The Grand Rapids Press had a story about the tragic incident involving Matthew Ambrose. On Sept. 12, Matthew Ambrose perched at the edge of his bed at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.  Staff knew Ambrose was a high risk for falls because he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, has a poor sense of balance and could not be left unattended when he was in a position where he could fall.

A privately contracted nurses aide sat the World War II veteran on the side of his bed and left the room to retrieve a lift apparatus to transport him from his bed into a wheelchair. When she returned, Ambrose was on the floor with his neck broken.  "The Ambrose lawsuit claims the contracted nurses aide should have known Ambrose was a risk to leave alone. According to the suit, Ambrose has dementia, Parkinson’s disease and "a history of falling," worsened by prescription medications that make him "even more prone to falling." Ambrose now resides in a Grand Rapids nursing home, where Eskola visits him virtually every day. After his fall, Eskola said, her father had surgery at Metro Health Hospital in which a surgeon inserted a metal screw to stabilize a neck bone broken by the fall."

His daughter, Janice Eskola, believes her father’s fall represents more than one unfortunate incident at the home. It is about putting budget priorities ahead of the welfare of men and women who served their country. "State officials insist budget pressures afford them little choice but to trim expenses because of a $4.2 million cut in state funds to the home and stalled plans to replace 170 union nurses aides with non-union contract workers. "

Gov. Rick Snyder intends to extend privatization in the 2012 budget for the home, at an estimated savings of up to $5.8 million a year. State funds to the home were cut by $4.2 million in anticipation of that move.



The Louisville Courier Jornal reported the jury’s verdict in a recent two week nursing home neglect trial against Treyton Oak Towers.  The jury awarded $8 million in damages to the estate of a retired surgeon whose legs were broken becuase of neglect.  Dr. David Griffin died less than two months after he was improperly transferred from a chair into his bed causing fractures.  The plaintiffs claimed Griffin was transferred without a lift and by only one nursing assistant, in violation of the nursing home’s care plan, which required two assistants.

The worse part is that Defendants tried to cover up what happened.  Employees were ordered to change medical records to cover the incident up.  This happens all the time in nursing homes. 

The verdict was returned after the jury deliberated for about two hours and included $2 million for pain and suffering, $1 million for violating the state nursing home statute and $5 million in punitive damages.

A jury in the case of BUMGARDNER vs. GATES HEALTH SERVICES, INC., a/k/a GATES HEALTH CARE SERVICES, INC., a South Dakota Corporation, d/b/a FIRESTEEL HEALTH CARE CENTER, in a town of about 15,000 people in eastern South Dakota answered that question for us yesterday. In South Dakota, she is worth at least $500,000.

The resident was approaching her 101st birthday when a CNA carelessly dropped her, fracturing her hip and shoulder and banging her head (subcutaneous hematoma). She lived 31 painful days following the fall.  The Death Certificate, for some unknown reason, listed death as natural causes due to congestive heart failure and pneumonia. The Death Certificate was signed by the very same doctor who was the medical director for the nursing home.  Has he ever heard of conflict of interest?

Nursing home admitted liability–sort of–approximately 10 days before trial. "Sort of" because they admitted that they violated physician’s order by not having a 2-assist for the transfer, but claimed her hip had fractured "spontaneously" causing her to begin to fall, and if they’d had 2 assists she would not have hit the floor, but all they were responsible for was the shoulder and the bump on the head. They also denied that the fall caused her death.

Jury gave $400,000 on the survival action and $100,000 on the wrongful death claim.


Numerous media outlets have discussed the recent Georgia nursing home verdict of $43.5 million in a wrongful death case against the owner of a nursing home chain.  The case involved a resident, Morris Ellison, who fell multiple times at the nursing home, suffered a painful broken hip which the nursing home failed to recognize, report, or treat for days. He ultimately died from malnourishment and dehydration related to the injuries suffered in the fall.  The nursing home also did not notify Ellison’s doctors or family of his injuries. The unanimous jury concluded nursing-home operator, Greg Houser, was responsible for the death of Morris Ellison and set damages at $43.5 million.

Defendants’ delays and obstructions caused the litigation to be contentious.  In fact, one of the defendants filed bankruptcy in the middle of the trial in an effort to delay the proceedings and gain sympathy from the jury.  The trial stopped for a day and a half while Plaintiff obtained an emergency order from the bankruptcy court lifting the stay.

Houser is a lawyer in Sandy Springs, owned the Forum Group Corp., which operated the Moran Lake Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center that had been cited for repeated state and federal violations.  Houser and his wife, Rhonda Washington Houser, also face federal charges for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.  Federal prosecutors say the Housers spent millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid payments on real estate and other personal expenses to purchase luxury cars and real estate, including a $1.3 million Atlanta home for George Houser’s ex-wife instead of on the care of residents at the three homes Houser operated.  Houser filed for bankruptcy protection, listing total assets of between $20 million and $100 million.

The lawsuit was filed by Loretta Terhune, Ellison’s daughter. She said her father, who was in the nursing home for a year before his death in 2007, broke his hip in a fall there because of negligence.

"Mr. Houser, through his companies, systematically drained the money and resources from his nursing homes [and] caused all sorts of shortages of food, water and medicine and basic supplies," said Stephen G. Lowry, one of Terhune’s two attorneys. "He was severely neglected at the time of his death, malnourished and severely dehydrated."  At trial, a nursing home director testified the facility lacked the funds to pay its staff, do laundry and pay bills.



The Daytona Beach News Journal had an article about the findings against Ridgecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for various and significant violations including when a patient was ignored as he had lain for almost 12 hours with broken bones. Hopefully, the authorities will terminate its ability to collect  taxpayer funds from Medicare and Medicaid after a state review found conditions there harmful to residents.

Barbara Fasold, 76, fell out of bed at Ridgecrest while her bedding was changed at 5 a.m. on Feb. 19 — breaking both legs and her left shoulder. Rescue workers weren’t summoned to take her to the hospital until after the next shift came on about 4:45 p.m.. The report states that Fasold’s X-rays were completed by 8:40 a.m. the day she fell, but the nursing facility’s staff didn’t read them until 4 p.m. She was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center and admitted for her injuries. Ultimately, however, she died at a hospice facility, six days after she fell. "There was no evidence of the staff attempting to secure the (X-ray) results before then, even after the resident complained of pain," the report states.

A letter from Robert Dickson, field-office manager for the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Quality Control Division, states that his agency is recommending to the federal government the facility be fined $250 a day, retroactive to Feb. 19, until Ridgecrest is in compliance with state nursing-home standards. Also, if the facility is not in "substantial compliance" by Sept. 15, the state agency will recommend that its contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid be terminated.

Dickson’s office issued a letter to the facility March 4, based on the inspection report from Feb. 18, that said, "no discernible deficiencies were noted on the day of this survey."

The new findings gave poor marks to the care for two out of 10 residents whose cases were reviewed. The 59-page report and plan of correction stand in stark contrast to a routine inspection report based on a visit to the 160-bed facility the day before the patient was hurt — when no deficiencies were found.  What a surprise.