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Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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Nursing home abuse is not only physical or mental abuse, it can also be financial abuse. Recently, 40-year old Channel Francis, pleaded guilty to identity theft of three residents of Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in Queens, a nursing home in New York City. She is expected to serve 2 to 4 years in jail. Channel fraudulently obtained the identity of the victims though the help of an unidentified friend who was working at the nursing home.

In 2013, The New York Attorney General received complaints from 3 families of residents at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation about unauthorized transactions on the credit cards of their loved ones. After investigation, the Attorney General’s office found out that Channel Francis used the credit cards of the residents to purchase designer handbags and various electronic items such as high definitions TVs and Ipads.  Despite not being an employee at the Queens nursing home, Channel was able to obtain the credit card information through another person who was working there.  Unfortunately the investigation did not determine who the person was.

Financial abuse of nursing home residents shouldn’t be tolerated. If a loved one is a resident at a nursing home, you can prevent financial abuse by regularly checking all financial statements of your loved one.

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NYSTLA will hold a meeting of the Medical Malpractice Committee on April 19th at 6:00 p.m. and should last until 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at NYSTLA Headquarters at 132 Nassau Street Suite 200.

Red Alert!

As you probably know by now, federal legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 1215 would impose severe restrictions on medical malpractice actions and actions against nursing homes throughout the country including a $250,000 cap on awards for non-economic damages as well as other toxic limitations. The bill has already passed committees in the House. It was scheduled to be brought to the House floor on March 29th, 2017, but that has been delayed. It is anticipated, however, that it will still be brought to the floor, and that it has a good chance of passing.

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nursing home abuse“Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s nursing homes” is the title of a new investigation recently released by CNN. According to this investigation, sexual abuse at nursing homes is widespread and little is being done to stop it.

It is very saddening that many elderly that have issues with memory or who can not defend themselves because they are too weak are being sexually abused by the people who are caring for them.  Some of the stories revealed in the CNN investigations are extremely sad, sometimes terrifying. It is very difficult to get an accurate picture of how bad the situation is because predators choose victims with Alzheimer disease who have trouble with their memories or victims who are too terrified to talk. CNN found out that nursing homes are often reluctant to believe sexual abuse accusations or are trying to hide the truth to avoid lawsuits.  Additionally the police often dismiss the claim and blame the victim for being confused. On the top of it repeated caregiver offenders are often able to work in another nursing home after being fired from a previous one. There is a systematic failure to protect victims from sexual assault in nursing homes.

In the CNN investigation a daughter explained how her mother  who flew away from Indonesia to  avoid being sexually abused by Japanese soldiers was raped in her American nursing home at 83 years old. CNN also reports the story of a male nurse who was caught by a colleague raping an 83 year old patient in a nursing home in 2014. The man was sentenced by a judge to 8 years in prison. The nurse apologized to the judge and his attorney asked for leniency. CNN discovered that the man had previously been suspended 3 times from the same nursing home for sexual abuse accusations.  The earliest complaint was made in 2008, 6 years before. The nursing home continued to let the man work  there again despite knowing he was a sexual predator.

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Disabled residents at a NYC group home have been physically abused and neglected for years. A lawsuit file against Union Ave. IRA, a group home in the Bronx alleged that disableD residents were physically abused and neglected dozens of time over the last ten years. The lawsuit was filed by the residents’ guardians in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. One of them claimed in the lawsuit that his sister was raped while living at the group home. The guardians are not only suing the staffers from from the group home but also officials from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities who are supposed to make sure disabled residents are safe. Read more in the NY Daily News

Union Ave Group Home

Picture: courtesy of Google Map

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nursing homeDisturbing complaints of nursing home abuse through social media has recently prompted federal health regulators to announce plans to crack down on this type of despicable and abusive behavior.

Since 2012 Pro Publica has identified 47 cases of nursing home employees taking demeaning pictures or videos of residents and posting them on social media.  This reprehensible trend was also denounced by the Washington Post last year.

Posting explicit pictures or dehumanizing videos of nursing home residents is a new form of abuse that is very disturbing and needs to be addressed by nursing home facilities and regulators.

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dementia-595638_960_720A New York City nursing home security guard punched an 83 year old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s in the face. 55 year old Michael Adagba was working as a security guard at the Vanderbilt Nursing Home on Castleton Ave. in Tompkinsville, Staten Island last Friday. Around 7:30 p.m. an 83 year old Alzheimer’s patient tried to exit the building.  Exit seeking is a type of wandering that is common among patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Often the patient is trying to return to a secure place, a home, a family or a workplace. Nursing home staff including security guards are taught to address this type of wandering in a peaceful way . They are supposed to be trained to talk to wandering patients in a friendly way, to make them feel secure.   The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that staff  listen to the reasons why a patient wants to exit and not contradict him or her but propose to go out a little later and then find a way to distract the patient. It seems like Michael Adagba didn’t have much training or experience in working with Alzheimer’s patients. So instead of trying to calm down the 83 year old patient and talking to her in a friendly way, he just punched her in the face. The poor woman suffered swelling and bruises on her face, head and body . Micheal Adagba is facing charges of felony and misdemeanor assault and harassment.

Read more in the NY Daily News

Picture: courtesy of Pixabay

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Elder Justice LeagueElder abuse or elder mistreatment happens anytime a caregiver or a supposedly trusted person (in a nursing home or at home) intentionally causes physical, emotional or financial arm to a vulnerable elder. It is very difficult to determine the extent of this problem as often elders will not or are unable to complain. However as the elder population is growing so does the number of  instances of abuse. A few years ago The “New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study” established that  for one case of abuse known to agencies 24 were unknown.

In order to better fight this growing issue, elder justice advocates representing 11 organizations have joined forces together and created the “The Elder Justice League”. Supported by the National Center on Elder Abuse, “The Elder Justice League” wants to raise awareness of elder abuse through social media.  The NYC Elder Abuse Center is part of this league and you can learn more about it on their website.

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Medical malpractice is on the rise in hospices. Once a place handled by nuns and caring volunteers, hospice care has become a multi-million dollar business handled by not so caring CEO’s who are often putting profits ahead of patient needs.

Recently the FBI busted Brad Harris the 30 year old owner and CEO of a Texas Hospice for instructing nurses to overdose patients.  The Daily Beast  writes that during the course of the investigation Harris texted one of the nurses “You need to make this patient go bye-bye”. Harris who has no medical education also texted another nurse to increase by four times the patient’s medication. In another conversation Harris said “if only this F*** would die”.

Because hospices are paid by the government through Medicaid and Medicare  they receive a cap amount of $27,820.75  per patient. Therefore a patient who stays alive too long is not profitable for a hospice. The incentive is to have more patients with shorter stays. The FBI said Harris spoke about “finding patients who would die within 24hrs”.

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Thomas_P._DiNapoli_cropThe Department of Health is not properly enforcing the law to prevent the neglect and abuse of New York nursing home residents according to a recent audit from the New York State Comptroller, Thomas P.  DiNapoli (see wikipedia picture of the left).  In a meeting with senior citizen advocates in Albany, DiNapoli said that the Department of Health is taking too long to fine nursing homes who have committed violations. According to the audit, in 2011 the DOH collected a total amount of $152,000 in fines  in 2014 compared to $628,000 fines in 2011. Not only are much fewer fines are being levied but the time it took from the violation until the collection of the fine was 4 years in 2014 compared to 6 months in 2011.  Read more in the Legislative Gazette 

 

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dementiaNursing home abuse doesn’t necessarily relate to abuse committed by staff members on residents. Sometimes nursing home residents can be abused by other residents as well. In a recent article in the Buffalo News, Melinda Miller looks at a study from from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City that that surveyed 2,000 nursing home residents in 10 randomly chosen nursing homes in New York State and interviews with several elder care specialists about this problem.

According to the study, every month, 1 out of 5 residents in New York nursing homes experiences some form of aggression from another resident. Most of the time the aggression is only verbal such as screaming or cursing but sometimes anger leads to physical assault and residents may be hit, kicked or bitten. Sexual assault is also an issue with some residents exposing their genitals or making unwanted sexual advances. Instances of scratching, spitting and throwing things are also mentioned in the study.

In nursing homes, it is common to see confused residents entering other residents’rooms and going through other resident’s belonging. This type of behaviors can be the starting point of further violence. In the article, the director of an Elder Clinic in New York State, explains how her confused mother went into the room of another resident who then got upset and pushed her. She fell and broke her wrist.