The Sacramento Bee reported on the conclusion of the wrongful death and abuse trial against Emeritus Corp.  At the end of the liability phase of the trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $3.875 million for Joan Boice’s pain and suffering. That award, however, had been capped at $250,000 by Judge Judy Holzer Hersher under state law that applies to medical malpractice cases.

The second phase of the trial is the jury hearing evidence related to punitive damages.  The jury decided yes and awarded the family $23,000,000.81.  The 81 cents was for the resident’s age.  A clear rebuke to Defendants harping on her age during the trial.

“It took the panel less than a day of deliberations following two days of testimony to decide what the damages should be in the punitive phase of the trial. The same jury on Monday came back with a finding of liability against Emeritus and found that the Seattle-based corporation acted with malice, oppression and fraud in its treatment of Joan Boice. The woman died in February 2009, three months after she left Emeritus at Emerald Hills in Auburn with bed sores spreading over portions of her body.”

Testimony at the trial showed that Emeritus at times had no caregivers on duty during the overnight shift during Boice’s three-month stay at Emerald Hills.
 

 

The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported that an assisted-living facility is being held responsible for the death of a resident who suffered head injuries from a fall and received no medical attention for days afterward.

The Health Department’s investigative report says that Lighthouse of Columbia Heights “failed to report changes” in the resident’s condition to a nurse and “failed to seek medical attention in a timely manner” after the resident fell in November 2011 and developed a sizable bump on one side of her head and a smaller one on the other side.

The resident was hospitalized three days later before dying on Dec. 5.  Her death certificate concluded the fall caused her death.  In citing the center for neglect, the report noted that the facility had no registered nurse available for unlicensed staffers to call after hours in the event of changes in residents’ conditions.

The estate of Pauline Cook, a resident killed at OakBridge Terrace, a Rock Hill assisted living home is suing the home and two employees.  The Herald of Rock Hill reports that the lawsuit says the crime could have been prevented.  Cook was found dead in her shower in November at OakBridge Terrace. Her death came the day after she reported to staff and police that someone had been forging her checks.  The lawsuit accuses ACTS Retirement-Life Communities of wrongful death, negligence and misconduct. The suit also says the home’s resident nursing director and a cook knew about the alleged thefts and could have stopped her from killing Cook.

Employee Braquette Walton was arrested and charged with Cook’s death. Police said the nurse’s aide later confessed to killing Cook and trying to cover up the crime. Walton faces several charges including murder and burglary, and she is being held without bail in the York County jail.

Prosecutor Kevin Brackett said at Walton’s bond hearing in December that Walton used her work badge to enter the building, hid from security cameras and employees in an unused room and called a nursing station at least seven times in an attempt to get into Cook’s room unnoticed. She’s accused of smothering Cook and then dragging her to the shower and leaving the water running in an effort to make it look like Cook accidentally fell.

 

McKnight’s Long Term Care News reported on a new survey that shows the cost of living in a long-term care facility increased steadily over the last year while home care costs have stayed flat.  The daily cost for a semi-private skilled nursing facility room grew 3.4% since 2011 to a national median rate of $200 per day, according to a survey conducted by the long-term care insurer Genworth Financial.  The rate for a private SNF room jumped 4.2% since 2011, up to a median daily rate of $222. Assisted living rates saw modest growth at 1.2% since 2011, to a median monthly rate of $3,300.

Market Watch reported that Assisted Living Concepts, Inc. reported net income of $7.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 as compared to $5.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Excluding the One-Time Items described below, net income in the quarters ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 would have been $6.3 million and $5.5 million, respectively.

"Fourth quarter results blossomed with the momentum we built up in quarter three," commented Laurie Bebo, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We continued to see improvements in workers compensation and general and professional liability expenses. We believe these items combined with our private pay strategy, increased occupancy and other careful cost controls resulted in record operating income for the fourth quarter and all of 2011."

For the year ended December 31, 2011, ALC reported net income of $24.4 million as compared to $16.5 million in the year ended December 31, 2010. Excluding the One-Time Items described below, net income in the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 would have been $22.1 million and $18.2 million, respectively
 

Assisted Living Concepts, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate 211 senior living residences comprising 9,325 residents in 20 states. ALC’s senior living residences typically consist of 40 to 60 units and offer a supportive, home-like setting. Residents may receive assistance with the activities of daily living either directly from ALC employees or through our wholly owned home health subsidiaries. ALC employs approximately 4,200 people.

 

Athens Banner Herald reported the arrests of CNAs at Winterville Retirement Center who assaulted and stole from residents, and the administrator embezzled an Alzheimer’s patient’s Social Security payments.  Three employees were arrested over the past two months.   Administrator Sherrye Dianne Huff apparently set the tone for an environment in which residents were punched and medication stolen. Huff is accused of stealing more than $4,000 from a 69-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.  Huff was booked into the Clarke County Jail on five felony charges – three counts of theft and two counts of exploiting an elderly or disabled person – and one count of misdemeanor theft. 

Cynthia Ann Barrow was the first employee arrested for punching an 82-year-old woman in the face because the resident had taken some butter from a food cart in the dining hall, according to police.  Barrow was charged with abuse of an elderly person.

The patient was treated at Athens Regional Medical Center for a "knot the size of an egg" on the back of her head where it struck the food cart and floor. She died a few weeks later, March 19, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the injury to her head contributed to her death.

Nine days after the resident died, another employee Shyniqua Anastacia Buckles stole more than 100 Xanax tablets that had been prescribed to the deceased resident.  Buckles was charged with fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.

Assisted Living Concepts Inc. is the parent company that owns Winterville Retirement Center.

 

Long Term Living Magazine had an article about Ventas, Inc.’s announcement that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire all real estate assets of Atria Senior Living Group—the fourth largest assisted living operator in the United States—for $3.1 billion. Payment will be comprised of $1.35 billion in Ventas common stock, $150 million in cash, and the assumption or repayment of $1.6 billion of net debt.

Ventas will acquire from Atria 118 private pay seniors housing assets located in several affluent markets, including the New York metropolitan area, New England, Boston, and California. The portfolio to be acquired, which consists of 110 stable assets and eight redevelopment assets, contains approximately 13,500 units, with a median community size of 110 units, a median community age of 12 years, and a current average occupancy rate exceeding 87%.

Louisville-based Atria will continue to manage the portfolio of communities and will remain an independent, privately owned management company.

“The addition of 118 exceptional seniors housing assets […] will establish Ventas as the largest owner of seniors housing communities in the United States,” said Debra A. Cafaro, Ventas chairman, president and CEO, in a release.

Ventas expects the portfolio to generate approximately $640 million in revenues in 2011.

Upon closing, Ventas will have more than 35,000 seniors housing units across 350 properties in its portfolio and will conduct business with four of the top five assisted living operators in the United States.

“This new relationship with Ventas will combine Atria’s senior housing management and operations expertise with the strength of an S&P 500 company known for making high quality, long-term real estate investments,” said Atria CEO John A. Moore. “This puts us in a position to keep our residents, employees and commitment to quality as our utmost priorities. Ventas’ commitment to make a long term investment in our real estate will serve as the basis for the continued growth of the Atria platform.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval and other customary closing conditions. Ventas expects the acquisition to be completed in the first half of 2011.

Earlier this month, Ventas agreed to acquire the interests in 58 communities from Sunrise Senior Living, Inc., for $41.5 million. Upon closing, Ventas will own 100% of all 79 of its communities managed by Sunrise.

 

 

 Ken Teegardin had a traumatic time finding care for his father in Georgia so he created his own website (http://www.AssistedSeniorLiving.net) with the goal of presenting the widest variety of senior care options (especially nursing homes) with objective information.

He has spent a lot of his personal time compiling a comprehensive list of senior care options so that others will have better support than he did when he had to make the critical decision.  The site is:
– The most comprehensive senior directory on the web. Users can search by care type, location, organization name, review status and more.
– Totally unbiased. The directory is based on government data combined with other independent sources. It is NOT a paid-inclusion corporate site so every senior care organization gets fair exposure.

The site features:
– Location based search – His advanced Geo-location search shows the nearest 50 senior care options to any desired location based on a zip code, city, or street address. Click on the map and get instant driving directions to each option.
– Hot lists – Users can build a custom list of possible services and print that list with full contact information.
– Complete listing information – We provide full contact information, photos, costs, and other details (where available) so users can compare apples to apples.
– Safe usage – There is no data taken about users. The goal of the site is share information, not to gather sales leads.
– Reviews – The site includes both positive and negative reviews.

AssistedSeniorLiving also donates $1 to non-profit senior care organizations for every review created.
 

There have been numerous media outlets including WSPA that have discussed the incident involving an assisted living resident who died because of the neglect of the home. The Laurens County Coroner concluded that the resident died of heat stroke at an assisted living facility should not have been allowed to sit in the sun for hours.

Frances Louise Farmer, 67, died from symptoms of heat stroke, according to Coroner Nick Nichols after finding Farmer unresponsive in a chair outside the facility.  Farmer was a resident at La Forrest Community Care, an assisted living facility   Paramedics arrived at 1:13pm,  Farmer’s body temperature was 107.8 degrees.  The temperature on that day was over 90 degrees.  Farmer was in the sun "for at least a couple of hours, based on statements given by different witnesses.

Nichols says Farmer had heat blisters all over her upper body and upper legs. “I’m not saying this was anything beyond an accident, but I also wonder how someone who is known to be on this type of medication could be allowed to sit outside in the hot sun for two hours without a nurse or someone making them come inside," says Nichols.

The State Law Enforcement Division confirms it is investigating the death along with the Department of Health and Environmental Control, which has oversight of all registered residential care facilities. No charges have been filed yet and knowing the competency and enforcement history of DHEC, none will be filed.

 

Assisted Living Concepts Inc. (ALC), which operates a for profit chain of assisted living centers, reported significantly higher profit margins despite a drop in occupancy in its first quarter.  The company operates 211 assisted living centers in 20 states.  See full report here.  Revenue increased 1.4% to $57.9 million from $57.1 million.

The company reported net income of $3.6 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with a loss of $11.8 million, or 98 cents, a year ago. The year-ago quarter includes a non-cash write-off of $14.7 million in goodwill, an accounting entry that reflects the amount above book value paid for an acquisition. Excluding the write-off, the company earned $2.9 million in first quarter 2009.

An increase in private pay residents, who pay much higher rates than the Medicaid program, rate increase and lower labor and kitchen expenses contributed to the higher profits. It sounds like they stopped properly feeding the residents and provided less staff or less qualified employees.