Articles Posted in Nursing Home Closure

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4084143946_3f906a5f1c.jpgNursing home negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understand that the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility is always a difficult one. Sadly, many elderly people have medical problems that require constant supervision and attention, and they are simply too ill to be cared for at home. Nursing homes are entrusted to care for some of our nation’s most vulnerable residents at a critical time in their lives. When this trust is violated, and nursing home abuse or neglect happens, the results are often devastating.

When nursing home neglect happens, nursing home residents have important legal rights. Skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities, especially those that house residents who are dependent on Medicare and Medicaid, must adhere to certain state and federal standards. For example, federal nursing home guidelines provide that nursing home residents have the right to be free from abuse by nursing home staff or fellow residents, including all types of physical and mental types of abuse. Depending on the circumstance, when allegations of elder abuse arise, a criminal investigation may be conducted. Compensation may also be available to cover expenses associated with the resident’s abuse.

Nursing Home Closure

Nursing home facilities that do not provide quality care may face the prospect of sanctions and even closure. Recently, a California nursing home was shut down after dozens of serious violations were reported. According to the New York Daily News, complaints ranged from general lack of training by nursing home workers to lack of supervision and deplorable health conditions. There were also reports of abuse by residents that are being investigated by local law enforcement officials.

Even more shocking is that after the state revoked the license of this particular nursing home, staffers reportedly walked out and left several residents still in their beds, with no one to supervise them or provide necessary medical attention.
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4389836692_3e1d12b818.jpgNursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that a 76-year-old nursing home resident from Minnesota recently passed away from complications of injuries from being tasered. Police used a taser on the elderly man while responding to a call for help from Park Health and Rehab in St. Louis Park.

The man, Zheng Diao, was behaving erratically at the nursing home when the police were called, on July 14, 2013. He was wielding a knife and scissors and moved the knife toward his throat when officers requested he drop the weapons. Diao, however, did not speak English, and officers ultimately tasered him to keep him from harming himself. Diao immediately fell to the ground after the shock, seriously injuring his face.

He was brought by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died on July 29. His cause of death was pneumonia, which he developed while being treated for delirium and massive injuries. Park Health and Rehab stated that the incident was unfortunate, but that the staff responded appropriately at the time by calling the police for assistance.

St. Louis Park police stated that it will enlist an outside, independent agency to investigate the man’s death and events leading up to it. The Minnesota Department of Health is also investigating the incident. We have reported extensively about the devastating consequences of police tasering. Suspects who are subdued by taser can experience very serious cardiac episodes after the event, which can lead to cardiac arrests and death.

The president of the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs stated that health care workers throughout the nation need better training on how to deal with erratic or aggressive residents. Too often, inexperienced or overworked nursing home employees let these situations escalate out of control, using physical, chemical, or violent restraint to subdue them.

Residents with dementia are often most at risk of erratic behavior, as they can become more easily confused, agitated, and aggressive. In 2009 in Minnesota, former wrestler Vern Gagne threw a fellow Alzheimer’s patient onto the ground at a retirement home. The man suffered a broken hip and later died from complications.

Park Health and Rehab is owned and operated by one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, Extendicare. The facility has been subject to investigations about eight times in recent years after reports were sent to the Office of Health Facility Complaints.

A surprising story out of Nevada recently detailed how widespread the abuse of seniors is in that state. The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently reported that Nevada is one of just two states in which every nursing home has been cited for deficiencies by state health inspectors. One in three Nevada nursing homes has been cited for a severe deficiency, which refers to violations that left a resident in imminent danger or inflicted actual harm.

Despite this, in 2012, Nevada did not issue one single monetary penalty against a nursing home, though it did refuse to pay for any new resident admissions at one facility. Injuries from neglect, mistreatment and abuse are rampant in Nevada, where numerous homes are on the federal Special Focus Facility List. Experts assert that state nursing home must first increase quality and amount of staff to improve care standards.
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last-station-nursing-home-4_l.jpegNursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that three assisted living facilities in Florida, Apple House I, San Martin De Porras, and Boynton Beach Assisted Living Facility, were recently ordered to shut down after repeated violations were left unresolved.

The Boynton Beach Facility was cited by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration for losing two residents who wandered away, failing to prevent an incident of rape, and overall inadequate care. Residents will be moved to another facility. Boynton Beach was also recently charged with Medicare fraud.

The second facility, San Martin De Porras Assisted Living Facility, was shut down after caregivers tied an elderly woman to a wheel chair. The illegal physical restraint forced the frail woman to sit on a life-threatening pressure ulcer for long periods of time, further exacerbating the wound.

The restraint was discovered in February 2012 by state health inspectors, who consequently fined the facility $20,000 and closed its doors. In their report, inspectors affirmed that the resident was in imminent danger, and details how inspectors found her, trying to get up from the chair but unable to, as she was restrained with two lap belts around her abdomen and legs. She also had a pressure ulcer on her backside, which was not being medically treated.

Pressure ulcers in nursing homes are, unfortunately, incredibly common, and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly and properly. The restrained woman suffered from seizures, diabetes, psychosis, and two pressure ulcers. She should not have even been in an assisted living facility – she required the services of a skilled nursing facility. She was not receiving medication for her seizure disorder at San Martin, nor were her blood levels being monitored to control her diabetes.

The reason for this, according to facility records, was because her earlier medical records had been shredded. Not surprisingly, in 2010, the facility was cited for sloppy record-keeping and failing to help residents properly take all their medications, along with failing to keep proper medication records.

In both February and March 2013, the facility was cited for having inadequate staff.
The third facility, located in Putnam County, recently entered into a settlement agreement with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, resulting in its closure. Apple House I was subject to several monitoring surveys since 2012, which came up with several violations and fines of about $28,500. Apple House II, located in Crescent City, was fined $7,000 but allowed to keep its doors open.

The surveys of Apple House I found two Class One violations – the most serious – and four Class Two violations. The two Class One incidents stemmed from the abuse of a resident by another resident, which surveyors concluded staff could have reasonably prevented. The agency found that Apple House failed to ensure its residents a safe and decent living environment, after it admitted a resident known to possess behaviors of violence and harmfulness. The agency also determined Apple House failed to educate its residents of their personal rights to report incidents of abuse or neglect, whether it be by employees or other residents, thereby failing to protect the privacy and dignity of residents.

The four Class Two violations included failure to train competent staff, which was discovered after the facility manager never achieved passing marks on a state-required CORE competency test. Other violations included failure to perform adequate background checks on staff members, which is a significant measure considering the vulnerable nature of the facility’s residents.
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Thumbnail image for elderly-medications_l.jpgNursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that the Ohio Attorney General recently announced that the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is seeing a spike in complaints regarding acts of abuse and neglect in Ohio nursing homes.

So far in 2013, the office of the Attorney General has opened more than 130 cases of alleged abuse and neglect – this is compared to the same time in 2012, when the office had less than 75 cases opened. Ohio recently reaffirmed its commitment to nursing home compliance and safety, and authorities in the Attorney General’s office are now aggressively investigating nursing homes they know to provide inadequate care.

The state is now hoping to go after the long-term care facilities that cause harm to their residents, even asserting that it will use in-room hidden surveillance cameras if necessary. One nursing home, Autumn Healthcare in Zanesville, Ohio, recently had its license revoked by the state’s Department of Aging. The revocation was due in part to an investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which revealed staff’s inability to provide proper medical, nutritional, and personal care to at least one resident.

The state has been tracking Autumn Healthcare recently, and in four years’ time the facility has failed to show any improvement. As the Attorney General warned it would, investigators worked with residents’ families and placed hidden cameras in some of the rooms. Unfortunately, the surveillance videos illuminated habitual patient neglect.

The Attorney General called the videos shocking and appalling, and said that some of the nurses were physically sickened by what they saw in reviewing the tapes. Criminal charges have not yet been filed, but are expected. Ohio sent a relocation team into Autumn Healthcare to help residents find other locations to stay after the facility’s license is officially revoked.

One video captured the abusive treatment of a stroke patient who had his food tray placed on the side of his body that had been paralyzed. He was completely unable to eat his meal, and nurses did absolutely nothing about it.

The mother of a recently deceased resident of Autumn Healthcare told a local news station that staff would throw the bedsheets off her mother at 5:30 a.m. and tell her she had to get up. She also once found her 94-year-old mother on the floor of her bathroom with no one around to help her.

Four other nursing homes have had their licenses revoked in Ohio since 2012, and officials are stating that Autumn will not be the last. Advocates commend Ohio’s use of hidden cameras in nursing homes with a pattern of abuse and neglect.
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1330873_courthouse.jpgVirginia State Senator Bill Stanley recently proposed legislation that will require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to carry enough insurance to compensate injured residents and their families. Nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers are hopeful that this legislation will gain ground and be quickly approved.

There is current legislation requiring homes for adults and adult day care facilities to have sufficient insurance coverage, but no such legislation exists for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Similarly to other big industries, such as asbestos manufacturers, complicated corporate networks are protecting owners from paying legal claims. Many large nursing home chains have filed for bankruptcy to avoid expensive abuse and neglect litigation.

One such company, Haven Healthcare, filed for bankruptcy protection while in the midst of accusations that it diverted millions of dollars to a country music label in Nashville. According to the New York Times, Haven manages 15 nursing homes in Connecticut, and, prior to filing for bankruptcy, was accused of numerous incidents of resident mistreatment.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for nursing homes and large chains to seek bankruptcy protection after such allegations. Many do so under the guise that the protection will guarantee better care for residents. The reality, however, is much more malicious. Over the past five years, at least eight other nursing homes entered into bankruptcy in Connecticut alone.

There have been many cases of lawsuits won by victims of nursing home abuse and neglect who are unable to receive the awards because the facilities had no assets and insufficient insurance coverage. One such case involved the death of an elderly woman at a Florida nursing home. The woman, wheelchair-bound and raddled with dementia, passed through a propped-open door to the facility’s stairwell, where she fell to her death. The door was left open by an employee going out for a smoke break. The jury awarded the woman’s family $200 million. The defendant, Pinellas Park Care Center, had recently dissolved and no longer existed. Ownership of Pinellas Park divided into layers of different companies. One researcher found that some of the nation’s largest for-profit chains have up to five layers of ownership.

These layers mean that decisions on staff and supplies are often not made by the facility administrator or even the local owner; they are being made by real estate investors or private equity firms. This lack of transparency directly contributes to low-quality care because companies have no incentive to provide high-quality care. State officials have much difficulty levying fines and sanctions if they cannot work out who ultimately makes the decisions. The family of the woman awarded $200 million is still awaiting payment.

Senator Stanley personally investigated similar cases. In one instance, a nursing home resident was physically assaulted by another resident known to be dangerous. The man later died from the injuries, and when his family sued, they found that the facility had no assets and only $100,000 in insurance, which went mostly to court costs. In another instance, the parents of an adult with cerebral palsy sued the facility after her death. The woman died from suffocation due to improper breathing equipment maintenance and lack of supervision. That facility had only $50,000 in coverage, which were, again, used to cover court costs. The parents said that they would never have admitted their daughter into the nursing home if they had known about the facility’s insufficient insurance coverage.
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The state of Illinois has initiated the revocation of Hillcrest Healthcare Center’s nursing home license for a long history of elder abuse. The most recent allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect at this Joliet nursing home are yet another example of the quickly growing epidemic of elder abuse. Ironically, these allegations surfaced during National Nursing Home Week, which celebrates the admirable lives and work of nursing home residents and staff. Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys have extensive experience obtaining the maximum compensation elder abuse victims deserve.

Allegations arose that a younger male Hillcrest resident abused over 20 other residents. The alleged abuse was mental, physical, and sexual, and occurred over an extended period of time. The abuse consisted of abusive language, inappropriate sexual behavior, and threats of physical violence. These allegations are a prime example of the different types of abuse that so frequently occur in nursing homes. While physical and sexual abuse often leave tangible evidence, mental abuse is more difficult to discover and eventually prove it in a court of law. As a result, allegations of mental abuse have only begun to surface in recent years as a result of awareness campaigns.

The alleged abuse here was reported shortly after an incident where an elderly patient was given an excessive dose of anti-seizure medicine, requiring immediate medical attention and hospitalization. The nursing home is facing impending litigation for that instance as well as the more recent allegations of abuse. These lawsuits, accompanied by many others in Hillcrest’s history, cast an ominous cloud of the legitimacy of this nursing home.
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Dozens of elderly nursing home residents were forced to quickly relocate from the nursing home facility they were living due to funding problems. The Astoria Gardens and Rehab center, a nursing home that existed for decades in west-central Illinois, recently closed its doors after reports of late state payments. The nursing home facility was home to more than 35 residents and employed about 40 people.

When a nursing home facility closes, it is the nursing home’s responsibility to relocate residents, and a 90-day notice is required. Unfortunately, Astoria’s residents were given just a couple of weeks to find new homes. Many of the residents were in their 80s and 90s, so forcing them to a different location in such a short period of time likely took a serious emotional and physical toll.

Reports from the Peoria Star Journal claim that the state was at least six months behind in its healthcare reimbursement payments to the facility, although government officials deny the allegations. A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health confirms that the closing was voluntary.

Astoria is one of many nursing homes around the country closing due to underfunding by Medicaid. Our Illinois nursing home lawyers realize that as more and more nursing homes close, our loved ones are having trouble finding places to live in their elder years. The number of available nursing home beds has decreased at least 5 percent in the last decade, and the number of available high-quality senior care options continues to rapidly diminish.

We also recognize that nursing home closures can lead to abuse and neglect of vulnerable residents. Unfortunately, some nursing facilities that remain open in our area are already operating with minimum staffing levels and cannot provide adequate monitoring and supervision to residents presently in their care. The additional burden of even more residents, requiring more medications and maintenance, may open the door for instances of nursing home negligence.
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