Articles Posted in Physical Abuse

Crown Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center received 37 citations for violations of New York and federal public health law between 2015 and 2019, according to records provided by the New York Department of Health and accessed on November 2, 2019. Over the course of five inspections by health authorities, the Cortland, New York nursing home received five more citations than the statewide average of 32. It also received five enforcement actions resulting in fines between 2012 until 2018. According to the Long Term Care Community Coalition, Crown Park is a “one-star nursing home,” a term that indicates it “shows evidence of significantly poor levels of care.” The nursing home’s violations found by the Department of Health include the following:

1. The nursing home failed to ensure residents were free from abuse and neglect. Section 483.12 of the Federal Code provides nursing home residents with “the right to be free from abuse, neglect, misappropriation of resident property, and exploitation.” A January 17, 2018 citation found, however, that the nursing home did not ensure that ten of eleven sampled residents were provided with “adequate supervision to prevent abuse.” The citation states that these residents were involved in multiple altercations with each other, and that the facility’s failure to ensure each resident’s safety resulted in the continuation of these altercations. These altercations reportedly resulted in injuries: one resident received a bruise, while another sustained a laceration and bled visibly. Although the facility’s protocol provided for a system of safety rounds to ensure its residents’ safety, “there was no documented evidence” that such a program was operated as defined. A stipulation and order dated September 18, 2018, states that alleged violations uncovered during the January 17 inspection resulted in the Department of Health’s levying of a $2,000 fine against Crown Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Continue reading

A federal judge ruled against SensotaCare, the largest nursing home provider in New York, saying the agency violated human trafficking laws with its meager wages and “threat of serious financial harm” designed to prevent anyone from quitting. According to Newsday, Judge Gershon of the federal Eastern District of New York also found that the owners of SensotaCare, Benjamin Landa and Bent Philipson, could be held personally liable for violating the anti-trafficking laws. 

The ruling continues a decade-long saga between the corrupt owners of the nursing home and the Filipino nurses who say they were required to pay $25,000 if they ever quit their job. At one point, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota charged thirty nurses who quit en masse with endangering the welfare of children for leaving  their position. The charges were overturned by a state court because they violated the rights of the nurses to be “free from slavery.”  

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Elder abuse is a growing problem in America that often goes unreported. According to a recent article in NPR, healthcare workers and government regulators are failing to report cases of suspected elder abuse to local authorities. The article analyzes a recent report by the Office of Inspector General which found that despite evidence of abuse or neglect severe enough to warrant medical attention, healthcare providers rarely alerted authorities. Under both federal and state law, healthcare professionals are legally required to report cases of suspected abuse.

Elder care advocates are unsurprised by the federal agency’s report, saying that elder abuse is widespread and unreported in the United States. The report only further confirms the severity of the elder abuse and the indifference to tackle the problem. One study relied upon by the federal agency that authored the report analyzed nursing home residents who end up in an emergency room. The researchers looked for potential signs of neglect or elder abuse, such as head injuries, body bruises, bedsores, or any diagnosis that may indicate sexual or physical abuse.

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The family of an incapacitated woman impregnated by a nursing home worker is seeking $45 million in damages relating to the brutal assault of their child. According to the lawsuit, medical exams show the incapacitated nursing home resident had been raped repeatedly over the course of two decades. In addition to the long-running sexual assaults, it is likely the woman was impregnated by nursing home staffers before the crime made national news earlier this year at Hacienda Healthcare in Arizona.

According to her lawyer, staffers at the healthcare facility were shocked when a 29-year-old patient went into labor last December. The patient, whose name was not released by news organizations, has been severely incapacitated since almost drowning when she was three-years-old. The legal filing describes her medical issues as severely debilitating – “She cannot maintain sitting without assistance. She is unable to stand/walk… [She] does not make eye contact nor does she smile.” She needs assistance for routine daily activities such as showering, using the toilet, and dressing herself.

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Victims of nursing home abuse and industry stakeholders gathered in Washington this month for a Senate hearing on the nursing home industry. In addition to hearing testimony from the families of nursing home abuse, the federal legislators sounded the alarm over a looming fight over Medicaid funding. According to Skilled Nursing News, the Trump administration will propose its plans to convert Medicaid funding into a “block-grant model.”

According to proponents of the new model of funding, Medicaid spending has spiraled out-of-control and the federal health insurance scheme is no longer sustainable. Instead of continuing with the current open-ended model, the federal government will fund a predetermined amount each year for a state’s Medicaid program. The amount will likely depend on the number of Medicaid beneficiaries in the state, among other factors. The idea for overhauling Medicaid’s open-ended funding model into a block grant system has been favored by Republicans for a long time and finally reached a fever-pitch during the Affordable Care debate in 2017.

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New York State is proactively training nursing home staff how to be “better whistleblowers” whenever nursing home abuse or neglect is suspected. Describing the training as “the first of its kind” across the country, The Buffalo News said the New York Department of Health trained nursing home workers on submitting reports with important details, which include the “time and location of the alleged infractions” as well as any possible witnesses or other relevant information. The health department, which is responsible for overseeing nursing homes in New York, encouraged filing these “comprehensive complaints” in certain situations such as when the nursing home lacked adequate staffing, when important medical devices are malfunctioning, or anything else that puts the health and safety of nursing home patients in jeopardy.

Currently, anyone can file an anonymous report with the state health department. While staffers are obligated to report some instances of nursing home abuse under the state’s “mandatory reporter” laws, elder care advocates say this law is difficult to enforce. The state also prevents nursing homes from retaliating against any employee who files a report or cooperates with an investigation against the facility.

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The police have arrested a nurse who is reportedly responsible for sexually assaulting a nursing home resident who has been in a vegetative state since 1993. According to The New York Times, the nursing home resident and mother has been under the care of Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix since 1993, when she was only four-years-old. The Arizona nursing home said it did not know the woman, who has not been identified by Phoenix police, was pregnant. Upon the birth of her child, police required all male staff members to provide DNA samples. The police then identified the father as 36-year-old Nathan Dorceus Sutherland and charged him for sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Speaking on behalf of the woman’s family, a representative described the woman as possessing “significant intellectual disabilities” and is only able to move her limbs, head, neck and respond to sound. The representative called for a full investigation into Hacienda HealthCare and the staff responsible for the woman’s care. State legislators have not wasted any time in responding to the horrific abuse that occurred at the nursing home. On January 30, the nursing home came under new ownership. Earlier in January, the two doctors responsible for the woman’s care and the CEO of the facility were removed from their positions.

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CMS is preparing to fine nursing home staff and volunteers for refusing to report elder abuse, the agency announced. While the federal agency has been able to fine nursing homes for failing to report abuse, a recent government report showed that crimes against the elderly are still commonplace in nursing homes across the country. The report chided CMS, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for failing to protect America’s senior citizens and recommended aggressive action.

A federal law enacted in 2011 gives CMS the authority to fine individual staff and volunteers at nursing homes across the country, according to Modern Healthcare. The government agency said it will begin seeking civil monetary penalties (or CMPs) of up to $200,000 for staff and volunteers who fail to “report reasonable suspicion of crimes.” The proposed regulation would also protect “whistleblowers” by withdrawing all federal funds from any nursing homes who retaliate against them.

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Elder abuse is one of the most widespread and under-reported problems in the country. However, despite the prevalence of elder mistreatment, the federal government does not gather data or require reporting for the crime against America’s senior citizens. With the population of Americans over the age of 65 expected to double by 2050, elder care advocates are urging the federal government to stiffen enforcement and begin tracking elder abuse cases across the country.

Elder abuse encompasses a wide range of illegal behaviors, from sexual abuse and financial exploitation to outright neglect by family members, caretakers, or nursing homes. Unfortunately, the federal government has not provided states with a precise definition of what behaviors constitute “elder abuse” and therefore, the exact definition varies depending on the state. When the federal government attempted to gather data on the subject for the first time this year, federal bureaucrats described the data received from states as incomplete, according to USA Today.

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Authorities declared the death of an elderly man at a Brooklyn nursing home a homicide earlier this month. The police described a tragic fight between two nursing home patients that began over “a pair of pants.” A “tug of war” over a piece of clothing quickly turned into a violent brawl at Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation when the roommates began beating each other over the head. Staffers say they separated the residents and immediately called the police and an ambulance, however, the injuries were so severe that 74-year-old Eitel Vargas died. 

A statement released by the Brooklyn nursing home said, “This is obviously a tragic event in which one of our residents ultimately passed away, and we have extended our deepest sympathies to the family. The health, safety and well being of our residents continues to be our highest priority, and we are confident that our staff handled the matter in accordance with regulations and our standards.”  The murderous roommate is still living at the facility and has not been charged, according to The Daily News. Local authorities said the investigation is still ongoing and the Department of Health, the state agency responsible for overseeing New York’s nursing home industry, has also opened an investigation into the fatal fight. 

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