Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chemung County & St. Joseph's Hospital: Thanksgiving and Compassion

It’s Thanksgiving! The sun is shining brightly. The clouds are softly floating across the sky. Birds are singing and children are playing. Laughter touches the day as families gather for a special celebration.

Sara Harvey made arrangements for her holiday visit with Gary, as she always does. She showed up as did the guard. However, the hospital claimed they had not been notified by the guardian and refused the visit.

(Guard does not get scheduled, unless visit is authorized.)

Since the guards are not scheduled without authorization, one would think someone with some authority at the hospital, might have gotten out of their “duh mode” and put two and two together. Guard is here. Guard is not scheduled without authorization. There is a history of Sara being allowed holiday visits with Gary. If still in doubt — call that on-call person that can actually make important decisions; can figure out that Sara does visit on holidays, so there must have been a mere failure to communicate the permission; and, then have the guts to give the go ahead.

St. Joseph hospital is supposed to be a hospital established by Catholic nuns. Nuns who were dedicated and full of compassion. So, tell me… where is that compassion now?

Gary Harvey — the patient — has a history of loving the holidays… loving Sara… and loving to celebrate the holidays with her. So where was the compassion for him on this holiday that was denied him? The holiday where, instead of spending time with the woman he so loves, he got to lay isolated in a hospital room, as “mostly” he always gets to do.

Sara Harvey — the wife — talks to her husband and reads to him. Does anyone else really talk to him or encourage him to get better to the fullest extent he can? You know… that thing that is important in any recovery by any person, including Gary Harvey?!?!

People can mouth… and they can spout… but the truth is… no one knows Gary’s potential. No one, outside of Sara and some others, seems to care about him being given every chance possible to get to wherever he can get and enjoy some good things as he heads that way. You know… simple things like having his wife be allowed to visit him on a holiday, read to him and talk to him and just be there? WOW!… so much to ask. NOT!

Shame on the almighty people that gloat in having such power in the Harvey case. Did you enjoy your day? Did you give someone a hug and a smile and feel ever so good at having a chance to celebrate the family holiday with them?

Shame on the staff at St. Joseph’s hospital. May you never find yourself in the Harvey position, but you could.

Let’s see…

St. Joseph’s hospital and affiliates claim compassion as one of their selling points. Is it just the Harveys that get the damaged goods, or did you run out of compassion and have failed to re-stock?

Full Article and Source:
Chemung County & St. Joseph's Hospital: Thanksgiving and Compassion

Inappropriate Payments to Skilled Nursing Facilities Cost Medicare More Than a Billion Dollars in 2009

Nursing homes are overcharging Medicare to the tune of $1.5 billion annually, a federal report asserts.

The report, titled “Inappropriate payments to skilled nursing facilities cost Medicare more than a billion dollars in 2009,” says that SNFS are upcoding bills to Medicare, either by claiming more services than were done or by giving incorrect treatment.

Under particular scrutiny are physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as activities of daily living assistance.

A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spokesman told the Wall Street Journal the agency recognizes the overbilling and that doing it “at the expense of taxpayers is unacceptable.” The report, dated Friday, was first reported Tuesday.

Other industry officials have said that nursing homes have upcoded Medicare claims to offset steep Medicaid cuts or losses, and that those days may be coming to an end.
The OIG has bequeathed the name “Operation Vacuum Cleaner” for its look at the issue, the Journal reported. The office has suggested, and CMS agreed with, the following recommendations:

• Increase and expand reviews of SNF claims
• Use of the agency's Fraud Prevention System to identify SNFs that are billing for higher paying RUGs
• Monitor compliance with new therapy assessments
• Change the current method for determining how much therapy is needed to ensure appropriate payments
• Improve the accuracy of MDS items
• Follow up on the SNFs that billed in error.
CMS concurred with all six recommendations.

OIG Slams SNFs for Overbilling

Read "Inappropriate Payments to Skilled Nursing Facilities Cost Medicare More Than a Billion Dollars in 2009

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lawsuit: TN Attorneys Claim TN Ethics Board Acted Unethically

A bombshell of a lawsuit goes in front of a Nashville judge Thursday as a pair of Nashville lawyers are suing their own ethics board for what they call ethical violations and a cover-up. That means they are suing the very people who punish lawyers for bad ethics. WSMV Channel 4

Attorneys Claim TN Ethics Board Acted Unethically

Judge Martin McDonald Under Fire Again for Courtroom Behavior

Just weeks after being removed from a case in which he threatened to strangle a lawyer, senior Judge Martin McDonald is facing criticism in a different case, accused of treating a public defender derisively and sending a defendant back to prison improperly.

In the latest case, McDonald told public defender Carlos Wood during a Nov. 7 hearing, “You act like you don’t know what the heck’s going on here.” And when Wood raised an objection, McDonald said, “Your part of this hearing is over with. Thank you for coming by.”

Wood’s boss, chief Jefferson County public defender Dan Goyette, said in a statement that McDonald was out of line: “The sort of disrespectful remarks and attitude exhibited by the Court toward counsel and his client is disturbing, and it is disappointing that such inappropriate conduct is not being addressed by those in a position to rectify it.”

Full Article and Source:
Judge Martin McDonald Under Fire Again for Courtroom Behavior

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Remembering a Thanksgiving in Exile

One of the unspoken areas of guardian abuse is in the emotional toll it takes when vicious, self-anointed despots determine that they will not let their already scared “clients” see their families for important holidays or events. This is what happened in the case of Dorothy Wilson, for what would have been her final Thanksgiving on earth. As many of you who have been following the “heartbreaking” series of articles about elder abuse, this is a reminder to all of us of the emotional toll it can take. It drains not only the person who is being remanded and caught up in an unjust justice system, but also extended out to their loving family members and friends too.

Dorothy Wilson, who was 86 years old that November 2010, was pleading with anyone who would listen to help convince Mary Giordano, of Franchina and Giordano, in Garden City, NY, to release her from her unwanted stay at the Bristal Assisted Living Facility in Massapequa, NY. I felt it was the right time to write this article because as Thanksgiving approaches I have clear memories of Dorothy’s tears streaming down her cheeks as she could not understand why she was being locked up in a place against her wishes. She made it very clear that she wanted to be back in her own home or living with her favored daughter, Diane, in her warm, beautiful and safe abode. Instead, her “law” guardian, Mary Giordano, appointed by Judge Joel Asarch of the Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola, NY, vehemently opposed releasing Dorothy for even a few hours on Thanksgiving itself. Knowing that there was a lot of family tension, Mary “allowed” the family to come to the facility if they wanted. Obviously, this was not practical since this is a day of joy and gatherings, memories and memory-making times as most families cook and celebrate in their personal environment.

Full Article and Source:
Remembering a Thanksgiving in Exile

See Also:
Dorothy Wilson, NY Victim

Thanksgiving 2010

"I just want to go home.... It's all I want..."

"You've got to do something to help me...."

YouTube: Thanksgiving 2010

Note: Dorothy Wilson died suddenly October 24, 2011. Until her final day, she begged and pleaded to go home, but she didn't make it...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'David Fettgather: Dependent Adult Abused by Californial Conservator'

Contributed by David Fettgather:
I am 24 years old. I WANT TO GO HOME TO MY "DADDY'S HOUSE". I was placed in a really bad care home in 2005 by Alta Regional Center-the Boss now is Phil Bonnet (he has been mean to my dad and won't let me go Home). The Boss works with my Boss, a Conservator. It was Kay and is now Betty Wright. She will not let me go to my Daddy's house either. She has a really bad lawyer, Todd Robie who is mean to my Dad and files Court papers so I have to stay in the care home I don't like. Six years is a long time. I am homesick and sick. Please help me and my family and my friends and my Dad-he writes for me because I can't; he speaks for me because no one else knows how to listen. Join my Circle of support and help me come home, David.

Contributed by Dr. Robert Fettgather:
On November 10, 1986, David Fettgather was born, frail of body, but strong in spirit. And with Down Syndrome. There were grave health concerns, painful surgeries he could not begin to understand, and long recovery periods.

But his body got stronger....and so did his spirit. At home, school and in our community for 17 years, David was a joy and a challenge as he carried so many of us to the very limits of patience, with a clever and mischievous sense of humor!

Thanks to so many skilled helpers, communication, social and even computer abilities blossomed with each November IEP: precious gifts. Those early birthdays were so overwhelming that David cried out and threw himself head first....into his own cake! As usual be got the hang of it, and "happy birthday" and "candles-cake" became vocabulary mainstays. He was a carpe diem boy!

Thanksgiving became his most beloved holiday, for David knows better than most the deepest meaning of "feast". He may have invented "mindful eating"! And this prankster would, in flawless rhythm, move from fork to smearing the sleeve to the lucky diner to his right. He would resume eating, and show no hint of a smile at the mess.

David has a dry sense of humor to compliment his slapstick antics. Also, David's paternal grandma's birthday came on the 12th, just two days after his own. All of his grandparents were wonderful. I took special delight watching him with my own mom who was a loving presence even as dementia began to overtake her.

Finally, a woman who had shown consummate love and tolerance her whole life, became cranky and easily upset by David, who did not understand the changes in "Amah". It was a long goodbye for her, and David was blessed in the end at just being with her quiet presence- not knowing of the agony she had suffered and her coming death. Actually, it was a foreshadowing.

You see, the genetics of Down Syndrome mean early onset dementia for David. Since 2005 he has languished in board and care. Those years ought to have been like the first 17, spirited, curious, always learning, always challenging us.

But, instead those years have been lost. The disability industry wastes no time with spirit ("behavior problem"). Years of failed school and residential care (translate as no meaningful stimulation) has broken a once fully alive spirit.

Guardian Wright even warned not to "overstimulate" David who has starved for the rich stimulation he once knew. And so as David's birthday comes, I celebrate and mourn. David’s once great spirit flickers for a moment now and then.

With Thanksgiving I remember the blessing he is, as I despair over where has been the last 7 years....and where he is going. His fate remains locked in the hands of Guardian Wright and the State's Alta Regional Center and he is ordered to custodial care, cleaned and fed, far from Home.

His papers (IPP) are lies, but they are "in order". He is easy to manage now, and can be comfortably ignored by residential and day program staff. He is a shadow of what he once was, and in the not too distant future, dementia will slowly, insidiously take him.

Still, November is so sweet. I love you, David.

David Fettgather: Dependent Adult Abused by California Conservatator

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NH: Public Guardian Worker Charged With Embezzling

A woman responsible for managing funds for wards of the state has been indicted for allegedly embezzling $52,000 in public funds, federal prosecutors said.

Heidi Lacerte was indicted on a single count of embezzlement for allegedly taking money from the Office of Public Guardian between February and October 2010, according to prosecutors.

The stolen money was Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits meant to cover "current medical and fiscal needs" of beneficiaries who were under the public guardian's care, according to the indictment.

The Office of Public Guardian is a nonprofit group established in 1979 to provide advocacy and guardianship for people whose family is unable to serve as a guardian. Part of Lacerte's job as an estate manager required her to manage the finances of individuals who received services from the Office of Public Guardian, prosecutors said. The indictment was filed in U.S. District Court alongside a plea agreement struck with federal prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors said that the funds were kept in an account held by the OPG, so it could be tapped as needed. But around Feb. 23, 2010, Lacerte began pilfering money from the fund by "having checks written to herself drawn against beneficiaries' funds," according to an indictment. Prosecutors say she also purchased gift cards and took cash intended for beneficiary accounts for her own use.

Court documents do not say how Lacerte's alleged theft was discovered. Terms of the plea deal do not reveal what prosecutors may recommend for a sentence, but Lacerte faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

The indictment and plea agreement was made public Nov. 8 in U.S. District Court. Lacerte is expected to enter her guilty plea on Nov. 30 before U.S. Judge Steven McAuliffe in federal court.

Full Article and Source:
Public Guardian Worker Charged With Embezzling

Family Guardian Accused of Stealing $42K From Her Mother

A 42-year-old woman is accused of stealing more than $42,000 from her mother while acting as her court-appointed guardian, according to a State Attorney's Office investigation.

Diana Gail Copley was arrested Thursday and released later that day on $10,000 bail, jail records show.

Copley, whom an arrest warrant lists as living in Maryland, is facing two charges: grand theft and exploiting an elderly person or disabled adult. Each is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

In October 2008, Circuit Judge J. David Langford appointed Copley to serve as guardian for her mother, Virginia Rieke, of Lakeland. The judge noted that Rieke, who at the time was 76, needed a guardian because she was "totally incapacitated."

Another court record described Rieke as having "possible dementia and related confusion" and being unable to make her own financial and health care decisions.

Stephen R. Menge, an investigator with the State Attorney's Office in Bartow, wrote in a complaint affidavit that Copley breached her duty as her mother's guardian and financially exploited her.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Charged With Stealing $42,000 From Her Mother

Monday, November 19, 2012

Trial Opens for 2 Accused of Defrauding the Dying

An estate planning lawyer and one of his employees fraudulently made more than $30 million by making investments in the names of people who were terminally ill with ailments such as cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease, a federal prosecutor said during his opening statement at the pair's trial Tuesday.

The lawyer, Joseph Caramadre, and his employee Raymour Radhakrishnan are charged with dozens of counts, including wire and mail fraud, identify theft, conspiracy and money laundering. Caramadre is also charged with witness tampering.
Prosecutor Lee Vilker told the jury that Caramadre bragged he had discovered a loophole in variable annuities and so-called "death-put bonds," both of which offer a benefit if the owner dies.

"It's not a loophole if you have to lie to get it," Vilker told the jury.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Full Article and Source:
Trial Opens for 2 Accused of Defrauding the Dying

Improvement of Illinois Nursing Facility

Responding to published reports of substandard care this summer, state regulators and law-enforcement authorities visited the former Maple Ridge Care Centre on Tuesday, but found no major deficiencies and concluded that care at the 126-bed nursing home may have improved.

“We found a completely different facility than was portrayed in the articles,” Cara Smith, deputy chief of staff for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, told The State Journal-Register."

Officials from Madigan’s office, the Illinois Department of Public Health and state and local police were among 16 people who spent two to three hours at the nursing home as part of Madigan’s statewide Operation Guardian nursing-home compliance initiative.

“The facility itself appeared to be very clean and orderly,” Smith said. “There were a lot of staff attending to residents. It appeared to be an entirely different environment, which is fantastic.”

Full Article and Source:
Officials Approve of Care During Visit to Lincoln Nursing Home

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Al Katz: Holocaust Survivor Nearly Killed by Florida Public Guardian

Join us Sunday evening November 18th, 2012 at 7:00 CST! 5:00 ...PST ...6:00 MST ... 7:00 CST ... 8:00 EST

Al Katz survived the Holocaust in a Nazi prison camp. As a youth, he spent seven years in forced labor, nearly starved, and saw four Jewish boys shot through the head. Katz survived the Holocaust only to again experience the horrors of imprisonment and torture in the final year of his life. The Manatee County Public Guardian’s abuse of Katz reminded Katz of Nazi cruelty and sadism. For six weeks in 2009, Katz was kept in locked units and denied the companionship of his family and friends and decent medical care. Retreating into teenage memories, Katz believed he was once again a prisoner of the Nazis and subject to their torture. In just two months of guardianship, Katz was nearly dead.

Unlike many victims of Public Guardians, Katz escaped before he died. Katz’s daughter, Dr. Beverly Newman, fought Manatee County’s abuse of her father. With Katz nearly dead and his estate seriously depleted, the Public Guardian was replaced by a professional guardian of the property. Katz’s daughter took him home and cared for him day and night for the last eight months of his life.

Beverly Newman has a Doctor of Education and Child Psychology. She dedicated much of 2010 to caring for her father, after rescuing him from an abusive guardianship. Dr. Newman is now an active advocate for rights of guardianship victims.

LISTEN LIVE tonight or listen to the archive later!
See Also:
NASGA: Al Katz, IN/FL Victim

GAO: National Strategy Needed to Effectively Combat Elder Financial Exploitation

Why GAO Did This Study

Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds or property. It has been described as an epidemic with society-wide repercussions. While combating elder financial exploitation is largely the responsibility of state and local social service, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies, the federal government has a role to play in this area as well. GAO was asked to review issues related to elder financial exploitation. This report describes the challenges states face in (1) preventing and (2) responding to elder financial exploitation, as well as the actions some federal agencies have taken to help states address these challenges.

To obtain this information, GAO interviewed state and local social service, criminal justice, and consumer protection officials in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania—states with large elderly populations; officials in seven federal agencies; and various elder abuse experts. GAO also analyzed federal strategic plans and other documents and reviewed relevant research, federal laws and regulations, and state laws.

U.S. GAO - Elder Justice: National Strategy Needed to Effectively Combat Elderly Financial Exploitation

READ the GAO Report

Ciavarella Seeking New Trial in "Kids-for-Cash" Scandal

Layers of judicial reflection stacked like Descartes’ wax on the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Wednesday.

The court was faced with an odd situation, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell noted, saying it’s “judges judging judges who are judging judges.”

Former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. is arguing that his convictions related to the bribes he took to place youthful offenders in a privately-owned juvenile detention center in the “kids-for-cash” scandal should be set aside because U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, who presided over his trial, had shown bias against him.

Ciavarella focused primarily on Kosik’s responses to letters from citizens expressing outrage at the allegations and a newspaper article that attributed derisive quotes about Ciavarella’s alleged conduct to Kosik. Kosik denied talking to the reporter, according to court papers.

Full Article and Source:
Ciavarella Seeks New Trial in "Kids-for-Cash" Scandal

Two Brothers Get Prison Time for Bilking Elderly

Two brothers who bilked elderly Chicago residents out of more than $750,000 in home equity are each going to federal prison for 14 years.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced 46-year-old Daniel Sullivan of Niles and 50-year-old John Sullivan of Surprise, AZ, on Tuesday. They were convicted last fall.

Prosecutors say the brothers convinced more than 50 elderly homeowners to refinance their homes to pay for expensive repairs that were never completed. They also engaged in investment and mortgage fraud and deception involving millions of dollars.

Authorities say one woman killed herself after John Sullivan claimed to have a romantic interest in her and then defrauded her mother of her life's savings of almost $600,000.

The Sullivans also must each pay $711,000 in restitution and forfeit $749,000.

Full Article and Source:
Two Brothers Get Prison Time for Bilking Elderly