Saturday, February 15, 2014

Marie Winkelman Guardianship: A Test Case to Lower the Bar on Incapacity in Florida

At least 100 pages of Florida law, Chapter 744, are devoted to “Guardianship,” which may or may not be imposed upon a person who is determined to be incapacitated.

Holocaust Survivor Marie Winkelman is now a Ward of the State of Florida, based upon the order of the Sarasota County Probate Court, which adopted a mediated settlement agreement that denied Marie her due process rights. This is the fourth part in an investigative series on the involuntary guardianship of author and acclaimed painter Marie Winkelman.

What is incapacity supposed to be?
According to the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act (1997), an “Incapacitated person” is an individual who, for reasons other than being a minor, is unable to receive and evaluate information or make or communicate decisions to such an extent that the individual lacks the ability to meet essential requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care, even with appropriate technological assistance.

So what was Marie’s status before she was put into State guardianship?
Until July 2013, Marie lived independently in a lovely residence in Sarasota, Florida, where she cleaned her apartment immaculately everyday, organized her papers and closets effectively, dressed herself beautifully, prepared her meals, entertained guests frequently, did all of her own shopping, talked with her bankers and financial advisors regularly in person and by telephone, made and received calls multiple times per day, read the daily newspaper, paid her own bills by check and by telephone, and carried on conversations for hours, switching from Polish to English, depending upon the recipients with whom she was speaking.

Why Marie Winkelman’s guardianship is a test case …
Can Marie receive and evaluate information? Absolutely. Can Marie make and communicate decisions? Assuredly. Does Marie have the ability to meet essential requirements for physical health, safety, and self-care? Yes. By lowering the bar of “incapacity,” the State of Florida has created a substantially larger pool of affluent persons whose lives and fortunes are under the authority of the probate courts that increasingly operate in secrecy by closing hearings to the media and the public and removing court records from the public sphere.

Full Article and Source:
Marie Winkelman Guardianship:  A Test Case to Lower the Bar on Incapacity in Florida

See Also:
The Taking of Marie Winkelman 1-2-3

NASGA:  Marie Lubowski Winkelman, Florida Victim

Attempt to Force Chemotherapy Upon Amish Girl to End - Finally!

A court-appointed guardian can drop her attempt to force an 11-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy, a judge ruled.

The decision is a big step in bringing an end to a months-long fight between Sarah Hershberger's family and a hospital. The struggle began when her parents decided to halt the treatments because they feared chemotherapy was killing her.

The ruling issued Thursday by Medina County Probate Judge Kevin Dunn also helps clear the way for Sarah and her parents to return to their farm in northeast Ohio. The family fled and went into hiding four months ago to avoid having the treatment forced on the girl.

Maria Schimer, an attorney who's also a registered nurse, was given the power to make medical decisions for Sarah after an appeals court ruling in October said the beliefs and convictions of the girl's parents can't outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child.

But Schimer said she decided to drop the effort and resign as guardian because it became impossible to monitor Sarah's health or make any medical decisions for her after she left home.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Allows Guardian to End Attempt at Forcing Amish Girl to Resume Chemotherapy

Butler County Ohio Prosecutor: Bill Will Help Prevent Elder Abuse

The elder abuse bill recently passed by the Ohio House will help protect seniors “from fraud and abuse in today’s society,” said Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser.''

House Bill 49 — which is referred to as the Ohio Elder Justice Act and is jointly sponsored by Reps. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea, and Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton — passed by way of an 83-6 vote. The Senate is now considering the legislation that is designed to strengthen the laws protecting seniors from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

“House Bill 49 is very important to our continued and improving efforts to protect our senior citizens,” Gmoser said, also giving credit for the work of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Gmoser also provided testimony supporting the bill when it was in the Judiciary Committee. The bill was introduced into the house in February 2013.

Retherford said as technology advances “so does the use of technology for evil purposes.”
“Far too often the victims are members of the The Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers who are reaching 60,” he said. “These men and women have fought for our country, worked hard for a living and provided us with the way of life we all hold so dear.”

Full Article and Source:
Prosecutor:  Bill Will Help Prevent Elder Abuse

VA Fiduciary Program Accepting Comments on Proposed Rule, AO53


Since as early as 1924, VA and its predecessor agencies have administered a fiduciary program for beneficiaries who, as a result of injury, disease, the infirmities of advanced age, or being less than 18 years of age, cannot manage their own VA benefits. Under this program, VA oversees these vulnerable beneficiaries, and appoints and oversees fiduciaries who manage these beneficiaries' benefits. VA's current statutory authority for this program is in 38 U.S.C. chapters 55 and 61.

Summary:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to amend its fiduciary program regulations, which govern the oversight of beneficiaries who, because of injury, disease, the infirmities of advanced age, or minority, are unable to manage their VA benefits, and the appointment and oversight of fiduciaries for these vulnerable beneficiaries. The proposed amendments would update and reorganize regulations consistent with current law, VA policies and procedures, and VA's reorganization of its fiduciary activities. They would also clarify the rights of beneficiaries in the program and the roles of VA and fiduciaries in ensuring that VA benefits are managed in the best interest of beneficiaries and their dependents.

Dates:
Comments must be received by VA on or before March 4, 2014.

For more information and Source:
A053 - Proposed Rule:  Fiduciary Activities

Friday, February 14, 2014

CA Lawmakers Ask How Social Services Can Better Monitor Care Homes

Lawmakers questioned officials from the California Department of Social Services on Tuesday about how the department can better monitor and regulate residential care facilities for the elderly.

The hearings in a joint Human Services Committee meeting were called after more than a dozen elderly, disabled and mentally ill people were found abandoned for two days at a residential care facility in Castro Valley.

The Valley Springs Manor lost its license from the state.
The owner and all but three workers left.

"This is not working properly," said Will Lightbourne, the director of the Department of Social Services. "We are seeing misses that shouldn't be there."

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed giving the Department of Social Services an additional $7.5 million in the upcoming budget and hiring more than 70 people, including investigators, to visit facilities.

As things currently stand, senior homes are only inspected once every five years and subject to periodic random inspections.

Advocates for the elderly say residential care facilities should be inspected more frequently than day care centers.

"They don't go home to their parents at night," said Patricia McGinnis, the director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. "They don't have frequent visitors. And they are often very frail and dependent."

Advocates are also asking lawmakers to change the penalties for caregivers who break the law.

"Whether it's imminent danger or death or serious bodily harm -- whether (it's) absolute neglect, it doesn't matter. The most you're going to get fined is just $150."

Full Article and Source:
Lawmakers Ask How Social Services Can Better Monitor Care Homes

Watch the Hearing

Your First Sweetheart ...Happy Valentine's Day


Please join or donate to NASGA and help us work for reform of unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships!

www.StopGuardianAbuse.org

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Contilia Retirement Group in Essen, Germany, made what is probably the best calendar ever with a few of their seniors.


Source:
A German Retirement Community Did a Calendar Where Seniors Amazingly Re-created Famous Movie Scenes

86 Year-Old Gymnast!



Source:
YouTube:  86-Year-Old Gymnast

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sarasota Couple Battles to Regain Custody of Their Parents

Kevin Pizzarello and his wife Theresa have been in a two-year battle to rescue her parents from a family member they say is not providing proper care.     

"My father-in-law had escaped from the house and was pounding on the door begging for help from the neighbor," Kevin Pizzarello says. He also highlights an example of self-mutilation by his father-in-law to further support the couple's claims of neglect.
"He plucked with tweezers his individual hairs one at a time, on his face, about 1/3 to 2/3rds of his head, on the front on his arms ..." Kevin Pizzarello says.

Since noticing and reporting the evidence of unsatisfactory care, the Pizzarellos, along with Theresa's brother James, have not been allowed to see their parents. They've been waging a custody battle with the accused family member -- another of Theresa's brothers -- but the legal fight has been unsuccessful even though the Pizzarellos have documents drafted by their parents dictating wishes that run counter to and pre-date the current, court-sanctioned arrangement.

"[My father] wanted my brother James to be the appointed guardian and executor of everything," Theresa Pizzarello says, but the courts have not overturned their original custodial decision despite her and James' efforts.

The situation is all to common, according to area attorney John Torraco.

"Sometimes people use these things as a shield and sometimes they use them as a sword," Torraco says. "Unfortunately, with the population here in Florida, you do see its too common."

Full Article and Source:
Sarasota Couple Battles to Regain Custody of Their Parents

Outrageous financial exploitation of the elderly followed by an insidious insult to a dead victim!

Financial predators of the elderly wear different disguises.  This report focuses on Azzam Hijazi: a taxi driver, known as “The Cabbie You Don’t Want to Call.” 

As you watch this report of the exploitation of injured war Veteran Greg Richey, your blood will start boiling.

Be sure to watch the entire video because you won’t believe what happened to elderly and nearly blind victim,  Frances Jensen. It apparently wasn’t enough to “inherit” her entire estate.  What happened after she died is almost unimaginable and unbelievable!    Even then, her family was rendered powerless to help her. 



Source:
Outrageous financial exploitation of the elderly followed by an insidious insult to a dead victim!

Illinois: Nursing Home Medication Errors Leading to Hospitalizations

Medication errors in Illinois nursing homes are leading to hospitalizations for dangerously low blood sugar, visual hallucinations and labored breathing, according to information obtained by NBC 5 Investigates via a search of public records.

State health inspectors documented 384 nursing home medication errors since 2011. Two residents of care facilities died after recorded medication errors and one resident's untreated infection led to an amputation, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data.

"You're going to have errors, unfortunately. But we hope that there are no errors due to negligence," said IDPH director LaMar Hasbrouck, MD.

Tanya Karney-Brown moved her brother, Joseph, into The Renaissance Park South nursing home in Roseland back in 2005 after Joseph had suffered a stroke and a heart attack.
 
"We checked it out. Everything was fine. So we felt that would be the perfect place," Karney-Brown said.

Two years later Joseph was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer. Karney-Brown said Joseph responded well to his cancer medication, Gleevac.

Months later, however, Joseph's condition changed.

His family discovered the nursing home did not give Joseph his cancer medication for nearly one year. According to a lawsuit filed by the family, the nursing home failed to get Joseph back to his oncologist for follow up appointments.

By the time the error was noticed, Joseph's cancer had spread. Joseph passed away in early 2010.
"He could have been still here, you know, doing what he does best and getting better," Karney-Brown said. "But now unfortunately, he's not here anymore."

Joseph's family filed a lawsuit and reached a settlement with the nursing home.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Medication Errors Leading to Hospitalizations

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hope Dims for Lawyer John E. Clemmons' Victims From Whom He Stole More Than $1 Million













The insurance company that provided malpractice coverage to jailed Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons is asking a federal judge to declare they have no responsibility to help pay back his victims who lost more than $1 million.

If the judge agrees, the amount Clemmons’ victims would receive could be smaller than expected.

In a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville, lawyers for the Hanover Insurance Company stated that Clemmons’ policy does not apply in cases where he broke the law. Clemmons pled guilty in Davidson and Rutherford counties to theft from his clients.

Clemmons is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence at the state prison at the Charles B. Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville.

In its complaint, the insurance company cited several provisions of the policy they say Clemmons violated, including “any intentional, dishonest, criminal, malicious or fraudulent act or omission.”

The suit cites pending legal actions against Clemmons in three Davidson County cases, his guilty pleas to theft charges and the suspension of his license to practice law.
“Clemmons admitted his misappropriation,” the suit states.

Court records show that bond insurance that Clemmons was required to purchase has provided at least partial reimbursement in three of the cases.

The victims also can collect from the Tennessee Lawyers Fund for Client Protection, but the maximum amount that can be claimed for any one attorney, regardless of how many victims there are, is $250,000.

Full Article and Source:
Hope Dims for Lawyer's Victims Who Lost More Than $1 Million

See Also:
Former Conservator, John E. Clemmons, Gets Potential Break on Prison Sentence

A Development Relevant to Abuse and Exploitation


A New Development: Legalized Assisted Suicide

Another development relevant to abuse and exploitation is the ongoing push to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States. “Assisted suicide” means that someone provides the means and/or information for another person to commit suicide. If the assisting person is a physician who prescribes a lethal dose, a more precise term is “physician-assisted suicide.”  “Euthanasia,” by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person’s death.

In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is legal in three states: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. Eligible patients are required to be “terminal,” which means having less than six months to live. Such patients, however, are not necessarily dying. One reason is because expectations of life expectancy can be wrong. Treatment can also lead to recovery. I have a friend who was talked out of using Oregon’s law in 2000. Her doctor, who did not believe in assisted suicide, convinced her to be treated instead. She is still alive today, 13 years later.

Oregon’s law was enacted by a ballot measure in 1997. Washington’s law was passed by another measure in 2008 and went into effect in 2009. Vermont’s law was enacted on May 20, 2013. All three laws are a recipe for abuse. One reason is that they allow someone else to talk for the patient during the lethal dose request process. Moreover, once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight over administration. Even if the patient struggled, who would know? [See: Link]


Here in Washington State, we have already had informal proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. The first time I saw this was in a newspaper article in 2011. More recently, there was a newspaper column suggesting euthanasia “if you couldn’t save enough money to see yourself through your old age,” which would be involuntary euthanasia. Prior to our law being passed, I never heard anyone talk like this.

I have written multiple articles discussing problems with legalization, including Margaret K. Dore, "Death with Dignity”: What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King Co. B. ASS’N, B. BuLL., May 2009, available at: (Link) ; Margaret K. Dore, Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice, 52 THE ADVOCATE [the official publication of the Idaho State Bar] 9, 18-20 (Sept. 2013) available at: (Link). 

My Cases Involving the Oregon and Washington Assisted Suicide Laws

I have had two clients whose parents signed up for the lethal dose. In the first case, one side of the family wanted the father to take the lethal dose, while the other did not. He  spent the last months of his life caught in the middle and traumatized over whether or not he should kill himself. My client, his adult daughter, was also traumatized. The father did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death.

In the other case, it's not clear that administration of the lethal dose was voluntary. A man who was present told my client that the father refused to take the lethal dose when it was delivered (“You’re not killing me. I’m going to bed”), but then took it the next night when he was high on alcohol. The man who told this to my client later recanted. My client did not want to pursue the matter further.

Conclusion

In my guardianship cases, people were financially abused and sometimes treated terribly, but nobody died and sometimes we were able to make their lives much better. With legal assisted suicide, the abuse is final. Don’t make Washington’s mistake.

Full Article and Source:
Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, A Personal Shift in Focus 

State Investigating Ohio Probate Judge Mark Belinky

A Mahoning County judge is the subject of an investigation.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation tells 21 News that two search warrants were issued in the city Friday for electronic and paper files.
 
One search warrant was executed at Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky's office at the Mahoning County Court House on Friday.   The other warrant was served at Belinky's home in Boardman Township.
 
Agents from the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the FBI and the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office assisted in the searches.
 
Judge Belinky did return a call to 21 News and issued a statement saying, "On the advice of counsel I will only say that since my election, I have faithfully discharged my duties as Judge of the Mahoning County Probate Court."
 
Judge Belinky has had financial problems in the past.  Three years ago the Internal Revenue Service filed a lien against Belinky's home, stating he owed more than $32,000 in federal income taxes.  Last year, Judge Belinky was taken to court by a Florida man over a $20,000 debt.
 
The Judge has not been charged with any crime.
 
Full Article and Source:
State Investigating Mahong County Judge

Mahong County (OH) Probate Judge Mark Belinky's Campaign and Financial Records Seized

Investigators seized campaign and financial records of Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky, looking for evidence to possibly file criminal charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, bribery, money laundering, theft, and theft in office, according to a search warrant.

Documents taken from Judge Belinky’s court office in Youngstown include bank records, campaign finance reports, lists of campaign donors, computers and electronic media, according to the return of a search warrant signed by Youngstown Municipal Judge Elizabeth Kobly. A search warrant also was served at his Windsor Road home in Boardman.

The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation served warrants Friday with the assistance of the FBI and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Belinky’s attorney, J. Gerald Ingram, declined to comment.

Judge Belinky also declined to comment earlier in the day other than to release a statement saying that despite the search Friday, the court is open for business. Judge Belinky said he has been advised by his lawyer not to say anything.

Full Article and Source:
Belinky Search Warrant Returned

Hospice Patient Allegedly Robbed by Family Member

A 92-year-old hospice patient told Channel 9 she was robbed by a family member in her own home.

Friends of the woman believe this is a classic case of elder abuse.

Claylie Evans said Friday her niece came to visit her for four days and during that time, two rings and her sterling silver disappeared.

“All of a sudden, (the niece) left and when she went out the door she was rolling (up) her bag and she said, ‘I got everything I came for.’"

They estimate the stolen items have a value of at least $15,000.

The rings were taken right off her fingers and the silverware out of her drawers.

The Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office is investigating and friends seem confident she will get her property back.

Full Article and Source:
Hospice Patient Robbed by Family Member
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Florida Guardianship Reform Bill Passes Committee Unanimously

Today SB634, Guardianship, by State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) passed the Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs with unanimous support. The bill reflects a cooperative effort with the Clerks of Court to provide additional scrutiny over guardians entrusted with vulnerable citizens. 

“The vast majority of guardians in our state do wonderful work. However, we must have common sense safeguards in place,” stated Senator Brandes. “One of our most important functions in government is to protect our most vulnerable citizens and I think that this issue deserves our steadfast attention.”   

“I am honored to work with Senator Brandes in addressing this very serious issue,” stated Representative Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) who is sponsoring HB635 as the companion measure in the House of Representatives. “Throughout the State of Florida some of our most vulnerable citizens are being victimized by the very individuals appointed to protect their interests. This bill will allow the courts to fully audit guardianship accounts to confirm that expenditures are proper and lawful.”

“The protection of our most vulnerable is amongst the highest priorities of public servants,” said Sarasota Clerk of Court Karen Rushing, who also serves as the legislative chair of Florida’s Court Clerks and Comptrollers.  “Today, we’ve taken a big first step towards demanding more accountability and curbing abuse by those who would hold their own self-interests above the interests of those they’ve sworn to protect.”

The bill will give Clerks of Court greater authority to require audits of guardians and requires that audits are performed according to professional standards. The bill further requires criminal and credit background checks of guardians before assignment to a case. Finally, the bill allows for the removal of a guardian from a case for failure to submit to audits.

Source:  
 

Pet Charity Misleads Elderly Couple, Keeps Their Dog, Deciding They're "Elderly and Did Not Need the Dog"

Tonight, we're seeing for the first time an animal control report that shows the charity's director, Pennie Jekot,  misled the dog's owners from the beginning.

The report from PAWS in Murfreesboro shows Humane Alliance director  Pennie Jekot is keeping 21 dogs stacked in dog carriers at her neighborhood home against city codes including the missing Chihuahua, Buddy

Kim Chambliss doesn't want Buddy to live this way and  is part of a growing group of animal lovers trying to get Buddy back to his owners.

Freida Haddix, the dog's owner, says Jekot told her by phone, "In a real mean nasty voice, you're not getting Buddy back."

PAWS wouldn't interview, but their report shows Jekot  admitted she took Buddy temporarily to "house train" him, but, later decided the Haddix's were elderly and did not need the dog.

What makes this so unusual is its a pet charity  accused of taking Buddy the  dog.  Its owners say they simply called Humane Alliance of Rutherford County looking for a referral to someone who could help house train him.  They say the charity director claimed she could and she came over and took the dog.












Full Article and Source:
Buddy the Dog Found in Crate Stacked With...

See Also:
Facebook:  BringBuddyBackHome

Oregon's 2013 Assisted Suicide Report

Oregon's 2013 assisted suicide statistics have been released.
This 2013 annual report is similar to prior years. The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject.

Oregon's assisted suicide law, itself, allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent. "Even if he struggled, who would know?"

The new report provides the following demographics:

There were 71 assisted suicide deaths and 122 prescriptions for suicide in 2013,

The 122 prescriptions for suicide resulted in (63) people dying by assisted suicide [8 people who died by assisted suicide obtained a lethal prescription in a previous year], (28) deaths from other causes, (31) people - the status is unknown, (7) people died but no information is known, and the status is pending for (24) deaths.

69% were aged 65 years or older; the median age was 71 years. As in previous years, most were white (94.4%), well-educated (53.3% had at least a baccalaureate degree).

Only 2 of the 71 people who died by assisted suicide received a psychiatric evaluation.

The prescribing physician was present at the death in 8 of the 71 deaths.

Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately at risk of financial abuse and exploitation.

Oregon's law is written so as to allow such abuse to occur without anyone knowing. The new report is statistically consistent with elder abuse.

In 2013 there was a significant increase (12) in assisted suicide deaths related to "other illnesses." The list of other illnesses includes chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

Full Article and Source:
Oregon's 2013 Assisted Suicide Report
Read the report

Canada Asks the Question: What do You do With the old and Dangerous?

What do you do with a man like Jack Furman? A volunteer selected some 70 years ago to join an elite commando squad: the First Special Service Force. A lad from tiny Fort Macleod, Alta., trained to leap from planes, climb mountains, detonate explosives, launch amphibious assaults and survive behind enemy lines in wartime Europe—a man trained to kill for king and country, with grenades, with guns, with stiletto, with garotte, with bare hands. Furman did these things, and came back alive and was called a hero, though he rarely spoke of it.

What do you do with such a man, who now languishes in a fog of dementia; a man locked in a Kamloops, B.C., psychiatric centre, because this past August—at age 95—he is alleged to have killed again? This time Furman’s victim was not an enemy combatant, it was 85-year-old Bill May, a father of three, a retired executive at a glass company near Vernon, B.C. He was Furman’s roommate in Vernon’s Paulson Residential Care dementia unit—a facility that was supposed to honour, respect and protect both men in the last act of their lives.

Tragically, murder in a dementia ward isn’t an anomaly.

Full Article and Source:
Old and Dangerous: Senior Violence is Getting Worse

NCOA Offers 5 Ways Congress Can Help Seniors in 2014

With close to one-quarter of voters this November expected to be over age 65, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) suggests five ways Congress can help seniors this year—especially those in greatest need.

1. Restore funding for and modernize aging services
The Older Americans Act (OAA) funds critical services that help seniors stay healthy, independent, and economically secure in their own homes. These include programs like senior nutrition, prevention, caregiver support, and transportation.

Senior services are facing a double whammy—funding has not kept up with inflation or the growing population of seniors and the federal budget sequester has caused even deeper cuts. -

2. Protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries
The Medicare Qualified Individual (QI) program pays Medicare Part B premiums for beneficiaries whose incomes are 120-135% of poverty—about $13,700-$15,300 per year. Without this assistance, these seniors would not be able to afford doctor visits.

3. Renew the Farm Bill to help fight senior hunger
The Farm Bill renewal is poised to boost funding for the nation’s food banks, transition the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to a seniors-only program, and test using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for nonprofit grocery delivery programs for seniors.

4. Introduce long-term care legislation
The number of Americans needing long-term services and supports will more than double as the boomers age. Medicare does not cover them, and private insurance is unaffordable for most people. The current system places enormous burdens on family caregivers and forces seniors to spend-down their life savings into poverty before getting help from Medicaid. A recent Long-Term Care Commission report included recommendations to improve the system.

5. Pass immigration reform
Comprehensive immigration reform would strengthen the direct care workforce, 20-23% of whom are foreign born. Direct care workers provide home care and other services that allow seniors to stay independent. Reform also would produce economic benefits to Medicare and Social Security by increasing the number of younger workers paying into these funds.

Full Article and Source:
NCOA Offers 5 Ways Congress Can Help Seniors in 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Linda Kincaid Reports: California Legislative Hearings on Elder Abuse in Assisted Living

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, California legislators will hear testimony on failure of Community Care Licensing (CCL) to enforce regulations and protect residents in residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFE). The hearings follow on public outcry over CCL negligence in the closure of Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, California.

Most facility staff left Valley Springs Manor after CCL ordered the facility closed. However, CCL made no provision for moving residents to alternate locations. A licensing analyst knowingly left twelve residents in the care of a janitor and a cook. The Contra Costa Times followed the story and called for accountability.

Further impetus for the hearings came from coverage by the San Diego Union Tribune and the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF) Center for Health Reporting.
The U-T and the CHCF Center for Health Reporting in September chronicled 27 deaths as a result of abuse or neglect. The series revealed regulatory weaknesses including a maximum fine of $150, even for violations resulting in death, and inspections that can take place every five years — less often than in other states.
This Examiner interviewed the director of  Sunny Place of Stockton (San Joaquin County) after the facility was assessed a $150 civil penalty for the wrongful death of resident Maria Jordanou. The director said she did not appeal the citation because, “It was trivial.”

Full Article and Source:
California Legislative Hearings on Elder Abuse in Assisted Living

A 69-Year-Old Man is Still in the Mental Hospital He Entered After Stealing $20 Necklace in 1971

In 1971, Franklin H. Frye was accused of stealing a $20 necklace from a woman on the street, and the court found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to Saint Elizabeths Hospital, where he has spent almost all of the past four decades, The Washington Times reports.

His lawyers have been trying to free him for many years. In 2005, his lawyer asserted in a motion that "Mr. Frye has recovered his sanity and no longer suffers from a mental illness as defined by law." It wasn't the first time he's sought release. 

So how exactly did a man accused of a petty, nonviolent crime end up spending most of his life legally committed to a mental hospital? Digging into Frye's case, it seems to be an unfortunate combination of difficult circumstances, bad luck, and bureaucracy. Here's what we found. 

The long and winding paper trail

The director of Saint Elizabeths first recommended Frye's unconditional release in 1973, a motion filed on Jan. 8 notes. At that time, the court instead granted Frye a conditional release, giving him permission to seek employment. Still, if all had gone well, this should have led to Frye transitioning into the community and out of the hospital on a permanent basis.

It's not entirely clear why that conditional release, as well as others in subsequent years, always ended up with Frye back at Saint Elizabeths full-time. But the 2005 court order explains what went wrong with one such release, granted more than a decade ago:

On January 8, 2001, he was placed in the community in an Intensive Rehabilitative Residence. However, his mental condition deteriorated rapidly. He violated the home’s smoking regulations and concealed a knife in his room. Thus, he was returned to inpatient status on April 23, 2001.

In the document the judge acknowledged that Frye had been "intrusive and oppositional," known to distort reality and struggle with hospital rules. Yet, Frye worked five days a week in the Hospital's Work Adjustment Training Program and regularly went on trips to visit his family without incident.

The judge then ordered Frye's conditional release into outpatient treatment, concluding that he is medicated, "mentally stable," and "will not, in the reasonably foreseeable future, present a danger to himself or others because of mental illness."

It's unclear whether or exactly how that release went wrong, but it specifies that "if [the] defendant's mental condition deteriorates, or if he violates the conditions of this release he shall be returned to inpatient care at the Hospital."

In 2008, Frye's lawyer again petitioned the court for his unconditional release, saying he no longer suffered from a mental illness. The most recent motion, filed on Jan. 8, was submitted after five years passed with no response from the court to the 2008 filing.
 
Full Article and Source:
A 69-Year-Old Man is Still in the Mental Hospital He Entered After Stealing $20 Necklace in 1971

Maine AG Forms Task Force to Combat Financial Elder Abuse

Attorney General Janet Mills announced Friday that her office has launched a new initiative with Legal Services for the Elderly to protect older Mainers from financial abuse.

Mills said in a written statement that she and the group have created a statewide task force to answer questions ranging from whether the court system is accessible to elderly Mainers to whether the state’s law enforcement community is adequately trained to investigate cases of elder abuse. The task force, which will include prosecutors, law enforcement officers, court personnel and officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, will be chaired by Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin and Jaye Martin, executive director of Legal Services for the Elderly.

“For many years the attorney general’s office and the district attorneys have prosecuted crimes against the elderly,” said Mills. “But with the aging of our state’s population, these crimes have become more prevalent. We need to encourage older citizens to report crimes and to assure them that their personal and financial security is paramount, that their input is valuable and that the criminal justice system will treat them fairly.”

Full Article and Source:
Attorney General Forms Task Force to Combat Financial Elder Abuse

Nurse's Aid Facing Charges for Injuring 100-Year-Old Resident

A local certified nurse aide is facing charges after the Attorney General’s Office says she injured a nursing home resident and failed to seek medical help for her.

Sarah Waclawski, 25, of Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. Waclawski is an employee at the Genesee County Nursing Home.

Court papers say Waclawski transferred a 100-year-old resident suffering from dementia from her wheelchair to her bed and back again without the assistance of another staff member, as required by the resident’s individual care plan. During that time, court papers say the resident fell to the floor, hitting her head on the wheelchair and sustaining a laceration and pain.

The Attorney General’s Office says a nurse did find Waclawski wiping the resident’s head and found several used wipes. The Attorney General’s Office says at no time did Waclawski seek medical assistance for the resident.

Full Article and Source:
Local Nursing Home Nurse's Aid Facing Charges for Injuring 100-Year-Old Resident

Retired Judge Reprimanded

Retired judge Steven S. Unpingco received a formal reprimand from the Supreme Court of Guam following allegations that he acted angrily and aggressively while on the bench.

The charges filed against Unpingco mark the first time formal charges were filed against a judge, it's also the first time a judge was publicly reprimanded by the Supreme Court, said Joshua Tenorio, director of policy, planning and community relations for the Judiciary.

The order from the court states that the reprimand was due to Unpingco's "failure to remain fearless of public clamor, patient and courteous through language he used in court documents filed in the Superior Court of Guam.

In a court filing dated July 31, 2013, the Supreme Court's Committee on Judicial Discipline accused Unpingco of judicial misconduct during his tenure as a judge.

An unidentified person filed a written complaint with the office in 2010, alleging misconduct by Unpingco between March 2005 and January 2006.

Unpingco is accused of being angry and discourteous while on the bench, and of making disparaging remarks about another judge.

There were four allegations included in the list of charges, which all state Unpingco "failed to remain temperate, courteous and/or fearless of public clamor."

Full Article and Source:
Court reprimands retired judge

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Dr. Sam Sugar on the status of Florida Guardianship Laws

Dr. Sam Sugar joins us to talk about the progress of his group: Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianships.

Board Certified Internal Medical Specialist, Dr. Sam Sugar will be featured in an in-depth discussion on legislative reform of the For Profit Guardianship system in Florida, the emergence of AAAPG and the medico-legal issues that often enable “The Rush to Guardianship”

“Sadly, as so many investigations have revealed, there exist in Florida a substantial number of abusive “Professional For Profit” guardians and lawyers who have manipulated the Guardianship system and repeatedly exploited their positions to loot the very estates they are sworn to protect.

It is not just elders who are vulnerable–anyone at any age–can be deemed “incapacitated” –even seemingly healthy independent adults–and become  ” A Ward of the State”

A powerful subgroup of For Profit  Guardians has used loopholes in the law and very weak Court monitoring to wreak terrible harm on Wards and their Families while they enrich themselves with exorbitant fees and horribly abusive tactics. 

Abusive Guardians twist and  subvert the laws giving them total power over the (allegedly) vulnerable in our society and instead of helping the frail among us,  use the power of the law to strip away precious Civil Rights and plunder estates, isolate families who get in the way, and in  the process destroy lives. They use the very laws intended to help people to destroy innocent people and their families.

5:00 pm PST… 6:00 pm MST7:00 pm CST8:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later!

In Minnesota, Abuse Lawsuits Die With the Victims

The sexual and physical assaults of 15 residents in an Albert Lea nursing home in 2008 outraged Minnesotans, led to the criminal convictions of two nurse aides and prompted a change in state law.
 
Victims and their family members sought justice by filing lawsuits against the nursing assistants, the home and its owner, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. Yet by October 2011, all of the civil cases in Minnesota had been dismissed. The reason? The victims had died.
 
State lawmakers soon may consider changing what’s known as Minnesota’s Survival Law, which requires that a personal injury case be dropped if the victim dies of unrelated causes. Advocates for the change say Minnesota is one of only four states with such a requirement, and they point to the Albert Lea case as the prime example of what’s wrong with the law.
 
“There was nowhere we could go for justice,” said Jan Reshetar, whose mother-in-law, Grace Reshetar, was spat on and groped by aides. She died in February 2009. “The laws need to be changed. Accountability needs to be put in place.”
 
A bill to eliminate the Survival Law was defeated last year during the last day of session in a tie vote in the Senate, after the Minnesota Insurance Federation and Minnesota Hospital Association lobbied against it.

Defending the law
Those groups argue that Minnesota law is designed to compensate the victim of an injury, not family members.
 
“If somebody suffers pain and suffering, and would normally be eligible for pain and suffering awards, those are for that person and not their heirs,” said Mark Kulda, vice president of public affairs with the Insurance Federation of Minnesota. “The damage was not to the families of the people. The damage was to the people themselves.”
 
The Insurance Federation and Hospital Association vow to continue opposing the bill, while it is supported by the Minnesota Association for Justice, a trial lawyers’ group.

Full Article and Source:
In Minnesota, Abuse Lawsuits Die With the Victims

The Right to Live: An International Struggle

As Canada edges toward legalizing euthanasia, France is facing a minefield of its own over the issue, spurred in part by a French court’s recent decision to refuse a wife’s petition to deny her brain-damaged husband food and water.

Thirty-eight-year-old Vincent Lambert was involved in a car accident five years ago that left him a tetraplegic – paralyzed in all four limbs and in a large portion of his torso as well. Initially, Lambert was considered to be in a persistent vegetative state, but according to LifeSiteNews’ correspondent in Paris, doctors have since changed that assessment to “minimally conscious state,” wherein Lambert is reported to perceive and respond to pain and a general condition of well-being, as well as move his eyes to respond to stimuli and react to the presence of his loved ones. While Lambert cannot, as far as the medical team can determine at this point, communicate meaningfully, he is otherwise physically in good health and is certainly not dead or dying.

That nearly changed nearly ten months ago, however, when Dr. Eric Kariger, head of the geriatric and palliative care unit of the Reims University Hospital, put Lambert on “end of life protocol,” a decision that entailed removing all food from the otherwise healthy man. Kariger based his decision not on Lambert’s physical condition, but on his belief that Lambert would not have wanted to be kept alive, and that his quality of life was essentially non-existent in his current state.

France has consistently denied a right to euthanasia or assisted suicide in the past but did, in 2005, legalize a procedure known as “passive euthanasia,” wherein doctors are permitted to allow death by removing or withholding the treatment necessary to prevent it. Under the law, this decision can be made only by the patient himself or, in the case of an unconscious patient, by a legally designated representative, chosen by the patient himself.

Yet despite the clarity of the law and the fact that Lambert is by no means dying, or even ill, it took 31 days and a vigorous battle by Lambert’s parents to see the man’s nutritional supply reinstated via court order. The emergency injunction was issued based on the fact that the doctor’s decision had been made without consulting the majority of Lambert’s family. The decision was appealed by Kariger and, in a move eerily similar to the United State’s case involving  Terri Schiavo,  by Lambert’s own wife and nephew, both of whom are also fighting for food and water to be removed from the handicapped man, arguing that the decision would be in accordance with his wishes.

In the nine months following the court’s life-saving order, Lambert’s wife and nephew have, along with Kariger, fought vigorously to end the man’s life, forcing France to face the euthanasia debate once again. Most notably, little of the appellate arguments centered on interpreting the actual law. Instead, counsel for Kariger and Lambert’s wife focused mainly on making philosophical arguments that Lambert’s condition renders his life meaningless, and that he would not choose to live this way, if he could.

Full Article and Source:
Wife of France's Terri Schiavo Files Appeal Contesting Court Order to Provide Nutrition, Hydration for Disabled Husband

Violations Costly for Louisville Nursing Homes

After visiting the Masonic Home of Louisville last year, state inspectors discovered five violations that they believed placed residents of the nursing home in "immediate jeopardy."

The problems alleged by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services ranged from giving residents improper doses of medication to failing to ensure that medication errors were corrected.
As a result of the state's inspection, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services levied a $413,173 penalty – the highest fine for any federally-funded nursing home in Louisville last year, according to federal data.

The deficiencies found at the Masonic Home were among hundreds identified during 2013 inspections of Louisville nursing homes that receive federal aid. Besides the Masonic Home, seven other long-term care facilities were fined a total of $113,296.

In all, local nursing homes were cited for a higher-than-average number of health deficiencies compared with other Kentucky facilities last year, according to a WDRB.com analysis of the most recent annual federal data.

Full Article and Source:
Violations Costly for Louisville Nursing Homes