Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Apparently, the Cromwell case typifies an everyday practice in Massachusetts probate courts.
The Boston Globe also reports: "After the court declares someone mentally ill and appoints a guardian, for all practical purposes most of the patients officially vanish. Almost none of the state's probate courts have any mechanism to track their whereabouts, monitor their treatment, determine whether they have recovered enough to reclaim their freedom and autonomy, or even learn whether they are dead or alive.
Handcuffed by an antiquated computer system, the courts know how many cases are filed but do not know how many people judges put under the control of guardians each year. The number in Massachusetts each year almost certainly exceeds 2,000.
Virtually unregulated, guardians, many of them lawyers and social workers, regularly ignore requirements that they file an initial inventory of assets of the people they are responsible for and an annual accounting of how they managed a person's finances. In Suffolk Probate Court, where five years of guardianship filings were examined, there were no financial reports in 85 percent of the cases."
The Boston Globe found: "There were 308 cases filed in Suffolk in the past five years involving people who were entrusted to guardians after they were ruled to be mentally ill. In 72 percent of the cases, mostly filed by hospitals and nursing homes, the medical certifications were so brief - some just a sentence or two - or so vague that they fell well short of what the court requires. Many were handwritten, some illegibly.
The court's form states: "Describe in detail the diagnosis leading to the aforementioned opinion (including the types of decisions which the proposed ward has sufficient mental ability to make)." An examination could find no cases in which the petition cited any decisions patients could make on their own - and no evidence in the files or audiotapes of hearings that judges objected to the scant evidence before them.
A study coauthored last year by Jennifer Moye, a Harvard Medical School and Veterans Administration psychologist who specializes in gerontology, compared medical certifications in guardianship cases in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Massachusetts fared worst. The study found that in 154 cases in Massachusetts, the median length of the medical certification was 83 words. In one case, it was just seven words."
Paula M. Carey, the new chief justice of Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, is quoted as saying "I recognize that we in Massachusetts are not in the forefront in terms of guardianship reform" and "We are now making significant efforts."
NASGA certainly hopes that Massachusetts takes a good hard look at the broken guardianship system, repairs it with reformed legislation, and holds firmly accountable any and all hospitals, judges, lawyers and guardians whom under the guise of "protection" have failed our precious senior citizens.
Court strips elders of their independence:
The article was reported and written for a graduate seminar in Investigative Reporting at Northeastern University by eight students: Nicholas Coates, Meghan Gargan, Jeff Kelly, Maggie Kowalski, Candice Novak, Yerina Ranjit, Amanda Smith, and Richard Thompson. Their work was overseen and this article was edited by Northeastern journalism professor Walter V. Robinson, former editor of the Globe Spotlight Team. Robinson's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidential messages can be left at 617-929-3334.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
From the article:
"His lawsuit says Daniel Gross, an eighty-six-year-old resident of New York, went to a Connecticut hospital for treatment of leg problems and ended up, as a result of a conservator’s appointment, on a locked ward of a nursing home where he unnecessarily remained for almost ten months. During that time, Gross charges that his assets were dissipated, visitation with his family restricted, and that he suffered abuse from his nursing home roommate.
A federal civil rights action by Gross is now pending in the United States District Court for Connecticut. The federal lawsuit names as defendants the nursing facility, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, the former acting Connecticut long term care ombudsman, the probate judge who issued the conservatorship order, the conservator, and the attorney appointed to represent Gross in the conservatorship case.
A May 2007 ruling dismissed the claims against the probate court judge on the ground of absolute judicial immunity. Gross’ attorney has filed a notice of appeal from a subsequent order denying a motion for reconsideration of the immunity ruling.
The claims against the nursing facility include conspiracy to deprive Gross of his civil and property rights, violations of Gross’ right to privacy and familial integrity, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (OBRA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Connecticut Patient’s Bill of Rights, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Among other averments, the complaint maintains the nursing home is required by the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396r(b)(2), to provide services to maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of its residents and that it failed to do so."
About the AHLA (from the site):
Leading health law to excellence through education, information, and dialogue, the American Health Lawyers Association (Health Lawyers) is the nation's largest, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to legal issues in the healthcare field with more than 10,000 members. Currently 37 staff members are responsible for the operational activities of the organization.
For more information visit: American Health Lawyers Association
Dee is a valuable member and honorable advocate. When NASGA spoke to Dee, she talked about him looking down from heaven and celebrating Maydelle’s freedom. Dee said she had told her father that he made a difference and it was because of him that the movement began in Connecticut.
Daniel Gross will live in our hearts forever.
With Law, Justice is Conserved
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Trambarulo family story was published in the New Haven Advocate after Maydelle Trambarulo's expected 30 to 60 days stay in Connecticut lasted over three years: Losing Control: Bringing Maydelle Home
According to an update also published in the New Haven Advocate, even after a Superior Court judge ruled that Maydelle, the New Jersey woman stuck in an East Haven nursing home and a protracted custody battle, could return to her family, Maydelle's conservator had asked the judge for a stay of Maydelle's release from his custody: "Losing Control" Update: Maydelle Cleared to go Home
The Harford Courant had reported, "The latest outrage-of-the-month comes from the Woodbridge probate district, where a judge last year denied a request by the children and husband of an elderly New Jersey woman, Maydelle Trambarulo, that she be allowed to leave a Connecticut nursing facility and return home": Probate Court: Offering Unequal Protection Under the Law
Anne Trambarulo Haines testimony of her mother Maydelle was included in the 2006 Federal Options to Improve America’s Ailing Guardianship System: A White Paper for the Senate Special Committee on Aging
NASGA is thrilled to hear the good news of Maydelle now reunited with her family!