Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blumenthal, advocates for elderly target 'chemical restraint' abuse at care facilities

Calling it a form of chemical restraint, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and advocates for the elderly Tuesday blasted the practice of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

"It is a form of elder abuse. It's chemical restraint -- no less pernicious and insidious than physical restraint of patients -- and it should be stopped," Blumenthal said.

During a press conference at the Capitol, Blumenthal announced that he has introduced a bill to crack down on the overprescription of these off-label drugs. At the same time, health care advocates and advocates for the elderly announced that they have formed a statewide coalition that aims to reduce this type of off-label antipsychotic drug use in Connecticut by 15 percent.

Both Blumenthal and the coalition are trying to combat the practice of giving agitated or confused dementia patients antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperidone, Quetiapine and Olanzapine, to calm them down.

This type of "off-label" use has not been approved by the FDA. These drugs can cause excessive sedation and unresponsiveness and can increase the risk of stroke and death in fragile, elderly patients, Blumenthal said.

Connecticut nursing homes use off-label antipsychotic drugs 24 percent to 65 percent of the time, while the national average is 23.9 percent, said Nancy B. Shaffer, state ombudsman for the state's office of long-term care.

"We have some work to do," she said.

Full Article and Source:
Blumenthal, advocates for elderly target 'chemical restraint' abuse at care facilities

Nursing Home Workers Go On Strike

Fifty nursing home workers marched as they are all currently involved in a strike to protest labor concessions imposed by a company that owns many nursing homes in the area. The fifty nursing home workers are part of 600 employees that are participating in the strike.

The company has taken steps hiring replacement workers, and has stated that the union is making unrealistic demands and the strike has gone on much longer than expected. A hearing is scheduled with an administrative law judge stating that the company refused to bargain with the union and instead chose to make changes to wages, hours and other conditions. The company stated that it had offered a raise and will give most employees and increase of 17 percent despite all of the cuts from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Workers Go On Strike

Friday, October 12, 2012

Recommended Website: CARR - Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform

Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR), was founded by Ms. Chris Murphy in May 2009, as an extension of her thesis work for a Master’s Degree in Gerontology at San Diego State University.

In early 2009, she began reviewing RCFE public records maintained at the local offices of Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD). As she collected data, she made two observations:

(1) Having been through the process of placing her mother in a local RCFE several years earlier, she realized that if she would have had access to the information she was seeing in the public file, her placement decision may have been different; and

(2), she recognized the process for requesting and obtaining the public documents for any given RCFE was cumbersome and lengthy. She also found the file documents to be unfamiliar, out of context and therefore, difficult to understand.

From these observations, the idea emerged: A website allowing free and immediate access to a facility’s public documents, thereby eliminating the state's cumbersome request-and-return policy, and a site that offers essential information for the consumer of long-term care.

Concurrent with her thesis work, she met Ms. Chrisy Selder, at that time, also a Gerontology Master's candidate. Together, they engaged in serious brainstorming and planning for this site. While on paper Chris is the founder, they consider themselves to be co-founders.

CARR is incorporated as a California public benefit corporation, in good standing. In January 2011, CARR received its designation by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 Public Charity.

Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform

"Law 101 and Then Some!"

(By a NASGA member)

It's not very often that we hear of victims of guardianship and conservatorship escaping from their sentences, but we've just seen the Chism victory in Michigan - he came out alive. Recently, there was a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on a Connecticut case that a court-appointed attorney and a conservator involved in an elderly man’s improper conservatorship were not entitled to absolute federal quasi-judicial immunity and can be sued. Unfortunately, Daniel Gross died before he could enjoy that victory, but his daughter, Dee King, will pursue it.

On our website we ask "Who's to Blame" - and the list is long. However, as we've been learning more and more over time, the greatest share of blame lies with the judges and their blatant violation of law on several issues:

(1)  The first requirement of due process of law is notice. A judge must first look to his/her jurisdiction. After a petition is filed, and if it has slipped by the court clerk without proof of service on all parties, then the judge is to blame if he/she proceeds with the case, without personal jurisdiction. Due process requires both sides of a case to be noticed and present. "Both sides" means the victim and his/her relatives should have prior notice of a petition having been filed. If there is no due process notice prior to an adjudication of incompetency, such an order should be vacated, as void. But will the "tag team" players raise that issue? Not if they're looking to land another lucrative guardianship! And how can the victims (non-noticed "respondents") hire a lawyer if their assets are suddenly no longer under their control, having already been confiscated by a judge and turned over to a court-appointed guardian or conservator, without due process of law?

(2) The second element of constitutional due process is "opportunity" - opportunity for both sides to participate in a hearing, which must be fair and impartial. With the growth of so-called "emergency" petitions, there is total violation of rights if an adjudication is made based on an ex-parte "hearing." Mere conclusory allegations contained in a petition heard ex-parte do not constitute evidence. The legislators are to blame if they don't fix that growing problem.

(3) The third element, "fair and impartial," means that both sides should be present and participating and the judge should be fair and impartial. Really? Not in the guardianship game!

(4) Next comes the statutory evidentiary requirement for guardianship and conservatorship cases in most states. In making findings, a judge must follow the "clear and convincing" standard and recite such in the order of adjudication. Those critical words are necessary to support findings, if any - and there are occasions when there are no specific findings!

(5) Having once signed an order committing a vulnerable person to a lifetime in "protection" jail, stripped of all rights including the right to complain, is the judge off the hook? Not yet, he/she is responsible for what the appointed fiduciaries are doing. Many judges fail to monitor their cases. Many "conservators," failing to conserve the ward's assets, simply help themselves to them without seeking court authority for payment. And many judges, even if authority is sought, don't bother to examine the billings, merely rubberstamping their approval.

The offices of court administration are also to blame for lack of monitoring of what their judges are doing.

And where is law enforcement in this? Generally not interested, but maybe they're waking up! The FBI has just raided a Georgia probate judge's records and confiscated them all. We anxiously await further news on this exciting issue.

And then there is the public interest. Protective statutes are promulgated in the public interest, and the public must know what's going on in the courts! Operating under color of law and cloak of darkness is an invitation for rape and plunder by professional fiduciaries ("persons of trust"?).

Excessive sealing of court records in these "protection" cases is unnecessary other than to remove critical personal information. The Chicago Tribune recently had an article on judge's sealing of all kinds of cases. That should not be allowed, other than to remove critical personal data.

There must be open records so the public knows what's going on behind the black wall, especially at election time.

See Also:
Retired Chiropractor Returns to Being a Free Man
Elderly Man Can Sue Conservator, Attorney for Nursing Home Stay
NASGA:  Who's Really to Blame?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: North Carolina War Hero: Victim of Elder Abuse by Predatory Guardian

Captain Hugh Johnson led the 303rd Bomber Group on 26 missions against Nazi forces. Known as Hell’s Angels, the 303rd earned the Distinguished Unit Citation. Hugh’s B-17 was shot down near the Rhine River in 1945. The crew was captured by German soldiers.

Horrors of war and POW camps did not prepare Hugh for the horrors of guardianship in Wake County, North Carolina. A healthy active man who still enjoyed golf at 95, Hugh deteriorated rapidly under Guardian Cheryl Theriault of Raleigh based Aging Family Services.

Theriault immediately removed Hugh from the upscale home he shared with Ginny, isolated him from family, and chemically restrained him with the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel. “Help me, Ginny, help me,” Hugh begged. “I want to go home.”

Five months later, Hugh was frail, bedridden, and incontinent. His limbs were covered with sores. Hugh asked, “Are they trying to kill me?”

Hugh languished at The Covington, which advertises “truly affordable assisted living.” OurParents website gives The Covington 2 out of 5 stars. Ginny called it, “NASTY. NASTY.”

Hugh compared guardianship to his time as a POW, “My German captors were better to me than these guardians.” Meals were missed. Rooms were filthy. Hugh suffered 28 falls, a broken rib, and he lost 35 pounds.

Theriault moved Hugh to Blue Ridge Nursing Home. That facility lost its eligibility for federal funding in spring 2012. Blue Ridge was assessed a $4,550-a-day civil penalty for 6 weeks.

Full Article and Source:
North Carolina war hero: Victim of elder abuse by predatory guardian

1 dead, 1 injured in Fla. nursing home shooting

ORANGE PARK, Fla. (AP) -- One person is dead and another is injured in a shooting at a northeastern Florida nursing home.

A Clay County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman says the shooting happened Wednesday afternoon at the Life Care Center in Orange Park.

Investigators believe it involved a husband and wife in their 70s. The man was pronounced dead and the woman suffered life-threatening injuries. Their names have not been released.

Full Article and Source:.
1 dead, 1 injured in Fla. nursing home shooting

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What ‘IF’: Perceptions & Weapons

Dana turned, pushed past a young employee, and walked back into the clothing store all bristled and ready for a fight. How dare that middle age woman challenge her honesty?

Approaching the counter, Dana began telling the surprised woman just what she thought of her and it wasn’t too awfully nice. She suggested she get new glasses and that she better know what she was talking about before accusing her of anything. Just who did she think she was? She was nothing but a low-life clerk that couldn’t get a better job if it was handed to her.

Another woman rushed over and tried to indicate she thought there must be a problem. Dana rudely and fiercely shook her finger at the target of her fury. “That woman. That woman dared to accuse me of stealing.”

“What?” The intercepting woman exclaimed? “You think she accused you of stealing? You misunderstood.”

“No, I didn’t,” the red-faced young woman continued to scream. “Don’t try to protect this stupid, irrelevant change collector.”

The mediator abruptly stepped back and eyed Dana with disgust. “That’s enough. It’s time you leave.”

Still lost in her fury, she exclaimed, “Me leave? I’m the customer. She better not be here when I come back.”

“I don’t think you understand. You are no longer welcome here. Do not come back.”

“What? You’re taking her side over mine? I’m the customer and she is nobody and this ignorant nobody accused me of stealing.” Dana continued screaming and pointing her finger at the focus of her anger. “And don’t try to defend her. She said I was the one that had the blouse.”

“The woman you are so rudely and wrongly insulting, happens to be the owner of this and many other stores. Secondly, if you had paid attention, you would have noticed that we have a promotion going on. The first person to try on a particular blouse was to be the winner of $500 merchandise and dinner out. You were that winner. She was indicating you were the one that won.” The impatient manager responded. “If you had paid attention to what was going on around you and listened to what was actually said, we would all be celebrating your win. Instead, you reacted inappropriately based upon a false perception. Worse, you refused to listen when I tried to clarify and instead went on reacting to what you wrongly thought happened at the hands of this lady you viciously attacked with your false accusations and wrongful insults.”

The incident above is a composite of things I have seen in life and meant merely as an example to make a point. People do tend to react to what they think they know… what they think they saw… what they think they heard… rather than what actually transpired. They just don’t always make it so obvious and they don’t always get called on it. Sometimes, it is a pack thing, with everyone responding to the same incorrect belief. It’s never right and it is never good.

I’ve often written about the Sara and Gary Harvey case. It’s an ongoing saga that has its ups and downs as to the intensity of wrong that is transpiring and it always leaves me feeling like the woman who rushed over and kept trying to explain there was a misunderstanding and that the reaction has been to a false perception, rather than to what was actually taking place. You see, like Dana, those who should be slowing down and taking a good look at what is going on — seem too busy reacting to a wrongful perception and closing all else out. Some simply will not listen. Some simply will not consider they made a mistake. Some simply seem to feel the woman behind the counter is a nobody that freely deserves all their anger and insults. Sometimes though, the nobodies aren’t the bad guys they are assumed to be. Sometimes they are, instead, actually somebodies who were merely trying to do something good for someone else and that good got misunderstood and blown out of portion and into a rage that never should have been. Sometimes those nobodies, that are actually somebodies, are people like Sara Harvey, who were wrongly labeled by someone like our story’s Dana. The difference is… in our story… someone was there to defend and clarify. In actual life, those wrongful labels sometimes never get shaken and too often all (or most) things to follow are reactions to those inaccurate perceptions that continue to define all that happens.

Full Article and Source:
What ‘IF’: Perceptions & Weapons

10 local attorneys & a judge disciplined on October list

Disciplinary Actions — October 2012 list (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)

General questions regarding attorney discipline should be directed to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, toll-free (877) 953-5535 or (512) 453-5535. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals may be reached at (512) 475-1578. Information and copies of actual orders are available at The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may be contacted toll-free, (877) 228-5750 or (512) 463-5533. Please note that persons disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not necessarily licensed attorneys.

Disciplinary Actions — October 2012

BODA Actions

On July 26, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed an agreed interlocutory order of suspension against William George Gammon III [#07611300], 51, of Houston. On Dec. 14, 2011, Gammon pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§2252A(a)(5)(B) and 2252A(b)(2), an intentional crime as defined in the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, in Case No. H-10-340 styled, The United States of America v. William George Gammon, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Gammon was sentenced to four years in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Upon his release, Gammon shall be supervised for life with special conditions as a sex offender. He was also ordered to pay an assessment of $100 and $375,000 in restitution. Gammon has appealed his criminal conviction. The Board retains jurisdiction to enter a final judgment when the criminal appeal is final. BODA Cause No. 50072. Editor’s Note: This action does not refer to William B. Gammon[#07611280], 62, of Austin.

On July 31, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a final judgment of disbarment against Helen Tyne Mayfield [#24014721], 64, of Houston. On Oct. 6, 2008, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed an interlocutory order of suspension against Mayfield because on July 30, 2008, Mayfield was convicted of three counts of forgery of a financial instrument, in violation of Texas Penal Code 32.21(d), an intentional crime as defined in the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, in Case No. 07-05453-CRF-361 styled, The State of Texas v. Helen Mayfield, in the 361st District Court of Brazos County in Bryan and three counts of forgery of a financial instrument, in violation of Texas Penal Code 32.21(d), in Case No. 07-05454-CRF-361, styled, The State of Texas v. Helen Mayfield, in the 361st District Court of Brazos County. Mayfield was sentenced to two years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for each count, the sentences to run concurrently. Mayfield appealed the conviction and on March 16, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the 10th District of Texas issued its mandates affirming the convictions. Mayfield answered and appeared at the hearing. BODA Cause No. 42845.

On July 26, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed an order granting a joint motion to reverse the judgment of disbarment signed by an evidentiary panel of the State Bar District 4-A Grievance Committee in Case No. S0031023393 and remand the matter for rendition and entry of an agreed judgment of an active suspension of William B. Harrison [#09125100], 58, of Houston. BODA Cause No. 49760. Editor’s Note: This action does not refer to William A. Harrison [#09125000], of Houston.

Full Article and Source:
10 local attorneys & a judge disciplined on October list

Battling Back from a Brain Injury

[T]ransportation accidents and falls, particularly among the elderly, are leading causes of TBI, and one serious head injury can be devastating. Karl Weisgraber is a retired biochemist who worked on cardiovascular and Alzheimer's research at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco. In October of last year, he was on a ladder doing work on the side of his house when he fell and smacked his head on a rock, suffering a severe traumatic brain injury. The 71-year-old Walnut Creek man spent three weeks in a coma and, through therapy, had to relearn how to walk, read and write. He is greatly appreciative of the staffs at San Francisco General and California Pacific Medical Center who worked with him, and of his wife, Judi.

"I don't remember falling at all. Then I started very, very slowly to start remembering things. It's improved since then by a tremendous amount. When I started remembering, I couldn't walk, I couldn't sit without falling out of the chair. People were having trouble understanding what I was saying. I was in bad shape, but they got me to the point where I got better. There was a possibility I was not going to make it when I first got there - that's the kind of shape I was in.

"An important thing is you never give up. You try to do whatever your therapist or doctor is telling you to do. I was so far away that it would be easy for someone to say, 'This is it for me.' But I never said that. I wanted to try, and I wanted to push myself.

Full Article and Source:
Battling Back From a Brain Injury

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How clout keeps court cases secret

On the eighth floor of the Daley Center, behind a locked metal door, is a narrow room known as the vault.

Within its walls reside files that Cook County Circuit Court judges have ordered hidden from the public, something they have done hundreds of times since 2000.
Although state law requires that certain types of lawsuits must be sealed, a Tribune investigation has found that judges improperly removed others from public view, including cases involving a famous chef, millionaire businessmen and even other judges.

The Tribune's review of cases found that judges regularly fail to give a reason in their written orders for sealing files; hide entire case files when they needed only to remove sensitive information such as Social Security numbers or home addresses; and that the sealing orders often remain secret despite state case law finding orders are public documents and "should not be kept under seal."

Courts in the United States have a long tradition of openness, and experts say court secrecy fosters mistrust and can put public safety at risk.

"These cases go to the integrity of the courts system," said Arthur Bryant, executive director of Public Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based group that has fought for openness in the courts. "It is hard to have a democratic system, or one that works to make sure the law is just and the courts are fair, if what happens in the courts is secret."

In Illinois, bills aimed at curtailing secrecy in the courts have failed multiple times in the Legislature since 1999, opposed by the health care, insurance and manufacturing industries.

There is no way to know what is contained in Cook County's sealed files since they remain in locked rooms. But a review of dozens of previously sealed court files in the Law Division offers a glimpse, with instances of the well-connected and the well-known having their cases hidden from the public.

One such case involved chef Laurent Gras, who led Chicago's acclaimed L20 restaurant to achieve Michelin's three-star rating, the guide's highest.

Gras, an avid cyclist, was riding his $11,000 S-Works bike on the city's North Side in September 2008 when he and a car collided in an intersection, according to court records. He suffered seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung, two pelvic fractures and cuts and bruises.

In December 2008, he sued the 22-year-old driver in the Law Division, where complex legal battles play out and where large amounts of money are at stake.

Gras filed his complaint under a pseudonym, "John Doe," and asked Judge William Maddux to seal the entire file. Maddux, who presides over the court's Law Division, granted Gras' request.

Maddux gave no reason in his written order for sealing the file.

Instead, his order contained vague language similar to what is found in other judges' orders for sealing files: "Plaintiff's motion is granted and this cause of action shall be filed under a fictitious name and the court file shall be sealed and not unsealed until further order of the court."

Full Article and Source:
How clout keeps court cases secret

Monday, October 8, 2012

NorthShore 'Live' (Cooper's Corner): An Interview With Illinois Attorney Ken Ditkowsky

Bev's guest on Cooper's Corner  is attorney Ken Ditkowsky who discusses the challenges he is enduring as a result of speaking up about the injustices he has witnessed in Cook County Probate Court. Original air date September 12, 2012

You Tube:  An Interview With Ken Ditkowsky

See also:
NorthShore 'Live' (Cooper's Corner)
NASGA:  Mary Sykes, Illinois Victim
Mary Sykes Blog
Ken Ditkowsky on the ARDC Hearing

Note: Attorney Ditkowsky will be a guest on T.S. Radio Sunday, October 14th

Mount Prospect doctor charged in kickback scheme

A Mount Prospect doctor is one of nine defendants charged in a Medicare fraud scheme.

Masood Syed, 53, is facing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

He is accused of accepting nearly $5,000 in kickbacks from the owners of a Skokie home health care agency in exchange for referring Medicare patients, federal prosecutors said.
In addition to Syed, those charged include Dr. Emmanuel Nwaokocha of Skokie, two owners of Rosner Home Healthcare, Inc., a former employee of the agency, the operator of a referral agency, an office manager at a doctor’s office and two home health care marketers.
Prosecutors allege the kickbacks have been ongoing since 2008.
Full Article and Source:
Mount Prospect doctor charged in kickback scheme

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Co-host: Linda Kincaid, Elder Advocate/California

Guest: Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy, MS will recap her 9/27 presentation for a San Diego County Elder Abuse Coalition. Her information is drawn entirely from public records collected by Department of Social Services. Those records document isolation, overmediction, and neglect at residential care facilities throughout California.

Even with copious amounts of agency documentation that state statutes, and specifically those protecting the rights of the elderly or handicapped from abuse at the hands of so-called “care-givers” and participating facilities, not one California official has stepped forward to protect these most vulnerable individuals from predators who view them simply as a revenue source.

5:00 PST … 6:00 MST … 7:00 CST … 8:00 EST

Life at California Residential Care: Overmedication, Isolation, Abuse and Neglect

See Also:
Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform

Va. board alleges improper care at adult-care homes

A state board has suspended the licenses of the owner of six adult-care homes in Hampton Roads and two of his administrators, declaring that there was "substantial danger to the public health and safety" in two of the homes.

Among the issues: At Madison Retirement Center in Williamsburg in May, a diabetic resident with high glucose readings fell, declined to be taken to the hospital, and died the next day, the board said in a hearing notice. Ashwood Assisted Living in Hampton lacked sufficient food and medicine and did not have enough staff working on multiple occasions, the notice alleged.

The Board of Long-Term Care Administrators suspended the licenses of Scott Schuett, who owns both homes as well as two in Chesapeake, one in Suffolk and another on the Peninsula, according to the state's Department of Social Services, which oversees facilities. The board did not cite any issues at the other homes. Schuett holds licenses for administrator and preceptor, according to the Department of Health Professions.

The board also suspended the licenses of Madison administrator Donna Norvell and Rena Gaddy, the Ashwood administrator, when it met by phone Sept. 13.

The license suspensions went into effect the next day, according to the state's Department of Health Professions.

The three may not practice as assisted-living administrators for the time being. The license suspensions are temporary until the board meets Oct. 30 and 31 to hear evidence and make a final decision.

Schuett did not return numerous calls seeking comment. When reached at their respective facilities Monday, Norvell and Gaddy said they did not want to comment.

Full Article and Source:
Va. board alleges improper care at adult-care homes