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 Times Union reported that Michael Levine, the owner of the Loudonville Home for Adults, is denying that he knew that Richard Ragone was a convicted rapist before he hired him as a maintenance man.  Ragone has been arrested for sexually abusing a 91-year-old woman at the home.

Richard Ragone was a Level 3 sex offender who spent more than 16 years in prison for rape and sodomy.  He was hired by the home in 2008 — the same year he came off parole–despite the fact that Levine admits that the home conducts criminal background checks.

In 1984, Ragone was convicted of first-degree rape, sodomy and attempted sexual abuse and sentenced to 12½ to 25 years in prison for victimizing a 43-year-old woman in Saratoga County.

 

KOKH Fox 25 in Oklahoma reported a recent change in the law allowing convicted criminals of offenses such as assault, battery and first degree robbery to work in nursing homes as long as it was seven years before employment.  However, convictions for rape, child abuse, murder or kidnapping would still be considered unemployable offenses.  Industry apologists wrote the law including Rebecca Moore, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers.  Rep. Jeannie McDaniel authored HB2582 with the intention of creating a fingerprinting system that could perform background checks on prospective nursing home employees using numerous national databases.

 

With the fingerprinting program, employers can look up applicants’ history on national sex offender registries, child care restrictive registries as well as nurse aid registries. If an applicant commits any crime inside or outside of Oklahoma especially involving long-term care facilities, the check will pick up on it. If an applicant gets hired regardless of whether they have an employable offense, will be ultimately up to the employer at the nursing home.

 

It was reported by the News Talk 1240 WRTA radio station that three women are facing charges of shameful neglect in their operation of a nursing home in Altoona.  One of them, Sherry Jo Warner, who ran Warner’s Home for the Aged, had her license revoked near the end of last year, and two of the care aides, Diana Frye and Marjory Koch, are also facing charges of neglecting a care-dependent person.

These charges relate to the neglect of Kenneth McGuire who died several days after he was admitted to the Altoona Regional Hospital because of the many unattended sores he had suffered.  He had so many sores that had not been properly treated that a doctor frankly told a grand jury “that it was the worst case he had seen in 30 years.”   The negligent trio of Warner, Frye, and Koch just had their preliminary hearings on October 3rd.

As reported in The Star Press, Indiana has had several incidents of crimes committed by nurses, including the falsification of records and a nurse working while she was intoxicated.

In October of last year Jeffrey Justice falsified his time sheet to show that he was caring for a patient at the patient’s residence when instead he was at home and the patent was left alone.   After being caught, Justice was concerned with his reputation and asked his employer if he could resign instead of being fired and if his employer would not report him to the state.

This past June Michelle Faurote of Middleton was suspected of being drunk during her shift and when given a breathalyzer was found to be have a blood alcohol level of over three times the legal limit.

In August of 2010 Cheryl Engle of Parker City hired a new employee to work as a nurse even though she knew the woman was not licensed.  Additionally, Engle falsified records for two co-workers to show that they she had given them a diagnostic test for tuberculosis when she had never actually administered the test at all.

In August of last year Sue Ann Vanderbeck attempted to renew her nursing license after it had been suspended when she struck and killed a police officer training on a bicycle.  Vanderbeck had previously agreed to the indefinite suspension of her license and to the terms that she would not seek reinstatement until her house arrest was completed and she had completed a refresher nursing course and a psychological evaluation.

These are just the incidents that have been reported and caught. It brings concern about what may be going on that we do not even know about.

The New York Times reported that pharmaceutical companies, military contractors, banks and other corporations will pay back as much as $8 billion this year to resolve charges of defrauding the government— a record sum and more than twice the amount assessed last year by the Justice Department. This reflects a renewed emphasis on corporate fraud, as the Justice Department devotes more resources to the issue and demands higher penalties from companies.

The settlements are for civil charges of fraud against the government, criminal charges often related to the same conduct and, in the case of health care companies, recovery of money for states for Medicaid fraud.  Why isn’t anyone going to jail?

The Justice Department has collected $8.6 billion over the last three years, more than in any similar period in history, but relatively few prosecutions of individuals have come from the biggest settlements.

"Lawyers say the government is more likely to go after companies because of their deep pockets. Civil cases against businesses can often produce substantial financial awards without the risk inherent in a trial. Civil charges also have a lower burden of proof than criminal charges and can reap triple damages. By one estimate, the government recoups $15 for every $1 spent on a civil case against a company."

In particular, cases of fraud against the government, brought under the False Claims Act, have been rising in recent years. The increase in settlements has resulted in even more whistle-blower accusations being reported to the department.  Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, an advocacy group for whistle-blowers, said that civil fraud cases, related criminal settlements and recoveries for states exceeded $4 billion last year, and that he believed the number would more than double this year.

 

 

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.

 

 

Iowa’s CBS 2 KGAN news reported on yet another incident of a nursing home employee stealing drugs from residents.  Darla Frotmann, an employee of Sunnycrest Manor in Dubuque county has been arrested and accused of stealing prescription pain medications.

In an interview with police Frotmann admitted stealing more than 250 pills during the time she worked at the facility. Even more incredible is the fact that Frotmann was previously charged with a misdemeanor count of prohibited acts with prescription drugs earlier this year, yet she was not only permitted to work at the facility, but trusted to work in an environment where she was constantly around prescription medications.

The case exemplifies the lack of concern nursing homes show when hiring staff to work with and around vulnerable adults. Incidents like this really show the dire need for nursing homes to conduct more stringent background checks and to use better judgement and higher standards when hiring people to be trusted to care for a family’s loved one.

New Jersey’s Fair Lawn Patch News reported that an employee of Maple Glen Center nursing home in Fair Lawn has been charged with forgery, theft, and impersonation after she allegedly conned more than $100,000 from a resident.  Kye Giacalone worked as the admissions director at the facility when she “befriended” the resident and gained power of attorney. She then used it to open credit cards in the victim’s name which she paid for with money from the man’s bank account.  Fair Lawn followed it up with an article that reported charges include four counts of forgery, four counts of impersonating another and one count of second degree theft.

Even after the resident moved to another nursing home Giacalone continued to steal money from his account to purchase personal items for herself. Incredibly, the administrator of Maple Glen Center claimed that the facility had not suspected any wrong doing until the day police came to the facility to arrest Giacalone.

The administrator defended the facility’s judgment saying, “All Maple Glen Center employees are subject to a background check.”   Incidents such as this one show that the background check policies that many nursing homes have in place are not serving their intended purpose-to prevent harm and protect the residents.

Employing a higher standard of people should be made a top priority especially when these are the people entrusted to care for a family’s vulnerable loved one.

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.