Sunday, July 23, 2017

10 ALF owners sentenced for accepting kickbacks

Ten Miami-Dade County assisted living facility owners have received sentences of federal prison time or home confinement for accepting healthcare kickbacks, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.According to court documents, the operators conspired with the former owner of Florida Pharmacy to receive kickbacks and bribes in exchange for referring residents for prescription medication and durable medical equipment paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. The scheme violated their Medicaid provider agreements as well as federal and state anti-kickback rules and regulations the Justice Department said.Nine of the owners were sentenced to federal prison terms ranging from eight months to one year and one day, and an additional owner was sentenced to home confinement. All 10 defendants also were ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay restitution and be subject to forfeiture judgments.

Sentenced to home confinement was Blanca Orozco, 69. Sentenced to prison:
  • Alicia Almeida, 56;
  • Norma Casanova, 67;
  • Yeny De Erbiti, 51;
  • Maribel Galvan, 43;
  • Marlene Marrero, 60;
  • Dianelys Perez, 34;
  • Jorge Rodriguez, 57;
  • Rene Vega, 57; and
  • Osniel Vera, 47
The sentences came in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Indictments against the defendants were announced in October. All 10 subsequently pleaded guilty to receiving kickbacks in connection with a federal healthcare program.

Full Article & Source:
10 ALF owners sentenced for accepting kickbacks

Does half-brother need power of attorney?

Len Tillem and Rosie McNichol
Dear Len & Rosie,

I have a half-sister in poor health.

She wants me to I get everything that is left in her estate when she dies. Her husband died and left everything to her and they had no children.

In addition to me, she has two half-sisters; one who is very elderly and ill and another who is quite well off.

She has listed my name only on her will and my name is on all of her bank accounts as a joint tenant.

She inquired about giving me a power of attorney, but her lawyer said that is was not necessary.

Is this going to work?

Joe

Dear Joe,

Everything that you hold in joint tenancy with your half-sister will become yours if she dies before you do.

You will need only to take a certified copy of her death certificate to each financial institution to remove her name from her accounts.

There won’t be any probate for these assets. Keep one account open with her name on it so you can deposit any refund checks that come in after her death.

If your sister has any life insurance policies or retirement accounts, she should make sure that she has named you as her pay-on-death beneficiary so that upon her death you may roll over her retirement accounts into Inherited IRA’s and stretch out distributions, and your income tax liability, over your own lifetime.

If there is no named beneficiary, her retirement accounts will pay into her probate estate and you will lose any opportunity to defer paying the income tax.

If your sister owns a home, she should see an attorney and create a trust or perhaps record a transfer on death deed.

We do not recommend joint tenancy deeds to avoid probate for homes and other land, because if you’re on your half-sister’s deed, she’s no longer in complete control of her home and her home could become subject to a judgment lien from your creditors.

Her lawyer may be technically correct in that she does not need a power of attorney to avoid probate.

But what if she becomes incapacitated?

If she’s ever unable to make decisions and manage her own affairs then a power of attorney is vital.

If you or another trusted person has her power of attorney, she will not likely need a court-supervised conservatorship if she ever becomes incapacitated.

Likewise, she also needs an advance health care directive so that you or another trusted family member or friend can make medical decisions if she’s ever incapacitated.

If your half-sister, or her lawyer, is concerned that giving someone a power of attorney means losing control of her assets now, suggest to her that she sign a “springing” power of attorney.

This is the type of power of attorney that takes effect only after one or two physicians certify that she can no longer take care of herself.

Consider it as a “just in case something bad happens” document.

Full Article & Source:
Does half-brother need power of attorney?

HBO Documentary About Alzheimer's: Caregivers

5 personal stories from real Alzheimer’s caregivers
Caregivers is a moving HBO documentary about the lives of five family caregivers who are caring for spouses or parents with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's and other dementias are devastating diseases that affect far too many people. In the U.S., 1 in 9 people age 65+ has Alzheimer’s.

These courageous caregivers are brave enough to share their struggles, talk about what life was like before the disease, and discuss how they handle the ups and downs.

Caregivers talk about the challenges
In the film, five amazing women and men openly discuss their personal challenges in dealing with the changes in their loved ones, their own health issues, and their feelings of loss and frustration. They also share their coping techniques – including staying in the present and appreciating the little things.

Two seniors with Alzheimer’s share their experiences too
We also get to hear directly from two people who have Alzheimer’s. They talk about the changes in their brains, what they’ve lost, and how they cope and stay positive.

Hearing about their experiences helps us all get a better understanding of what it feels like to have the disease and how even simple things can be a struggle.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fraud and embezzlement alleged in guardianship lawsuit


Las Vegas (KTNV) - A handful of professionals who are supposed to protect the vulnerable now face allegations of fraud.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has new information about Clark County's troubled guardianship system.

"This has to stop!"

Four simple words, fraught with emotion and resolve.

"I hope to get back what was right--what's supposed to rightfully be mine; what I believe was stolen from me. And I want justice."

Twenty-eight-year-old Jason Hanson suffers from cerebral palsy. His limbs don't work well, but his mind is sharp.

He's sat by watching private guardians and their associates get indicted, but says he's done waiting for law enforcement to act in his case.

"And so I just decided to take matters into my own hands."

A civil lawsuit filed this week in Clark County alleges racketeering, fraud, negligence and unjust enrichment at Jason's expense.

He names former Public Administrator Jared Shafer, current Public Administrator John Cahill, and attorneys Francis Fine, Dara Goldsmith and Elyse Tyrell. Tyrell served on the Nevada Supreme Court's Guardianship Reform Commission.

"I believe that it all comes back to Jared Shafer, but personally I think that Shafer and his associates are all equally guilty," said Hanson.

In the lawsuit, Shafer and the others are accused of "Using their roles in the guardianship and probate systems to deprive Mr. Hanson of the limited resources which were left to him by his father and grandmother."

It alleges they charged "excessive fees" and committed "multiple fraudulent acts of embezzlement" of Jason's money.

While in the guardianship system, Jason lost his house and was placed in a group home at taxpayers' expense after his father passed away.

The guardianship should have ended in 2007 when Jason turned 18, but it wasn't officially closed until Contact 13 got involved seven years later.

All the while, Jason's money was being spent.

He got nearly $40,000 of it back this past April when his foster mother and legal guardian, Susan Rousselle, pleaded guilty to exploitation and paid him restitution.

"I'm relieved at that, but it's only the first step in a very long, long journey and I won't stop until that journey has reached it's conclusion."

We reached out to every defendant named in the lawsuit.

None of them returned our calls for comment.

On behalf of Public Administrator John Cahill, the county declined to comment on pending litigation.

Jason's case is known to the District Attorney and an investigation is ongoing.

Full Article & Source:
Fraud and embezzlement alleged in guardianship lawsuit

Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins say 'it's hell' after home foreclosed


Clifford and Gary Koekoek, 84-year-old twins who've survived living under Nazi occupation and fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, are now in "hell" and sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home in October.

Born in the Netherlands, Clifford and Gary grew up under Nazi rule before coming to the U.S., where the brothers worked in Hollywood and then served their new country at war. But the brothers told FOX 40 Sacramento nothing they've lived through compares to their current predicament.

"It's a lot of stress," Clifford said, holding back tears. "I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap.”

The Koekoek's recent housing plight started in 2007, when the brothers wanted to fix the roof on a Fair Oaks home they bought from their mother, and which had been in their family since 1984.

"We took a loan thinking that we had a conventional loan,” Gary said.

The loan, however, turned out to be an adjustable rate loan, with payments getting higher over time -- until the two couldn't afford it. After their home was foreclosed, the two were kicked out and began sleeping in one shared car.

"Right now, I'm broke,” Clifford told FOX 40. "Sometimes, we don't eat."

The two now spend most of their time just walking the streets and sitting at the Sacramento Public Library in neighboring Orangevale. Gary said he spends most of his time looking over deed records to figure out how the twins can win their home back.

"I would almost say it's hell," Gary said.

A friend of the family is now trying to help, launching a social media push and a GoFundMe account to help find the two men permanent housing.

Aaron Hoerner told FOX 40 the experience has given him a new perspective on homelessness.

"It's easy to walk by and not look at their situation. But if you stop and talk to somebody, everybody has a story,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins say 'it's hell' after home foreclosed

These Common Drugs Might Increase the Risk of Dementia, Study Says

Every drug has potential side effects that doctors and patients have to weigh when deciding on a course of treatment. New research shows that one class of drugs may have a surprising one, however. People who take anticholinergic drugs on a regular basis are more likely to develop dementia than those who do not. Anticholinergic drugs include everything from motion sickness treatments to painkillers. Commonly used ones include Paxil, Demerol, Benadryl and Dramamine. Doctors have long known that these drugs have some effect on the brain, as some of them can induce short-term memory loss. However, the exact mechanisms were previously unknown.
Hand Holding One Diphenhydramine Capsule
Researchers at the Indiana School of Medicine used sophisticated imaging equipment to look at the brains of 451 older adults. 60 of those patients were taking anticholinergic medication, and researchers found that those patients had smaller brains than their peers who did not take anticolinergic medication regularly. The 60 patients also had lower glucose metabolism rates, indicating a lower level of brain activity. It was particularly notable in the hippocampus, which tends to be low-functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also gave cognitive tests to the study participants, and the patients on anticholinergic drugs performed worse than other patients on short-term memory tests, as well as those that required planning and problem solving.

Although this study provides valuable information, additional research is necessary for scientists to understand exactly how anticholinergic drugs are damaging people’s brains. In the meantime, however, researchers suggest that doctors try to avoid these types of drug when treating older patients. People should also be careful about over-the-counter medications, since many common ones have anticholinergic properties. People worried about their risk levels should discuss their options with a doctor.Minimizing your use of anticholinergic drugs is just one way to reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life.

Full Article & Source:
These Common Drugs Might Increase the Risk of Dementia, Study Says

Friday, July 21, 2017

Florissant nursing home patient with Alzheimer's dies after being left in tub for 8 hours, lawsuit claims

FLORISSANT • Part of Lois Moreland’s routine included a whirlpool bath before bed at the nursing facility she called home for at least three years.

The 88-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease nicknamed the whirlpool her “boat,” where she’d wash up before an assistant would take her to bed at St. Sophia Health & Rehabilitation Center in Florissant.

But after starting her bath about 8:30 p.m. on March 22, 2016, Moreland’s help never returned. It wasn’t until 4:30 a.m. the next day that a nursing assistant remembered taking her to the shower room hours earlier. Moreland's dead body was found in a tub of cool water with the whirlpool jets still running.

Now her son, Steven Moreland, is claiming in a lawsuit that the nursing home’s negligence caused his mother’s suffering and death and that St. Sophia put profits above health care by deliberately understaffing its 240-bed nursing home at 936 Charbonier Road.

“When there are not enough staff members to care for residents, it creates an environment where employees are trying to do too many things that they forget about putting a resident in a bathtub and end up leaving her there for over eight hours,” said Steven Moreland’s attorney, David Terry. He said Lois Moreland was “unable to comprehend her circumstances or fend for herself because there were not enough employees to meet the needs of each resident. And as a result, Lois Moreland paid the price.”

The nursing home is run by Creve Coeur-based Midwest Geriatric Management, which owns 22 facilities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Missouri, including homes in Des Peres, St. Louis and Union, Mo.

St. Sophia was previously fined $80,427 in 2014 after a resident with Alzheimer’s disease walked away from the facility for more than two hours and was picked up by police a mile away. In 2016, one month after Moreland’s death, residents were temporarily evacuated from St. Sophia after a fire started in the laundry room. One worker suffered a minor injury.

Calls and emails to St. Sophia and its owner were not returned.

Lois Moreland had lived in the St. Louis area since the late 1960s and moved into St. Sophia in March 2013, according to her son’s attorney. She was a stay-at-home mother for most of her life and had been married for 59 years. At St. Sophia, her conditions included Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, heart disease, hypertension, muscle weakness and difficulty walking.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office attributed her death to natural causes, citing heart disease.

Moreland’s son believes that despite his mother’s poor health, she would not have died that day if she hadn’t been abandoned in the whirlpool, his attorney said.

Investigative report


An investigative report by the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services detailed the events based on staff interviews:

About 8:30 p.m. on March 22, a nursing assistant helped Moreland into the whirlpool tub and left the room when the woman requested privacy. The assistant said Moreland was typically left in the tub for five to seven minutes, with periodic checks.

On that night, the assistant went to help a resident across the hall who had fallen. Then other residents requested help, so the assistant “was very busy and forgot to check on the resident in the whirlpool tub.”

Between 4 and 4:30 a.m., the nursing assistant began collecting water pitchers from residents’ rooms and noticed Moreland wasn’t in her room. The nurse on duty told the assistant to check the bathroom. The assistant then remembered leaving Moreland in the tub the night before.

“Oh my God!” the nursing assistant said, and ran to the shower room. The assistant stood next to the tub, screaming and crying.

Moreland was “clearly dead.” The pull cord she could have used to summon help was dangling against the wall and beyond her reach, the report says.

St. Sophia had a nurse, two certified nursing assistants and a medication technician to care for 35 residents in the Honeysuckle Hill unit on the night Moreland died. There were 165 residents living in the entire facility at the time. The nursing assistant was assigned to Moreland’s unit only a few days earlier and felt “overwhelmed” by the workload, according to the federal report.

The investigation found that the assistant had a history of “negligent behavior towards residents,” the report said. In May 2012, the assistant saw a resident fall from a chair and told the patient, “I’m not gonna talk to you. I’ve been telling you to sit down all evening. I’m not gonna feel sorry for you.” The assistant was suspended one day by the nursing home. In August 2015, the same assistant was again suspended for one day after leaving a resident alone in the shower room. The resident fell in the shower while the assistant stepped out to retrieve more towels. A St. Sophia administrator told investigators that records of the incident were inaccessible because they were held by the nursing home’s previous owner.

According to the same report, Moreland’s doctor said it was unsafe to leave her alone in a bathtub for more than 30 minutes because of her declining mental and physical health. Her psychiatrist said she should not have been left unattended for longer than five to 10 minutes.

After Moreland’s death, government inspectors determined that residents at the facility were in immediate jeopardy, the most severe status given to nursing homes. St. Sophia was fined $39,260 and required to file a “plan of correction” that included never leaving a patient alone in the shower room, holding “team huddles” to share observations among staff, providing regular training to nursing staff, conducting regular checks on patients and reporting violations to the state immediately.

The lawsuit, filed July 5 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages.

Full Article & Source:
Florissant nursing home patient with Alzheimer's dies after being left in tub for 8 hours, lawsuit claims

Investigative report slams treatment at Falls rehab center


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - A disability rights organization has released a scathing report, slamming patient treatment inside the Niagara Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

In the 14-page report, investigators from Disability Rights New York note, they were contacted in November, 2016.  Complaints included poor care and dismal conditions inside the facility.

The facility has 160 beds.  The group made three visits to the facility and reviewed patient records, interviewed residents and staffers.

Disability Rights New York investigators say the facility was not clean or safely maintained.  They explain at least one patient was physically and verbally abused.  Additionally, investigators say the facility "failed to provide adequate meals and did not meet the nutrition needs of residents."

One resident, according to the report, said her bed sheets hadn't been changed in months.  She said she was living in constant pain because of a lack of medical care.

Investigators say they found many residents had the same bed sheets for several weeks.

"Residents complained of the urine stench in the halls," the report notes, because of dirty linen bins in the halls.

Some say they were treated inappropriately by staffers, who are accused of "kicking residents' beds to wake them."  During each visit, investigators say they found staffers did not respond to call bells.

 One resident even recorded other residents calling for help, but was forced to erase that recording.

A former resident said she was "forced to remain in her bed for days because staff was unwilling to transfer her to her wheelchair and were unresponsive to call bell requests..."

"During DRNY's visits to NRNC we were forced to maneuver around residents in wheelchairs who had been left in the middle or to the side of the hallways," the report explains. It goes on to say those residents were sleeping in wheelchairs. Some, investigators say, were "staring at the wall or ground without speaking or moving."

Investigators say they found dirty floors and walls.

The report notes residents were given meals that "do not meet their dietary needs..."  In fact, investigators say some residents weren't fed at all during some mealtimes.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Investigative report slams treatment at Falls rehab center

New Legislation to Protect New York Seniors from Exploitation and Abuse

There were many important bills passed at the end of the legislative session to protect senior citizens from abuse and exploitation, as well as streamline the estate planning process to give New Yorker’s greater peace of mind.

Elder abuse is an under reported crime that preys on the people who worked so hard to build our communities. These balanced pieces of legislation will help health care workers and bank employees identify abuse and fraud so they can notify the proper authorities. With a federal administration that’s intent on making big cuts to social services programs and regulatory protections, it’s important that we take steps in New York to ensure seniors can lead safe, independent, healthy lives.

Elder abuse is a far too common occurrence. In New York State, approximately 260,000, or 1 in every 13 seniors, experienced some form of elder abuse in the previous year, with financial exploitation representing the most common form of abuse.[1] It’s essential to address this issue now as aging baby boomers are projected to double the number of older adults by 2030, potentially increasing the prevalence of elder abuse.[2]

One Assembly bill would require the state Office for the Aging to create guidelines to help health care providers and employees identify abuse and maltreatment of senior citizens (A.8258-A). Doctors and nurses often have long-term, trusting relationships with their patients and are in a unique position to identify signs of abuse.  This bill passed both houses and will be considered by the Governor in the coming months.

Another measure directs the superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services to develop training materials to help bank employees recognize and report signs of financial exploitation (A.6395). Further, the bill would protect banks and other financial institutions from state liability when reporting suspected financial abuse in good faith.  This bill passed in the Assembly.

It’s critical that we empower the people who interact with older New Yorkers on a regular basis to do and say something if they suspect that a customer is being scammed. These measures ensure that senior citizens have additional allies who are looking out for their financial well-being.

To make sure seniors are aware of all the banking options available to them, the Assembly passed a measure that requires banks to notify customers seeking to open a joint account if the bank also offers convenience accounts (A.8217-A). Unlike joint accounts which grant the co-signer the right of survivorship and thus all the assets of the account if the other signer passes away, convenience accounts allow the other person on the account to make basic transfers or withdrawals which must be in the best interest of the main account holder, simplifying check writing and bill paying. If the holder of a convenience account passes away, the money in it becomes part of their estate. In addition, it’s easier to prosecute those who exploit a convenience account, rather than a joint one.  This bill passed in the Assembly and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

The final piece of legislation streamlines the estate planning process by simplifying the power of attorney (POA) form to a single document with more straightforward, transparent language (A.8120-B). This will not only greatly simplify the process of executing a POA, but will also help ensure that third parties honor a valid POA. The failure of a third party to honor a valid POA can have dire financial consequences for seniors. Therefore, the bill would also allow the courts to issue sanctions against third parties who unreasonably and unfairly refuse to honor a valid POA form. This too passed in the Assembly and was sent to the Senate.

As a member of the aging committee, I was honored to cosponsor and vote for these important pieces of legislation

As times change and technology and services evolve, we need to make sure we’re not leaving anyone behind, especially the seniors who have done so much for their families and our communities and deserve to live with dignity and respect. This legislation will ensure our regulations and protections keep up with and adapt to society so that we can help prevent elder abuse before it happens.

Full Article & Source:
New Legislation to Protect New York Seniors from Exploitation and Abuse

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dignity and choice sought in guardianship alternative in Nevada


LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - From protection to support.

That's the move state leaders are making as they work toward an alternative to guardianship.

It's part of the statewide changes set in motion by a years-long Contact 13 investigation that changed lives and laws. Today marks the next wave in the sea of change for guardianship reform.

A District Court judge is leading a team that will travel across Nevada looking to give power and dignity back to seniors and adults with disabilities who would otherwise be conscripted into guardianship.

Second Judicial District Judge Frances Doherty is spearheading the effort to fulfill a fundamental promise: the right to make choices in our own lives with the support of trusted family and friends.

The system of supported decision-making is being proposed as a less-restrictive alternative to traditional guardianship. 

It maximizes independence and responsibility by allowing trusted supporters to help affected adults make life choices about housing, health care, education, employment and social matters.

Traditional guardianship doesn't allow you to make final decisions. Depending on the guardian, you may not get to make any decisions at all.

That makes the system ripe for the type of abuse exposed in our guardianship series -- many of our stories about private guardian April Parks.

Parks and her associates, who've been accused of being a criminal syndicate, are awaiting trial -- accused of exploiting the vulnerable adults they were court-appointed to protect.

The supported decision-making outreach group will hold events in Northern Nevada starting today.

They'll be in Clark County this fall.

Anyone interested in a visit should contact Jackie Bryant (Jackie.Bryant@washoecourts.us) or Diana Zuccarini (Diana.Zuccarini@washoecourts.us), the administrative assistant to Judge Doherty. Diana's number is: 775-328-3470.

The outreach group is trying to maximize the groups Judge Doherty will be able to meet with while in Clark County.

Full Article & Source:
Dignity and choice sought in guardianship alternative in Nevada

Lawyer gets retroactive suspension

WILKES-BARRE — Nearly seven years after being temporarily suspended from practicing law, a Kingston-based attorney who admitted to giving “items of value” to a former county judge has resolved the disciplinary case against him.

Harry V. Cardoni of Harveys Lake agreed to a five-year suspension that was applied retroactively, according to an order the Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed last week.

Cardoni was temporarily suspended after admitting he gave former Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole perks in exchange for the judge appointing Cardoni’s preferred arbitrator in an insurance case, resulting in an award of about $1 million.

Toole pleaded guilty to accepting an illegal gratuity, and failing to pay taxes on a “finder’s fee” he received from Kids-for-Cash figure Robert J. Powell.

who admitted paying $770,000 in bribes to former Luzerne County judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan in exchange for them funneling juvenile defendants to two private detention centers Powell partly owned.

Toole was sentenced to serve 2½ years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 in fines.

Cardoni cooperated with prosecutors, who said he “expressed genuine remorse” for his actions. He was never charged with a crime.

But the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the Supreme Court temporarily suspended his license based on his admission to providing items of value to Toole.

In the time since, Cardoni has been helping elderly family members, managing several properties he owns and assisting a friend and family member in developing several businesses, according to a petition filed in May.

The petition says Cardoni has also completed the continuing legal education requirements since he was temporarily suspended and that he understands he will need to file a petition seeking reinstatement to the state bar association if he intends to return as a practicing attorney.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer gets retroactive suspension

Guardian alleges Boca Ciega Center failed to provide resident with safe environment

CLEARWATER – A plenary guardian has filed suit against a Gulfport nursing home over the care a woman received there.

Gloria J. Gaston, by and trough Patricia A. Beaton, plenary guardian filed a complaint on June 16 in the 6th Judicial Circuit of Florida - Pinellas County against Boca Ciega Rehabilitation, Kannon Health Services LLC and Airamid Health Services LLC alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, Gaston was admitted to the Boca Ciega Center in 2015 and was discharged Jan. 10, 2016. The suit states that Gaston suffered malnutrition, infections, diabetes mismanagement and other medical issues.

The plaintiff holds Boca Ciega Rehabilitation, Kannon Health Services LLC and Airamid Health Services LLC responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to provide Gaston with a safe environment, failed to properly train staff and failed to monitor significant signs and symptoms of infection.

The plaintiff seeks judgment against defendants for disgorgement of profits, consequential damages, attorney's fees, costs and interest and such other relief as the court deems appropriate. She is represented by Donna K. Hanes of Wilkes & McHugh PA in St. Petersburg.

6th Judicial Circuit of Florida - Pinellas County case number 17-003752-CI

Full Article & Source:
Guardian alleges Boca Ciega Center failed to provide resident with safe environment

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is There a Need to Increase -- Or Decrease -- the Power of Probate Judges in Ohio?

This fall, the Ohio House will consider a measure that could quash public complaints about probate judges. The amendment was first included and removed from the budget. But weeks later, it appeared as a standalone bill.

In this final part of our look at the “Power of Probate Judges In Ohio,” WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia looks at efforts to increase or decrease their power.

In Ohio, probate judges are charged with handling wills, estates, marriage licenses and even mental competency hearings. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that, in many counties, the same judges can also appoint people to boards of developmental disabilities and public hospital boards. Probate judges can also approve their own staff members to help tax commissioners accept returns. And they can even decide who gets to hold religious services in county jails.

Many of these appointments are done in concert with county officials. Barberton Municipal Court Judge Todd McKenney served about a year as a Summit County probate judge from 2011 until 2012, filling out the term of a retired colleague. He says having more than one entity control county appointments allows for more diversity.

“In Summit, the county executive – or the county commissioners in other counties – would also be making appointments to those boards. I think the idea was, if you spread these appointments around, what you’re going to get is a better reflection of the community. And so the probate judge may have one appointment, but the other appointing authorities ... are going to have other appointments.”  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Is There a Need to Increase -- Or Decrease -- the Power of Probate Judges in Ohio?

‘I-Teams’ unite agencies to take on toughest cases of elder abuse

The red flags popped up, one after another.

Case managers at the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging arranged for the 78-year-old disabled man to get help bathing, dressing and taking his medication, but for some reason, he wasn’t receiving consistent services.

Then one of the man’s daughters said she feared that her son, who was caring for his grandpa, was verbally abusive and had weapons in his apartment. The man’s home health-care workers told authorities that they felt unsafe during some of their visits and couldn’t find him during others.
Worried that the agency was going to put his grandfather in a nursing home, the grandson moved him to an extended-stay motel and then an unfurnished apartment.

“We found him sitting in the middle of an empty room with no food, no bed, no extra clothes, no supervision, no nothing,” said Barb Barrett, a Franklin County adult protective-services caseworker. The elderly man, a former pastor with a gift for telling stories, has a host of health issues, including severe arthritis, diabetes and untreated mental illness. He uses a wheelchair to get around and needs assistance with most of his daily-living activities.
In the old days, the two senior-serving groups might have continued with their separate investigations, and maybe shared a little information. But for almost two years, most Ohio counties have referred their most perplexing cases of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, such as this one, to interdisciplinary teams, called I-Teams for short.

To increase and improve adult protective services, the state started requiring counties in September 2015 to create I-Teams with representatives from such fields as fire and EMS, law enforcement, the legal community and social services. The teams meet regularly, often monthly, to discuss difficult cases. To deal with confidentiality concerns, clients’ names are never used.

The teams are aimed at identifying service gaps and communication breakdowns, said Kelly Patton, a lawyer and former probate-court magistrate who serves as chairwoman of Franklin County’s I-Team. The teams also give members an opportunity to learn about resources and services in the community.
Essentially, the teams benefit from the backgrounds and training of everyone who weighs in on the cases, she said.

More than 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties have established I-Teams, said Angela Terez, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. State officials are working with the remaining few to get their teams going.

“Counties have embraced this charge,” Terez said. “Most tell us they’re hopeful the teams will improve local prevention efforts.”

Elder abuse is a serious and growing problem, especially as the senior population explodes in number and public resources shrink, experts say.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans 60 or older has experienced some form of abuse, neglect or exploitation, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. And those figures are probably low; one study estimates that only 1 in 14 cases is even reported to authorities.

In Ohio, 16,579 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation were filed in the state’s fiscal year that ended June 30. That’s a nearly 11 percent increase from six years ago.

The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging created Franklin County’s team in 2011, well before the state mandate, said Diana Kubovcik, the agency’s client-services director who helped with its creation.

“These cases aren’t getting any easier, and the teams have really helped us be more creative and efficient,” Kubovcik said.

Lindsay Drerup, the social-work supervisor for the Franklin County Guardianship Service Board, said networking in the I-Team has been invaluable. She said she now has contacts at other agencies who can help her with other cases.

Created two years ago to fix a glaring problem in the county’s guardianship system, the board assigns social workers instead of lawyers to serve as guardians for some of the county’s most-vulnerable residents. The board’s six caseworkers are helping more than 180 people who have been declared incompetent.

“The biggest challenge is recruiting more professionals to help us with the cases,” said Andrea See, clinical manager of the Senior Options program at the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

The group, for example, would love to get more involvement from the county coroner and prosecutor’s offices as well as probate court and local banks, See said. It also would like to get more case referrals from the community.

The I-Teams help change people’s lives for the better, said Sally Smith, a supervisor with Franklin County’s adult protective services, which is part of the Office on Aging.

In the case of the 78-year-old man, adult protective services was able to get him into a nursing home, but not without the grandson trying to sneak him off the property.

The agency later obtained a restraining order against the grandson, but not before he threatened to blow up its building. He was arrested and ordered to stay away from his grandfather.

Through it all, the elderly man’s condition deteriorated, and he was found to be incompetent. In early July, a probate judge ruled that the man needed a guardian, and the Guardianship Service Board has been appointed to help oversee his care.

It’s not the first time a guardian has been appointed for him. He had one in another county for three years after concerns were raised that another daughter was exploiting him financially.

“He’s safe, doing well and has found new purpose trying to help other residents,” Smith said.

Anyone who suspects abuse of an Ohio senior citizen may call 1-855-OHIO-APS toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and get routed to the appropriate agency for assistance.

Full Article & Source:
‘I-Teams’ unite agencies to take on toughest cases of elder abuse

America Has a $27 Billion Sepsis Crisis

New data suggest a striking rise in the deadly syndrome, but hospitals have a profit-motive to find it—and it may have been there all along. 

Sepsis—a frequently lethal condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own organs while trying to fight off infection—is the top killer in U.S. hospitals, and the country has only recently begun to understand the scope of the problem.

A new government report suggests that sepsis cases tripled in the decade from 2005 to 2014, causing 1.5 million hospital stays by the end of that period. That’s alarming, but it may be misleading, too. Experts who study sepsis say the apparent increase is actually a reflection of how doctors are getting better at identifying cases they used to miss.

The medical world “is actually recognizing a much more common condition than we realized in the past was actually there,” says Greg Martin, a critical-care doctor and professor at Emory University School of Medicine who studies sepsis.

Sepsis is a fast-moving illness that occurs when the body’s own attempt to defeat an outside infection damages tissues and organs. There’s no single test to diagnose it—doctors must piece together a combination of symptoms and biological signals. It can make the heart race, cause trouble breathing, give patients fever or chills, and cause extreme pain. It’s more likely to occur in older people and those with other illnesses. It may play a role in up to half of all hospital deaths.

Saving patients from sepsis, sometimes called septicemia or septic shock, depends on quickly getting them antibiotics, fluids, and other measures to stabilize them. New York State recently issued rules requiring hospitals to follow treatment guidelines after the high profile sepsis death of a 12-year-old boy whose diagnosis doctors initially missed. Other states may follow.

The recent attention is understandable. A federal tally of hospital billing data shows a dramatic and steady rise in sepsis cases. A new brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency that studies clinical practices, found that sepsis was the most common reason for hospital stays, with the exception of pregnancy and childbirth. Treating it cost $27 billion in 2014, or about $18,000 per case.

But relying on hospital discharge data, which describe how hospitals bill for patient visits, may elide the true trends in disease rates. “Coding doesn’t always match what’s really happening,” Martin, the Emory University professor, says.

Research presented at a conference in May and funded by the Centers for Disease Control used clinical data from digital health records at 412 hospitals to estimate how common sepsis is nationally. That analysis came up with a similar number to the new federal report: About 1.67 million cases in 2014. It also found that the number has been stable since 2009. In other words, the same number of sepsis cases may have been there all along.

The difference now seems to be that doctors are getting better at spotting it, hence the upward tick in hospital coding.

“There’s a large focus on increasing awareness of sepsis,” says Chris Seymour, an assistant professor of critical care and emergency medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The hope is that by alerting the public as well as general practitioners and other people who treat simple infections, that we can educate them about the signs and symptoms,” he says.

Hospitals also have incentives to record sepsis cases that may have previously been attributed to other diagnoses. Doing so can make them look better on federal measures of hospital quality and increase reimbursements, Emory’s Martin says. Sepsis payments can be more than three times the fees for pneumonia, an infection that frequently precedes sepsis, he says.

The same federal data that shows sepsis cases tripling in a decade also shows hospital stays for pneumonia dropping by one-third in the same period. If doctors are getting better at identifying sepsis, and hospitals have an incentive to bill for it, that could explain why a patient who got a diagnosis of pneumonia in 2005 might be considered a case of sepsis ten years later.

Still, the steady upward march of hospital visits attributed to sepsis suggests there is some true increase underlying the numbers, says Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, who co-authored the report. When a change is simply related to coding or reimbursement, the increase is typically a more sudden, single-year jump, not a decades-long trend.

True sepsis rates are rising partly because the population is aging, says Steven Simpson, director of pulmonary and critical care at University of Kansas Medical Center. Medicine is also getting better at keeping alive people with serious illnesses, such as organ recipients, cancer patients, and those  with autoimmune conditions like HIV—all more susceptible to sepsis. And people without health insurance or access to care may delay treatment for a lesser infection until it becomes more severe.

“Sepsis has been growing, growing, growing for a long time,” Simspon says.

The increasing problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs that render medicines impotent may also play a small role in rising sepsis cases, he says, but it’s not driving the trend. As resistant organisms become more common, however, the danger is likely to increase. “If you have an infection and you are treated with an ineffective antibiotic, you are more likely to develop sepsis,” Simpson says. “Sepsis is what we save our antibiotics for.”

Full Article & Source:
America Has a $27 Billion Sepsis Crisis

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Editorial: J.W.’s missing money a guardianship travesty

“Guardians and conservators provide consistent beneficial results for families. They are responsible for … managing the incapacitated person’s assets so that they have enough to see them through their life.” – Chief District Judge Nash

Except when they don’t.

Journal investigative reporter Colleen Heild’s shocking July 9 story shows just how wrong things can go in this system set up to protect some of our most vulnerable people.

Heild reported on a lawsuit that alleges $600,000 in a trust account set up for a 65-year-old developmentally disabled woman referred to as “J.W.,” her brother and two others had been drained while under the management of Desert State Life Management – which was the court-appointed conservator in the case. Yes, the same conservator that is supposed to manage the incapacitated person’s assets “so that they have enough to see them through life.”

How this could have happened with both a court-appointed conservator and guardian is a mystery – as are many things in this secrecy-shrouded system.

As part of the court oversight, conservators and guardians are supposed to file annual reports with the court – presumably so the judge can review them. Desert State, a nonprofit trust company, was appointed conservator by Judge Valerie Huling in 2014. A District Court docket sheet says the annual reports were, in fact, filed by Desert State. An attorney who filed the lawsuit says the reports didn’t indicate how much money was in the account, but had a notation that an accounting “was attached.” However, the lawyer said there was no such accounting in the court file.

That would seem to be important.

Did Desert State, which was allowed to serve without posting bond, perpetrate an active fraud on the court via presumably false accountings that showed both expenses and, more importantly, how much money was left? Or did it manage to skate by without filing that accounting and nobody in the court system challenged the company? A court official refused to answer that question, saying she couldn’t comment because it would violate state law making guardianship/conservatorship cases confidential.

And speaking of guardians, what role did the separate court-appointed guardian play – or should have played – in this case?

Nash penned the words at the top of this editorial in an op-ed to the Journal last year in defense of the system designed to protect the incapacitated who are declared to be wards of the court. Critics contend the system lacks protections for wards and families, and doesn’t have sufficient public accountability. Defenders attribute many criticisms to “high family conflict” and emotion, and say the secrecy mandated both by statute and promoted by court practice is essential to protect the privacy of the wards.

Those arguments don’t work very well in the case of J.W. and the others. Their money, it appears, is gone. J.W., her brother and two other disabled women were beneficiaries of a trust set up by a Sandia Laboratory engineer who died in 2008. No “high family conflict” here. And it doesn’t work for Joseph A. Perez, who has cerebral palsy as the result of a medical malpractice incident in the 1980s. He also had Desert State as his conservator. His checks stopped coming six months ago. There are no families raising a ruckus. No money left for the wards. If secrecy is protecting anyone in these cases, it’s the court system and the industry.

Meanwhile, regulators believe Desert State burned through an estimated $4 million in trust funds affecting 70 or more clients, with the money drained off to businesses controlled by CEO Paul Donisthorpe. In the case of J.W. and Perez, Desert State controlled their trust accounts before being appointed as conservator.

A commission established by the State Supreme Court is holding hearings on the system and is set to make recommendations in October.

It would do well to consider the case of J.W.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Full Article & Source:
Editorial: J.W.’s missing money a guardianship travesty

Financial scams target millions of older Americans

Some 5.4 percent of elderly see some form for fraud every year


One in 18 older Americans falls victim to financial fraud or scams annually, and that figure excludes seniors who’ve been financially abused by friends and relatives, a new study finds.

“We’re talking about millions of older adults each year,” said lead author David Burnes, a gerontologist, social worker and professor at the University of Toronto in Canada. “What’s worse, it’s very likely an underestimate.”

The report in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 5.4 percent of older adults experience some form of fraud or scam each year.

The estimate includes only seniors living on their own and excludes those in institutional settings and most who are cognitively impaired. Complicating the count, Burnes said in a Skype interview, is the fact that victims tend to underreport the scams.

Burnes and his team divided financial exploitation of older adults into two categories — financial fraud and scams perpetrated by strangers or others outside of conventional positions of trust; and financial abuse perpetrated by those in positions of trust, generally friends and relatives.

They reviewed 12 studies involving nearly 42,000 community-dwelling older adults and determined that in every five-year period, an estimated 5.6 percent of older adults are a target of a financial fraud, and 5.4 percent are targeted within one year.

The swindles run the gamut from online romance to counterfeit prescription drug scams, Burnes said.
“Scammers will target and prey on older adults who are lonely, socially isolated and will develop an online relationship and over time will ask them to send money over and over again,” he said.

Most of the studies defined older adults as being at least 65 years old, but two included people as young as 50.

The studies covered scams pertaining to investments, products and services, employment, prizes and identity theft.

Victims often are unable to detect differences between legitimate email calls for help from relatives, for example, and scammers, Burnes said. Victims frequently send money overseas, complicating law-enforcement and recovery efforts across borders, he said.

The authors call on researchers and policymakers to explore ways to prevent financial scams and for health care professionals to screen elders for vulnerability to scams during wellness visits.

Dr. Eric Widera, a geriatrics specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the new study, agrees that physicians should screen for vulnerability.

“I do agree that physicians should play a role in helping patients by recognizing the signs of possible impaired financial capacity and recognizing elder abuse, because it’s more common than we often think and because it impacts their health and well-being,” he said in an email.

“Unfortunately, while there are a number of elder-abuse screening instruments out there, not all screen for financial abuse, and very little if any screen for scams and fraud,” he said.

Widera fears the new report failed to capture many instances of financial fraud and scams, especially in the most vulnerable.

A previous recent study estimated the one-year prevalence of elder financial abuse in relationships of trust as 4.5 percent. Given that elders could be targeted for both financial abuse and financial fraud or scams, the authors believe nearly 10 percent of older Americans may be subject to some form of financial exploitation each year.

Both doctors and consumers tend to overlook elders’ declining ability to manage their own financial affairs, one of the most common and devastating problems of aging, a 2015 report in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.

The authors of that report, Dr. Mark Lachs of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and Duke Han of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, coined the term “age-associated financial vulnerability” to encourage physicians to consider the issue with their patients.

Financial fraud victims may suffer serious health consequences, including major depression, anxiety and premature mortality, the authors of the new study write. Most victims also report feeling anger, stress, betrayal, embarrassment, helplessness and shame.

In addition, victims of elder financial fraud and scams suffer financial losses from which they may never be able to recover.

Full Article & Source:
Financial scams target millions of older Americans

Elder Law for Florida

Q: The nursing home where my grandma lives has gotten a temporary guardian for my grandmother and they are having a competency hearing

The nursing home where my grandma lives has gotten a temporary guardian for my grandmother and they are having a competency hearing (calling her indigent and challenging her competency). Her hearing is on July 31st. Should I get a lawyer to contest the guardianship? Is this okay? the guardian wants to get Medicaid for her but we dont. My grandma makes too much money with retirement check&she owns her home. We want to transfer my grandma to Miami and pay privately for nursing home. I dont know what to do. The guardian told me to let her know before I get a lawyer (she wants the name). She lives in Jacksonville, FL

 A: It sounds like an energency temporary guardianship has been established and that the final hearing is set on the 31st. Unless you want the current proposed guardian to be appointed you must insert yourself into the proceeding with your own lawyer. The Court has appointed an attorney to look out for your grandmother's interest and they will advocate what they think is in her best interest which may or may not be what you want. I would suggest contacting an experienced guardianship attorney within the Duval county area.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Law for Florida

Monday, July 17, 2017

Guardianship commission hears troubling testimony

A commission gathering input on the state’s guardianship system for adults heard troubling testimony Friday in Santa Fe: Court-appointed guardians for incapacitated adults have placed vulnerable wards in unregulated, bed bug-infested boarding homes, and lawyers have looted their coffers with impunity while family members were kept in the dark.

“I really think the only reason they have guardianships is to take assets away from families,” David Heater of Albuquerque told the 16-member New Mexico Adult Guardianship Commission during a public meeting at the Capitol.

“I’ve never seen any protection,” Heater said. “They just take and take until it’s all gone, and then there is no justice. … Nobody wants to investigate. All the information is kept secret, which is really strange because if you want justice, you gotta follow the money.”

Heater’s frustration was shared by other members of the public who addressed the commission Friday, sharing stories of how the courts have allowed unchecked abuses by corporate guardians and lawyers. In some cases, people testified, the guardianship system has left adults needing protection worse off than they were before state courts got involved.

The New Mexico Supreme Court appointed the commission in April and tasked it with recommending changes to the guardianship system, which is intended to provide aid to people who lack the capacity to make decisions about their own care and financial management — usually elderly people and people with mental illness or developmental disabilities. But the commission has been listening to concerns from people around the state about abuses of the system, too much secrecy, and procedural barriers and delays that have left people without the protections they need.

Retired Santa Fe elementary school teacher Lorraine Mendiola told The New Mexican that when she petitioned the court to name her the legal guardian for her adult son, who has a mental illness, the lawyer she hired told her moments before a hearing that she had asked the court to appoint someone else as the son’s legal guardian. The would allow Mendiola to be “just be mom,” the attorney told her.

Mendiola said she was so surprised and intimidated by the court system that she didn’t know what to do. So, she allowed the court to appoint a corporate guardian for her son.

Her son had “horrific experiences,” as a result, Mendiola said, including being physically assaulted by another resident at one boarding home, smoking marijuana and being offered heroin at another home, and being arrested and institutionalized repeatedly because of a lack of supervision.

Every time that happens, she said, her son is stabilized, then discharged and placed in another home with “horrific conditions.”

Once, she said, he was sent to live in a converted garage.

“The guardian does not inspect homes before placing the client,” Mendiola told commissioners Friday.

Kelley Smoot-Garrett, who drove to Santa Fe from Austin, Texas, to address the commission about experiences she had when her late mother was involved in New Mexico’s guardianship system, told The New Mexican that a court-appointed trustee had used her mother’s credit card for 11 months after her mother died.

Friday’s meeting, held at the Roundhouse, was the first time the 16-member panel has met publicly in Santa Fe since it was appointed by the Supreme Court in April. Meetings also have been held in Albuquerque and Las Cruces to gather comments.

The commission is tasked with delivering a preliminary report to the Supreme Court on its findings about the guardianship system Oct. 1.

It intends to hold three more public meetings in Albuquerque before then, on Aug. 11, Sept. 1 and Sept. 29, but hasn’t yet announced meeting locations.

Commission members voted unanimously Friday to ask for State Attorney General Hector Balderas’ opinion on whether the panel is subject to the state Open Meetings Act.

Patricia Galindo, a staff attorney for the Administrative Office of the Courts and a commission member, said she thought the panel isn’t subject to the law because it was created by the Supreme Court, which is exempt. Still, Galindo said, the commission is complying with the law by holding public meetings, as well as publishing advance notice of meetings and posting agendas and public comments on its website.

But commission member Jorja Armijo-Brasher, director of Albuquerque’s Department of Senior Affairs, made a motion to request the attorney general’s opinion.

“Why not be as transparent as possible?” Armijo-Brasher asked. “It’s clearly a public concern that the existing system is too secret and too much of an insider game.”

Contact Phaedra Haywood at 986-3068 or phaywood@sfnewmexican.com. Follow her on Twitter @phaedraann.com.

Correction, July 15, 2017
Correction: This story has been amended to reflect the following correction: An earlier version incorrectly reported that the times and locations of upcoming meetings haven’t been set. Commission member Patricia Galindo said the exact locations of the three meetings, all in Albuquerque, haven’t been determined, but the meetings are scheduled Aug. 11, Sept. 1 and Sept. 29.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship commission hears troubling testimony

Guardianship panel seeks meeting advice

SANTA FE – An ad hoc commission appointed by the state Supreme Court to evaluate the guardianship process in New Mexico voted Friday to ask the state attorney general whether it should be complying with the state Open Meetings Act.

The 16-member commission, which held its fourth meeting on Friday, unanimously agreed to ask for a formal AG opinion at the urging of commission member Georgia Armijo-Brasher, who is the city of Albuquerque’s director of the Department of Senior Affairs.

“I ask myself why would we not want to be as open as possible,”she said. “This effort and charge of the commission is the one most single important chance we have to make a significant difference in the guardianship process and it shouldn’t be status quo.”

Vice chairwoman Patricia Galindo, who works for the Administrative Office of the Courts, noted that audio recordings of each of the all-day commission meetings are posted on the court’s website. The public can file written comments online and agendas are available at least 72 hours before a meeting, if not earlier.

She said the courts are excluded from having to comply with the law, but the commission has nevertheless adhered to the spirit and intent of the law.

Compliance with the law would include posting minutes of each meeting, voting on minutes and requiring that any votes or action items be listed on the agenda, Armijo-Brasher said in an email.

But Armijo-Brasher said, “This commission came about because there exists a clear public concern that the existing guardianship process is too secret and too much of an insider game. We would do the public and ourselves a disservice if we do not proceed in the most open manner possible.”

Armijo-Brasher said she’s received complaints about the lack of meeting minutes.

“People come to me and say… ‘I have to listen to the whole thing (recording online) to get to the point of what I wanted to hear’ … they don’t have hours to sit and listen.”

The committee chairwoman, retired Albuquerque District Judge Wendy York, in a letter to the commission, defended her decision to ask the public to refrain from naming names when speaking or writing to the commission about specific guardianship cases.

York, who was out of the country on Friday, wrote that she made the decision before the commission first met April 28 after receiving letters “from both lawyers and family members who wanted to level accusations against each other.” She said the commission, which is to make its first initial report to the Supreme Court on Oct. 1, doesn’t have the time to get into personal disputes but is charged with making recommendations on improving the system.

York also proposed that she set aside a day to meet personally with people who may be reluctant “for a variety of reasons” to speak to the commission. The commission might also consider recommending an ombudsman or special court commissioner to field individual concerns on a regular basis, her letter stated.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship panel seeks meeting advice

Casey Kasem's Widow Alleges 'Human Trafficking' in Grievance Against Tacoma Attorney, Scott Winship

Fallout from the fight between Casey Kasem’s widow and three of the radio personality’s adult children has reached the Washington State Bar Association.

Jeannie Kasem said Thursday she filed a grievance with the bar this week, alleging that Tacoma attorney Scott Winship was part of “racketeering” to “human traffic” her husband before his death in June 2014.

Winship did not return phone or email messages from The News Tribune on Thursday.
He represented Kerri Kasem, Casey Kasem’s daughter from another marriage, after Jeannie Kasem moved her husband from California to Silverdale in 2014.

The children from the previous marriage feuded with their father’s wife about his care and access to the “American Top 40” host as his health worsened, until he died at a Gig Harbor Hospital at age 82.

A court ultimately gave Kerri Kasem authority over her father’s health-care decisions, as he suffered from a condition called Lewy Body dementia.

Jeannie Kasem filed a wrongful death suit against the three children and others last month in U.S. District Court in Washington.

The suit and the bar grievance allege Casey Kasem died as part of a “homicidal guardianship scam.”

She alleges in the grievance that Winship “misled” a Kitsap County judge, who allowed Casey Kasem to be taken from Silverdale to St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor for a medical evaluation, where he later died.

“Scott Winship was racketeering with Los Angeles attorneys to human traffic Casey Kasem for commercial gain through their depraved homicidal guardianship scam,” the grievance states.

It also says the court-ordered medical evaluation was done by a doctor who is married to Winship’s paralegal.

Kerri Kasem told the Los Angeles Times last month that the actions the children took were court-ordered, and that the suit was a ploy for media attention.

“For her to say we unplugged him — we tried everything we could to save him,” she said of allegations in the lawsuit. “These lies are so awful. It’s so awful to hear this.”

Asked why she filed the grievance against Winship, Jeannie Kasem said Thursday: “The Bar Association is very powerful. And they operate and police their own, so they say. It’s important to speak out and to tell the truth as to what happens to somebody when an attorney acts the way that Scott Winship did.”

Full Article and Source:
Casey Kasem's Widow Alleges "Human Trafficking" in Grievance Against Tacoma Attorney, Scott Winship

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld: Elderly Residents File Ground-Breaking Class Action Lawsuit Against NYSE-Traded Brookdale Senior Living Over Financial Abuse and Widespread Violations of the ADA

SAN FRANCISCO, July 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Four senior citizens living in California assisted living facilities run by Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., who have significant care needs and disabilities, have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco accusing Brookdale of financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA").
Brookdale is the largest provider of assisted living for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the U.S. and its stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange. There are more than 5,000 residents in Brookdale's 89 assisted living facilities in California. This is believed to be the first class action lawsuit against an assisted living provider to be brought under the ADA.

Plaintiffs and their families came to Brookdale because they required assistance with their activities of daily living including medication management, dressing, bathing, toileting, hygiene, food preparation, laundry and transportation. Rather than finding the care and comfort they needed, plaintiffs, their family members, and the proposed class they seek to represent have all encountered in Brookdale a system of understaffed assisted living facilities that fails to consistently provide even the most basic level of promised care.

According to the complaint: "Brookdale systemically understaffs its facilities, cuts caregiver hours, and fails to train workers, all to boost its profitability, while the residents in Brookdale's care are forced to endure increasingly expensive monthly charges and worsening care. The results of Brookdale's callous and profit-driven approach are devastating: as multiple reports by state regulators confirm, residents are left without assistance for hours after falling, they are given the wrong medications, they are denied clean clothing, showers, and nutritious food, and they are left in their own waste for long periods of time."

Brookdale promises families peace of mind, but instead they find heartache when they learn that their loved ones are not receiving medications they need or even the most basic housekeeping and hygiene—despite monthly fees ranging from $4,000 to $5,000 or more for each resident.

As alleged more fully in a 70-plus page complaint filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Brookdale has engaged in a policy and practice of violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), accompanying regulations, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Brookdale discriminates against seniors with disabilities in myriad ways, including by failing to address multiple barriers in their living quarters and throughout the facilities, restricting the number of persons in wheelchairs who can take weekly outings, and failing to provide sufficient staff to care for persons with cognitive and other disabilities. The complaint also alleges that Brookdale has engaged in a policy and practice of violating the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, committing Elder Financial Abuse, and engaging in Unlawful, Unfair and Fraudulent Business Practices.

The case is Eidler v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Case #3:17-cv-03962. Anyone with information about conditions at Brookdale facilities in California may contact Gay Grunfeld at ggrunfeld@rbgg.com or 415-433-6830.

Plaintiffs' Co-Counsel and Media Contacts:

Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld
Rosen Bien
Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
(415) 433-6830

Guy B. Wallace
Schneider Wallace
Cottrell Konecky
Wotkyns LLP
(415) 421-7100

Kathryn A. Stebner
Stebner and Associates
(415) 362-9800

Full Article & Source:
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld: Elderly Residents File Ground-Breaking Class Action Lawsuit Against NYSE-Traded Brookdale Senior Living Over Financial Abuse and Widespread Violations of the ADA

Letter - Financial abuse

I was born and raised in Henry, S.D. My family experienced several circumstances with the passing of our father who resided in Watertown. I would like the public to be aware of the following information regarding elderly financial abuse.

Financial abuse includes: taking money or property, forging an older person’s signature, getting an older person to sign a deed, will or power of attorney through deception, coercion, or undue influence. Abusers are often adult children or other family members such as grandchildren or spouses whom the elderly trust.

Financial warning signs: withdrawals from the elderly accounts and financial conditions, suspicious changes in the will, power of attorney, titles and policies, addition of names to signature card and financial activity the senior couldn’t have done.

Financial abuse is to gain power and control, but include tactics to limit access to assets or conceal information and accessibility to the family finances.

Financial exploitation occurs when a person misuses or takes the assets of a vulnerable adult for their own personal benefits. This occurs without the consent or knowledge of the senior, depriving him of financial resources for his personal needs. Financial abuse means using a person’s money or property without permission in a fraudulent manner.

If you feel that you can trust a sibling close to an elderly parent, ask for a monthly accounting of how their money is used before their funds are depleted.

When the elderly parent cries because he has no money, believe him and have it all investigated immediately.

The loss of a parent or loved one is already a difficult time for everyone. Taking a few extra precautions to ensure that the loved ones financial affairs are in order before they pass can prevent the extra heartache of losing other family members due to mistrust.

Minerva Strohfus-Hall
New Palestine, Ind.

Full Article & Source:
Letter - Financial abuse

Fayetteville Man Arrested for Financial Exploitation of Elderly Woman

Thomas Eugene Woodrum
FAYETTEVILLE– A Fayetteville man has been arrested on allegations of engaging in the financial exploitation of an elderly female. Sheriff Mike Fridley released the following information concerning this arrest:

Thomas Eugene Woodrum, age 65, of Fayetteville was arrested early this morning. According to the criminal complaint filed in this matter, he has served as the Guardian and Conservator for an elderly mentally incapacitated female since December of 2002. The criminal complaint alleges that Woodrum had been writing checks to himself from this female’s account, writing checks to local stores and receiving cash back and accessing the funds in this account to pay expenses other than those incurred for and on behalf of this female. The complaint further alleges that he has failed to file the required annual reports with the Fayette County Circuit Court concerning his management of this account. The alleged misconduct covers a period of approximately two years, and it appears that the amount of money misappropriated from this account exceeds $2,000.00.

Woodrum is charged with the felony offenses of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Incapacitated Adult and Embezzlement by a Fiduciary. He also faces a single misdemeanor count of failing to file an annual report concerning his administration of this estate. He was arraigned in the Fayette County Magistrate Court and was released on a $10,000.00 bond.

“The protection of our elderly citizens and our children is one of the top priorities for the Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff Mike Fridley. “Our youngest and our most elderly citizens are two groups most at risk for being victimized, and it is our duty to do everything in our power to keep these vulnerable citizens safe and protect them from being abused and exploited.” This incident remains under investigation by the Detective Bureau of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Full Article & Source:
Fayetteville Man Arrested for Financial Exploitation of Elderly Woman