Hallmark Nursing Centre, located in Schenectady, New York, pleaded guilty in June 2003 to falsifying business records and Willfully Violating the Public Health Laws by failing to provide enough staff to adequately care for its residents. Hallmark agreed to pay back $1 million in Medicaid funding. In addition, the owners, James Durante and Joseph Nichols, were barred from operating any more nursing homes.
From 2000 to 2001, the Department of Health repeatedly cited the home for failing to provide proper care due to understaffing. In one instance, inspectors found that twelve residents had pressure sores and “reduced ambulation and range of motion.” In another instance, inspectors found that inadequate staffing resulted in medication errors and “undermined patent dignity.”
The worst staffing shortages were among the Registered Nurses (RNs). In 2000, RNs at the facility provide 35 minutes of care per resident per day. In 2001, RNs provided four minutes of care per resident per day. As a result, unauthorized staff members performed treatments that were only to be performed by RNs. To cover up this fact, nursing home staff falsified the facility’s records.
While staffing levels continued to drop, the owners James Durante and Joseph Nichols withdrew more than $1 million from the facility.
Eliot Spitzer, who was the Attorney General at the time, stated, “This prosecution demonstrates that nursing homes will be held criminally accountable when corporate management willfully fails to follow important laws designed to protect nursing home residents.”