Wednesday, October 21, 2020

10 people have died after every resident of a Kansas nursing home got Covid-19

By Joe Sutton and Hollie Silverman
Dr. Gupta says nursing homes were tinderboxes for pandemic03:30

(CNN)Ten people living at a Kansas nursing home have died after an outbreak of Covid-19 infected every resident, according to a news release Monday from the Norton County Health Department.

All 62 residents at the privately owned Andbe Home in Norton have tested positive for the virus, the release states. 
"Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak including quarantining residents in their rooms and not allowing outside visitors into the facility," the release says, adding that relatives of all residents have been notified.
Some staff members have also tested positive, and the rest are being tested, the release states. 
Nationwide, some 252,939 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported among nursing home residents, and more than 59,600 have died, federal data show. Nursing home workers also have contracted the disease, and some have died. 
One resident of Andbe Home is hospitalized and the remaining 51 are being cared for at the facility, the health department said. Norton, near the Nebraska line, is about five hours' drive west of Kansas City. 
Some of the first US cases of Covid-19 were reported at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. Several states soon placed limits on visitations due to the virus, but many have since loosened the restrictions so loved ones can visit.
In July and August, on average, "more than one nursing home resident was infected every minute, and 11 residents died every hour," a US Senate report released last month found. And despite calls for help from communities across the country, some nursing homes still lacked adequate testing capacity and suffered staff and PPE shortages, the report found.
Kansas has reported 71,557 cases of Covid-19 and 870 deaths as of early Tuesday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Full Article & Source:

Britney Spears fans concerned after star posts bizarre video of herself dancing

By Tyler McCarthy

Britney Spears fans are voicing their concern after the star’s latest bizarre Instagram post. 

The star, who is currently embattled in a legal struggle over her conservatorship, took to Instagram on Monday to share a video of herself dancing in her home in nothing but high heels, a bikini bottom and revealing red halter top. 

The minute-long video shows her performing some seductive moves while staring into the camera with an expressionless face. The video includes jump cuts implying that she edited the video to put some of the moves on a loop. 

“Ps ... I usually never dance with my hair in a bun like this ... I didn’t have a rubber band so I did the magic kind without one,” she captioned the post. “Look … it stayed.” 

While a professional singer and dancer posting a video of herself isn’t necessarily odd, the general vibe of the video had many of her fans taking to the comments section of the post to express that they’re concerned for her well-being. 

“Where in Gods name is her family ... she’s not well and she keeps posting stuff like this,” one user wrote. 


“She is not okay,” a more blunt user noted. 

Meanwhile, others took to the comments to simply mock the star for the “cringey” video.

Britney Spears' fans are voicing concerns for her wellbeing after she posted a video of herself dancing with an expressionless face.
Britney Spears' fans are voicing concerns for her wellbeing after she posted a video of herself dancing with an expressionless face. (J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Britney Spears' fans are voicing concerns for her wellbeing after she posted a video of herself dancing with an expressionless face. (J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)

“I feel like I wasn't supposed to see this. How awkward,” another person noted. 

“This is so cringey…” someone else wrote.

“I’m concerned,” a third user noted. 

Spears’ mental health is being called into question amid a legal battle with her father, Jamie Spears, as she reportedly seeks to revoke his conservatorship. Right now, Jamie is in charge of her finances and everyday life and has been for more than a decade. The conservatorship was recently extended until February 2021, but Spears was given permission to expand her legal team to potentially fight for herself in court.

The star is reported to be "strongly opposed" to Jamie acting as her sole conservator and has reportedly requested that a trust company take over the role.

Other members of the star's family have gotten involved as well, as it was reported that her mother, Lynne, filed docs requesting to be informed of her daughter's finances.

Additionally, Spears' sister Jamie Lynn is reportedly acting as her trustee while her brother, Bryan, has publicly disclosed that Spears has "wanted to get out of [the conservatorship] for quite some time."

Full Article & Source:
See Also:

Federal Agency Recommends Ending Government Disability Jobs Program

by Michelle Diament

The National Council on Disability says that the AbilityOne Program should wind down and be replaced by government efforts to get people with disabilities employed in integrated settings. (Nick Sabula/NCD)

An independent federal agency says it’s time for a decades-old government jobs program for people with disabilities to come to an end.

The National Council on Disability, which is charged with advising the president and Congress on disability issues, is calling for the AbilityOne Program to be phased out.

The 82-year-old program funnels government contracts to a network of 500 nonprofits across the nation that make products or provide services to federal agencies. At least 75% of the direct labor hours undertaken by the nonprofits must be performed by people who are blind or who have significant disabilities.

However, in a report out this month, the National Council on Disability said the program is antiquated and is failing to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“The AbilityOne Program is a federally sanctioned segregated jobs system,” said Neil Romano, chairman of the council. “Not only is its effectiveness in question based on our research, it is a policy relic in tension with current national disability policy.”

Currently, about 45,000 people with significant disabilities or blindness are employed through AbilityOne, according to NCD. And, in the 2018 fiscal year alone, the federal government allocated $3.6 billion worth of contracts to the program through a mandatory preference system.

Nonetheless, the National Council on Disability found that in the last eight years of available data, employment of people who are blind through the program has stagnated and positions for those with significant disabilities have declined even as overall program sales have increased. Accordingly, the percentage of AbilityOne Program revenue going toward wages for people with disabilities has dropped each year since 2011.

Meanwhile, there are concerns about transparency and oversight, particularly in regard to spending on executive salaries and lobbying. And, the NCD report said that the requirement that people with disabilities perform 75% of work hours reinforces an outdated model of employment.

“The ratio inherently creates pressures on the AbilityOne (nonprofits) to place workers with disabilities into more segregated settings, whether as work crews or on the production floor, while the entire program perpetuates a separate system for people who are blind or have significant disabilities at the same time federal laws seek to achieve greater integration,” the report states.

Only about 4% of AbilityOne workers leave the program each year for competitive, integrated employment, the NCD report notes.

The National Council on Disability is recommending that the government phase out the AbilityOne Program over an eight-year period. Instead, all federal contractors and subcontractors with at least $200,000 in contracts and a minimum of 50 employees should be required to hire a certain percentage of people who are blind or who have significant disabilities, the council said.

“The phaseout must be conducted in such a way to ensure that all employees working under the program are prepared to transition to the new requirement to avoid job loss, unemployment or underemployment, or lower wages,” the report indicates.

Officials with the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, an independent federal agency that administers the AbilityOne Program, said they are currently reviewing the report and declined to provide further comment.

Full Article & Source:

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Two Sexual Assault Investigations At Different El Cajon Nursing Homes Turned Over To DA’s Office

By Amita Sharma

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Pictured above is Avocado Post Acute in El Cajon, May 29, 2020.

El Cajon police have referred an investigation into accusations that a caregiver sexually assaulted two seniors at separate nursing homes to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.

Police sent their findings to prosecutors following an investigative report by KPBS last week and more than one year after the alleged assaults took place.

“Sometimes, it’s better to hang on to a case to try to investigate it as much as we can,” said Lt. Keith MacArthur. “We only get one shot at this. You don’t want to turn stuff over prematurely.”

Catherine Gotcher-Girolamo, 73, accused certified nursing assistant Matthew Fluckiger of sodomizing her with his fingers while changing her diaper on June 19, 2019.

Gotcher-Girolamo said she told other caregivers at Avocado Post Acute immediately after the alleged incident. 

She also said she reported the alleged sexual assault that same day to Avocado’s administrator Dina Mookini.

Mookini, however, told state investigators that she was only aware of “rough handling” by Fluckiger and that Gotcher-Girolamo’s story seemed to evolve. Another manager told state investigators, however, that Gotcher-Girolamo’s account never changed.

Avocado waited eight days before reporting the allegations to El Cajon police even though the law requires every member of a nursing home’s staff to report abuse within two hours.

“The law says immediately,” MacArthur said. “The faster that we’re notified, it makes it a whole lot easier for us to get cooperation from victims and take them for a sexual assault exam and talk to witnesses.”

El Cajon Police also turned over to the DA’s office its investigation into an allegation that Fluckiger sexually assaulted a resident at San Diego Post Acute nursing home in August of last year, after he was fired from Avocado.

Gotcher-Girolamo expressed satisfaction that prosecutors are actually reviewing her case for possible charges against Fluckiger.

“I’m very pleased that happened,” Gotcher-Girolamo said. “I’m kind of surprised that it took so long.”

Lawyer Tony Chicotel of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform said the year lag time between the alleged sexual assaults and the police department’s referral of the two cases to the DA’s office would enrage communities had the victims been younger.

“From a nursing home resident advocate perspective, this is par for the course, the victimization of older people is tolerated in a way that we don’t tolerate in society at large,” Chicotel said.

He added there might be another reason for the police department’s delay.

“Their failure to turn it over to the DA sooner indicates that they didn’t think there was any possibility that the DA would take it or they didn’t have a lot of outrage about what was in those cases to compel them to move on it,” Chicotel said.

He added that the DA’s office should also consider prosecuting Avocado staff who failed to notify police immediately after Gotcher-Girolamo told them she had been sexually assaulted.

A California Department of Public Health investigation of Gotcher-Girolamo’s allegations found that Avocado also failed to submit its own probe of her complaint to the state within five working days, as required.

The state’s inquiry also concluded that Avocado’s allowance of Fluckiger to return to work just days after he had been accused of sexual assault jeopardized the safety of Gotcher-Girolamo and other residents at the facility.

Full Article & Source:

Woman arrested after authorities say she's accused of stealing from an elderly man with dementia

By Angela Saxon

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - The Columbia County Sheriff's Office arrested a 22-year-old woman after she was accused of exploitation and intimidation of an elderly man.

According to a police report obtained, the executive director of the Claiborne Premier Retirement on Furys Ferry Rd, home stated she believed a current employee took an elder's credit card and used it in several stores. According to the executive director, she said she had received emails from the elderly man's son, stating he had observed suspicious activity going on with his father's bank account. 

According to the report, the son stands as his father's power of attorney since his father suffers from dementia and has access to his father's bank account. 

The report goes on to explain that the executive director said that the elderly man had not left the retirement home in several days and was unable to locate his credit card. The report states the only transactions that were made were in Columbia County at Walmart on Evans to Lock Rd, Dicks Sporting Goods, Target, and unknown locations at Super Express, Wendy's, and McDonald's. 

Authorities say they believe the suspect involved in this incident is Lateakerria Michan Laney who's currently being held at the Columbia County Detention Center. 

Full Article & Source:

Dept. of Aging needs survey responders to help understand elder abuse in Utah

By Utah Department Of Aging and Adult Services

Most people can agree (a rarity in the current climate) that abuse is something everyone should work to prevent. Whether it's physical, emotional, sexual, verbal or financial abuse, neglect or exploitation, the collective actions of individuals can help. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, 20 people are abused every minute.

Abuse takes many forms, and it can happen to anyone.

Among the most silent—and consistently preyed upon—victims are the elderly and vulnerable adult populations. In Utah, financial exploitation is the most commonly reported form of abuse for this group and caregiver neglect is the second most alleged form.

Understanding elder and vulnerable adult-person abuse

Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult or an adult with physical or mental impairment. The Elder Justice Initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice reports at least 10% of adults 65 and older experience some form of elder abuse in a given year.

To help better understand and quantify the situation in Utah, the Department of Aging and Adult Services is asking people to complete a survey. While anyone over 18 can participate, the department hopes to hear from people over 60, adults with physical or mental impairments of any kind and caregivers or people that support an older person or adult with a physical or mental impairment.

What to look for as warning signs of abuse

If you suspect an elderly or vulnerable adult person might be being physically abused, be on the lookout for bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, or poor personal hygiene, including bedsores or unusual weight loss.

If their financial situation suddenly changes for the worse, they could be being taken advantage of financially, AARP warns.

Photo: Shutterstock

Far less obvious than physical abuse is psychological abuse. Behavior such as threats, yelling, belittling, is just as damaging as visible abuse. The National Council of Aging says emotional abuse might be happening if you notice your elderly loved one is experiencing any of the following behavior changes:

  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities
  • A sudden change in alertness
  • Unusual depression
  • Strained or tense relationships
  • Frequent arguments between the caregiver and his charge.

What are the solutions?

Despite the prevalence of elder and vulnerable adult person abuse, there are many organizations, like the Utah Department of Human Services Aging and Adult Services ready to help.

Adult protective services, financial exploitation resources, medicare fraud assistance, as well as resources dedicated to educating on scams and consumer fraud are just some of the ways the state can help your vulnerable loved ones.

Above any practical measures that can be taken, education for the public is essential to abuse prevention. The Utah Department of Human Services Aging and Adult Services asks anyone—regardless of age or abilities— to take this survey. Responses from older adults, adults with physical or mental impairments and caregivers are especially appreciated.

Available online and over the phone, in English and Spanish, this survey will ask questions that include basic demographics, identifying service gaps and barriers, general knowledge of Adult Protective Services, and legal support.

How the information will be used

To bring greater awareness to the elderly and vulnerable communities and the potential abuse they endure, the survey results will be used to create a plan for the Department of Aging and Adult Services to improve outcomes for victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

The plan will also address the need for services and assist with building and improving resources. Results will also be used for research presentations and publications in partnership with the Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Abuse is never acceptable, and unfortunately, it's happening all too often to the elderly and vulnerable. Do your part today by taking the Utah Department of Human Services online survey here, or by calling 435-797-3690 for Spanish, and 435-797-0528 for English.

If you or someone you know could be experiencing abuse, you can call the Department of Aging and Adult Services hotline Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 800-371-7897. Or go to the website:

Full Article & Source:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Disabled man’s removal from husband into ‘temporary’ guardianship to drag on for nearly 2 years

Tug-of-war over what's best for Ryan Morris continued this week during a court hearing in Riverside Superior Court

Ryan Morris, right, and husband Sean Spicer, at their wedding in 2014., Spicer became Morris’ legal guardian. (Photo courtesy probate court file)

By Teri Sforza

When a judge removed Ryan Morris from the care of his husband last year — concluding that Morris doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand what a marriage is and, thus, can’t consent to being married — the county stepped in as his temporary legal guardian and moved him to a new home.

It was supposed to mark a fresh, if difficult, reset. But Morris’ attorneys appealed that decision, and, a year-and-a-half later, Morris still lacks a permanent guardian. No resolution is expected before March, and the tug-of-war over what’s best for him continues.

Should the Riverside County Public Guardian’s Office’s temporary appointment become permanent? Should the Department of Developmental Services take over?

Identical twins play on the beach in San Clemente on
Dec. 19, 2000. They were 6. Ronald Moore, right,
holds brother Ryan. (Staff Photo / Eugene Garcia )
Ryan Morris’ identical twin brother and biological family from Orange County have asked for the job, and Morris himself has expressed a desire for his husband, whose care he was removed from after “numerous instances of abusive behavior,” according to a judge — to serve as his guardian. He also has said he wants his adoptive mother, who hosted the wedding in her backyard, to share the job.

His adoptive mother and Riverside County are the subjects of a $25 million lawsuit filed by the parents of “Princess” Diane Ramirez, a disabled foster child who died in Morris’ care last year. Michelle Morris neglected to obtain emergency medical help for the girl in a timely manner, and her staff’s actions posed an immediate risk to the children placed in care at her home in Murrieta, according to an investigation by the California Department of Social Services. Michelle Morris surrendered her foster care license in the wake of Ramirez’s death.

All options are for naught, though, at least for now.

“As important and as complex as the case is, I don’t know that I can do much about it today,” said Riverside Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Cahraman during a virtual proceeding on Thursday, Oct. 15. “All those petitions have to await the Court of Appeal decision.”


Ryan Morris, who has the intellectual ability of a young child, married Sean Spicer, a man of regular intelligence 18 years his senior, in a ceremony that the disabled man mistook for a baptism in his mom’s yard in 2014. His biological family feared he was the victim of sexual abuse and began fighting to oust Spicer as legal guardian in 2016. They won on May 17, 2019.

Morris’ court-appointed and county-funded attorneys quickly filed an appeal, saying the decision was a blow to the rights of the disabled everywhere. It was Morris’ idea to get married, not Spicer’s, they said. Morris understands what marriage is and is angry that his biological relatives are trying to separate him from the person he loves, they contend. They argue that the core of the appeal is Morris’ right as a disabled person to choose who he’s married to and who is his conservator.

Ronald Moore, left, and identical twin Ryan Morris
embrace after seeing each for the first time in 13
years at a court hearing on Ryan’s conservatorship
 in July 2015. (Photo courtesy of Monica Mukai)
This highly unusual case raises profoundly uncomfortable issues, pitting two fundamental rights squarely against one another: the hard-won right for the disabled to marry and have sex lives, just like everyone else, and their right to be protected from abuse and undue influence.

It also raises questions about the importance of blood relations. Ryan Morris and his identical twin, Ronald Moore, were separated by the state when the two were toddlers, despite the vehement objections of their biological family. The nettlesome issues were probed in a three-part series by the Southern California News Group in 2017.

Morris did not attend the virtual proceedings Thursday, but Spicer did. He was not pleased to hear that the biological family wants the public guardian removed.

“I have not observed Ryan having any issues with his current placement or current conservator,” Spicer told the judge. “She has made decisions that I have not appreciated, but that’s the nature of her job. In the big picture, I believe the public guardian is doing a good job given the situation, and anyone who claims differently probably has ulterior motives.”

Morris’ biological aunt, Monica Mukai, told the judge that Morris is living in a restricted environment without adequate access to educational and speech therapy, despite his challenges. That’s a violation of his civil and constitutional rights, she argued in court paperwork that the judge hadn’t seen and asked her to refile.

Continued delays allow law firms to rack up fees at taxpayer expense and leave Morris in limbo, she said after the proceedings.

“A temporary conservatorship is supposed to be 30 to 60 days. This will take it to nearly two years. It’s not an abuse of the law. It’s lawlessness.”

Full Article & Source:

Blue Ash nursing home owner to plead guilty in $59M bank fraud scheme

Harold Sosna owns 8 nursing homes; 7 in Cincinnati

Photo by: Lot Tan
Seven Greater Cincinnati nursing homes owned by Premier Health Care Management are involved in legal dispute.

By: Paula Christian

CINCINNATI — A Blue Ash nursing home operator will plead guilty to bank fraud in a $59 million check-kiting scheme involving two banks, including Cincinnati-based First Financial Bank.

Harold Sosna, president of Premier Health Care Management, which owns and operates eight Ohio nursing homes including seven in the Cincinnati area, is scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 20. The hearing will take place via teleconference before U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Horan of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

“We are going to accept responsibility,” said Sosna’s attorney, Herb Haas. “We are working with the government on mitigating circumstances.”

The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of the $59 million involved in the fraud scheme.

“Check kiting” is a form of check fraud which takes advantage of the float – the time between when a check is presented and when a bank receives the money. Check kiting falsely inflates the balance of a checking account in order to allow written checks that would otherwise bounce to clear, according to a bill of information filed by prosecutors on Sept. 30.

Prosecutors say the fraud scheme took place between May 15 and May 18, when Sosna allegedly defrauded Pennsylvania-based S&T Bank and Cincinnati-based First Financial by manipulating the balance in accounts to create the “false and fraudulent appearance that the defendant had sufficient legitimate available funds in various accounts, and to trick the banks into honoring checks drawn against accounts with insufficient funds,” according to the bill of information.

Sosna sent more than $118 million through banks, using 203 checks during that time, “which were unfunded amounts and were the equivalent of obtaining money from the banks without actual properly secured loans … As a result of the scheme, S&T Bank incurred a loss of $59,240,000,” according to the bill of information.

At least four banks have filed lawsuits against Sosna since June 1 to recoup tens of millions, accusing him of breach of contract and foreclosure. Other related entities and stakeholders in the private family-owned company that was founded in 1998 are also named as defendants.

Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas judges have appointed three separate receivers as custodians of the Premier nursing homes. Receivers are tasked with running daily operations and marketing the facilities for sale.

The facilities are Beechwood Terrace, Kenwood Terrace Health Care Center, Ivy Woods Care Center, Madeira Health Care Center, Pleasant Ridge Care Center and Southbrook Health Care Center in Springfield.

The judge appointed a receiver after an attorney for Huntington Bank, which is suing the Premier Health Care Management-related companies, raised concerns that the nursing homes were in imminent danger of collapse because assets were frozen as part of the court battle.

General Electric Credit Union is also suing Sosna and his related companies seeking foreclosure related to a $16 million construction loan to build a new nursing home in the village formerly known as Amelia. A judge appointed a receiver over the assets in that case.

Full Article & Source:

St. Louis City Woman Pleads Guilty to Financial Exploitation of Elderly and Stealing, Will Pay Over $9,000 in Restitution

This case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Assistant Attorney General G. Brad Crowell with the assistance of Investigators Sarah Johnson and Rob Hyder.

“Our state’s elderly are often our most vulnerable population, especially those in nursing or assisted living homes. Our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit works every single day to root out these instances of Medicaid fraud and financial exploitation, prosecute them, and return money stolen to the Medicaid system or to victims,” said Attorney General Schmitt. 

While working in the business office of a nursing home located in St. Louis City, Beach took money from four residents by convincing the elderly victims they were required to provide their debit card for payment of room and board. Instead of applying the illegally obtained money to the residents’ room and board, Beach kept their money for her personal use including vacations. Beach was caught on video transporting one of the victims to a bank to have them withdraw cash, as well as using a victim’s debit card at a bank ATM. While on vacation, Beach was captured on video using a victim’s debit card.

As a result of Beach’s plea of guilty to all seven counts she was placed on 5 years supervised probation and ordered to pay $9,514 in restitution in addition to other conditions of probation.  

The Missouri MFCU receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $2,818,808 for Federal fiscal year 2021. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $939,601 is funded by the State of Missouri.


Full Article & Source: