Articles Posted in Neglect

According to a report by the Minnesota Department of Health, Kenneth Allers suffered seizures for over 11 hours while a nurse (only identified in the report as “Alleged Perpetrator”) ignored him. Allers died the next day.

The report states that on the morning of August 31, 2016 Allers had two seizures, approximately one-and-a-half hours apart. According to the report, Allers was unresponsive but breathing after the seizure and showed visible signs of pain including “grimacing and restlessness.” Despite a request for pain medication by the staff, the nurse did not administer any pain medication or alert a physician. After a third (and the report states “subsequent seizures”), Allers bit his tongue causing swelling and “extensive oral trauma.” Again, the nurse did not administer any pain medication or notify a physician despite staff requests. This cycle continued and Allers proceeded to have seven seizures over an 11 hour time period, during which the nurse did not administer any pain medication, alert any staff or provide any other medical assistance to Allers. After enduring seven seizures, the nursing staff changed and Allers was given pain medication by a different nurse.

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Three nursing home employees in Nassau County have been arrested in connection with the death of nursing home resident at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility.  Registered nurses, Sijimole Reji and Annieamma Augustine and certified nurse aide, Martine Morland were charged with neglect and endangerment of a resident. The patient relied on a mechanical ventilator to breathe and was completely dependent on the facility’s staff.

On December 20, 2015, the wheelchair bound resident became disconnected from her ventilator, setting off audio and visual alarms to alert staff of a life-threatening situation. The three employees were at the nursing station when the alarms sounded, however they did not immediately respond. Staff ignalarm-300x200ored the resident’s alarm for over nine minutes before they attempted to provide assistance to the patient. The resident was found unresponsive and unconscious; she was then transferred to Nassau University Medical Center, where she died the next day. Continue reading

On October 18, 2016, six individuals were arrested in New York for  exploiting the financial vulnerability of nursing home residents; defendants are from Bronx, New York, Queens and Suffolk Counties. The five New York City defendants stole personal identity information from residents in order to secure cash or credit they were not entitled to; and the defendant from Suffolk County stole a necklace from a 95 year old female resident. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman stated it is “reprehensible for caregivers to steal from defenseless residents in order to line their own pockets.” He continued to say his office will not tolerate financial exploitation and will vigilantly work to ensure nursing home resident’s personal and financial information is protected.  The six cases are summarized below:

  1. Diana English, Director of Social Services at Far Rockaway Nursing Home in Queens – Allegedly removed an elderly resident from the home and took him to his bank to withdraw money without the required medical clearance on June 24, 2015. The resident withdrew $500 from his account and gave it to the director; this occurred several times. The resident passed away the following month; English accessed his account with his PIN number and stole $1,200 from his account. The resident suffered from an anxiety disorder, physical issues due to hip replacement surgery, short and long term memory deficits , cognitive deficits and was unable to care for himself. She was arraigned in New York City Criminal Court – Queens County and is being charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
  2. Sandra Rivera-Tapia, Director of Social Work at Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Queens – Allegedly obtained a resident’s ATM card and PIN number and stole $7,418 from the account. The money was acquired by making several cash withdrawals from various ATM’s in her neighborhood and throughout New York City, as well as store purchases on the card. The resident suffered from schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, sublaxation of the right hip, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and hypertension and was unable to care for himself. She was arraigned in New York City Criminal Court – Queens county and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, and Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the Third Degree.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, has issued a rule that will prevent nursing homes receiving federal funding from requiring resident’s to sign admission agreements with arbitration clauses. An arbitration clause is a clause in a contract requiring parties to resolve issues through the arbitration process, therefore depriving the resident of his/her right to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home. These clauses have forced claims of sexual harassment, elder abuse and even instances of wrongful death from being handled in an open courcourthouset.

The fine print of arbitration clauses have also prevented disputes on resident safety and quality of care from being publicly known. This rule will provide new protections to 1.5 million nursing home residents. The agency’s new rule is the most significant overhaul of rules regarding federal funding for long term care facilities, restoring millions of Americans their right to pursue action in an open court.  The rule applies to pre-dispute matters, allowing the parties to a dispute the opportunity to seek arbitration after a dispute arises. Continue reading

Attorney General Eric T. Schniderman announced the arrest and arraignment of four former nursing aids in Oswego, NY on September 15, 2016. The aids were arrested for cases regarding nursing home abuse at two Oswego nursing homes. All four aids were charged with misdemeanors and felonies for taking “undignified” photographs and videos of residents at Pontiac Nursing Home and St. Luke Health Services; both facilities have strict policies forbidding cell phone use.  A.G. Schneiderman stated that residents of nursing homes and their families deserve peace of mind knowing their loved ones are being properly cared for and respected by their caregivers. He continued to say recording residents for amusement is a “blatant violation” of residents trust and privacy in a place they call home.

In one case, nursing aids Matthew Reynolds and Angel Rood, former employees of Pontiac, took demeaning photographs of a resident using an iPhone. A.G. Schneiderman said there were multiple pictures showed Reynolds and Rood lying in bed with the resident and touching them in a “taunting and abusive manner.” John Ognibene, Administrator at Pontic fired both aids immediately. Ognibene stated the staff at Pontiac is educated in patient rights during orientation as well as at their annual inservice training. Inservice training reviews the restriction using cell phones, social media and taking photographs of residents. Ognibene continued to say any violation of the policies or implementation of them is unacceptable. Continue reading

A Buffalo nursing home is under investigation after a resident-on-resident fight resulted in death at Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  The fight began when 83 year old Ruth Murray accidentally wandered into a male resident’s room; both residents suffered from dementia. Murray suffered a punctured lung, multiple facial fractures, a lower back fracture, a broken neck and bruising from the fight. She was transported to Eerie County Medical Center where she passed away two days later.

The nursing facility issued a statement on the incident giving their condolences to the family and that they have been cooperating with authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. They continued to say they strive to provide a supportive, caring and safe environment for all residents. The incident is being investigated by the New York State Department of Health as well who declined to give a statement due to the pending investigation. Buffalo Police Department is also conducting an investigation; no charges have been levied at this time. The family retained an attorney, who is assisting with the investigation.

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Four nursing home staff members were arrested for neglecting to provide care to a 94-year old resident at Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Cooperstown, NY. The elderly female resident was diagnosed with a 4cm x 2cm pressure sore after allegedly being left in the same recliner for 41 hours over Memorial Day weekend this year. The female resident, identified as “M.P.” received only one meal, one medication administration, and only one time was incontinence care provided by staff over the nearly 2 day window, as captured by facility surveillance footage. Not until the resident was removed from the recliner was she diagnosed with a pressure sore.

The NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arrest and arraignment of four Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center employees on charges alleging they each failed to provide care to a resident. The four staff members, including 2 Licensed Practical Nurses (L.P.N.) and 2 Certified Nurse Assistants, (C.N.A.) were arraigned on 8/2/16 in Otsego Town Court in Fly Creek, NY. According to Schneiderman’s press release, Lorraine Caldwell, L.P.N., Amanda Gus, L.P.N., and Sarah Schuyler C.N.A. were arraigned on various felony charges including Falsifying Business Records, Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the first degree, and the misdemeanor charge of Wilful Violation of Health Laws. Donna Gray, C.N.A., was arraigned only on the misdemeanor charge of Wilful Violation of Health Laws. New York Penal Law 260.25, Endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree, states that “A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree when he knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a person who is unable to care for himself or herself because of physical disability, mental disease or defect.”

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An Upstate New York Nursing Facility is being sued by the son of a 63 year-old patient, who died after choking on a grilled cheese sandwich. Maureen A. Bali, a resident at Huntington Living Center from May through December 2015, suffered from dementia. As part of Bali’s resident plan of care, she was fitted for and wore dentures to eat. She required her dentures to be able to bite and chew solid food. Federal regulation 483.35(g) – Dietary Services/Assistive devices, states “the facility must provide special eating equipment and utensils for residents who need them.” On December 19, 2015, according to the lawsuit, Huntington staff “negligently, carelessly and recklessly” fed Bali a grilled cheese sandwich without wearing her dentures. Subsequently, she choked on the sandwich resulting in respiratory distress related to aspiration. Ms. Bali died on December 22, 2015 due to complications associated with choking and aspiration of food. According to a recent advertisement for the facility, The Center, self-proclaimed, “Secure Dementia Care Specialists” has a special needs unit “committed to providing expert and compassionate care in a warm, safe comfortable environment.”

Lawson L. Bali, Maureen Bali’s son, is suing Huntington Living Center for neglect and wrongful death. The lawsuit filed on July 28, 2016 in New York State Supreme Court, claims that his mother “received negligent medical care and improper treatment from Huntington, resulting in her wrongful death.” He also claims that his mother “experienced conscious pain and suffering from December 19-22, 2015 and was deprived of her rights/and or benefits created or established for her well being, in violation of nursing home laws, rules and regulations, as well as New York Public Health Law 2801-d.”

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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 New York nursing homes through interviews, observation and incident reports. Of the 2,0111 residents included in the study, more than 20% (407 residents) said they experienced such abuse over that month. The research found verbal abuse was ranked highest followed by assorted instances such as invasion of privacy and menacing gestures, physical abuse with incidents of sexual abuse accounting for a small percentage.

Several factors had an impact on the amount of abuse experienced, for example residents in a dementia unit with a greater 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. 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 from these illnesses.  Dr. Janice Du Mont, a public health researcher at the University of Toronto suggested families of patients with dementia or patients 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 the space feels adequate or overcrowded. Continue reading

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.

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