Category Archives: Nursing.Homes

‘One day longer’: Union pledges to outlast Cedar Haven owner in four-week-old strike

Source: Daniel Walmer, Lebanon Daily News, November 17, 2017
 
The local union president for striking Cedar Haven employees thanked her fellow nurses at a rally Friday – but she also issued a dire warning to any who might be thinking of crossing the four-week-old picket line.  “If we lose this fight, like people have said, where on earth are people going to bring their loved ones for quality care?” Penny Kleinfelter asked. “If we would, somehow, lose this fight, I would hold everyone who crossed that picket line responsible for helping to ruin Cedar Haven’s future.”  Union officials said they haven’t received any new offers from nursing home owner Chas Blalack of Stone Barn Holdings. In fact, Kleinfelter said Blalack’s alleged unwillingness to negotiate may now not only be about the contract – which reduces paid time off and substantially increases employee costs for health insurance – but also about breaking the will of the union. … The lengthy standoff has caught the attention of regional and international union leaders for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Officials announced that the international union is donating $10,000 to support strike operations, while AFSCME Council 13 is donating another $10,000. …

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Because They Care: Cedar Haven Workers and Residents Stand for Dignity
Source: Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride, HuffPost, November 14, 2017
 
It’s not easy for workers to stand up to powerful bosses in our country today. Too often, the deck is stacked against them. But when healthcare workers and the people they take care of join together on the picket line, you know something extraordinary is going on. That’s exactly what is happening at Cedar Haven nursing home, where residents are joining nurses, nursing assistants, and support staff and making a powerful statement about dignity for all. … The staff of Cedar Haven are care takers, whether for the facility’s residents, their own children or their aging parents. The vast majority of the 300 employees are women, many of them single mothers. Blalack’s unilateral decision to increase their health care costs is a mark of disrespect to the people who provide top notch care to the residents of Cedar Haven. After Blalack refused to negotiate, they took the only action they could: they went on strike.  When I joined the strikers on the picket line last week, several residents were on hand, showing their support. …

Two weeks in, Cedar Haven strikers are prepared for Christmas
Source: Daniel Walmer, Lebanon Daily News, November 3, 2017

A labor dispute at Cedar Haven shows no signs of abating two weeks after nurses went on strike. If you need proof, consider this: AFSCME Local 2732 President Penny Kleinfelter has placed an artificial Christmas tree along the Fifth Avenue picket line in preparation for the holiday season. Kleinfelter said she isn’t trying to send a message – she’s just decorating, since she usually puts up her Christmas tree at home at the beginning of November. But she hopes Cedar Haven ownership understands the strikers are “in it for the long haul.” … Some union members have applied for unemployment compensation, and the union is defending their claim on the basis that they went on strike to protest an unfair labor practice, said AFSCME council director Steve Mullen. The union has maintained that owner Stone Barn Holdings bargained in bad faith by implementing a new contract even though it was voted down by union members and while negotiations were still ongoing. …

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Exclusive: Nursing Home Sought Help From Lobbyist Friend Of Governor

Source: Jim Defede, CBS Miami, November 3, 2017

State officials intended to permanently shut down the now infamous The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in 2014, when a lobbyist with deep ties to Governor Rick Scott interceded on behalf of the man who wanted to take it over, CBS4 News has learned. The role of one of the Governor’s friends lobbying state officials on behalf of Dr. Jack Michel so Michel could obtain the license for the Hollywood Hills nursing home has not been previously reported. The nursing home is now drawing intense scrutiny following the deaths of more than a dozen residents after its air conditioning system lost power during Hurricane Irma. … In 2014, Michel wanted to buy the nursing home, whose owner at the time, Karen Kallen-Zury, had just been convicted of Medicare fraud and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. … Political leaders have questioned whether Michel should have been granted a license given the fact that Michel and two former business partners paid $15.4 million to the federal government to settle fraud claims. …

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Hollywood nursing home should never have been licensed, state senator says
Source: Bob Norman, Local 10 News, October 26, 2017

The U.S. Justice Department hit Michel with civil Medicare fraud charges in 2004, alleging he received $70,000 each month in kickbacks to funnel nursing home patients into Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami for medically unnecessary procedures. … Michel eventually purchased the Larkin hospital (beginning with what the feds alleged appeared to be sham transactions) and, according to the complaint, began paying to other doctors for more bogus Medicare referrals. … Farmer says the fraud described in the Michel complaint has become all too common. … Michel and his business partners — including Chicago Rabbi Morris Esformes and his son, Philip — paid $15.4 million to settle the fraud case while admitting no wrongdoing. Published reports show that the Esformeses have a long history of nursing home violations going back decades in Chicago and other cities, including one case in 2001 involving the deaths of four women during a heat wave in St. Louis. Criminal investigations netted no charges in that case, but the nursing home was hit with a $275,000 civil judgment in one suit while three others ended with undisclosed settlements. But after paying the $15.4 million settlement to the federal government, both Michel and the Esformeses simply continued in the business of running nursing homes and hospitals. …

Hurricane Irma: Hospital linked to nursing-home deaths was paid $48M to care for Florida prisoners
Source: Arek L Sarkissian, Naples Daily News, September 26, 2017

The owner of a Florida nursing home whose 11 residents died after Hurricane Irma has benefited for years from millions of dollars in government contracts despite repeatedly running afoul of state and federal regulators. Dr. Jack Michel, owner of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, owns a Miami hospital that has received $48 million in taxpayer money since 2006 to treat state prisoners. The payments to Larkin Community Hospital started the same year Michel settled a federal fraud lawsuit that accused him of bilking taxpayers. They continued after the state barred one of his assisted-living homes from taking new patients. And state officials are giving no indication that the payments will stop now despite Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s comments that the owner is unfit to care for patients after deaths at his nursing home.

Larkin provides the prison hospital care under no-bid agreements that the Florida Department of Corrections approved, according to agency contract and finance records. The hospital has served as a subcontractor to the state’s prison health care vendors with approval from corrections officials. Eight elderly patients died Sept. 13 after Irma knocked out power at Michel’s nursing home and residents remained for several days without air conditioning. Three other patients died days later after being hospitalized with complications. …

Stephenson County Board postpones decision on nursing home referendum

Source: Jane Lethlean, The Journal Standard, October 12, 2017

The Stephenson County Board postponed a vote today to place an advisory referendum on the November 2018 ballot to gauge public opinion about selling the county nursing home. Dan Neal, chairman of the County Board Nursing Home Committee, said there has been strong sentiment by some board members to sell the Stephenson County Nursing Center to a private company. … Ed Sadlowski of Janesville, Wisconsin, spoke on behalf of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31. “This sends the wrong message to the community, and you need to lead,” Sadlowski told the board. “Once you hand the nursing center over to the private sector, it will end up costing residents more.” …

County board to get first look at proposal for sale of nursing home

Source: Tom Kacich, News-Gazette, October 10, 2017
 
Champaign County Board members will get their first review tonight of the proposal for the sale of the county-owned nursing home.  The agenda for the board’s committee-of-the-whole meeting includes an item calling for the release of a request for proposals for a privately owned firm to buy the 12-year-old facility in east Urbana. If the board approves the RFP this month, the sale of the home could be completed this winter. … The proposed request for proposals for the sale of the facility carries a number of stipulations: … That the purchaser assume the existing collective bargaining agreements at the home with the AFSCME employee union. …

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Patient advocates back county ownership of nursing home
Source: Debra Pressey, The News-Gazette, March 29, 2017

Selling the Champaign County Nursing Home could lead to staff reductions, poorer care and service cuts, a group of advocates for medical patients and retirees contended. Gathering less than a week before voters will be asked to weigh in on two public policy questions — whether they support selling or disposing of the financially ailing nursing home or a tax increase to help keep it going — the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Champaign County CARE, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and others Wednesday urged voters to get behind the option that will keep the nursing home in the county’s hands. Research from Center for Medicare Advocacy, Kaiser Family Foundation and others have demonstrated that nursing home ownership matters when it comes to patient care and staffing levels, said Champaign County Health Care Consumers executive director Claudia Lennhoff. … “For-profit facilities, particularly those owned by multistate chains, are more likely to reduce spending on care for residents and to divert spending to profits and corporate overhead,” the Medicare center said in a report. … A 2011 analysis of the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains found they had the lowest staffing levels and highest levels of deficiencies between 2003 and 2008, Lennhoff said. She also said a new owner — especially a larger and/or for-profit one — who would fill more beds at the nursing home, even increasing the Medicaid census in the process, could be a “recipe for disaster.”

… Lennhoff said Champaign County doesn’t have to look any farther than neighboring Vermilion County to see what can happen when a county disposes of its nursing home. After the county sold its Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group in 2013, the county was caught by surprise when 39 employees were cut by the new owner, she said. Now called Gardenview Manor, the Danville nursing home was hit by the Illinois Department of Public Health in January for two “type A” violations, which mean “a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result or has resulted” in the past three months.

Possible sale of Berks County’s nursing home raises questions of quality

Source: Nicole C. Brambila and Karen Shuey, Reading Eagle, September 24, 2017
 
While the financial future of county-owned nursing homes might be uncertain, decades of research is fairly clear: a public sale likely means the number of health violations will go up as the quality of resident care goes down. Observed by researchers for roughly two decades, the phenomenon is often the result of the new for-profit owners cutting costs by reducing staff and slashing employee benefits. … These questions loom large as Berks County commissioners are mulling over whether to sell Berks Heim Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bern Township. No decision has been made but the county-owned nursing home faces a projected $3 million deficit. Citing questions of quality and safety, Berks Heim staff and some residents are speaking out against a sale.

… Berks County’s commissioners considered selling Berks Heim two decades ago but opted against it. But then, a public sale in the late 1990s would have been a first in the region. … research also shows that a sale becomes more likely when surrounding counties have divested. Among Berks County’s six contiguous counties, four counties – Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery and Schuylkill – have all sold county-owned nursing homes since 2005. Only officials in two – Chester and Lehigh counties – have held onto their county-owned facilities. … Talk of a potential sale has been met with sharp opposition from residents and staff. … Divesting a county-owned home then will likely disproportionately impact the poor. … And Harrington, a nationally respected expert on nursing home care, has repeatedly found that for-profit facilities receive more deficiencies than nonprofit or government-owned nursing homes. Comparing the 10 largest chains in the U.S. to government-owned facilities, Harrington found in a 2012 study that serious deficiencies in chains were 41 percent higher. A significant reason for the care discrepancy is staffing levels, typically reduced under new ownership to control costs. …

Daily understaffing persists at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans

Source: Amy Biolchini, MLive, August 10, 2017

Understaffing at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans continues to be a problem, according to an follow-up audit released by the state. That’s after the home entered into a new staffing contract in fall 2016. … However, most other major problems at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans identified in a blistering state audit in February 2016 have largely been resolved, the report found. …

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Blame for poor care at Grand Rapids veterans home sits at the top, Dems say
Source: Amy Biolchini, MLive, July 27, 2017
 
Democratic State Representatives Winnie Brinks and Tim Greimel say Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette hasn’t gone far enough to hold officials with the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the state accountable for the poor conditions at the facility.  “Why did it take so long to get some action? For years, our veterans were literally calling for help, pressing the help button beside their bed, and hearing silence,” Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, said at a Thursday, July 27, press conference in front of the home.  This week Schuette announced felony charges for falsifying medical records against 11 former nursing assistants who worked for the former contractor, J2S Group Healthforce. His investigation found there wasn’t enough evidence to bring criminal charges over the five worst complaints about member treatment, in some of which veterans died. …

Did a 2011 lawsuit against Grand Rapids Home for Veterans predict the future?
Source: David Bailey, WZZM, July 25, 2017
 
The lawsuit was filed by veteran Anthony Spallone intending to stop the on-going privatization at the time.  Gov. Rick Snyder recommended taking state-employed care aides out the home and replace them with nurse aides hired by local contractor J2s.  It was a contentious environment at the time as state aides lost their jobs and were replaced by people they considered to be less-skilled, less-experienced and cheaper.  Union leaders did everything they could to stop the job losses including filing Spallone’s lawsuit.  It alleged the privatization would lead to substandard care and contended J2S had a quote “dangerous track record of care”.   Spallone’s attorney at the time was adamant veterans could be put in terrible situations with the privatization. …

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Atlantic County considers privatizing assets to mitigate PILOT costs

Source: John DeRosier, Press of Atlantic City, April 27, 2017

Atlantic County is considering privatizing some of its assets to mitigate the costs associated with casino tax refunds and because it’s not getting a 13.5 percent share of the PILOT money. Such moves could save taxpayers money but cost some county employees their jobs. The county has been responsible for refunding more than $65 million to Atlantic City since 2010 because of costly tax appeals by the casinos. … On Tuesday, however, Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica said the county is considering privatizing assets that don’t make money, such as Meadowview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Northfield, in an effort to spare residents from large tax increases and keep social services, such as Meals on Wheels, intact. …

Pinecrest staffers face almost daily patient assaults in wake of cutbacks, officials say

Source: Mark Ballard, The Advocate, March 25, 2017
 
The state’s efforts to privatize and economize health care at the state’s remaining facility for the intellectually impaired have resulted in regular assaults on staff by patients, state officials have discovered.  Almost every day, sometimes several times a day, a mentally impaired resident at Pinecrest punches, bites or otherwise violently lashes out at the mostly middle-aged women who help the individuals dress, eat and function in the world. The sudden and dramatic increase in violent attacks is an unintended consequence of “real quick privatization,” says Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto, whose responsibilities include the 95-year-old facility near Pineville. Looking to save money, the state slashed budgets, laid off personnel and in 2013 closed other public facilities, intending to send the bulk of the patients to small, privately-owned group homes in communities around the state where their needs could be addressed on a more individualized basis. Pinecrest Supports and Services Center got the rest. … Budget cuts in other state agencies limited programs that treated these individuals in the past.

… For the 12 months prior to Feb. 28, the staff filed 524 reports, required by workers compensation regulations, for incidents at the facility where three years ago virtually no violence took place. … Perry, an officer in the employees union, says worker’s comp forms are only the tip of the violence iceberg because no publicly available forms are filled out unless the “slap leaves a mark.”  Local 712 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees began collecting statements from its members that provide a little more detail. … Many of the statements collected by the union complained about how they are unprotected by police and, often, are removed from direct patient care. … But the staff has lost its patience, says James Ray, AFSCME field representative and a Methodist minister. “They always say be patient, it’s going to get better. But the state, as an employer, has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace, which they are not doing,” he said.

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Health firms make privatization pitches
Source: Michelle Millhollon, Advocate, February 14, 2014

In an overheated Holiday Inn banquet room Thursday morning, business leaders made pitches for privatizing a $2 billion slice of the state’s health care business. United Healthcare, Amerigroup Louisiana, Louisiana Healthcare Connections and LifeShare Management Group are interested in managing the long-term care needs of 73,000 Medicaid-eligible people. The companies want to oversee the personal care, doctor’s visits, transportation, hospitalizations and other daily needs of people with disabilities, as well as those with age-related or adult-onset challenges.

DHH Wants More Medicaid Privatization, Stakeholders Hesitant
Source: Ashley Westerman, WRKF, November 5, 2013

The state Department of Health and Hospitals is taking preliminary steps to further privatize Medicaid in Louisiana. In August, DHH released a concept paper about reforms to long-term care for the developmentally disabled and low-income elderly.

In a nutshell, the department wants to bring in a private managed care organization – or MCO – to create a network of healthcare providers to serve those populations. Proponents of private MCOs claim they save money, cut down on fraud and improve the quality of care. The state Dept. of Health and Hospitals is looking to privatize the managed care for Medicaid patients with developmental disabilities and low-income elderly. Other stakeholders and advocates for the disabled and elderly throughout the state, for the most part, welcome reform but skepticism remains….

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Hospice owner sentenced to 6 years in $20 million SNF kickback scheme

Source: Emily Mongan, McKnight’s, March 9, 2017

The owner of an Illinois hospice company was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison on Tuesday for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme that paid kickbacks to nursing homes. Seth Gillman owned Passages Hospice LLC, which grew to be the largest hospice provider in the state before Gillman was charged in 2014 with inappropriately designating nursing home residents as hospice patients and overbilling for hospice services. Gillman also was accused of paying kickbacks to nursing homes that participated in the scheme, as well as providing residents of his family’s nursing home chain, Asta Healthcare, with fraudulent hospice services through Passages. Those residents often received services for years, far beyond the six-month cap in place for federal funding for hospice services, authorities said. The family of some former Passages patients told the Chicago Tribune that employees told them their loved ones were terminally ill, when they actually weren’t, in order to move them to hospice care or the more lucrative general inpatient care, or GIP. …

New York’s largest for-profit SNF operator kept nurses in ‘indentured servitude,’ lawsuit claims

Source: Emily Mongan, McKnight’s March 14, 2017

New York’s largest for-profit nursing home group allegedly kept more than 350 Filipino nurses in “indentured servitude” and sued those who tried to quit, according to a class action complaint filed last week. The complaint was filed against SentosaCare by former employee and registered nurse Rose Ann Paguirigan. She said she was recruited from the Philippines to work for SentosaCare and eventually signed a contract to work for a Staten Island facility operated by the provider. The contract stated that Paguirigan would be employed full time as a registered nurse and paid a base salary; instead, she was employed as an RN manager, given 35 hours of work each week and paid less than the wage stated in the contract. Similar contracts were signed by hundreds of other foreign nurses recruited by the company, although SentosaCare and its recruiter, Prompt Nursing Recruitment Agency, have “policies and practices” to not give foreign nurses full time work or pay them the prevailing wage, Paguirigan’s complaint states. The filing also claims that the provider maintains a “deliberate scheme, pattern and plan” meant to convince foreign nurses that they would “suffer serious harm” if they quit the company or tried to find work elsewhere. This scheme included a reported $25,000 penalty placed in the nurses’ contracts that they must pay if they left SentosaCare before the end of their contract term. …

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How N.Y.’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm
Source: Allegra Abramo and Jennifer Lehman, ProPublica, October 27, 2015

Charlie Stewart was looking forward to getting out of the nursing home in time for his 60th birthday. On his planned release day, in late 2012, the Long Island facility instead called Stewart’s wife to say he was being sent to the hospital with a fever. When his wife, Jeanne, met him there, the stench of rotting flesh made it difficult to sit near her husband. The small wounds on his right foot that had been healing when Stewart entered the nursing home now blackened his entire shin. … Doctors told Stewart the infection in his leg was poisoning his body. To save his life, they would have to amputate above the knee. Stewart had spent about six weeks recovering from a diabetic emergency at Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation & Health Care Center on Long Island. The nursing home is one of several in a group of for-profit homes affiliated with SentosaCare, LLC, that have a record of repeat fines, violations and complaints for deficient care in recent years.

Despite that record, SentosaCare founder Benjamin Landa, partner Bent Philipson and family members have been able to expand their nursing home ownerships in New York, easily clearing regulatory reviews meant to be a check on repeat offenders. SentosaCare is now the state’s largest nursing home network, with at least 25 facilities and nearly 5,400 beds. …

The decision maker in these deals is the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, a body of appointed officials, many from inside the health care industry. The council has substantial leverage to press nursing home applicants to improve quality, but an examination of dozens of transactions in recent years show that power is seldom used. Moreover, records show that the council hasn’t always had complete information about all the violations and fines at nursing homes owned by or affiliated with applicants it reviewed. That’s because the Department of Health, which prepares character-and-competence recommendations for the council, doesn’t report them all. … Thirteen of SentosaCare’s homes (though not Avalon Gardens) have Medicare’s bottom score for nurse staffing. Inspection reports also show that at least seven residents have wandered away from the SentosaCare affiliated facilities in recent years — including one who froze to death in 2011. Inspectors and prosecutors have found that staff falsified records in some cases. Dozens of patients at SentosaCare homes have experienced long delays before receiving necessary care; some ended up in hospitals.