Thursday, July 23, 2015
Pa. alleges patient neglect at 14 nursing homes
The target of the lawsuit is Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC, the operator of 36 nursing homes in the state, including the 14 Golden Living centers listed in court documents.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed the 101-page complaint in Commonwealth Court Wednesday and encouraged others with complaints about Golden Living facilities to contact her office.
The court complaint names 14 Golden Living centers, located in Phoenixville, Lansdale, Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Altoona, Clarion, Gettysburg, Mount Lebanon, Monroeville, Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Tunkhannock, Erie and Pottsville.
A spokeswoman for the Fort Smith, Arkansas-based parent company did not respond to telephone calls and emails left by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges Golden Living deceived consumers through its marketing practices, falsified records about care and willfully deceived state inspectors, Kane said in a press release.
The company advertised it would keep its residents clean and comfortable while providing food and water at any time, Kane said, but its facilities were understaffed, leaving residents thirsty, hungry, dirty, unkempt and sometimes unable to summon anyone to help meet their most basic needs, such as going to the bathroom.
“As we allege, these companies profited at the expense of our most vulnerable residents,” Kane said. “These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents’ most basic human needs. That is simply unacceptable.”
Interviews with residents’ family members and former certified nursing assistants who worked at Golden Living facilities revealed a widespread pattern of understaffing and omitted care, the legal action states. Those allegations include the following:
• Continent residents left in diapers because they were unable to obtain assistance going to the bathroom.
• Incontinent residents left in soiled diapers, in their own feces or urine, for extended periods of time.
• Residents at risk for bedsores from not being turned every two hours as required.
• Residents not receiving range of motion exercises.
• Residents not receiving showers or other hygiene services as required.
• Residents being woken at 5 a.m. or earlier to be washed and dressed for the day.
• Residents not being timely dressed in order to attend their meals.
• Residents not being escorted to the dining hall and sometimes missing meals entirely.
• Long waits for responses to call bells or no responses at all.
• Staff, under the direction of management or fear of management, falsifying records to indicate residents received services when in fact they did not.
• Improved staffing when state inspections occurred, leading to deceit about the true conditions at the facility.
The number of certified nursing assistants at some Golden Living facilities was woefully inadequate to care for residents, many of whom are Medicaid enrollees paid for by taxpayers, Kane’s office said in the complaint. Basic care that was promised and paid for was never provided, the complaint said.
“Defendants’ staffing practices cost residents their dignity and comfort, and jeopardized their health and safety,” the attorney general’s complaint said.
The lawsuit said the parent company of the “enormously profitable” Golden Living facilities was “unjustly enriched” and it asked the court to order payback of that money from the 14 Golden Living centers named in the complaint.
The Phoenixville facility is located at 833A S. Main St. The Lansdale facility is located at 25 W. Fifth St.
Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Karen Murphy, said Wednesday she was “deeply concerned” by the allegations in the lawsuit and would step up efforts to improve the agency’s regulatory enforcement. The agency inspects 704 nursing homes across Pennsylvania with about 88,000 beds.
In the meantime, LeadingAge PA, a Pennsylvania trade association for not-for-profit providers of services for the elderly, said a Wolf administration plan to restructure Medicaid reimbursements would reward some of the state’s lowest-rated nursing homes, as well as 13 of the 14 Golden Living centers named in the complaint.
According to the attorney general’s office, managers at the Golden Living facilities pressured nursing assistants to ensure that paperwork showed no tasks undone and, in some cases, instructed that records be falsified.
“The Golden Living facilities knew or should have known that their records were not accurate, because it was impossible to deliver all of the care needed by their residents with the level of staffing available to provide such care,” the lawsuit said.
The Golden Living facilities also deceived Department of Health inspectors about the true conditions and level of care they provided by increasing staff levels during survey inspections, the attorney general’s office said.
“In reality, when DOH surveyors were not at the Golden Living Facilities, staffing levels went back down to normal levels and office and administrative staff rarely or never provided direct care to residents,” the lawsuit said.
Anyone with complaints concerning Golden Living facilities or other health care facilities is encouraged to contact the Office of Attorney General’s Health Care Section. Complaints may be filed at www.attorneygeneral.gov by selecting “File a Complaint” from the tool bar and then “Health Care.” Complaints may also be filed by calling the Health Care helpline at 877-888-4877.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said the investigation was ongoing.
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Pa. alleges patient neglect at 14 nursing homes