A black housekeeper is suing the assisted living facility in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, where she was reportedly given a birthday cake with “a noosed up black hangman”.  The facility argues it was just a stick figure.

“While it is unknown whether (these) claims will survive testing at a later stage of this litigation, the allegations in her complaint, when viewed cumulatively and taken in the light most favorable to (her)… are sufficiently plausible,” a magistrate judge in the Western District of North Carolina said recommending the suit continue. A federal judge accepted his recommendations and rejected the senior care facility’s motion to dismiss.

Tonya R. Chapman penned her complaint late last year, saying she was a jack of all trades at Oakland Living Center where she worked as a housekeeper, personal care aid and cook for more than 10 years.

But as “the lone black employee,” she said Oakland and the family who runs it harassed her to the point of quitting.

“I deserve to be treated better,” Chapman wrote.

Chapman alleges in the complaint that she was subject to various instances of harassment during the course of her employment, including hearing one defendant reportedly say they needed a new beach house “because of all the blacks at Myrtle Beach.”

She said later in the suit that she was forced to turn sideways like a prisoner when taking her photo ID while another defendant joked she would be given a “slave number” on her badge.

The young son of one defendant also reportedly taunted Chapman with a chant — “N-word, N-word, get to work N-word” — and told her that his father had called her a “lazy black N-word” because she didn’t come to work, Chapman said.

“I asked him to please stop but he continued the ugly language,” she wrote in the complaint. “He then kicked me and hit me on the bottom. I just ignored him until he got bored and walked out of the kitchen for a minute.”

Chapman also said she was given a birthday cake in 2014 that depicted a black person in a noose.

 

Nursing home mogul Philip Esformes wept and pleaded for mercy before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for what the U.S. Justice Department called the largest single health care bribery and kickback scheme in American history. Esformes, who once controlled a network of more than two dozen health care facilities that stretched from Chicago to Miami, garnered $1.3 billion Medicaid revenues by bribing medical professionals who referred patients to his Florida facilities then paid off government regulators as vulnerable residents were injured by their peers, prosecutors said.

He housed elderly patients alongside younger adults who suffered from mental illness and drug addiction — sometimes with fatal results. In Esformes’ Oceanside Extended Care Center in Miami Beach, “an elderly patient was attacked and beaten to death by a younger mental health patient who never should have been at (a nursing facility) in the first place,” prosecutors wrote in a pre-sentencing memo.

In arguing for a 30-year sentence, prosecutors said his years long bribes-for-patients schemes involved the corruption of medical professionals and government regulators, and entailed grievous injuries to a massive number of elderly patients. Many of his younger, drug-addicted patients spent the daylight hours wandering the streets of Miami while he collected government payments for services that were never delivered, prosecutors said.

“Phillip Esformes used deceptive and calculated means to orchestrate a fraud of the magnitude that we have not seen before,” Medina said. “People who needed to get better, who wanted to get better, they had no shot.”

“His fraud involved thousands of patients, 16 nursing homes, the systematic payment of bribes, a complex web of bank accounts, and brazen obstruction of justice to try to prevent it all from coming to light,” prosecutor Elizabeth Young wrote in a sentencing memo filed with the court this week.

Prosecutors said Esformes should be forced to pay $207 million in restitution to Medicaid and Medicare; attorneys for Esformes sharply questioned that amount in court Thursday.
In one of Esformes’ crimes, prosecutors said, he used some $300,000 in stolen Medicare and Medicaid proceeds to bribe the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania to admit Esformes’ son to the school.

The dozens of nursing facilities Esformes ran with his father and business partner Morris Esformes for decades earned millions of Medicaid and Medicare dollars annually despite repeated federal law enforcement probes and Chicago Tribune investigations alleging substandard care and incidents when disabled patients were assaulted by fellow residents.

Absolutely disgusting!  Every time I see a news article about another resident being abused and harassed, I want to scream.  As a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney, we see this type of behavior often especially in short-staffed facilities where frustration and burn-out run rampant.

Video evidence shows that the staff at the Grace Care Northpointe Center nursing home physically abused a 93 year old resident.  The video is hard to watch and listen to because the resident was clearly roughed up by a certified nursing assistant where she’s been staying for about a year.

“She just snatched her around and continued to hit her over and over again while my mom just screamed for help,” Teno said.

Teno said after her mother complained of being hurt by some staff members, she decided to set up a hidden camera. Beyond what Teno said was verbal abuse, she also says there was physical abuse.

“It hurt me to see my mom being treated like that. And she could not defend herself,” daughter Mary Teno said.

 

 

 

 

Ryan Sheridan owned the Horn Nursing Home building and sought to turn the facility into a for-profit drug treatment center.  He was one of six people who pleaded guilty to a $48 million Medicaid fraud scheme.  Sheridan was the owner of Braking Point Recovery Center.  Prosecutors said Braking Point between January 2015 and October 2017 falsely billed Medicaid nearly 135,000 times. They say those claims included inflated costs for services, billing for patients who hadn’t been medically diagnosed and case management services for patients working out at Sheridan’s gym.

Authorities want Sheridan to forfeit $3 million, as well as properties he owns in several Ohio counties and replica movie vehicles.

After purchasing the former Horn facility, Sheridan unsuccessfully sought a tax-abatement incentive to develop the detox center.

Sheridan eventually defaulted on his mortgage payments to Huntington Bank, leading to a court-ordered auction.

There was a great article on Health Affairs website discussing the failures of nursing home oversight by CMS and their attempts to improve.

“More than 30 years after Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act, we are still failing to protect nursing home residents. Recent cases of abuse and neglect, repeated failures of governmental oversight, and stories of owners’ mendacity and greed are not only wake-up calls but sobering reminders of how far we have to go.”

The government has focused attention on nursing home care, releasing blueprints to put “patients over paperwork.” CMS also issued a proposed rule in July taking aim at a range of regulatory provisions it characterized as “unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome.” Advocacy groups expressed skepticism about CMS’s claims that these changes would “produce significant savings without jeopardizing patient care in any way” and that the “reduction in red tape [will] free up facility resources to focus on patient care.”

Nursing home providers are entrenched in a blind faith in deregulation (if only we reduced regulatory burden, providers could focus resources on resident care). CMS reflects the administration’s broader push toward deregulation and have exacerbated tensions between providers and advocates.

“Most visible among these changes are the repeal of the Obama administration’s arbitration ban, guidance that lessened financial penalties for past non-compliance, and a proposal to relax the frequency of surveys for better-performing facilities.”

“A key aim of nursing home oversight over the past decade has been to ensure greater transparency in nursing homes’ ownership and financing. Nursing homes have been mostly for profit for decades. In the early 2000s, increased private equity investment and ownership complexity spurred a renewed focus on this topic, culminating with provisions to bolster disclosure of ownership and financial relationships being included in the Affordable Care Act. Still, in the wake of scandals such as Skyline Healthcare, where a single owner acquired almost 100 facilities over a relatively short time period across multiple states before running them into the ground financially and putting vulnerable residents at risk in the process, it is clear that substantial gaps still exist.”

CMS should make more complete ownership data widely available, not only to researchers but to state licensure agencies that evaluate applications from potential operators. In addition, CMS should add the ability to examine care across all facilities of specific owners to the Nursing Home Compare website, allowing consumers and others to see quickly if an owner is generally involved in the provision of higher- or lower-quality nursing home care.

Beyond ownership, improving the ability to understand where nursing homes spend their resources and gaining a more accurate sense of their financial well-being are important elements of transparency. Progress has been made in simplifying nursing home cost reporting, yet, according to the Government Accounting Office, there are still substantial questions about the accuracy and completeness of these data. CMS should take further steps to ensure the veracity of these data and develop summary measures for inclusion in public use files or even on the Nursing Home Compare site to convey an accurate picture of facilities’ financial status and spending priorities.

 

Blue Ridge in Georgetown nursing home and rehabilitation center was named to a list maintained by the federal government of poorly performing facilities.  Blue Ridge in Georgetown was already fined nearly $44,000 for health violations in 2018. The facility received 33 health citations during its last inspection in October 2018.

Blue Ridge joined four other nursing homes in the Palmetto State as candidates for a federal oversight program. Commander Nursing Center in Florence has been officially flagged for the government to focus on since July.  Blue Ridge of Sumter was added to the list of candidates for the SFF program in June. Magnolia Manor in Columbia and The Retreat at Brightwater in Myrtle Beach were added in July.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal office in charge of administering the programs, keeps a list of nursing homes that consistently don’t meet standards and agreed to publicly release a monthly update to that list in June.

The most severe offenders are then designated as Special Focus Facilities. This designation increases the frequency that a nursing home must be inspected and sets guidelines for where and how quickly a facility must improve. Around 400 facilities are designated as SFF candidates at one time.

Facilities that do not graduate from the SFF program within 18 months risk losing their ability to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

 

Marcus Lloyd Anderson operated assisted living centers for mental health patients in Florida.  Anderson has been indicted  for misusing the identities of former employees to defraud the government of nearly $1.27 million in Medicaid money.  He faces seven counts of health care fraud and six counts of identity fraud. Anderson was supposed to use the money for counseling and psychiatric services to his residents.

Last year, St. Petersburg police shut down two of the homes Anderson ran under the company Tampa Bay Behavioral Health Centers.

A police officer came across a resident on the front porch at one of the homes who told him about squalid conditions there and invited him inside to see for himself, police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said.

Police investigated and found “deplorable conditions” at both homes, including mattresses on the floor and no food for residents. One home had open sewage in it. Residents at both homes went without running water for three days.

Nine residents were removed and the homes were deemed uninhabitable.

According to the indictment, Anderson submitted the fraudulent claims in January, February and April 2016, and January 2018. He submitted them using the identities of two psychiatrists and one licensed mental health counselor.

One of the psychiatrists worked for Anderson from late 2014 to April 2015. The other worked for him from February 2015 to June 2017. The counselor started in November 2014 and left in June 2015.

Anderson directed others to help him hide the fraud, the indictment says. The total amount of fraudulent payments reached at least $1.27 million.

Cedar Haven Acquisition, LLC, the company that owns Cedar Haven nursing home filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court last month to avoid accountability.  Cedar Haven Acquisition, LLC, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning they will be able to reorganize the business and keep it open as part of the bankruptcy proceedings without paying judgments or compensating victims of neglect and abuse.

Cedar Haven Acquisition is a subsidiary of Stone Barn Holdings, LLC. According to the filing, Cedar Haven owes money to at least 200 creditors. Cedar Haven owes over $7 million to the top 20 creditors alone, according to the filing.

Where did all the money go?

Lois Bowers reported on debt collection in assisted living facilities for McKnight’s Senior Living.  A company and its owner that collect debt on behalf of assisted living communities have been sued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and accused of collecting debts without a “reasonable basis to assert that … consumers owed those debts.” FCO Holding and its subsidiaries, as well as owner and CEO Michael Sobota, are named defendants.

FCO and Sobota, according to the CFPB, operate “the largest debt-collection company in the multiunit-housing industry,” also collecting debts on behalf of student and military housing in addition to senior living facilities.

The government’s civil complaint alleges that did not maintain “reasonable policies and procedures” to ensure the accuracy of the information it “routinely furnishes” to credit-reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, including the handling of consumer disputes, as required by law.

“FCO has failed to conduct reasonable investigations of certain consumer disputes and has failed to cease furnishing information that was alleged to have been the result of identity theft before it made any determination of whether the information was accurate,” the complaint states. “In addition, FCO and Sobota have collected debt without a reasonable basis to assert it was owed.”

The lawsuit maintains that FCO violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Regulation V and the Consumer Financial Protection Act as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The bureau is seeking an injunction as well as damages, redress, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and the imposition of a civil money penalty.

FCO Holding and its subsidiaries — Fair Collections & Outsourcing, Fair Collections & Outsourcing of New England and FCO Worldwide — operate collectively under the name Fair Collections & Outsourcing and FCO, according to the CFPB.

Falo Kane, a nursing assistant at various nursing homes in Clearwater, Florida has been accused and arrested for sexually assaulting at least four elderly women.  Kane faces four counts of sexual battery, according to a Clearwater Police Department news release.

Police said two of Kane’s alleged victims used wheelchairs, and one was 80 years old. Another woman suffered a stroke. Kane allegedly abused two of the victims while changing their adult diapers, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Police began investigating after one of the facilities reported the sex assault of a patient.

Kane is believed to have worked at four facilities in Clearwater when the assaults took place — two in 2016 and two in 2019. It’s possible he worked at others, and police asked anyone with information about additional crimes to come forward.

Police said Kane admitted during questioning Monday, Sept. 16 that he had sexually abused the women, and wrote one apology letter to all four women, the paper reports.