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The attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan provide effective, aggressive representation to individuals injured in the New York area. Our priority is to maximize the recovery of our clients injured due to the neglect of others.

A Nursing Home Aide in Cortland, NY has pleaded guilty to stealing a credit card from one of the patients under her care. Hope Pearson, a Certified Nurse Aide at the Crown Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on Kellogg Road in Cortland, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, a felony. Pearson, and codefendant, Schenekqua Carter activated the resident’s credit/debit card and illegally charged over $5,000 on the card after checking it’s available balance. The women used the card at multiple locations including a casino and numerous different stores and ATM’s.courthouse

Pearson’s sentencing is scheduled for October 4, 2016. Carter entered a similar plea and was previously sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution. The state Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case. Nursing home residents are amongst our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity by those in charge of their care. For a certified nurse aide to steal from someone whose wellbeing is their primary responsibility is reprehensible. Nursing home professionals who seek to profit by stealing from defenseless residents will be held accountable,” said NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

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On June 14, 2016, a 76-year-old woman with dementia wandered out of Citadel Rehab and Nursing Center in the Bronx, NY. She can be seen on surveillance video standing in the Center’s lobby and leaving the facility with a group of people. Rufus Dunbar, the woman’s son arrived for a visit to find out that his mother was not where she was designated to be. After notifying staff that he could not locate his mother, they searched everywhere, yet still could not find her. Not until facility video surveillance was reviewed, did they realize that Doris Dunbar had wandered right out the front door. Rufus desperately pleaded for any help to find his mother Doris and bring her home.

Earlier this year, The Citadel Rehab and Nursing Center at Kingsbridge received a citation for a similar incident of wandering/elopement. On February 17, 2016 the NYS Department of Health conducted a Survey based on a complaint. After the investigation, it was discovered that a resident had set fire to a room, eloped after setting the fire and was missing for approximately one hour. Neither incident had been reported to the New York State Department of Health. According to federal statute 483.13(c)(2), the facility must ensure that all alleged violations involving mistreatment, neglect, or abuse, are reported immediately to the administrator of the facility and to other officials in accordance with State law through established procedures (including to the State survey and certification agency).

The NYS Department of Health performs investigations, known as surveys, of the quality of care and life of those residing in nursing homes throughout the State. These surveys are conducted every nine to fifteen months for purpose of certification, follow-up reviews, and for complaints or incidents reported to the DOH. Survey teams are comprised of multidisciplinary healthcare workers including nurses, nutritionists, social workers, pharmacists and sanitarians. During a standard survey, the quality of the care provided by the facility is reviewed. The survey team arrives unannounced and observes resident care, staff/resident interaction, and environment. Medical records and other documentation are also reviewed during the survey process. The healthcare facility can be found out of compliance when regulatory requirements have not been met and may be fined for each violation citation received. A plan of correction must be submitted and approved by the DOH before the facility is found to be back in compliance.

On Friday night July 1, 2016, Michael Adagba, a security guard at the Verrazano Nursing Home, Staten Island punched an elderly Alzheimer’s patient. The 83 year-old elderly resident was apparently trying to leave the facility when Mr. Adagba hit her. The resident suffered multiple injuries including bruising and swelling to her face, head and body. The security guard faces charges of felony and misdemeanor assault and harassment.

In addition to the criminal charges against the security guard, the security company and/or the nursing home may also face civil liability for the injuries suffered by the resident, as well as potential sanctions from the department of health.  The security company  / nursing home could be liable for failing to properly train the security guard, negligent hiring of the security guard, and/or depriving the resident of his/her rights under federal and state law as a nursing home resident.

According to federal guidelines, all nursing homes must develop and implement written policies and procedures that prohibit mistreatment, neglect, and abuse of residents. §483.13(c) Each resident has the right to be free from abuse. Residents must not be subjected to abuse by anyone, including, but not limited to, facility staff, other residents, consultants or volunteers, staff of other agencies serving the resident, family members or legal guardians, friends, or other individuals. §483.13(b)

A study published June 14, 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that at least one out of five seniors residing in a nursing home has experienced resident-on-resident abuse. Reports of resident-on-resident abuse were tracked over a period of one month in 5 urban and 5 suburban New York nursing homes through interviews, observation and incident reports. There were 2,011 residents included in the study. 407 (more than 20%) said they experienced such abuse over that month. The research found verbal abuse was ranked highest followed by assorted instances, including invasion of privacy or menacing gestures, physical abuse and incidents of sexual abuse accounting for a small percentage.

fightSeveral factors had an impact on the amount of abuse experienced.  For example, residents in a dementia unit with a higher nurse aide caseload reported higher rates of abuse. Dr. Mark Lachs, researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine stated most of the aggressive acts that occur in a nursing home are due to community living situations. Residents often suffer from dementia or other neurodegenerative illnesses and are being forced into communal living areas for the first time in decades, which are often triggers for people suffering these sicknesses.  Dr. Janice Du Mont, a public health researcher at the University of Toronto suggested families of patients with dementia or are prone to violent behavior, should look for nursing homes with rooms or units set aside to prevent triggering aggressive acts. She also suggested touring facilities to see if there is adequate space or feels overcrowded. Continue reading

On June 2, 2016, two nurses were indicted after being caught on video surveillance ignoring an injured patient at Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  The incident occurred in October 2015. A 51 year old disabled male patient fell in the hallway at the facility, injuring his head and jaw.

Nurses Funmilola Taiwo and Esohe Agbonkpolor can be seen on video ignoring the patient for over 10 minutes as the patient crawled on the floor in agony. After several minutes of watching, Certified Nurse’s Aide Emmanuel Ufot was seen dragging the patient by his arm into his room. 25 minutes later, the patient is seen crawling back into the hallway bleeding profusely from his head and jaw injury while Taiwo and Agbonkpolor stood by watching. Ufot is then seen dragging the patient to his room for a second time by the collar of his gown, twisting it around the patient’s neck. Continue reading

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arrest of a certified nurse aide in Buffalo, NY on June 14, 2016.  Angelene Burton, 53, is charged with slapping an 88 year old nursing home resident. She was arrested after a witness reported her slapping a resident at Highpointe on Michigan Health Care Facility. The resident, who was not named to protect his privacy, is unable to care for himself and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and acute kidney failure.

Burton reportedly slapped the resident on the left side of his face with an open hand while she was providing care. After she completed caring for the resident, witnesses saw her slap the patient in the face again.  The Attorney General’s Office explains its stance on elder abuse by often issuing statement that recognize nursing home residents as our most vulnerable citizens.  They should be assured of their safety while at a nursing facility. AG Schneiderman pointed out in his press release that this type of abuse will not be tolerated and his office will work to ensure patients are properly cared for and treated with respect and dignity. Continue reading

The Nursing Home Data Compendium for 2015 was published March 25, 2016 and showed the percentage of nursing homes with deficiency-free surveys is increasing; this data was collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The Compendium includes data on nursing home characteristics, survey results and resident information which was gathered through the CASPER database for survey and certification information, population data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the Minimum Data Set. Data based on nursing home surveys from 2005 -2008 found the likelihood of a nursing home receiving at least one health deficiency increased during that period, but reversed after that time.

Five years later, the percentage of nursing homes without deficiencies increased from 8.8% in 2009 to 10.2% in 2014. There has also been a decrease in the amount of surveys finding substandard quality of care from 4.4% in 2008 to 3.2% in 2014.  The compendium also includes a list of the most frequently cited health deficiencies found on surveys from 2005 to 2014. The top deficiencies were storing and cooking food in a safe and clean way, ensuring the facility is free of accident hazards, providing adequate supervision to prevent accidents, providing necessary care to improve resident well-being and having a program that investigates and controls the spread of infections. Continue reading

Nursing home staff members were accused of violating a resident’s privacy by posting degrading photographs and videos on social media. Jane Bosquet, a 76 year old woman suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease and resident of Wingate Belvedere in Lowell, Massachusetts had “unflattering” photographs of her taken and posted on Snapchat by two nurses’ aides. Sabrina Costa and Kala Lopez violated the rights of several vulnerable elderly women, all of whom are suffering from dementia. Costa and Lopez apologized to their victims’ families in court last month as they pled guilty to elder abuse; however their words reportedly did little to comfort the families. Jay Bosquet, son of Jane, stated the aids abused their responsibilities and trust they were given. Jay Bosquet remembers his mother as vibrant and funny, but she has not been the same since the incident. He is heartbroken by what happened to his mother. Continue reading

Holiday Manor Care Center, a nursing home in California, was fined $100,000 as a result of a resident’s death at the facility. The facility was found to have several deficiencies in the way the staff cared for the patient who had a known risk for falls.

The resident was admitted to the facility in August 2014 with diagnoses of confusion, impaired vision, and unstable balance.  She required assistance when walking. On September 8, 2014, the resident attempted to get out of bed on her own without supervision and fell.  A staff member noticed her on the ground and documented the fall.  The notation indicates she was found on the floor moaning with a bump on the right side of her head and a blueish discoloration.  Nine days later the resident died; she suffered a hemorrhage in the brain and the cause of death was blunt force head trauma. Continue reading

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created the Five-Star Quality Rating System in order to help consumers, families, and caregivers compare nursing homes easily and help identify areas they may have questions about. The site rates each nursing home on a scale of 1 to 5; nursing homes with 5 star ratings are considered to be above average quality and homes with a 1 star rating is considered to have lower than average quality.  In order to obtain a high rating from CMS it is important to have adequate measures in place in order to that focus on prevention and early detection for wound/skin care, falls, and urinary incontinence. It is also important to have measures in place that focus on weight loss, dehydration, infection, and dementia care.

A bill proposed in October 2015 called The Nursing Home Accountability Act set forth guidelines that would make a nursing home facility with two or less stars ineligible for a future mortgage/loan.  This method is far more stringent than the  current Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards.  HUD is a major lender for nursing home facilities.  Although this legislation is not likely to pass, it provides a glance into possible future legislation surrounding this topic.
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