Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Minnesota man battling COVID-19 moved to Texas hospital after lawsuit over ventilator

By Paul Blume

A Buffalo, Minnesota man suffering from a devastating case of COVID-19 is in Texas where his family is hoping and praying doctors there can save his life.

Scott Quiner’s family went to court last week to get a restraining order to keep Allina Health from pulling the plug on the ventilator that was keeping him alive in Minnesota.

FOX 9 does not have all the specifics of Quiner’s medical records, but his loved ones and their attorney report the 55-year old father of three was unvaccinated when he was first diagnosed with COVID-19 in late October, around Halloween.

He required deep sedation, a breathing tube, and a ventilator when his oxygen levels got dangerously low and did not improve.

Scott’s wife, Anne Quiner claims Allina threatened to pull the plug on that ventilator last week and that is when she went to court to fight.

Anne has power of attorney over Scott’s healthcare decisions. She hired lawyer Marjorie Holsten to stop Allina from pulling the plug on the ventilator, a move she believes would have killed him.

"This is a life-saving thing. It is going to be critical," explained Holsten, who admits she has never handled a case like this one.

The Quiners have stated in public comments and social media that Allina would not treat Scott with certain drugs, nor would they attempt other extraordinary measures that might save his life. When the medical team allegedly told the family that Scott had just a couple more days on the ventilator, Holsten rushed to court to obtain the restraining order. The judge signed it Thursday.

"It was mentioned on Monday, confirmed on Tuesday," said Holsten. "By Tuesday, they said, ok, Thursday at noon, we pull the plug. I don’t think the judge wanted to be on the wrong side of saying, ‘Of course, you should be able to pull the plug’ so the judge was correct doing that."

Over the weekend, Scott was transferred on a med flight to an unidentified hospital in Texas, apparently willing to meet the family’s medical wishes for life-saving treatments. By Sunday evening, he was already said to be improving on the ventilator while being weaned from the heavy sedatives, and provided extra nutrients.

His family claims that it appears most of his major organs are functioning well, except his lungs.

"I think the world is watching what is going on with Scott," Holsten told FOX 9’s Paul Blume. "And as he gets better and better, we are going to see that you know what, there are protocols that should be used that hospitals have not been using. And I am hoping that changes are going to be made as a result of this case."

Allina would not discuss specifics of Quiner’s medical condition and case history, but provided FOX 9 with a brief written statement that read in part: "Allina Health is grateful the family was able to find a health care facility that meets their needs and we continue to wish them all the best."

Meantime, the Quiners have raised tens of thousands of dollars for Scott’s emergency, life-saving care through a pair of online fundraisers in recent days, boosted by significant online coverage of his case.

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Man Invites 89-Year-Old Neighbor To Live With Him So She Isn't Alone In Her Final Days

Doctors had determined Norma Cook couldn't live alone and she was going to be moved to a facility when her neighbor stepped in.

Elderly people are often consumed by loneliness, and that was the case for Norma Cook, an 84-year-old woman living in West Hollywood. When 26-year-old Chris Salvatore moved in next door, little did she think that they'd become best friends. Their meeting would lead to a 5-year friendship culminating with Salvatore inviting her to live with him as she lived out her final days. It all started after she saw him from her kitchen window. They exchanged greetings before he asked if he could come in and say hello. She welcomed him, starting a 5-year-long friendship, reported My Modern Met. 

Cook lived alone with her cat Hermes, who also took to Salvatore pretty fast. Salvatore and Cook often hung out, bonding over their champagne and gossip. Some of their treasured memories include pizza nights, eating out, and going to birthday parties. For Cook, Salvatore was “the grandson she never had.” At the age of 89, Cook fell ill. She was living alone and her life took a turn for the worse. Towards the end of 2016, she was hospitalized with pneumonia and suffered breathing complications. She was also diagnosed with leukemia. She didn't have any money and the social security check barely covered rent. She was faced with the prospect of losing her home and her cat.
The doctors took the call that it was not safe for her to live alone, and she would be forced to go into a facility to live out her final days. She had no relatives or loved ones she could rely on. Salvatore just couldn't let it happen. “I just couldn’t do that to someone who is like my own grandmother,” said Salvatore at the time, offering she move in with him. “My apartment was the only place she would have moved. She has strong opinions about where she wants to carry out the rest of her days, and she wants to stay here,” recalled Salvatore. “Moving her in…it feels as though it was meant to be all along. It’s really fulfilling to be there for her.” It wasn't just about providing a home and critical care for Cook. The costs of the same went way beyond what Salvatore could afford but he still fought to find a way.

He started a GoFundMe campaign to help her. Within seven hours, “Help Norma Pay for 24-hour Home Care” raised over $25,000. Within a month, the campaign raised over $50,000. “I’m so happy I was able to give her this gift of living her last days at home,” said Chris. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through the end of your life at a hospital without your friends or pets. "I never expected to raise $50,000. It was definitely a miracle.” The campaign ended up raising more than $75,000.

Cook moved in with Salvatore along with Hermes, her cat. Salvatore cooked for her, and they spent their time as they had done previously. Drinking champagne, eating peanuts and watching the news. The doctors said she didn't have long to live, not expecting her to live past the holidays. The pair celebrated New Year together and shared a few more happy memories before she passed away in February 2017. Salvatore was heartbroken but thankful for the time they spent together. “I feel her watching over me and it is a happy feeling,” he said after she passed away, reported TODAY. “She is out of pain and in peace, probably drinking a glass of champagne, dancing, reunited with the many friends that she's had throughout her life. I am forever a changed man and I thank this magnificent lady for everything she has taught me.”

Earlier this year, on her death anniversary he paid tribute to her and their friendship with a post on Instagram. “Over the years I have read so many wonderful messages about how inspiring my love for my neighbor Norma was, but what truly inspires me is the great capacity she had to love me. When we choose to love another, so many others feel it too. Beautiful, bountiful, blessings bestowed upon those you never knew,” he wrote
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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hospital Overcrowding Prompts Push For Guardianship and Informed Consent Reforms

By Leo Brine

Seattle Rep. Nicole Macri (D-43) is working on a bill to reform Washington’s informed consent and guardianship laws, which have prevented hospitals from discharging some patients who need long-term care at a time when hospitals need as many beds as possible to handle the latest spike in COVID cases.

Washington’s guardianship and informed consent laws have prevented hospitals and family members from transferring some patients who cannot make decisions for themselves into long-term care facilities even when a family member has given consent. Macri has a bill cued up which will address the problem, she said.

While the state’s informed consent laws empower family members to make many decisions for incapacitated people, they don’t allow incapacitated patients to leave hospitals for long-term care without the consent of a court-appointed guardian. The reason? Money: Guardians are responsible for paying for long-term care.

It can take months for courts to establish someone as a patient’s guardian, so Macri wants to amend the state’s informed consent laws to make it easier for patients to move to long-term care facilities while allowing courts to establish guardianship for the patient’s long-term financial management later.

Right now, hospitals have patients occupying hospital beds that could be used to treat people with acute needs because they don’t have a paper saying who’s going to front the bill.

As of January 12, Washington state has 2,062 COVID patients in hospitals with 172 on ventilators, according to state data. In King County, hospitalizations more than doubled between January 2 and January 9, county data shows.

Hospitals in Washington have said they are in “a state of crisis” after operating for months at high capacity and now with omicron sending more people to the hospital than ever before.

The Washington State Medical Association sent Governor Jay Inslee a letter last week saying that hospitals are in “a state of crisis” and asking the governor to change guardianship laws so that family members can agree to transfers. The letter included the draft of a proclamation that, if Inslee signed, would have that efect.

However, Inslee said last week that he does not have the executive authority to make the proclamation because, “you have to comply with federal law to admit someone to a long-term care facility. I cannot waive federal law.”

Instead, the governor—inadvertently highlighting the need for Macri’s fix—announced Thursday that he hopes to increase the number of social service workers who work on patient transfers. He also proposed create a program to expedite the process of establishing guardianships and increase the number of guardians, which could help reduce the backlog of patients stuck in hospitals. “[This] may involve more resources for the superior court,” he said. Additionally, to help long-term care facilities take on more discharged hospital patients, he’d add new health care workers to long term care facilities.

Macri says her bill is still necessary because establishing guardianship “can still take months even with the steps that [Inslee is] putting in place.” Her bill will change informed consent laws to allow family members, those with power of attorney, and other surrogate decision makers to consent to a patient’s transfer to a long-term facility.

Macri plans to meet with the governor’s team about her bill to hammer out how it fits in with Inslee’s plans and to address some concerns the governor’s office has around informed consent. One potential sticking point is that, according to Macri, Inslee’s team is sticking with their position that only guardians should be able to make these transfers happen.

Meanwhile, patients without guardians are not the only ones who are having a hard time getting out of hospitals. Often, there are no shelter beds available for homeless patients. And some patients came to the hospital from long-term care facilities but are unable to go back into their care because of understaffing.

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Michigan judge berates 72-year-old cancer patient over weeds, says she would send him to jail if she could

A judge in Hamtramck berated a 72-year-old man for having overgrown weeds in his yard.

"Shameful!" Judge Alexis Krot said. "If I could give you jail time on this, I would."

During a virtual hearing, Burhan Chowdhury is seen struggling with the language as his son attempts to explain why the yard was messy. He was cited by the city's code enforcement for his overgrown yard.

He explained that his father has cancer and is not doing well.

"My father is currently sick and weak," his son said.

As the son tried to explain the circumstances, Krot raised her voice and asked if he had seen the photo of the blight.

Neighbors said Chowdhury went back to native country of Bangladesh for about two months in the summer for his son's wedding, and that's when the yard started to get bad.

Chowdhury was ordered to pay a $100 fine by Feb. 1, and the yard has since been cleaned up.

When FOX 2 reached out to Krot, she said she would like to comment but state judge administrator said she couldn't.

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Bad judgment? New Orleans judge charged with allegedly failing to pay taxes on cash she earned officiating weddings

By Lukas I. Alpert
Prosecutors say Ernestine Anderson-Trahan officiated hundreds of weddings for cash fees of $80 and up, but never disclosed the income to the IRS.
Judge Ernestine Anderson-Trahan is accused of failing to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in income she collected for presiding over weddings. (Getty Images)

The couples said “I do,” but this judge said “I don’t” to the IRS.

A New Orleans judge has been indicted on charges that she failed to disclose on her taxes the thousands of dollars she earned in fees for officiating weddings over several years.

Ernestine “Teena” Anderson-Trahan, 55, has been a judge in the Second City Court in the Parish of Orleans dating back to 2013, hearing civil cases, small claims disputes and eviction proceedings. 

On the side, she presided over weddings, both in the courthouse and at private ceremonies, prosecutors said.

Between 2013 and 2017, Anderson-Trahan oversaw hundreds of ceremonies, charging between $80 and $100 in cash for in-court weddings and more for nuptials held off-site, according to court papers. But prosecutors say she failed to disclose any of that income on her tax returns.

A message left with an attorney for Anderson-Trahan wasn’t immediately returned. 

The issue came to attention in 2018, when WVUE-TV aired a report pointing out that several judges in local New Orleans courthouses were charging fees on the side to officiate weddings, possibly in violation of the law. The report said the judges each were collecting as much as $25,000 in supplemental income each year.

Anderson-Trahan faces up to 12 years in federal prison if convicted on all four of the counts of filing false tax returns with which she has been charged. 

A message left with a spokesman for the court wasn’t immediately returned. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Anderson-Trahan had been suspended from her duties as a judge.

Anderson-Trahan, a Democrat, was automatically re-elected in 2018 after running unopposed. Before becoming a judge, Anderson-Trahan was a lawyer in New Orleans after having passed the bar in 1992.

Monday, January 17, 2022

WANTED: Two Bronx, New York men for elderly scam theft in Ocean County, NJ

Two men who reside in the Bronx, New York are wanted for their roles in an elderly scam that took place in Ocean County, Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain and Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer announced on Thursday.

There are warrants out for the arrests of 34-year old Jorge Peguero-Mendez and 24-year old Richard Quinones-Perez who have each been charged with Theft by Deception as well as Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception.

This all stems from an incident that occurred last month in Barnegat when an elderly woman received a call from a man claiming to be her grandson.
He said he was in a motor vehicle accident in New York City and that he was arrested because the other driver sustained injuries and that he already had a lawyer appointed to represent him.

Shortly thereafter, the woman got a second phone call, this from a man claiming to be the man's attorney (her fake grandson) and he said he could get her 'grandson' out of custody if she gave him $8,000 in cash.

Both men then drove down to Barnegat and one of the men pretended to be a courier there to pick up the $8,000.

When she spoke to her family, the woman realized that she had fallen victim to a scam and that her grandson was not arrested.
Barnegat Police began an investigation and along the way they learned that similar incidents, scams had occurred recently in Hopewell Township as well as up in Nassau County, New York.

As the investigation progressed, Barnegat Police worked with Hopewell Police, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of the Inspector General, Nassau County New York Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad.

Peguero-Mendez and Quinones-Perez were later identified as the individuals responsible for the scamming incidents in all those areas.

If you or someone you believes you've been victimized by these men or know any information on where they are, you're urged to contact Officer Robert Armstrong of the Barnegat Township Police Department at (609) 698-5000.

“These types of incidents should serve as a cautionary tale for all of our senior citizens here in Ocean County, as well as a reminder that unscrupulous individuals are out there just waiting to prey upon the most vulnerable members of our community,” Prosecutor Billhimer said in a statement. “Please be vigilant in identifying these fraudulent phone calls, and recognize that any phone call or message requesting large sums of cash or wire transfers is likely a scam. These types of calls should be immediately reported to law enforcement."
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Police: nursing assistant stole thousands from resident at The Gardens at Wyoming Valley

by Dylan Fearon
Inside The Gardens at Wyoming Valley nursing home, residents expect to be cared for. So do their families. 
What they don't expect is a certified nursing assistant to steal thousands of dollars from a man living there.

But Wilkes-Barre City police say that's exactly what happened in September and October of last year.

Cops are accusing certified nursing assistant Alyssa Nappa, 24, with stealing a resident's wallet, which had his identification, social security card and debit card in it. 

The resident's son visited his father and noticed the wallet missing. After calling M&T Bank, they realized there were a large number of withdraws on the account, totaling more than $10,000. Then the resident froze his account.

Police were able to obtain records from the nursing home to find out which employees had worked on the resident's floor from September 16 to October 8. Police then obtained surveillance footage of Nappa and Zachary Wengzen, 25, withdrawing money and using the debit card at several local establishments. "Approximately $13,049 in withdraws and fees were taken out of (the victim's) bank account from 9/27/2021 to 10/12/2021 before he was able to freeze his account," the criminal complaint says.

Police say Nappa was an employee at the nursing home, but hasn't been showing up to shifts. Police have also attempted to contact Nappa but have been unsuccessful. Nappa and Wengzen have been charged with theft, receiving stolen property and access device fraud. Warrants are out for both of their arrests.

FOX56 interviewed Nappa in May when she and other employees at The Gardens at Wyoming Valley were protesting and demanding better pay and conditions in nursing homes. 

"When the pandemic started, a lot of people walked off the jobs because it has been very hard, very stressful," Nappa said in May. Just months later, the alleged theft took place. 

Nappa and Wengzen's arrest warrants were signed by magisterial district judge Thomas F. Malloy.

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Defending Elderly: Know Your Rights Against Nursing Home Abuse

by kashif

When an elderly member of a family is no longer able to live on their own, families must make difficult decisions about their loved one’s care. The solution is often to find a good nursing home and place the loved one there for safety and care. That decision helps the families reduce worry about the person and relieves the family members of taking care of the family member on a daily basis. But, what happens when the nursing home neglects or allows patient abuse?

What is Classified as Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse can come in many forms, which can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, financial abuse, or patient exploitation. Legally, nursing home abuse happens when patients in long-term care facilities or nursing homes suffer physical, psychological, or emotional harm because of the intentional acts or neglect of their caregivers.

Getting Help For Those Suffering Nursing Home Abuse

It is unfortunate that nursing home resident abuse is as common in America as it is. However, there is help available in the form of law firms that represent families in bringing lawsuits against nursing homes that allow their residents to be abused. It is important to seek legal help to determine if the injury or complaint of a nursing home resident is due to an accident or nursing home abuse or neglect. This is not easy to prove without legal help from experienced investigators at law firms such as Hughey Law firm.

Signs of Abuse to Look For

There are always signs of abuse to look for when a family suspects their loved one is being abused. They include:

  • Physical abuse signs can include bruising or welts, unexplained broken bones, unexplained burns, hair loss, the caregiver refusing to leave you alone with your loved one, and more.
  • Emotional abuse signs can include new low self-esteem, depression, hopeless feelings expressed by the patient, changes in eating and sleeping habits, self-injury, crying and begging for help, and others.
  • Sexual abuse signs can include unexplained STDS and vaginal infections, vaginal bleeding without explanation, bruising on the thighs, breasts, and vaginal area, difficulty with sitting or walking, damaged clothing and bloodstains, and fear around a caregiver.
  • Neglect can be life-threatening and includes signs like medical needs not being met, failing to meet nutritional or care needs of a patient, dirty, unkempt spaces, residents too heavily medicated, patients allowed to wander around or out of the facility without supervision, and more.
  • Financial abuse signs might be harder to spot but can include sudden or unexplained transfers of money to another individual, will changes, residents’ personal belonging going missing, and forged signatures on financial documents.

Residents have a right to proper and safe care in any nursing home. when that is not given or their wellbeing is neglected or damaged, it is time to seek legal help to rectify the situation. 

It is not enough to simply move the resident to another facility because this lets the guilty parties keep abusing other residents. It is important to report bad nursing homes to proper government entities so they can be closed or forced to meet better standards of care. There are federal laws protecting nursing home residents. A law firm can make sure those rights are followed or seek damages from nursing homes that are not meeting the standards for the care of residents.

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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Will a conservatorship help homelessness in San Diego County?

While there's no plan in place yet, some are excited while some say it's not the solution.
Author: Regina Ahn, CBS News 8 Team

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The homelessness crisis in San Diego has been a priority for state and local leaders.

With a diverse population, there's a lot to be done to help combat the situation, and one tool is a conservatorship program for the homeless. While there's no plan in place yet, some are excited while some say it's not the solution.

"This year, I’m pushing for state action on conservatorships," San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in his State of the City address on Wednesday.

Conservatorships in which a court appointed conservator manages another person's living situation, medical decisions, and mental health treatment – has gotten support from both Mayor Todd Gloria and Governor Gavin Newsom.

"We have more treatment programs, more conservatorships," said Gov. Newsom.

However, San Diego attorney Scott Dreher, who has worked with homeless people for over 20-years says it may not be the answer.

He says the issue and solution is too complex. 

In San Diego, it’s extremely difficult to get a conservatorship, according to experts. It requires a judge’s order and there are limited conservatorships, and a family member must be present.

"Anyone who thinks that ‘oh, we’ll just put everyone in a conservatorship’ and that’ll take care of that…that’s never going to happen, that’s not the way around this," said Dreher.

Dreher says while it may be a solution for some people, there are more pressing things that could help. "What's going to solve the problem is giving people a place to be that may not have a place to be," said Dreher.

Mayor Gloria and Dreher both say housing is the biggest issue to combat homelessness.

"The shortage of homes every day San Diegans can afford is splitting up families," said Mayor Gloria.

But there’s also the issue of being mindful and compassionate towards the homeless population,

Amie Zamudio is the homeless outreach director with “Housing 4 The Homeless” and says there are no simple solutions.

"What we’re seeing is there are some people who cannot take care of themselves and no matter how much support we offer, they refuse support,” said Zamudio. “They just can’t take care of themselves it’s not humane to leave people out on these streets to decay and die."

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