Articles Posted in Neglect

Andrew Hatcher, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, has been charged with endangering the welfare of two developmentally disabled residents under his care at Centerreach Intermediate Care Facility. Hatcher has been charged with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class E Felony, stemming from an incident where he tied up a resident.

According to Attorney General Schneiderman, Hatcher, knowing that he was the only caregiver on the night shift responsible for two severely physically impaired and intellectually disabled residents, “failed to care for them and failed to perform required 15-minute bed checks to ensure their safety.”

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The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has dropped its appeal of a court ruling blocking its prohibition on pre-dispute arbitration clauses, thus rolling back an Obama-era regulation which sought to ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements for nursing home residents. Arbitration clauses force the persons in a contract (in this instance, the nursing home and its residents) from seeking relief from the courts. Instead, an arbitration clause requires that both parties submit to an “arbitration agency” – which are generally more corporate-friendly, usually offer lower monetary awards, and most importantly limit the right of a person to appeal an arbitration decision.

Arbitration agreements often prevent families, who believe that their loved ones have been mistreated or received poor care, from seeking legal remedies in the court system. In addition, nursing home residents are generally in a weakened negotiating position and lack full knowledge of the implication arbitration agreements. Thus, they generally only find out at a later point in time that they have signed away their rights.
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A former employee of Northeast Center for Special Care (NCSP) in Lake Katrine was convicted of sexually abusing six residents of the facility who were admitted for traumatic brain injuries.

NCSP is a facility that provides rehabilitation and care for those suffering traumatic brain injuries caused by stroke, motor vehicle accidents, falls and other dire events. Jacky Stanley was employed as a “Neighborhood Counselor”, responsible for assisting residents in getting accustomed to the facility. His responsibilities included managing residents social environment and ensuring residents participated in their required programs. Continue reading

Pressure ulcers, commonly referred to as “bed sores”, are a growing problem among elderly and immobile patients, according to a study by the University of Michigan. According to the study, the amount of pressure ulcers may be up to ten times as common as the Medicare program reports.

The different rates proffered by Medicare and the University of Michigan study derive from the different methods used to detect pressure ulcers. Medicare uses billing data – which is sourced from an administrative team interpreting notes on medical records left by doctors and nurses. Because hospitals receive financial penalties for a higher number of pressure ulcers, there is an incentive for hospital administrations to downplay the number of sores within their hospitals.

The University of Michigan study, however, compared the data given by the hospital administration to “surveillance data” – basically, monitoring the skin assessments given by nurses at hospitals. This data showed that pressure ulcers were up to 10 times more common than the “administrative data” offered by Medicare suggests. According to Jennifer Meddings, M.D., M.Sc. and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, this information shows the need for a standardized approach to diagnosing bedsores – so the data provided is both accurate and uniform across hospitals.

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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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