Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Judge revokes ‘do not resuscitate’ orders filed by Orlando guardian accused of acting without permission

A judge has revoked any “do not resuscitate” orders in nearly 100 cases involving an Orlando guardian accused of filing them on the behalf of incapacitated clients without permission.

State investigators have determined at least one person died in a Tampa hospital after staff could not perform life-saving procedures because of a “do not resuscitate” order filed by his guardian, Rebecca Fierle, against his wishes.

Circuit Judge Janet C. Thorpe sought the removal of Fierle from 98 cases after finding that she “abused her powers” by requesting that clients not receive medical treatment if their heart or breathing stopped — without permission from their families or the court. Guardians are court-appointed decision-makers for minors and adults with mental and physical disabilities, known as wards.

At a hearing last Thursday, Fierle resigned from all her cases in Orange and Osceola counties, court records show. Thorpe has since ordered all advanced directives signed by Fierle for her wards, including DNR orders, revoked.
“Any future Do Not Resuscitate Orders or Advance Directives must be approved by the Court,” Thorpe said in her order.

The investigation released by Florida’s Office of Public and Professional Guardians concluded Fierle refused to remove a DNR order she had filed on 75-year-old Steven Stryker of Cocoa, despite Stryker’s desire for life-saving actions and concerns from his daughter, a friend and a psychiatrist.

“The ward had never previously expressed a desire to die, and it seems unlikely that, as soon as he was appointed a guardian, he would suddenly be unwilling to tolerate a condition that he had been dealing with for many years,” Andrew Thurman, an investigator with the Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller, wrote in the report.

Medical records confirmed St. Joseph’s Hospital staff did not perform “life-saving procedures” on Stryker because of his guardian’s order, Thurman said. A spokeswoman for the hospital could not immediately comment on Stryker’s case because of patient privacy concerns.

Thorpe also denied a motion to disqualify herself from the cases. Fierle’s attorneys had requested the judge step aside, claiming the guardian “has a well-founded fear that she will not receive a fair trial or hearing.”

“Fierle has no knowledge or notice of what witnesses or evidence the Court has relied upon to make its findings, or if the evidence relied upon was under oath, or what witnesses and evidence will be brought forward at the hearing,” the motion for Thorpe’s disqualification said.

Neither Fierle nor her attorney have responded to multiple requests for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Judge revokes ‘do not resuscitate’ orders filed by Orlando guardian accused of acting without permission

See Also:
Guardian filed DNR orders without permission, says judge who seeks her removal from nearly 100 cases

Fayette County man arrested for alleged financial exploitation of elderly family member

FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A man from Fayetteville was arrested for allegedly wiping out an elderly family member’s bank accounts to help fuel an alleged drug habit, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department says.

Chad Surface, 43, faces 38 felony charges, including financial exploitation of an elderly person, 10 counts of identity theft, one count of grand larceny, 11 counts of attempt of fraudulent use of an access device and two counts of forgery.

Investigators say Surface cleaned out the victim’s bank accounts and sold personal property to, in part, feed his alleged drug habit.

Surface was taken to the Southern Regional Jail. His bond is set at $100,000.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Fayette County Sheriff's Department at 304-574-3590, go to its Facebook page "Fayette County Sheriff's Department," or call Crime Stoppers of West Virginia at 304-255-STOP.

Full Article & Source:
Fayette County man arrested for alleged financial exploitation of elderly family member

NH bill aims to protect elderly and vulnerable adults

CONCORD -- A local lawmaker’s bill to establish protective orders against elderly abuse is on its way to the governor’s desk.

The bill aims to give victims of financial or other forms of exploitation fast access to relief through the courts.

House Bill 696 was filed by state Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, and would create a process in the courts for vulnerable adults to get protective orders for immediate relief from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Cheryl Steinberg of the Senior Law Project at New Hampshire Legal Assistance, who crafted the bill, said there are few means for vulnerable adults to get immediate help from the court when people like their family members are taking advantage of them. She said the order would allow authorities to quickly prevent abusers’ from accessing their victim’s assets.

“There’s still the practical problem someone is stealing your money,” said Steinberg. “We thought we needed something a little more proactive to give the person, the victim, an ability to quickly go to court to stop the exploitation.”

Cushing and Steinberg say HB 696 is one step in a years-long process of improving the state’s protections for elderly and vulnerable adults. They started working together four years ago to keep cases of abuse against vulnerable people from “slipping through the cracks.” Cushing is a longtime victims’ rights advocate who has seen Alzheimer’s disease in his family, and Steinberg’s office provides pro bono legal assistance to low-income people and has worked with clients who were being taken advantage of.

The bill passed committee of conference June 27, sending it to the governor. Gov. Chris Sununu’s spokesman, Ben Vihstadt, said he could not say whether the governor would sign it, as the bill had not yet reached Sununu’s desk and that Sununu will review it once it does.

Cushing and Steinberg put a similar bill forward last year, but it was amended because some Republican lawmakers were concerned it infringed on gun rights. The bill passed with new language clarifying that financial exploitation included abuse of adults who lacked capacity to consent, the part establishing the protective order removed.

This year, Cushing filed the bill with what he and Steinberg believe is less restrictive language, but some Second Amendment proponents are calling for the bill to be vetoed. The bill as it passed the House and Senate states a peace officer can confiscate any deadly weapons involved in the alleged abuse, which is less restrictive than the domestic abuse protective order in which all guns are seized.

Steinberg said she thought giving police discretion would reduce concern from Second Amendment advocates, but Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, said that discretion still leaves it open for police to take more guns than necessary.

“That line is still in there,” said Burt. “I do think they want to help the elderly ... this isn’t the way to do it. If you remove the (reference to) guns out of it, then I would have to re-look at the bill.”

Cushing and Steinberg insist the bill is not a “gun bill,” pointing out that existing protective orders are stricter than the one proposed in Cushing’s bill. The bill has been praised by organizations like AARP-NH and the Alzheimer’s Association regional chapter. Cushing said the bill’s passage would only be a small step in their long-term vision for improving protection for vulnerable people.

“The governor cares about vulnerable people,” said Cushing. “By passage of this bill, it takes a large step forward to making sure that our elderly and vulnerable population is not exploited.”

Full Article & Source:
NH bill aims to protect elderly and vulnerable adults

Monday, July 15, 2019

Highlights of the Upcoming Annual WhistleBlower Summit July 29 through August 1, 2019

Monday, July 29;  3:00 - 3:50:  IN DEFENSE OF THE FAMILY

Hart Senate Office Building
120 Constitution Ave, NE
Room SH-902
Washington, DC  20002

Panel participants:
Marti Oakley, Host, TS Radio Network
Marcia Southwick, Boomers Against Elder Abuse
Dr. Zena Crenshaw-Logal, Executive Director, NJCDLP

The panel will focus on the disparities in the judicial system, specifically the probate tribunals, which can declare an elderly individual civilly dead in order to exploit the estate.  Once captured in the system, the elderly are most times isolated, medicated and then conveniently die just as their estates are tapped out.  Cremation is the standard for disposing of the body (evidence) before the family can investigate the actual cause of death.    With little to no attention paid to civil or human rights, thousands of elderly individuals are targeted by professional predators each year.


The Steward E. Mott House
122 Maryland Ave., NE
Washington, DC  20002

Panel Participants:
Deirdre Gilbert, National Director, National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association
Chip Wagner,  Attorney at Saw
L. Bradley Swartz, Attorney at Law
Constance Jones, Founder of CRJ Healthcare Credentials and Consulting
Ajshay Jones, Principal, Harpridge, Inc.

In the real world, how does whistle-blowing happen in medicine?  This is the subject this panel will discuss.  The forms it takes, the ethical issues arising from it, the protections - or lack of them - for whistle-blowers in private employment - hospitals, for example are extremely limited or non-existent in most states.  Furthermore, most of medical malpractice, professional and institutional negligence are often shrouded in secrecy, protected by law from disclosure. ....


Wednesday, July 31: DYING FOR DIALYSIS?
The Steward E. Mott House
122 Maryland Ave., NE
Washington, DC  20002

Panel Participants:
Arlene Mullin, Dialysis Advocate
Gregory Coleman, Dialysis Patient/Whistle-blower
Dr. David Moskowitz, Founder, GenaMed., Inc.
Eduard Tayruinykov, MD.

Dialysis patients don't have the luxury of just coping with the illness itself, because of the way that the Dialysis industry is structured and how it operated in conjunction with the federal government.    Dialysis advocates allege there is no oversight and no control.  Dialysis is the only fully funded medical program in the US, and results in thousands of potential unnecessary deaths each year as patients are subjected to arguably substandard treatment....

For More Information and Source:
The Whistleblower Summit at a Glance

Note:  T
he EARN Project's documentary "The Unforgivable Truth" will be screened at the Summit, but the date has not been posted yet.  We will update everyone when it's been posted. 

Police help elderly woman get back items stolen by a caregiver

Police help elderly woman get back items stolen by a caregiver

Predators disguised as caregivers may be targeting your aging mother and father.

Detectives with the El Paso Police Department's Special Victims Unit investigate hundreds of these cases each year.

The CBS Problems Solvers sat down with a victim's daughter whom police were able to help. Our team found out these cases can be tricky and the criminals, detectives warn, can move in on your family real fast.

Vulnerable, helpless, trusting -- those are just some of the words Detective Diane Mack uses to describe victims of elder abuse.

"We handle cases of financial exploitation and physical abuse of the elderly and disabled," Mack said.

She's been a detective with the Special Victims Unit for 10 years. She has investigated cases involving home health care, nursing homes and foster homes.

"A lot of times, they don't realize that they're actually being victimized,” Mack said.

CBS4 Problem Solver Concetta Callahan asked, “So it's someone else that reports the crime that's happening to this elderly person?”

And Mack replied, “That's correct."

Mack said most of the cases she sees are crimes committed by home health care providers because they have access to the aging person's personal property and personal identification cards.

Marian Ross said it happened to her mother.

"That was scary that she was able to come in and manipulate the strongest woman I know," said Ross.
“My dad passed away and my sister and my mom were talking about getting jewelry out to wear for my dad's services."

Ross said the situation was a living nightmare for her mother, who is in her 80s.

"There's my dad lying in his casket without his wedding ring," Ross said.

It only took the caregiver a couple of months to take advantage of Ross' mother. The investigation and litigation spanned two years.

Mack said the caregiver, her daughter and the daughter's boyfriend were all arrested for theft. The caregiver was convicted of stealing $80,000 worth of jewelry from the home.

"My dad brought my mom things from Vietnam -- 18-karat gold and sapphire, their 25th wedding ring gone, their original wedding sets, lots of jewelry that we can't even replace," said Ross.

Family photos and old-fashioned detective work got the Ross family some retribution.

"In this particular case, Mrs. Ross had a lot of photographs of her wearing the jewelry, so it really assisted in my investigation. These are some of the jewelry pieces that we recovered from local pawn shops, and also from search warrants we executed," Mack said as she showed the jewelry that was recovered.

Unfortunately, what was returned to the family wasn't even a fraction of what was stolen. Ross said her mother had a rule that's getting the family through this horrible ordeal.

"Her rule was: There's no whining and we don't just cry about nothing," Ross said.

"She was the cool mom that everyone wanted to spend time with," Ross said as she showed off a cellphone video of her mother saying, "Put your hands on your hips and let your backbone slip."

If you're looking to hire a caregiver, detectives say it is best to go through an agency. Agencies are required by state law to run criminal background checks on the home health care providers they hire. If you end up going with an independent caregiver, make sure you get a photocopy of the person's identification. That way, if something goes wrong, police can identify the person.

The daughters of the victim, in this case, came up with a checklist for families who have a caregiver enter their home:
  • Check the insurance of the company to be sure it is in line with the state.
  • Check that your personal homeowners insurance has a rider to cover valuables such as jewelry, furs and other items.
  • Drop in unannounced when the caregiver is working, to make sure they are working.
  • Remove valuables from the home or place them in a home safe.
  • Monitor conversations. ; Listen for clues that may be a warning, such as the caregiver stating that they would never have anyone come into their home to care for their relative.
  • Take pictures and locate receipts of valuables.
Full Article & Source:
Police help elderly woman get back items stolen by a caregiver

Protecting vulnerable seniors from abuse

“By 2020, the U.S. Census predicts 20 percent of New Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents will be 65 years or older, up from 13.5 percent in 2010,” notes Cheryl Steinberg, director of New Hampshire Legal Assistance’s Senior Law Project.

While there are many reasons to cheer this increased longevity, it also brings with it some challenges that need to be addressed.

A bill passed by both the House and Senate and awaiting Gov. Chris Sununu’s signature addresses one of those challenges, the financial exploitation and abuse of senior citizens, especially those who are most vulnerable due to physical or mental impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 25,000 men and women in the state.

State Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 696, which gives seniors who believe they are being financially exploited the ability to receive emergency legal protection while the courts sort out the facts of the case. That emergency relief includes ordering someone to stop taking a senior’s property against their wishes.

In 2014, recognizing the financial exploitation of seniors was a growing problem, the Legislature created criminal laws so that those who took advantage of seniors can be prosecuted. Unfortunately, while these laws are sometimes able to get justice after the fact, they do not empower police, the courts and other protective agencies to stop the exploitation before damage has been done.

Cushing’s bill, HB 696, does just that.

As Steinberg explained in a letter to the House Criminal Justice Committee, which Cushing chairs, “While criminal prosecution is vitally important in combating financial exploitation and other forms of abuse, it does not give the victim the opportunity to take immediate action to stop the abuse, preserve assets, or recoup damages incurred from abuse.”

In this same letter, Steinberg notes the bill has been supported by a wide range of stakeholders including the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, AARP-NH, the Alzheimer’s Association, the NH Bankers Association, the NH Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Disability Rights Center-NH.

“When someone has been financially exploited, their money is gone and it is very difficult to get it back,” said Douglas McNutt, associate state director of AARP-NH. “As this bill provides a mechanism to quickly stop the abuse, HB 696 will be a significant tool to protect against financial exploitation and preserve people’s independence.”

Cushing, Steinberg and Portsmouth Police Detective Rochelle Jones visited our editorial board this week to explain the importance of the bill, in the face of a misinformation campaign by those who are trying to frame it as a gun confiscation bill.

“The bill is an essential new tool to help strengthen our state’s response to this ever-growing problem,” said Detective Jones, who also serves as the Portsmouth PD’s senior services liaison. “It is our duty as a community to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

For the record, House Bill 696 is not a gun confiscation bill, and there is not united opposition to the bill among Second Amendment rights groups in the state. In fact, the bill does not even mention guns (a reference was removed at the request of gun rights stakeholders).

We urge Gov. Sununu to ignore the politically motivated distortions about the bill and to focus on the facts of the very real protections it will provide to our vulnerable seniors. We urge Gov. Sununu to sign House Bill 696.

Rep. Cushing put it well: “The governor cares about vulnerable people. By passage of this bill, it takes a large step forward to making sure that our elderly and vulnerable population is not exploited.”

Full Article & Source:
Protecting vulnerable seniors from abuse

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Passing of a Guardianship Reform Warrior - Lori Duboys

Today, we feel the overwhelming sadness of losing one of our own  - one at the very core of NASGA.    Lori Duboys was one of the original founders of NASGA, serving as Vice President until her retirement a few years ago when she was in her early 80's.     She is directly responsible for who NASGA was when we began and who NASGA became as we grew.   Her retirement from NASGA wasn't a full retirement as she had planned; she just slowed down some.   In fact she was in the middle of a NASGA project just last week. 

Lori always put herself last.  She was the kind of person who couldn't just see a wrong, she had to do her best to fix it.  Her legacy lies in the many people she has helped over years and will continue to help because of her input and dedication to NASGA.   Her legacy will live well beyond her life.  And we will miss her dearly.

One of Lori's children summed up her essence perfectly: "My mother was always ahead of her time. She wore jeans to school in the 40s and 50s, cut classes and dropped out at 15, eventually getting her GED in her 40s. She rode horses and motorcycles. She fought to get recognition for court reporters who used the steno mask/recording system (as opposed to the typed code-style) and was the first to be allowed to join their organization using her method. She has fought for lemon laws, against corruption in the courts, and for the rights of those under guardianship. She helped found a non-profit, NASGA – National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse. Mom is a member of Mensa."

Before NASGA, Lori was very active in NY and directly responsible for a hard-hitting expose in the NY Daily News in 2001 titled, "Milking the Helpless."  Lori enjoyed words and she loved the title and found it fitting in describing guardianship abuse.

Godspeed, Lori.

Ohio hospital fires 23 employees after doctor is charged with patient overdose deaths

 by Regina Barton

An Ohio hospital system is firing 23 employees following an internal investigation into the overdose deaths of 25 patients.

The Mount Carmel Health System announced its plans Thursday, almost five weeks after a former employee of the hospital, Dr. William Husel, pleaded not guilty to the overdose deaths of his patients.

Husel, 43, is accused of deliberately prescribing fatal doses of opioids that led to the deaths of 25 patients. County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said the high doses administered by the Columbus doctor “could not support any legitimate medical purpose.”

In January, Mount Carmel launched an investigation into Husel’s conduct and their own pharmaceutical practices. CEO Ed Lamb, who is planning to resign as a result of the scandal, said a “case-by-case examination of every colleague who was a part of the medication and administration of the affected patients,” as well as management was conducted.

The investigation revealed William Husel, an ICU doctor and anesthesiologist, overprescribed opioids to 35 patients. Husel was suspended last fall and fired in December. Dozens of additional employees were found to be partially liable for the deaths.

Twenty-three, including five managers in charge of physician, nursing, and pharmacy oversight were terminated Thursday. Eleven employees will have to complete additional training and education. One remains on administrative leave.

O’Brien does not plan to charge the nurses and pharmacists involved in the case. He says they were just carrying out Husel’s orders.

“We have the ability to speak up because we have a license and I understand that, but our doctor is our expert and they’re guiding the care,” a Mount Carmel employee told WOSU in January.

Lamb said he will resign by the end of July. Chief Clinical Officer Richard Streck will retire in September.

“These last months have been difficult for our healthcare system, and, in times such as these, new leadership has the ability to facilitate healing and help restore the trust of the community,” Lamb said in a statement.

Husel, who is awaiting trial, maintains he was providing comfort to dying patients, not trying to kill them.

Full Article & Source:
Ohio hospital fires 23 employees after doctor is charged with patient overdose deaths

Kathleen Kane, former Pa. attorney general, is disbarred by the feds

Four months after the state pulled her law license, former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane also has been disbarred by the feds.

The disbarment came via an order from U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner.

And Kane didn’t fight it.

Kane’s disbarment at the state and federal levels results from her 2016 conviction by a Montgomery County jury on charges that she leaked confidential grand jury information and then lied about doing so.

She began serving a 10- to 23-month prison term on that conviction this past November after the state Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal.

Four months later that same court disbarred her from practicing law in the state courts. That disbarment was by consent, which means Kane agreed to surrender her law license without a fight.

The Supreme Court ruling triggered Conner’s disbarment order. Disbarments by state courts inevitably result in identical actions in the federal courts.

As Conner noted in his order, Kane, a 53-year-old Democrat from Clark’s Summit, was given the chance to present an argument that a federal disbarment was unwarranted. She had 30 days from April 4 to make such a plea.

“The time has passed without any claim being presented,” Conner wrote.

Full Article & Source:
Kathleen Kane, former Pa. attorney general, is disbarred by the feds