Monday, January 21, 2019

Center where comatose woman had baby faced criminal probe

FILE - This Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, file photo shows Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix. State regulators reportedly wanted to remove developmentally disabled patients from a Phoenix long-term care facility years before a woman in a vegetative state gave birth. The Arizona Republic reported Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, that Hacienda HealthCare faced a criminal investigation in 2016. The facility allegedly billed the state some $4 million in bogus 2014 charges for wages, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance and supplies. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
PHOENIX (AP) — Regulators wanted to remove developmentally disabled patients from a Phoenix long-term care facility years before a woman in a vegetative state gave birth, Arizona’s largest newspaper reported Sunday.

The Arizona Republic reported Hacienda HealthCare faced a 2016 criminal investigation for allegedly billing the state more than $4 million for bogus 2014 charges for wages, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance and supplies.

The criminal case was dropped in 2017 and no charges were filed, the Republic said, but a court battle is continuing in an effort to force Hacienda to turn over financial records.

Phoenix police have said the 29-year-old woman incapacitated since age 3 was sexually assaulted and gave birth last month.

Investigators are collecting DNA from Hacienda’s male employees and others who may have had contact with the woman in an effort to identify a suspect.

The woman’s family has said in a statement through their attorney that they will care for the infant boy and have asked for privacy.

The revelation that a woman in a vegetative state was raped inside a care facility has horrified advocates for people with disabilities and the community at large.

Hacienda HealthCare’s CEO William Timmons resigned on Dec. 31 as the provider announced new safety measures, including more than one staff member being present during patient interactions and more scrutiny of visitors.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, said his office is considering bringing in a third party to assume responsibility for the ongoing management of Hacienda.

The nonprofit facility gets more than $20 million annually in taxpayer funds for taking care of extremely ill people, many of whom are incapacitated and on ventilators, the Republic reported.

Hacienda’s annual average cost of care was $386,000 per client in 2012 compared with $134,000 per client in similar U.S. facilities, Arizona Department of Economic Security auditors said.

The Republic said former economic security director Timothy Jeffries and the agency’s chief law enforcement officer, Charles Loftus have both filed lawsuits against the state, claiming they were forced out of their jobs over their probe of Hacienda.

Jeffries was forced to resign in 2016 after a series of controversies, including a finding by the Arizona Department of Public Safety that the department kept shoddy record-keeping, had insecure storage of guns and ammunition and that it had violated state procurement policies in buying some 60,000 rounds of ammunition.

Jeffries filed suit against the state in 2017 over what he claims is libel in a police report that detailed a stash of weapons and ammunition kept in the agency offices. He claims statements in the DPS audit were false and that there were malicious motives involved in the report.

The Republic quoted Jeffries as saying Timmons was obstinate during the investigation of Hacienda and bragged of tight ties to Ducey.

Ducey spokeswoman Elizabeth Berry said the governor was horrified by accounts of the rape and denied that the state failed to act on concerns raised by the economic security department.

She also said Hacienda played no part in the forced resignations of Jeffries and Loftus after their two-year tenure.

Full Article & Source:
Center where comatose woman had baby faced criminal probe

See Also:
Lawyer: Incapacitated woman who gave birth not in coma 

Patient alleges abuse at Hacienda Healthcare, two staff members placed on leave

Facility CEO resigns after woman in vegetative state gives birth; new allegations emerge

Patient in vegetative state gives birth, sex abuse investigation underway: report

Disbarred Manchester lawyer indicted for felony theft

MANCHESTER — A Hillsborough County grand jury indicted a former prominent lawyer and one-time county prosecutor for felony theft of more than $20,000 of money from his elderly client, Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald’s office announced Friday afternoon.

David A. Horan, 67, of Manchester, is accused of stealing from his client’s trust account, spending the money on himself including for the purchase of Boston Red Sox season and playoff tickets.

The first felony account of theft by unauthorized taking was that Horan took unauthorized control over his client’s money.

The second relates to the issuance of multiple personal checks written to himself from an account owned by an individual identified only as “M.B.,” who is currently 79 years old.

Both offenses are Class A felonies that upon conviction would carry state prison terms of up to 15 years.

In June 2017, Horan agreed to be disbarred from the practice of law to complete an investigation by the Attorney Discipline Office that looks into complaints brought against lawyers.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously voted a month later to accept that recommendation that stemmed from Horan’s supervision over the finances of a client identified as MB.

Records indicate MB hired Horan in 2013 to represent him in trying to revive a corporation the elderly man had run.

According to the disbarment order, MB had sold shares of Prudential Insurance stock back to the company and was paid $32,300 in January 2014.

“MB was spending money erratically and unwisely and thus Mr. Horan convinced MB to sign the Prudential check over to Mr. Horan,” the decision said.

What followed was a litany of withdrawals Horan made from MB’s client trust account for his own personal use, according to the ruling.

Horan was supposed to pay MB $2,000 a month from that account to cover living expenses but he failed to do that, the ruling states.

The order charged Horan with falsifying reports to banking institutions and the public guardian’s office about his stewardship of the money.

The order maintained that Horan often comingled his own personal accounts with the money he held for clients.

According to that decision, Horan used client money on several occasions for Red Sox tickets.

“Mr. Horan had an arrangement whereby his friends would contribute to the purchase price of Red Sox tickets, he would purchase the tickets, and thereafter he and his friends would divide up tickets for particular game days,” said the disciplinary order.

The trust fund of MB was overdrawn in September 2016 and that’s when officials at the Bank of America reported this matter to the Attorney Discipline’s Office.

At the time he was disbarred, Horan had been a criminal defense lawyer in sole practice with an office on Coolidge Street in Manchester.

During the 1990s, Horan was an assistant county attorney in Hillsborough County and had risen to the rank of its chief criminal prosecutor.

A graduate of Boston College Law School and undergraduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Horan was first admitted to practice law in 1977.

Full Article & Source:
Disbarred Manchester lawyer indicted for felony theft

VOICES project to curb elder abuse kicked off at Yale event with Blumenthal

Left to right: Bruce Barber of WNPR; Gail D’Onofrio, chair, Yale Department of Emergency Medicine; U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Fuad Abujarad, assistant professor, Yale Department of Emergency Medicine (Photo credit: Marco Roldan)
The Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) at Yale School of Medicine kicked off the start of a new project to combat elder mistreatment (EM) with a community event at Monterey Place in New Haven, Connecticut on Friday, Jan. 4.

We are honored that Senator Richard Blumenthal, a longtime advocate for elderly rights and protection, joined us in raising awareness about this critical issue that affects 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60,” said Fuad Abujarad, the project’s principal investigator.

Funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, the project — Virtual cOaching in making Informed Choices on Elder Mistreatment Self-Disclosure (VOICES) — is aimed at developing an interactive tool to screen for EM that would facilitate the reporting of elder abuse to providers.

Moderated by Bruce Barber, general manager at WNHU and host at WNPR-FM, the event was attended by 40 residents of the Monterey Place apartment complex for seniors in New Haven. Abujarad emphasized that only 1 in 24 cases of suspected elder abuse or neglect are reported to authorities. DEM chair Gail D’Onofrio spoke about why the emergency department (ED), a critical catchment area for screening for all types of mistreatment, is often the only opportunity for older adults to get help. “There is a critical need to implement a healthcare provider-based protocol in a busy ED,” she said. “The VOICES project is important because it will help identify those who do not, will not, or cannot speak on their own behalf and be their own voice.”

Blumenthal, a member of the Special Committee on Aging, stressed the importance of bringing attention to the issue, saying: “Elder abuse and neglect, be it physical, emotional, sexual, or financial, is a crime, but it is under-reported because of shame, fear, and embarrassment. It is a dirty little secret — not so little; it’s actually huge, prevalent, persistent, and pernicious throughout our society.”

Nickia McAuley, resident services coordinator for Monterey Place said the residents were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the senator, to learn about VOICES, and to express their views on this topic that affects so many people in their age group.

VOICES, a virtually guided decision-making intervention tool to screen for EM in a point-of-care setting, utilizes virtual coaching, interactive multimedia libraries (e.g. graphics, video clips, animations, etc.), techniques from electronic screening for intimate partner violence, and brief motivational interviewing to promote self-disclosure. “EM is a social justice problem for all members of society,” said Abujarad. “The effects of EM include injury, increased dependence on services, mental distress, and increased mortality, and we are currently developing a tool that will allow older adults to feel safe about disclosing EM to their provider.”

A nationally recognized expert in health information technology, Abujarad has over 20 years of experience in research focused on mobile-health technology, human-computer interaction, elder mistreatment, informed consent, system development, and systems that provide real-time background searches for childcare and eldercare workers.

VOICES is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

Full Article & Source:
VOICES project to curb elder abuse kicked off at Yale event with Blumenthal

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Lawyer: Incapacitated woman who gave birth not in coma

A lawyer for the family of an incapacitated Arizona woman who gave birth in a long-term care facility said she is not in a coma as previously reported.

The Arizona Republic reported Friday that attorney John Micheaels said the 29-year-old woman has "significant intellectual disabilities" and does not speak but has some ability to move, responds to sounds and is able to make facial gestures.

Phoenix police have said the woman was the victim of a sexual assault and have disclosed little other information.

A Jan. 8 statement by San Carlos Apache Tribe officials said the woman, a tribal member, gave birth while in a coma.

News media outlets have reported that the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was in a vegetative state at the facility where she spent many years.

"The important thing here is that contrary to what's been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities. She has feelings and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family," Micheaels told the newspaper.

He responded to a request Saturday by The Associated Press for comment by saying in an email that the information reported in the Republic is correct. He did not comment further.

The woman gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 29 as staff at Hacienda HealthCare frantically called 911 for assistance, telling an operator that they had not known she was pregnant.

Police investigators have been collecting DNA samples from male employees at the facility and any other men who could have had contact with the woman. State regulatory officials have also launched investigations.

The victim and the newborn have reportedly been recovering at a hospital, but no information has been released about their conditions.

The woman's guardian, her mother, described her in a May 29 annual guardian report filed in court as "an incapacitated adult." An attached doctor's report said the woman has a brain disorder, a form of retardation, recurrent pneumonia, paralysis of the limbs, seizure disorder and other conditions.

Hacienda spokesman David Leibowitz told the AP on Saturday that patient privacy laws precluded him from discussing the woman's condition.

The director of the facility has resigned and the company subsequently hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to conduct an independent investigation into management procedures and patient safety.

On Friday, Hacienda announced that another female patient had alleged physical abuse by staff members.

Hacienda officials said in a news release that the patient accused a registered nurse and a certified caregiver, both women, of yelling at her and hitting her head and arm.

Hacienda officials said the patient showed no signs of injury or abuse and that the two workers had no history of complaints and denied the allegations. They were placed on administrative leave during an investigation.

Police say they were informed about the complaint but weren't able to corroborate anything.
 more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/article224814265.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/article224814265.html#storylink=cpy
Full Article & Source:
Lawyer: Incapacitated woman who gave birth not in coma

See Also:
Patient alleges abuse at Hacienda Healthcare, two staff members placed on leave

Facility CEO resigns after woman in vegetative state gives birth; new allegations emerge

Patient in vegetative state gives birth, sex abuse investigation underway: report

VA whistleblower complaints allege abuse, retaliation from regional director

Click to Watch Video
DURHAM, NC (WBTV) – A senior leader with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has been accused of abusing her power, harassing employees and retaliating against other senior leaders who report to her.

The accusations have come in three separate complaints filed by employees who work in VISN 6—the VA’s regional office that is responsible for healthcare in North Carolina and Virginia—with the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

OAWP was created by President Donald Trump in April 2017 to “discipline or terminate any VA manager or employee who has violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out his or her duties on behalf of veterans, and to recruit, reward, and retain high-performing employees,” among other things.

The office was further codified in a law enacted by Congress in June 2017.

Each of the three employees outlined grievances against DeAnne Seekins, the VISN 6 Director.

WBTV has agreed to conceal the details of two of the complaints, including the identity of the complainants, because the two employees feared further reprisal for blowing the whistle.

The third complaint was filed by Joseph Edger, who served as Deputy Network Director—the second-in-command in VISN 6—before Seekins got the job as director and continued in the role afterwards.

Edger is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who managed healthcare in the Army.

He filed his complaint with OAWP in February 2018.

“The Network Director (Mrs. Seekins) has actively abused her authority by defaming, harassment & intimidated, and threatening myself and VISN staff,” Edger wrote in his complaint.

Later in his submission to OAWP, Edger alleges Seekins’ behavior towards him was retaliation for disciplinary action he took against her when he was Deputy Network Director and she was the director of the Durham VA Medical Center, which reported to VISN 6.

“I feel that Mrs. Seekins may be retaliating against me for my actions while assigned as the Deputy Network Director under Mr. Dan Hoffmann’s leadership,” Edger said. “Mr. Hoffmann would oftentimes use me as an enforcer of policy and directives.”

Specifically, Edger said he was told to counsel Seekins when she ran a $20 million budget deficit one year while working as the director of the Salisbury VAMC.

A second VISN 6 employee who filed a complaint with OAWP accused Seekins of taking similar retaliatory action.

Through a spokesman, Seekins refused to issue a statement for this story.

The spokesman insisted that Seekins could not respond unless Edger filled out a waiver allowing her to speak. Seekins did not seek such a waiver from Edger and, instead, insisted a WBTV reporter obtain it.

Later, a second VA spokesman insisted the waiver was required as a “standard practice” of the agency but, when challenged by a WBTV reporter, could not provide a specific policy to support the claim.

Instead, Seekins sent an email to all VISN 6 staff on Friday in which she responded to the upcoming story.

The subject of her email was “Heads Up – Negative News Story (VISN 6).”

In the email, Seekins issued a response to details of the upcoming story that a WBTV reporter had provided a spokesman in an effort to obtain a comment to include in the story.

“I want to give you a heads up regarding a negative news story that we understand will run tomorrow in the Charlotte news market. Nick Ochsner of WBTV in Charlotte has notified us that the station intends to run his story about employee whistle blower complaints that allege I have personally fostered a hostile work environment for some employees in VISN 6,” Seekins’ email said.

“Mr. Ochsner is a very competent, aggressive and hard-hitting reporter who I respect. However, in this case, I believe he has been misguided. While the story contends that it is based on official complaints submitted to the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower protection (OAWP), I am aware of only one open complaint and unaware of any previous complaints of hostile work environment,” she continued.

By law, OAWP cannot disclose the identity of an employee who has filed a complaint with the office to the employee’s supervisor.

Sources familiar with Seekins’ communications strategy told WBTV on Friday that the same message sent to VISN 6 employees ahead of WBTV’s story was also sent to North Carolina’s congressional delegation and to various veterans service organizations.

Full Article & Source:
VA whistleblower complaints allege abuse, retaliation from regional director

The Negative Effects of Elderspeak

Talking down to older adults is not only disrespectful, but it can be detrimental



Faye Kirtley doesn’t appreciate it when store clerks talk down to her and act as if “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she said.

“It’s embarrassing, and I don’t know why they think it’s okay to treat an older person like that,” added the 88-year old resident of Bardstown, Ky. “Maybe they have people in their family that they talk down to, too.”

Barbara Tack, 76, of Exeter, N.H. cringes at diminutives such as “miss” and “little lady” and has been known to correct a supermarket cashier on the impact of those monikers.

“I told him, ‘I am not young, and I think it’s an insult to call attention to my age at all,’” said Tack. “He did seem chagrined, so I tempered it with something like, ‘It makes me feel bad that all you can see is my age.’ But I hear that kind of condescending comment way too often.”

Tack also shared a story about a friend, a 70-year-old man, who was offended by what he perceived to be very childlike instructions given to him by a nurse in a doctor’s office: “Sorry, you have to remove your sweater for me to take your blood pressure. I know it’s cold outside and you can put it back on right away.”

Elderspeak Reveals Perception


What Kirtley and Tack are describing are signs of what is referred to as “elderspeak.” It occurs when an older adult is spoken to by health care workers, service personnel, neighbors or even family members as if he or she is a child with limited understanding.

In a recent article in The Chicago Tribune, Anna I. Corwin, an anthropologist and professor at St. Mary’s College of California in Maroga, noted that elderspeak “sounds like baby talk or simplified speech” and is, in fact, a symptom of how older adults are often perceived.

“Americans tend to view and treat older adults as no longer productive in society. And that’s how we define personhood, as an adult who is a productive member of society,” Corwin said.

Elderspeak involves talking slowly and at a louder volume, with pronounced enunciation; it also employs the frequent use of words such as “sweetie,” “dear” or the pronoun “we” when referring to the older person (as in, “Do we want to go to dinner now?”).

The Negative Impact of Elderspeak


Not only is this type of speech condescending and disrespectful to older adults, it can be damaging to their mental health and well-being.

According to Becca Levy, a researcher on a study on the effects of elderspeak, by Yale University, the practice “sends a message that the patient is incompetent, and begins a negative downward spiral for older adults who react with decreased self-esteem, depression and withdrawal.”

Further, those living with mild to moderate dementia can be even more negatively impacted by this type of language. These people can become aggressive or uncooperative when elderspeak is used, according to the Yale report.

The Importance of Respect


In an article about the dangers of ageism by LifeCare Advocates, a care management practice based in Newton, Mass., one of the tactics mentioned for reducing the use of elderspeak involves training health care workers not only to refrain from using diminutives, but to ask the older adult how he or she wants to be addressed. For some of them, the automatic use of their first names demonstrates a lack of respect.

Kirtley, who tends not to correct those who speak down to her for fear of “causing an incident,” still decries the practice of elderspeak. She’d be happier to always be treated with the respect she said everyone deserves.

“It’s an issue of dignity,” Kirtley said.

Full Article & Source:
The Negative Effects of Elderspeak

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Woman finds mentally ill dad sleeping on sidewalk after hospital workers sent him home in wrong cab

Robert Hill was discovered on the side of the road after being discharged from Detroit Receiving Hospital. (Photo: Fox 2)
A woman in Detroit was expecting her mentally ill father to be driven from the hospital to their shared home on Friday, but instead her dad went missing after being discharged. To her horror, she later discovered him sleeping on the sidewalk as if he didn’t have a home.

Rosalee Smith had admitted her dad, Robert Hill, to Detroit Receiving Hospital on Dec. 14 for assessment and medication management because he has bipolar schizophrenia and had been refusing treatment, according to Fox 2 Detroit. Smith, who is her dad’s legal guardian, was at work when he was due to be discharged, so she entrusted hospital workers with sending him home in a Detroit City Cab — just as she had done in the past.

Smith told Fox 2 that the hospital even gave her the taxi number — 606 — and assured her they’d help Hill inside her house. But by 2:30, he still hadn’t arrived — and Smith was shocked to receive a phone call from the hospital asking whether her father had made it home safe because he hadn’t. She called Detroit City Cab company and says they told her that her dad was a “no-show.” She added: “He was never placed in cab 606 through the Detroit City Cabs.”

So she filed a missing person’s report and went out to search spots her dad was likely to be when he was well. While driving, she spotted a man on the side of the road, sleeping under a blanket. It was her father.

“He didn’t know who I was,” Smith told Fox 2. “He barely spoke his name.” An unknown person had apparently even taken his shoes and stripped him naked. “Someone did place a blanket and food out there,” she said, “but he’s not homeless.” Disoriented and suffering from hypothermia, Hill was brought directly back to the hospital in critical condition. The police department then launched an investigation into how this could possibly happen.

The police report revealed that Hill was never actually placed in a Detroit City Cab, as the hospital had confirmed. Officers discovered via video surveillance that a staffer had placed him in a gray Chrysler Pacifica owned by a different taxi service. “Whoever brought him down … they waited for the cab,” Smith said the police told her. “The cab I guess never showed up in their time frame, and they flagged another service down that had no knowledge of his home.”

Police officers could not figure out, however, how Hill ended up on the side of the road.

Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Detroit Receiving Hospital and will update this story should they reply. In the meantime, a spokesperson for the facility told Fox 2 that Hill had been given “a safe discharge.”

“I just want to know what happened,” Smith told Fox 2. “Horrible. Disgusting. Is that what they do to mentally ill people or old people that have no say so in the matter?” Though Smith hadn’t heard from hospital officials as of Thursday afternoon, she said she wants to make sure they never do this to another individual.

Hill continues to recover, and Smith told Fox 2 his condition has been upgraded from serious to stable.

Full Article & Source:
Woman finds mentally ill dad sleeping on sidewalk after hospital workers sent him home in wrong cab

Editorial: The state's public guardians help Nebraskans vulnerable to financial abuse

The Office of Public Guardian is under the Nebraska court system, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican, shown here.
No one, no matter one’s profession, income or background, has an absolute guarantee they won’t become incapacitated in later life. That debilitation, physical or mental, can cause them to need help in managing personal financial and household needs.

Vulnerable, too, are non-elderly residents coping with disabilities, mental health challenges, substance abuse problems or other impairments.

Troubling instances of financial abuse of such individuals have sometimes arisen in Nebraska, such as the court-appointed guardian in Omaha who took at least $350,000 from several wards.

To prevent such abuses, the Nebraska state government took commendable action in 2014 by creating publicly funded guardians, under the Nebraska court system, to help vulnerable adults. Then-State Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln introduced the legislation after World-Herald investigative reporting on the issue.

The program has charted encouraging successes, but it also faces daunting challenges as the state-paid public guardians work to provide these needed services, according to a new report from the Office of Public Guardian. The state currently has 17 public guardians, who each handle a maximum of 20 wards. Cases are assigned based on their crisis level, with lower-level cases placed on a waiting list. At the end of October, 40 cases had been referred to the waiting list.

The guardians face considerable stress in their work, the report says, and turnover is considerable, which adds to the burdens of remaining guardians and lengthens the waiting list. Six applicants died in 2017 while waiting for services. The Supreme Court is trying to help by allowing guardians to earn compensatory time or overtime for handling cases after hours or on weekends.

A frequent problem, the report says, is that medical and mental health services are inadequate in many cases for wards’ needs. The report cites concern, for example, regarding “hospitals and inpatient facilities (that) discharge wards without appropriate discharge planning resulting in lack of adequate services, putting at risk the health and well-being of wards.”

Other problems: “lack of permanent supportive housing for individuals with mental illness,” “nursing home and assisted living facilities with multiple licensure and regulation issues” and “difficulties in obtaining Medicaid when a ward has been a victim of financial abuse.”

The Office of Public Guardian works to recruit guardians and promote alternative supports. The office held 102 presentations across Nebraska from December 2017 through October 2018 to train private guardians and conservators. The office has developed procedures to better identify relatives and friends who could help individuals in need.

This need for assistance for elderly Nebraskans from public or private guardians is likely to increase in coming years. From 2010 to 2030, the number of the state’s residents ages 65 and above is projected to increase from 240,000 to 400,000.

The new report describes encouraging instances of how public guardians have helped wards. One example is a retired minister, described in the report by the pseudonym Mark. Mark had properly prepared his retirement finances through investments, annuities, long-term care insurance and a pre-paid burial plan. But he fell into a catastrophic situation after entrusting his assets to his only grandchild, who suffered from a drug addiction. The granddaughter liquidated his assets, had check deposits redirected to her and took out multiple lines of credits in Mark’s name. Mark lost personal items dear to him, including family photos and heirlooms.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services nominated Mark for emergency protection by a state guardian, and matters turned around. He entered a nursing home and enrolled in Medicaid. He was able to resume contacts with friends in a local club. The guardian helped document Mark’s preferences for his memorial service, burial and organ donation.

Before he died, he told his guardian, “I feel so fortunate to have you.”

The Office of Public Guardian is to be commended for the services it’s providing to such Nebraskans — the need is great. This initiative deserves continued support, buttressed by a strengthening of Nebraska’s medical and behavioral health communities.

Full Article & Source:
Editorial: The state's public guardians help Nebraskans vulnerable to financial abuse

Patient alleges abuse at Hacienda Healthcare, two staff members placed on leave


PHOENIX — A patient has come forward alleging assault at Hacienda Healthcare.

According to a statement from the facility, a survey of the ICF-ID unit was conducted Thursday by federal and state auditors.

A patient who suffers from a “serious intellectual disability” reportedly said she was abused by two female staffers, a registered nurse and certified caregiver.

She said she was yelled at by staff members and struck in the head and arm.

Hacienda leadership reportedly called police immediately about the report and alerted the patient’s legal guardian.

The staffers who the allegations were made against were immediately placed on administrative leave pending investigation.

Both of the staffers reportedly have clean records.

No signs of abuse or injury were found during a medical exam.

Full Article & Source:
Patient alleges abuse at Hacienda Healthcare, two staff members placed on leave

Friday, January 18, 2019

Former volunteer lashes out at nursing home over mother's treatment

Cindy Harris says her mother went weeks without the pain medication she needed.

St. Petersburg, Fl. (WFLA) - 77 year old Ruth Jones was a patient at the Laurellwood Nursing Center in St. Petersburg for 3 years.

She suffered from Alzheimer's.

Osteoporosis fractured vertebrae leaving her in constant and severe pain.

Her daughter Cindy Harris volunteered at Laurellwood until an illness in 2018 kept her away for a few months.

When she returned in August, patients she knew told Cindy that her mother cried all the time.
 
Cindy provided 8 On Your Side records that show, 2 months earlier, in May, a doctor at Laurellwood discontinued Ruth's pain killing drug, Percocet, the only pain medication that really helped her.

"They never informed me that they were going to withdraw that medication," Cindy said.   "77 years old and they let her pain get so bad that she had to holler for an entire day and night, it's inhumane."

According to Cindy, Laurellwood insisted that she take her mother to a doctor where she could get a new pain medication prescription.

Unable to sit up, Ruth made what turned into a grueling trip by ambulance.

"She was crying all the way up to the office on the stretcher, she was in so much pain," Cindy tearfully explained.  "Every time I think about it, my heart hurts for her."

The pain management office Cindy and Ruth went to didn't have a bed to accomodate Ruth.
 
Ruth was in such agony the doctor recommended she be taken to a hospital emergency room.

There, hospital staff discovered a bed sore.

"Nursing homes have an obligation to provide patients the best care possible," Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care said.  

Lee, the former Ombudsman for the state of Florida points out that nursing homes must also make sure that patients do not endure hardships when seeking assistance.

If there was no bed at the pain clinic to accommodate Ruth, Brian Lee says it is obvious the nursing home did not help coordinate the visit and was not looking out for the patient's best interests.

Earlier this month 8 On Your Side profiled Tonya Baker's complaints about Laurellwood.

Tonya showed us pictures of her father's bed sore.

She complained to the Department of Children and Familes, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration and Elder Abuse.

DCF confirms it is investigating Tonya's complaints.

Once Ruth was stabilized at the hospital in August, she returned to Laurellwood for another two months.

On the day she was moved to hospice, Cindy says she learned that Laurellwood had run out of Percocet a week before.

"They didn't notify me," Cindy added.  "I had no idea."

I reached out to Laurellwood this morning.

The telephone rang and rang, no one picked up.

Later in the day I was told no one was available to answer my questions.

Ruth moved to hospice in November and passed away 3 days later.

"I told my sister,  after what I saw, don't ever let me go into one of these homes, don't let it happen," Cindy explained.  "If I'm an Alzheimer's take me down the street and let me walk into traffic. I would never want to go through what she went through."

Full Article & Source:
Former volunteer lashes out at nursing home over mother's treatment

Judge to face ethics hearing over theft allegations

Mack Crawford Photo - 072518 judge
The state’s judicial watchdog panel has set a Jan. 30 hearing date to consider possible discipline against a Griffin Judicial Circuit judge who faces theft charges.

Superior Court Judge Mack Crawford was indicted in October for the alleged theft of court funds. The judge, who oversees cases in Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson counties, has pleaded not guilty. Crawford is currently suspended from his duties while the case is pending against him.

His criminal trial has not yet been set. In the meantime, a Judicial Qualifications Commission panel will hear testimony about the accusations against Crawford late this month at the Henry County government building. The panel’s members are presiding officer Robert McBurney, the chief Superior Court judge in Fulton County; Atlanta lawyer Jamala McFadden; and Cobb County Police Chief Michael Register.

If the panel finds against Crawford, a former state lawmaker who once headed Georgia’s public defender system, it can recommend to the Georgia Supreme Court that he be removed from office.

The theft charges against Crawford stem from a case he handled as a private attorney more than 15 years ago. In 2002, he represented two clients who placed $15,675 into the Pike County court’s registry while their foreclosure case was pending. In 2009, a judge dismissed the case and ordered the funds be returned to Crawford’s clients.

The funds stayed in the registry until last December when the clerk told Crawford she planned to send the money to the state as unclaimed property. But Crawford directed her to give him the funds, which she did, and the indictment alleges that was theft.
 
Full Article & Source:
Judge to face ethics hearing over theft allegations

State group critical of elder abuse report

The association representing Pennsylvania’s Area Agencies on Aging said that two major findings in a report released last week criticizing the Department of Aging’s oversight of elder abuse investigations was inaccurate.

WRITTEN BY NICOLE C. BRAMBILA

A statewide association representing Pennsylvania's 52 Area Agencies on Aging responded to a report criticizing the Department of Aging's oversight of elder abuse investigations, saying the two major findings were inaccurate.

Rebecca May-Cole, director of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, or P4A, said Tuesday that State Inspector General Bruce Beemer and his office erred in finding 20.4 percent of the reviewed cases did not conduct in-person interviews within 72 hours. May-Cole said the regulations only require an attempt.

Also at issue was the report's determination that in nearly half of the cases local agencies did not complete abuse investigations within 20 days.

Released last week, the State Office of Inspector General's summary report was critical of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging's oversight of protective services. The report focused on whether the network was complying with state statutes and timelines for investigations.

Clarke Madden, Beemer's spokesman, could not be reached for comment.

Pennsylvania's aging population has increasingly made elder abuse a high-visibility issue. Over the past decade the number of complaints has surged roughly 40 percent, and advocates expect the problem to worsen as Baby Boomers age.

"It's difficult and I in no way want to blame it all on the funding," May-Cole said. "But it really is difficult when there's been no significant increase in many, many years."

To keep up with the demand, May-Cole estimates another $6 million is needed annually.

Although tasked with protecting Pennsylvanians 60 and older, local agencies provide a range of services that are often more visible to seniors, such as community centers and feeding programs.

May-Cole added, "There's this balance that needs to happen."

The inspector general summary report contained a dozen recommendations that included a centralized call center for reporting and increased training.

Clayton "JR" Reed, the association's Protective Services and Guardianship Committee chair and executive director of the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services, said the network's shortcomings could be addressed with updating the state statute.

"Nobody's talking about looking at legislation," Reed said. "The laws were written in 1987."

A possible fix, Reed said, would be extending the length of time to complete reports from 20 to 30 days, something that would be in line with timelines for investigations by Child Protective Services. He also suggested increasing the number of investigators to lower caseloads from about 30 to 20.

While highlighting some very real issues, the way Reed sees it, performance reports can detract from what's important.

"A lot of people's lives are affected because of the work that we do," Reed said. "I think that's what gets lost in these kinds of reports that come out."

Full Article & Source:
State group critical of elder abuse report

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Twenty-Seven Euthanasia Killings at Ohio Hospital?

Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s ‘Thanatron,’ often referred in the media as the ‘Death Machine,’ is seen during a press preview for the Sale of the Estate of Jack Kevorkian at the New York Institute of Technology, N.Y., October 27, 2011. (Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS)

A major euthanasia scandal is brewing at a hospital in Ohio, where a doctor and other staff professionals are being investigated for lethally overdosing dying patients. From the Columbus Dispatch story:
Mount Carmel Health System says one of its intensive-care doctors gave “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of pain medication to at least 27 near-death patients between 2015 and 2018.
Dr. William Husel, who had worked for the system since 2013, has been fired, and details of an internal investigation by Mount Carmel have been turned over to authorities, the health system’s top executive said in a statement Monday.
The alleged perpetrator may have thought he was doing the patients a favor by cutting the dying process short:
The families of all patients involved had requested that lifesaving measures be stopped, but the amount of painkiller prescribed was beyond what was needed to provide comfort, said Ed Lamb, president and CEO of the Columbus-based health system.
It is one thing to refuse life-support. Then, if death comes — sometimes it doesn’t — the demise is natural, the person’s “time” as the saying goes. It is quite another to make that happen by ending the patient’s life.

The problem apparently involved more than a lone-wolf killer:
Along with Husel’s firing, 20 employees have been placed on administrative leave, among them pharmacists who were involved with related patient care, and nurses who administered the medication, Mount Carmel executives said. The health system said only one doctor was involved.
If these allegations prove true — innocent until proven guilty — does the euthanasia movement bear some of the blame? Not directly. The acts are the sole responsibility of the perpetrator(s). Moreover, such crimes have happened before legalizing assisted suicide was a dark cloud on the horizon.

Still, I think that the ubiquitous presentation — even celebration — in media and popular culture of dying by overdose as “death with dignity” contributes to a cultural atmosphere around death and serious illness that might lead a disturbed person to feel justified in speeding things up.
This seems particularly so if these deaths involved a conspiracy among hospital personnel or a clear willingness by some staffers to look the other way. What would have given them the idea that administering a mass overdose of fentanyl was in any way acceptable?

I’ll keep an eye on this and report as there are further developments.

Full Article & Source:
Twenty-Seven Euthanasia Killings at Ohio Hospital?

Once victims, now suspects: Couple accused of bilking family member out of $800k


ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — While they were being victimized by a now disgraced contractor, a Rocky River couple was allegedly victimizing an elderly family member. Patrick and Lori Smith were indicted on felony theft, fraud and forgery charges, accused of bilking a 94-year-old, nursing home-bound family member out of more than $800,000.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted the couple on two counts of level one felony theft, two counts of forgery and one count of identity fraud on Monday. The Smiths will be arraigned on January 29.

According to Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman, detectives were notified in September 2018 by the elderly victim’s nursing home. The nursing home administrator told police that it appeared the victim’s niece and nephew in-law had been taking money from his bank accounts, leaving the man’s nursing home bills unpaid.

“He had a large sum [of money] to begin with when he got there. We went up there and took the original report and as soon as we got there, there were various red flags,” Chief Stillman said. “Obviously the gentleman, who is elderly and in his 90s, gave full control of his finances to these people for his best interests. They unfortunately spent the coin and used it for their best interest.”

The man’s niece, Lori Smith, and her husband, Patrick, became the man’s powers of attorney after his wife died. As part of the power of attorney agreement, the couple was prohibited from using the man’s substantial life savings, which exceeded $1 million, for their personal benefit. However, the police department’s investigation determined the Smiths spent more than $800,000 on various things, including sports tickets, a vehicle, a boat, and a bevy of purchases on Amazon, Costco, Giant Eagle, Lowes and QVC.

One of the first expenditures was more than $150,000 for a home remodel, police said.

“We trusted [the contractor] and he did nothing but take advantage,” Patrick Smith said in February 2018 interview with News 5 .

News 5 had multiple stories detailing the Smiths’ plight after a Lakewood contractor, ProCode Construction, walked off the still-unfinished job site. The Smiths sued the company and owner Michael Delmonico before reaching a settlement in 2018. Despite the settlement, the shoddy and questionable craftsmanship had left the Smiths’ home in total disarray: the floors and ceilings sagged, electrical lines were not properly hooked up and the addition wasn’t properly affixed to the home’s main structure, allowing rain water to seep into the attic.

Delmonico would later be indicted in late 2018 on felony theft charges. He’s accused of taking thousands of dollars for a kitchen remodel that he never started. He has pleaded not guilty.

The irony of the situation involving Delmonico and the Smiths’ newly-filed criminal charges wasn’t lost on Chief Stillman.

“They claimed they were bilked by a contractor for doing something unethical. It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black as I see it,” Chief Stillman said.

The Smiths vehemently insisted the criminal charges against them were nothing more than a misunderstanding. The couple didn’t deny making the purchases. However, they maintained that every one of the 3,800 bank transactions came with the blessing of Lori’s uncle. According to police, some of the transactions included purchases for NBA Conference Finals and Finals tickets in 2015 and 2016.

“There are so many variables in the entire story. For this portrayal of us to come out with the headline of couple steals elderly man’s money is not accurate,” Patrick Smith said. “They called him from the bank and he gave them the okay then. I had a phone conversation and a visit with [the bank] saying are you sure this is okay? We went over it with the bank several times, asking, ‘are you sure this is okay?’”

The Smiths’ claim that the expenditures came with their family member’s blessing is hard to believe, Chief Stillman said.

“That’s a statement in futility because we’ve investigated a lot of people in a lot of these crimes. This is not uncommon. This is not the first and won’t be the last. Very rarely if at all in 38 years have I seen anybody say, ‘go ahead, here’s [$800,000], spend it as you like.’ Not under these circumstances,” Chief Stillman said. “I don’t think those monies were given to them for their blessing to go to see the NBA Finals in 2015 and 2016 and go buy a boat and trailer and do whatever they wanted to do.”

Lori and Patrick Smith both said their family member was eager to disburse his sizable nest egg because “he didn’t want the nursing home to get it,” the Smiths said. Patrick Smith also stated that every one of his family member’s nursing home bills were paid with the exception of an outstanding pharmacy bill that the couple was contesting.

The Smiths also stated that some of the money was disbursed among family members.

As for why the couple would knowingly make purchases using the uncle’s money despite it being prohibited by the power of attorney agreement, the Smiths said they did not read the document’s finer details.

Police said when detectives interviewed the couple in mid-December, they presented an addendum to the power of attorney agreement. That document, according to the indictment, was a forgery. The Smiths denied the allegation.

“Bottom line is my love for my uncle will never change. I do have my side of the story,” Patrick Smith said. “I’m an advocate for him. We hope that people listen to our side instead of just concluding -- like they already have -- that [we] are just horrible people and stole from this man. That’s just not accurate.”

Full Article & Source:
Once victims, now suspects: Couple accused of bilking family member out of $800k

Another elderly victim gets soaked by Scientology, is talking to law enforcement

[Scene of the crime, the Advanced Org of Los Angeles (AOLA)]
Last summer, we told you about a shocking case of elder abuse involving a man named Efrem Logreira. He had joined Scientology at the age of 74, and a year later he was almost homeless because Scientology had burdened him with so much debt and then refused to refund him or allow him to attend its events.

After we began speaking to Efrem, and after he also spoke to law enforcement, Scientology suddenly wanted to pay him back at least part of what he said they owed him. And we could certainly understand why. Using various means of cajoling him — including an ice cream date with three young women which Efrem caught on camera — Scientology convinced him to fork over tens of thousands of dollars for counseling that he would never use. The church seemed to realize that such a blatant rip-off of a senior was extreme even by Scientology standards. We have not spoken to Efrem in some time, but we have an update on him that we’ll save for the coda to this story.

A few weeks ago we got a tip from one of our longtime sources, and learned that nearly the same thing has happened again. But this time, the 82-year-old victim wasn’t new to Scientology.

She had been in it for more than fifty years.

The subject of this story wants very badly to tell her story on the record, but she is concerned about how her family will be affected, and so for now she asked that we not identify her. However, she was very cooperative, sent us documentation, and said she is still hoping to identify herself later on.

Her story is deeply disturbing.

She’s a delightful woman from the Midwest who fell into Scientology in the late 1960s and even joined the Sea Org in 1974, working for a time under Yvonne Jentzsch at the original Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles. But eventually she left the SO and returned home.

She was still passionately devoted to L. Ron Hubbard and the “tech,” and believed that it had the potential to perform miracles — she was convinced that she had lived into her 80s with no health issues because of her involvement in Scientology.

Her one real problem was that she was very hard of hearing. So she was interested when two “missionaires” visited her last March, telling her that she should go to Los Angeles for Scientology auditing that would improve her hearing.

Even with her faith in the tech, she regrets being taken in by the pitch. “I should know better,” she says. But she decided to go.

“They asked me for $3,500 for an intensive in LA to get my hearing back. And $300 for six days in the hotel there, at $50 a day — which turned out being $75 a day.” When she balked at the overall cost, one of the missionaires offered to pay for her flight. (An “intensive” is a block of 12.5 hours of auditing, Scientology’s brand of counseling.)

In Los Angeles, she did the auditing at the Advanced Org, AOLA, and she says she enjoyed it. “I thought I was doing better. I was having wins. I was excited,” she says. (Later, when she returned home, she had herself tested and was disappointed to learn that she had lost another four percent of her hearing.)

On her second day, however, she was asked to meet with some of Scientology’s very persistent fundraisers, known as “registrars.”

“They put me in a room for five hours. ‘You want to go up the Bridge,’ they said. I said I can’t afford it. ‘If we can find you a way, will you do it? We’ll get you a line of credit,’ they said. So, OK, we’ll get a line of credit.”

One of the people pestering her, a man named Morgan, was using a laptop computer the entire time, she says. She found out later that Morgan was applying for credit on her behalf, using all of her private information they had on file. “They said I was the one on the computer. Then they had me sign a paper — ah, I was so stupid I signed whatever they gave me.”

They escorted her from AOLA to a local bank to complete the transaction. “They had all of my information. My Social Security Number, my mother’s maiden name. So the bank said it was a proper transaction.”

At some point, she says, one of the other registrars asked for her smartphone, saying that he wanted to put the Scientology TV app on it. “I thought I was getting a letter of credit. But what it turned out to be was three credit cards. I only later realized that what he actually did with my phone was activate the three cards.”

At the time, she was just glad the “regging” session was over. She assumed that a letter of credit was something she could draw on later, and wasn’t an issue at the time. She went on with her auditing.

As the week came to a close, she was looking forward to going home. But as her return date neared, she realized that they had other ideas. “They didn’t want to lose the stat. There were very few people there. They didn’t want anyone to leave.”

They wanted her to draw on her credit to buy many more intensives of auditing. She was told that what she really needed was another 23 intensives, or 287 hours in total of counseling.

She just wanted to go home. By 1:30 pm on her final day, she had completed a routing form except for one final signature, showing that she had completed what she came to do. “For hours and hours, they worked on me, trying to get me to stay.”

She sat in the Advanced Org, and sat. At 11:30 pm, she decided that she was going to walk out.

“I said I was going home. They all surrounded me, walking me down the front of the building. They wanted me to go to Ethics. But I went to the hotel, and they followed me. A little later, at 12:30, they called me in my room, saying that I had to come by in the morning at 8:30.”

She then learned to her surprise that her flight reservation the next day was still intact. (She assumed they would have changed it to keep her there.) At about 4:30 am, she put on as many sets of clothes as she thought she could get away with, and made her way to the lobby. She knew that she had to leave her luggage behind.

“The only way I could leave was to pretend I was going for a walk. I walked down the block, and I found some men who looked sketchy. I went into a Motel 6 or something and asked the guy behind the counter to call Uber for me.” Within minutes her ride picked her up and went to the airport. “I was shaking like crazy.”

She got home without incident. But then, she finally discovered that it wasn’t a letter of credit she had obtained, but three credit cards — and a balance of $59,500.

“I had no idea until I got home. Two of the cards arrived in the mail, the third one never arrived. I took the two down to our local church,” she says. She complained, but she was told that she had approved the transaction. “I never said yes. I don’t have that kind of money,” she insisted.

Meanwhile, she went to her bank, reporting the transaction to the fraud department.

“The bank decided it wasn’t fraud,” she says. “I went to everyone I could think of. I appealed the decision. They said it would go to the executive office, the highest it could go. In November, they said they would call me the next day. I never heard from them again.”

She also sent letters to local law enforcement, and even to the attorney general of her state. Again, she got nowhere.

But in the meantime, one thing she was sure of: She was no longer a member of the Church of Scientology.

“My kids are happy that I’m out. They’ve been very supportive.” At one point, when she told them she was trying to get her money back from Scientology and would probably be the subject of harassment, she said she planned to leave town so they wouldn’t be targeted as well. But they immediately drove over and told her not to leave.

“I was afraid of them. I’m not as afraid now. But I was still a Scientologist — until I got home and found out what they had done. It gradually dawned on me what they did. I’d been brainwashed. I’m still working on it.”

A couple of weeks after our initial conversation, we checked back with her and she told us that she was very pleased: She had just spoken to another law enforcement agency that seemed very interested in what she had been through, and asked for copies of her documentation.

We hope something comes of it.

CODA: Now, that update we promised. We heard last night from Graham Berry, whom we first wrote about almost 20 years ago (wow, how time flies). He sent us this happy dispatch…

“I am pleased to inform you that I successfully represented Efrem Logreira in his claim against the church. A confidential settlement agreement permits me to state that Logreira’s dispute with the church has been resolved to the parties’ mutual satisfaction. Consequently, Efrem is doing very much better and his situation is greatly improved.”

Wow, that’s good to hear. And Graham had another update for us that he asked us to relate to our readers…

“I am now preparing another pre-litigation demand letter in connection with a similar situation to the one Efrem described and endured. If it must go to litigation it will be worth substantial damages. It should also be worth an award of punitive damages. However, a plaintiff who wishes to sue a California religious corporation for punitive damages must make an early showing of merit. To that end, I would very much like to hear from anyone who, during the last five years, signed up for Scientology books, courses or auditing with bank loans, overdrafts, credit cards, or other forms of loan or credit; particularly where a staffer has assisted with the opening of new credit cards or obtaining increased credit card or overdraft limits. I can be DM’d on Facebook, emailed on grahamberryesq@gmail.com, telephoned at (310) 745-3771, texted at (310) 902-6381. I also have an encrypted account at Hushmail.com.”

Full Article & Source:
Another elderly victim gets soaked by Scientology, is talking to law enforcement

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lee Clerk of Court: Help us uncover guardianship fraud

Lee County Clerk of Court Linda Doggett.
Each year, elderly Americans are defrauded an estimated $37 billion, according to various reports.

What’s even more alarming is almost 52 percent of the perpetrators are the victims’ family members. This disturbing statistic hits very close to home, where more than a quarter of Lee County’s aging population is over 65 years old.

At the Clerk’s office, we don’t take this lightly. For years, we’ve been focusing on ways to combat exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens.

Our Probate office audits more than 1,500 guardianship cases annually. If we suspect or detect fraud, waste or financial mismanagement, our Inspector General Department conducts enhanced guardianship audits and refers alleged criminal activities to the State Attorney’s Office for further investigation and possible prosecution.

Last September, we closed one of our investigations involving a guardian who exploited more than $1 million from a 70-year old woman over several years. Unfortunately, she passed away before her guardian pleaded guilty and was brought to justice.

While these incidents are hard to uncover, there are several red flags that may help us identify whether our family members, friends and neighbors are suffering from guardianship fraud. Suspected incidents of fraud and financial mismanagement include:
  • Missing money or property
  • Changes in bank accounts or credit lines, opening loans, or funds transfers
  • Elderly ward is removed from their home
  • Purchase/sale of property
  • Violations of the law or local ordinances
Help us uncover guardianship fraud. If you suspect a guardian, family member, caregiver, attorney or others of committing guardianship fraud, please report it to our online Inspector General Hotline by visiting leeclerk.org. You can also email and submit tips to Info_InspectorGeneral@leeclerk.org or call 239-337-7799.

Linda Doggett is Lee County Clerk of Court. The Florida Constitution established the Clerk of the Circuit Court as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. In addition to the role of Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Clerk is the County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, and the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Lee County.

Full Article & Source:
Lee Clerk of Court: Help us uncover guardianship fraud