacted CBS 17 after documenting her mother’s living conditions at the Whispering Pines. She recorded cell phone video from inside of the facility.  “This is the fourth day in a row that I’ve been coming in here and finding findings,” Ervin told the staff. “You can already see right, urine!”

“I’m angry. I’m frustrated….all the above and then more,” she explained to CBS 17.

“Hold people accountable for what they do. They have to be held accountable for what they do,” said Whitehead.

The New York Times recently reported on the Trump Administration’s continued attempts to remove protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and other protections in the Affordable Care Act.  A case filed by Republican politicians is on appeal and may make its way to the Supreme Court ahead of the 2020 election.  The Trump administration refused to defend the full law in court and agreed with the ruling that the law’s requirement for people to buy insurance was unconstitutional, and that as a result, the entire law must be dismantled.

The Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty remained constitutional after Congress eliminated the penalty as part of the tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed in 2017. When the Supreme Court upheld the mandate in its landmark 2012 ruling that saved the law, it was based on Congress’s power to impose taxes.

If the mandate is indeed unconstitutional, the next question is whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act can function without it.

If the current decision stands, the number of uninsured people in America would increase by almost 20 million, or 65 percent, according to the Urban Institute, a research organization. That includes millions who gained coverage through the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and millions more who receive subsidized private insurance through the law’s online marketplaces.

Insurers would no longer have to cover young adults up to age 26 under their parents’ plans; annual and lifetime limits on coverage would again be permitted; and there would be no cap on out-of-pocket medical costs people have to pay.

Also gone would be the law’s popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Without those protections, insurers could return to denying coverage to such people or to charging them more. They could also return to charging people more based on their age, gender or profession.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, has estimated that 52 million adults from 18 to 64, or 27 percent of that population, would be rejected for individual market coverage under the practices that were in effect in most states before the Affordable Care Act.

The Record Online reported that a class-action lawsuit has been filed against the operators of Sapphire Nursing at Meadow Hill, claiming they cut so much staff after buying the 190-bed nursing home that residents’ calls for help go unanswered and some lie “in their own fecal matter and urine for hours at a time.”  The complaint cites federal data showing that daily nursing staff hours have significantly dropped to 3.2 hours per resident from about 4.0 hours before the transfer.

The case alleges the buyers made steep cuts in nurses and nursing aides after completing the purchase of what used to be Elant at Meadow Hill.  Controversy over staffing at the 120-bed Goshen home began in December 2017, when union representatives said the home had announced layoffs that would reduce the number of nurses to 17 from 37.  The suit is seeking proper staffing levels, accurate dislosure of the staffing, and an unspecified amount in damages for all residents of the home since the home changed ownership in 2017.

Dorothy Olympia rarely got her medications on time, and once was taken to a hospital because she had been given her insulin without being fed sufficiently and nearly fell into a diabetic coma, according to the suit by her daughter, Joanne McCleary. The suit also alleges that staffing was so short that “on many occasions, Mrs. McCleary had to shower her mother herself.” In another instance, it meant that a male physical therapist had to change Olympia’s clothes “because he had found her sitting in urine and feces for several hours.”

The complaint charges that residents’ call bells “would be left on for hours with no nurses or aides coming to assist.”

 

 

Barbara Baer and Ken Traub are co-chairs of Elder Justice, a committee of Metro Justice who recently wrote the below article for the Democrat and Chronicle.  A front page story in the Democrat and Chronicle harkened bad news for Monroe County area residents who have a loved one in a nursing home or are entertaining the prospect of having a loved one in a nursing home.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal government agency, the number of the worst rated (one star) nursing homes in the area has more than doubled to 12 out of the 34 nursing homes in Monroe County.

More than a third of our nursing homes are rated at the bottom of the barrel.

At the same time the number of top rated nursing homes has dropped from five for three. None of this news is good for seniors.

The Elder Justice Committee, of which we serve as Co-chairs, has been advocating for the passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Act which would create a minimum level of combined staffing of 4.1 hours.

 This would total of 4. 1 hours of Registered Nurses, RN, Licensed Practical Nurses, (LPN) and Certified Nursing Assistants(CNA). Each resident would receive a minimum of 45 minutes of nurse attention in a 24 hour period.

Adequate staffing is essential to the residents who suffer from chronic diseases and need help in such necessary tasks as toileting and feeding. In addition many residents require medication which can only be given by nurses. In fact, 4.1 hours a day hardly seem enough, although it is a start. 

We know that the Safe Staffing Act (A2954-S1032) is not a panacea but it is a beginning.

LifeSite News had a horrific story about an 103-year-old woman with no terminal illness named Marian Leonard who is being held at an Alabama hospice against her will, where her daughter says she’s not being properly fed and a state-appointed “guardian” has authorized doctors to give her powerful antipsychotic drugs despite no history of mental illness.

According to Leonard’s daughter, Nancy Scott, and Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), “the state of Alabama placed Marian in protective custody and appointed a third-party guardian to take over Marian’s care after erroneously believing Nancy moved her mother to home care against a doctor’s recommendation. Ms. Scott says she had the ‘full permission and blessing’ of the doctor to move her mother from a nursing home in Tennessee back to the family’s home town in Alabama.”

Her mother was placed at Diversicare of Riverchase, a hospice facility, without her daughter’s consent or blessing.  Scott is now prevented from seeing her mother more than twice a month for 1 1/2 hours per visit – and she’s only able to see her at all because of the work of her local attorney.

According to LLDF, “The last time Nancy (Scott) went to see her mother, Marian pleaded with her to take her home, saying, ‘If you don’t get me out of here, they’re going to kill me.’”

“We are appalled that Alabama’s Department of Human Resources would consign an elderly woman to a facility against her will and then allow her condition to deteriorate so rapidly,” said LLDF executive director Alexandra Snyder. “Life Legal will do whatever is in our power to ensure that Marian Leonard receives the care she needs, including frequent visits from her daughter.”

“Nancy has reported that her mother is not being given sufficient food and that the guardian had authorized Marian to be given antipsychotic drugs, including Haldol, even though Marian has no history of mental illness,” according to LLDF. “When Marian was first placed into the guardian’s custody, she could walk, was energetic, and was able to eat a regular diet. Now, she is bedridden, lethargic, and suffers from bedsores.”

The Patient Rights Act, a bill recently introduced by U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota, would punish facilities for not exercising “the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of any patient as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to a patient in a different state of functionality, development, or degree of dependence.”

The vulnerable people the Patient Rights Act would protect include the “unborn, newly born, born prematurely, pregnant, elderly, mentally or physically disabled, terminally ill, in a persistent vegetative state, unresponsive or comatose, or otherwise incapable of self-advocacy.”

“The legislation also creates a right of civil action for patients and families to sue if a federally funded health-care group fails to respect a patient’s rights,” Alexandra DeSanctis wrote in a summary of the bill on National Review.

McKnight’s had an article about accusations that Brookdale Senior Living violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by understaffing their facilities.  A case management conference is scheduled for today and may decide if the case should go forward as a class action.

Attorney Gay Grunfeld filed the case in July 2017.   The lawsuit is seeking a minimum of $9,000 for each affected resident, and more than 5,000 residents of Brookdale communities in California could become part of the class.

On June 5, the Court denied two motions brought by Brookdale, one of which sought to stay the claims of two plaintiffs while the company appeals a ruling that their claims are not subject to arbitration.

“We were pleased. That was our view, that their [the residents’] claims should go forward in the District Court,” Grunfeld said of the motion denial. “We are now in discovery, which is where you’re taking facts and evidence for each side, so we wanted to keep going with regard to all of our named plaintiffs. And of course we also are seeking class certification, so we want to have robust discovery.”

Courts have previously ruled that the ADA does apply to assisted living.

“We are very pleased with the court’s ruling,” Grunfeld said. “We believe that the ADA does apply to these facilities, and we are moving forward to establish that Brookdale is not complying with the ADA.”

Charles Banas is a decorated World War II bomber pilot. He hoped to attend the 75th D-Day commemoration overseas. However, he became sick when contaminated water from a burst sewage pipe over Banas’ bedroom last June was never properly addressed or cleaned by the staff.  Banas also had bedsores and became permanently disabled. The family says he’s now facing eviction after living at Westminster Nursing Facility for the past 16 years.

It went from pneumonia to them neglecting, actually leaving him unattended in their care facility for such a long time that he fell and broke his pelvis,” Banas’ son Mark said.  Mark Banas says independent tests done by a private company found fecal matter and high levels of mold spores in his father’s unit.

“The family believes had the facility addressed the leak in a timely basis, had appropriately cleaned the unit, that the substance that caused the eventual affection would not have happened,” said Steven Levin, the Banas family’s attorney.

In May, Westminster filed suit to evict his father, despite a life care contracted signed in 2003 and more than $1 million already paid to the nursing care facility.

According to the eviction lawsuit, Westminster claims the elderly Banas owes them more than $50,000. His son and attorney say Westminster actually owes them money, over-billing Banas for years.

“This case is really a parade of horribles,” Levin said.

Now, both battles may end up in court. Banas’ children just want it settled and their father cared for properly.

“I think this is all very sad and confusing for him whereas it just makes me angry,” Mark Banas said.

A Westminster official says the facility has not yet been served with the neglect lawsuit, so he couldn’t comment on those claims. He also said he couldn’t discuss why Westminster was suing to evict Banas.

WMBF recently reported that construction started on a $56 million nursing home for veterans in Florence, S.C.  It’s one of two new facilities being built across the state to give veterans and their families more access to care.  State and local leaders said the project is a big deal not only for veterans and their families, but the entire community.

The state of the art facility will house 104 veterans with their own private bedrooms and bathrooms.  The community center for the nursing home includes a large activity space, chapel, physical therapy area and staff space.

Florence County has around 10,000 veterans in the area alone.  He said the new nursing facility is a step to giving all veterans a good quality of life in the place they call home.

The Post and Courier reported on the six nursing homes in South Carolina identified as consistently poor-performing in a congressional list previously kept secret by a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Riverside Health and Rehab in North Charleston is the only facility in the state given the full SFF designation. The other five South Carolina facilities listed in the report were listed as candidates for the SFF program:

  • Commander Nursing Center, Florence
  • Blue Ridge of Sumter
  • Life Care Center of Hilton Head
  • Compass Post Acute Rehabilitation, Conway
  • PruittHealth — Blythewood, Columbia

The list, current as of April, was released to the Senate Special Committee on Aging at the beginning of June after a bipartisan inquiry from Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican.

“It is outrageous that we continue to hear stories of abuse and neglect in nursing homes that do not live up to these high standards,” Casey said in a news release. “Choosing a nursing home is a difficult and often painful decision to make. Individuals and families deserve to have all the information available to choose the facility that is right for them.”

Homes that meet safety and health guidelines are typically inspected every nine to 15 months. If a facility is classified as a Special Focus Facility, however, it must be inspected every six months and must graduate from the SFF designation within 18 months or it risks losing the ability to offer Medicare or Medicaid.

The list of SFF-designated facilities has previously been made publicly available. But until now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had shielded from the public eye the list of roughly 400 facilities that were considered for the program but didn’t make the cut.