Charleston’s Counton2 reported that an employee at Twin Oaks Assisted Living Facility in North Charleston was arrested on sexual assault charges.  Nathaniel J. Richardson would sneak into the 80-year old female victim’s room and sexually assault her in various ways that included lifting her shirt and biting her chest. Court papers say there is photographic evidence from bite wounds.

State Law Enforcement background check shows he has a criminal record going back years.  It includes arrests for threatening the life of a public official, resisting arrest, criminal domestic violence and armed robbery. The background check showed he received a 5-year sentence at Lieber Prison for that conviction.

 

The Des Moines Register reported that 2 nursing homes and their corporate masters were fined a combined total of $875,000.

One of the violators was HCM Management Inc., which runs 11 Iowa nursing homes, and it has agreed to pay $200,812 for allegedly employing workers who had been barred from working in federally funded health care facilities.

Separately, the inspector general’s office entered into a settlement agreement with Bethany Lutheran Home, a 121-bed Council Bluffs nursing home that apparently overbilled the government for Medicaid and Medicare therapy claims.  The settlement that they pay $675,000 to the federal government and enter into a so-called “corporate integrity agreement” that requires the home to provide additional staff training in determining what services can legally be billed by nursing homes to Medicaid and Medicare. It also creates additional layers of oversight that apply to Bethany Home’s billing practices and quality of care.

 

 

A disappointing, yet unsurprising, article was published on NewJersey.com on yet another nursing home employee stealing from a vulnerable adult.  The article reported that Kye M. Giacalone has been charged with stealing over $29,000 from a helpless resident of Maple Glenn Nursing Home.

Giacalone, while working in the admissions office of the facility, befriended one of the residents in an attempt to gain his trust.  After getting power of Attorney, Giacalone opened credit card accounts in the victim’s name, which she paid off with funds from his personal account.   Even after the resident moved facilities, Giacalone continued to steal from him. Authorities have advised that the investigation is still ongoing and the total amount of money stolen has not yet been determined.

A Maywood police detective commented, “She took advantage of the trust given to her.”

This is yet example the need for more stringent background checks and a higher quality of nursing home workers. Sadly, far too many nursing home employees are not the type of person a family would want to entrust their loved one to.

The Sunbury Daily reported on the conviction and sentencing of a former administrator for Selinsgrove personal care home in Middleburg, PA.  Linda A. Sullivan, the spouse of Thomas Pregent, president of the corporation that operated Loving Care, was convicted of three counts of felony theft and one count of misappropriation of property.

Sullivan stole over $20,000 from a helpless resident of Loving Care Nursing Center and then used the funds to purchase a van in her own name.  During the hearing Synder County Senior Judge Harold F. Woelfel Jr. said, “To take advantage of the old and infirm is inexcusable.” Sullivan was sentenced to 23 months on intermediate punishment (house arrest) for her crimes.

Why isn’t she in jail instead of house arrest?

An article in the Robinson-Moon Patch reported that an Ambridge, Pennsylvania woman admitted to law enforcement that she stole blank checks from a nursing home resident’s room and then attempted to defraud him out of over $1,500.

Caren Anne Austin forged the resident’s name and attempted to cash the stolen checks at two local banks.  Staff at Manorcare Health Services, where the victim is a resident, contacted authorities when the checks were discovered missing.  Austin admitted to police that she stole the checks when she was visiting her boyfriend, who was the victim’s roommate, at the nursing home. Austin is charged with forgery and two count of theft by deception.

Austin pleaded guilty in 2002 to multiple counts of forgery and theft by deception, and pleaded guilty again in 2010 to burglary and receiving stolen property in connection to a Moon Township incident.

McKnight’s had an article on a recent survey by OIG of nursing home administrators on criminal background checks.   LeadingAge Director of Advocacy Information Barbara Gay told McKnight’s that criminal background checks have not been found to significantly limit the quantity or quality of candidates for nursing home jobs.

"Ninety-four percent of administrators surveyed conduct these checks, and only 4% reported encountering resistance to checks from applicants…"

"Of the administrators who conducted background checks, 95% conducted them for all prospective employees, while 5% only conducted them for only certain positions. More than 8 in 10 (81%) administrators said they believe there is a sufficient pool of qualified applicants for job vacancies."

 

USA Today reported on one of the biggest successes of the Affordable Care Act–more than 2.65 million Medicare recipients have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions this year, a $569-per-person average, while premiums have remained stable.  The Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that 2012 Medicare prescription drug plan premiums would average about $30 a month, compared to $30.76 in 2011.

A provision in the health care law put a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the "doughnut hole," the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the drug benefit, also known as Part D.   Seniors who reach the doughnut hole in prescription benefits receive a 50% discount on name brand prescription drugs. Drug companies must provide the discount to participate in the prescription plan. Before the health care law took effect, Medicare patients had to pay full price for their prescriptions once they reached the gap in coverage.

Also, more than 24 million people, or about half of those with traditional Medicare, have gone in for a free annual physical or other screening exam since the rules changed this year because of the health care law.  Preventive care should lower the cost of future care.

 

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported the arrest of Leah Price, a business office manager at Linwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, for allegedly forging $18,716.25 in checks. 

The Lackawanna County district attorney’s office charged Ms. Price with 29 counts of forgery, one count of theft by unlawful taking and one count of receiving stolen property, according to a criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint states that a check revealed Ms. Price, who was responsible for payroll accounts and human resource functions, had been submitting the insurance bills for payment for five nonexistent individuals since September 2010.

According to the criminal complaint, Ms. Price’s actions resulted in the facility paying $25,000 more than it should have for 48 employees.

 

AARP is pushing for mandatory criminal background checks for all employees.  92 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. employed at least one individual with at least one criminal conviction. One facility that employed 164 workers had 34 with criminal convictions.

These are among the results of an investigation ordered by the Senate Special Committee on Aging and executed by the Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. The report entitled Nursing Facilities’ Employment of Individuals With Criminal Convictions was released in March 2011.

Federal regulation prohibits Medicare and Medicaid nursing facilities from employing individuals found guilty of abusing, neglecting, or mistreating residents by a court of law, or who have had a finding entered into the State Nurse Aide Registry concerning abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of residents or misappropriation of their property. Guidelines from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for this regulation state that "[nursing] facilities must be thorough in their investigations of the past histories of individuals they are considering hiring."

Despite this guidance, Federal law does not require that nursing facilities conduct FBI or statewide criminal background checks. The issue is therefore left to the states to decide.

The common problem of criminality among nursing home workers stems from the low pay, long hours, poor working conditions, and lack of benefits and absence of opportunity for advancement. These factors produce a very small pool of workers to choose from.