Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

The Enclave at Rye Rehabilitation and Nursing Center received 34 citations for violations of public health laws between 2015 and 2019, according to New York State Department of Health records accessed on November 29, 2019. The Port Chester nursing home’s citations resulted from a total of four inspections by state surveyors. The violations they describe include the following:

1. The nursing home did not thoroughly investigate an allegation of abuse. Section 483.12 of the Federal code states in part that nursing homes must provide evidence that all allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or mistreatment are thoroughly investigated, and that the results of these investigations are reported to the proper authorities in a timely manner. An October 2018 citation found that The Enclave failed to properly investigate a resident’s allegation that she was sexually assaulted while sleeping. The citation states that there was “no documented evidence that the facility completed a thorough investigation of the resident’s allegation,” specifying further that there was no evidence the facility timely obtained interviews and statements from staffers who may have had knowledge of the events surrounding the alleged incident. Records show that in response to the citation, “the investigation was re-opened and reported to the Department of Health.”

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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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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 Senate Finance Committee examined the “crisis” of nursing home abuse in an emotional hearing this month. Families of abused nursing home patients told their tragic stories and frustrations with the lack of government oversight. In one of the testimonies before the Senators, Maya Fischer tearily detailed the sexual assault her mother suffered at a five-star rated nursing home in Minnesota. According to prosecutors who later charged a nursing home staffer for the rape, the predator had been suspended three times by the nursing home while they investigated sexual assault allegations. In two of these instances, the nursing home staffer who attacked Fischer’s mother was the main suspect.

Fischer described her “final memories of my mother’s life… watching her bang uncontrollably on her private parts for days after the rape, with tears rolling down her eyes, apparently trying to tell me what had been done to her but unable to speak due to her disease.” According to CNN, Fischer’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Fischer says she is now speaking out to prevent her family’s tragedy from occurring to anyone else.

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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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Over a decade after a scathing article in the New York Post about the low-quality of care provided in many New York City nursing homes, the problem continues unabated at many nursing facilities. In 2006, the New York Department of Health fined 48 nursing homes in the five boroughs – including eight with violations so severe that nursing home residents were in “immediate jeopardy.” These nursing homes included:

  • United Odd Fellow and Rebekah Home. According to the Department of Health, a resident choked to death because the facility lacked adequate staffing. An inspection report from that year concluded that more than half of the staff at United Odd Fellow and Rebekah Home did not know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
  • Split Rock Rehab and Health Care. During 2006, this Bronx nursing home allowed a resident to die from lack of oxygen.

All nursing homes that receive more than $10,000 are required by federal law to report any suspicion of crimes against their elderly residents. While there have been reporting problems, the Department of Health and Human Services has vowed to increase enforcement of these federal regulations.

The mandatory reporting requirement, originally a part of the Affordable Care Act, more colloquially known as Obamacare, has two main provisions – both of which carry heftier fines as of November 28, 2017. A violation of these laws can result in a fine of up to $221,000. If the failure to report the suspected crime results in more harm to the resident, the fine increases to $331,000. The assisted living facility will also be fined for retaliating against any employee or resident that reports a suspected crime. The maximum fine allowable for a retaliatory measure is $221,000. Continue reading

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