Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Wisdom of the Aged

After nearly a year of answering questions, John Sorensen posed one of his own: “Do you know what you want to do when you get old?”

 It was a day of frustration for Mr. Sorensen, whose 92nd birthday was the day after Christmas. He was in the kitchen of his Upper West Side apartment, holding pieces of a mop that he could not put back together. Gout had made his fingers almost useless, and his right arm hung limp from a torn rotator cuff. Just combing his hair that morning was a struggle.

“It makes me mad,” he said, speaking about what his life had come to. “I want to go.”

 But flip the perspective, and it was another day in a long and rich life. Mr. Sorensen, who had made a career as a decorator, was living independently in his own home, amid the furniture and d├ęcor he had carefully chosen himself, and amid memories of the man who had shared his life there. He had music that could still take his breath away, and old movies that never failed to entertain. If his capacities had diminished, they had narrowed to activities that gave him satisfaction. Even in near blindness, he inhabited a mansion of visual memories.

“I’ve had a good life,” he said in the kitchen, retrieving a moment that was more vivid to him than the recent past. “I’ll never forget coming into the living room once and my dad had a canary on his hand. And my mother was looking at him, and I will never forget the smile on her face. It was like a young girl falling in love. I never saw such a smile on my mother. It was only an instant, because as soon as they saw me, it changed. But it was a beautiful memory that’s engraved in my mind.”

Do you know what you want to do when you get old?

Since the start of the year, the photographer Nicole Bengiveno and I have been visiting Mr. Sorensen and five other New Yorkers over the age of 85 — in hospital rooms and at birthday parties, on family vacations and at readings in nightclubs — and through it all, some version of Mr. Sorensen’s question has lingered: What is reasonable to ask of old age? Beyond the assaults of poverty or illness, to what extent can people shape the quality of life in their late years?

In New York City, the population age 85 and up has been growing at five times the rate for the city as a whole, doubling since 1980 to about 150,000. For this often invisible population, the first of its size, what does an older life really look like? And can it be better?

Throughout the year, the six talked unflinchingly about death and loss, but also about love and connection, about accomplishment and meaning. A paradox of old age is that older people have a greater sense of well-being than younger ones — not because they’re unreservedly blissful, but because they accept a mixture of happiness and sadness in their lives, and leverage this mixture when events come their way. They waste less time on anger, stress and worry. As Ping Wong, 90, put it: “When you’re young, the future is so far away, and you don’t know what will happen to you and the world. So when you’re young, you have more worries than the elderly. But I don’t worry now.”

Source:The Wisdom of the Aged

Happy New Year's Eve! Enjoy This Woman's 90th Birthday

90th Birthday for this Woman

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Darcy Spears Special Report: Guardianship Under Fire

Darcy Spears, Chief Investigative Reporter for KTNV ABC 13 Action News, has been reporting  on guardianship abuse in Nevada all year long.  December 28th, she hosted a 30 minute special titled, "Guardianship Under Fire."  She has won multiple Emmys, Edward R. Murrow awards, Genesis awards and Associated Press awards on both a national and local scale for her unparalleled journalism.

Darcy's most recent honors are two 2014 Emmys. One in the Military category for her series on how the VA is failing veterans when it comes to healthcare; and one in the Health/Science category entitled "Prescription for Pain" about how legitimate pain patients are delayed or denied at local pharmacies.

This brings Darcy's Emmy total to 14.

NASGA hopes Darcy's ongoing series on guardianship abuse brings her another Emmy for her fine reporting all year long on this insidious form of elder abuse which has brought so much pain and suffering to many innocent victims and their families. Darcy's fine reporting brought the depth of Nevada's problems to the national spotlight and raised awareness to our cause.   We are deeply grateful for her giving victims and their families a voice and a platform to seek reform.

Thank you, Darcy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Editorial: Agency Fighting Over Guardianship

In response to Sam Sipes’ guest column of Dec. 21, “Pass guardianship bill": Sipes states that he is grateful for Florida state Sen. Nancy Detert’s guardianship bill (SB 232), which is intended to protect the elderly and incapacitated adults, and all that it entails. Most important, it puts the individuals and their families, who are often facing difficult decisions, at the center of the system!

Snipes, the president and CEO of Lutheran Services Florida, goes on to state that LSF strongly supports this bill. He claims that its guardianship program has served individuals who have no family members willing or able to manage affairs and make life decisions.

Sipes also states that it is preferential that family members serve as the guardians and that the agency will find the least restrictive measure to assist individuals with declining capacity to care for themselves. It trains family members to take on this role.

He finishes his column by claiming LSF will continue to work to make Florida’s guardianship system the most compassionate and person-centered system in the USA.

Really? If what he says is true, then why is LSF fighting Julie Ferguson, the more than willing, very capable, devout and loving daughter of Marise London, for guardianship?

~Carol Vengroff

Opinion:  Agency Fighting Over Guardianship

See Also:
Facebook:  Florida Guardianship Laws Talking Points

Facebook:  Keep Marise Home With Family

Sam Snipes: Sen. Detert’s bill a good step to put individuals at ‘center’ of guardianships

Pasadena man whose life-threatening illness spurred challenge to Texas law dies at hospital

A Pasadena man whose critical, life-threatening illness led to a lawsuit challenging a 1999 Texas law that grants hospital ethics committees power to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in hopeless cases died Wednesday at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Chris Dunn, 46, was admitted to the Texas Medical Center hospital in early October after a diagnostic scan at a Pasadena hospital revealed a mass on his pancreas. In mid-November, Dunn's family was apprised that the hospital had done all it could do and that, unless another facility could be found to treat him, life-sustaining care would be discontinued. A legal challenge to the Texas Health and Safety Code led to continuation of such care, which Dunn was receiving at the time of his death.

"One month after Houston Methodist Hospital determined that Chris' life was not worth living and that his condition was not even worth diagnosing and treating, Chris succumbed to his illness," said Melissa Conway, spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, which had advocated for Dunn's continued treatment.

Methodist spokesman George Kovacik Wednesday offered condolences to Dunn's family.

"While we cannot share private health information, Houston Methodist and the Dunn family were awaiting a decision by the court regarding guardianship and who is authorized to make end-of-life medical decisions for Chris," he said. "We understand how difficult it is when a loved one is gravely ill and medical decisions must be made."

Joe Nixon, the Dunn family's attorney, said the hospital sought guardianship over the sick man on Dec. 3, hours before the court was to deliberate on a family petition seeking to stop the hospital from discontinuing care. While no formal injunction was issued, the judge mandated that the hospital continue life-sustaining care while the guardianship issue was resolved, Nixon said.

A provision of the Texas Health and Safety Code, which outlines procedures for advance directives in life-threatening medical situations, calls for a review by ethics or medical committees when an attending physician refuses to honor a patient's advance directive or a health care or treatment decision made by or for the patient. If the committee, in essence, determines requested care is futile, an effort can be made to transfer the patient to another facility. After 10 days, the physician and hospital are not obligated to continuing life-sustaining treatment.

In Dunn's case, the hospital committee was composed of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and a medical ethicist.

In a Dec. 2 video, Nixon asked Dunn, whom he described as "conscious and alert" whether he wanted to continue to live. Dunn nodded slightly and made a gesture indicating prayer.

Court documents indicated Dunn suffered end-stage liver disease, gastric obstruction, pancreatic cancer, respiratory failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Full Article & Source:
A Pasadena man whose critical, life-threatening illness led to a lawsuit challenging a 1999 Texas law dies at hospital

See Also: 
Houston Methodist Hospital still seeking to pull plug on patient

Attorneys representing Chris Dunn contest Methodist Hospital’s attempt to seize guardianship

Hospital Trying to Seize Guardianship of Disabled Patient From His Family in Order to Kill Him

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Texas Right to Life mourns the passing of Chris Dunn 

Health aide spent $50K on disabled man's credit card, police say

MOUNT HOLLY — A Beverly City woman hired to take care of a disabled man racked up more than $50,000 in debt on the man's credit card, authorities said Tuesday.

According to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, Maryann Eckman, 59, was arrested Monday at the Palmyra home of another client and charged with one count of theft by deception.

Eckman was hired to take care of the disabled man in his Lumberton home, but a family member reported finding large balances totaling $50,068 on multiple credit cards, which had gone unused for "some time," a press release stated.

She remains in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail, she is expected to have a first appearance in Burlington County Superior Court at 3 p.m. Tuesday before Assignment Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder. 

Full Article & Source:
Health aide spent $50K on disabled man's credit card, police say

Elderly, Disabled Facing Neglect Can Get Help — Hotline — 1-800-392-0210

By Josh Mitchell, Missourian Staff Writer

People who suspect abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled can make a report to a state hotline.

The state department of health and senior services does a good job investigating those hotline calls in the county, said Franklin County Public Administrator Mary Jo Straatmann.

“They have a difficult job to do,” she said.

Straatmann’s office is appointed by the probate court to help elderly, disabled and mentally ill residents with medical and financial decisions.

“A lot of appointments have come from health and senior services investigations,” Straatmann said, adding, “I think there is enough going on that we will be getting more cases due to those investigations.”

The hotline number is 1-800-392-0210.

There were more than 400 such calls reported in Franklin County last year, according to the department of health and senior services.

‘My Job Is to Be There’

Straatmann’s clients may be young or old and could have issues such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

“A lot of them can’t communicate anything about their health,” Straatmann said. “They don’t understand what’s going on, and my job is to be there.”

They may not have family to help them or the family may be unwilling or unable to do so. Generally, if someone has one mental illness they are likely to have another one as well, she said.

Straatmann noted that her office does not file or seek out cases. A judge rules that someone is incapacitated and determines who should be appointed to help with the person’s financial and medical affairs.

Neglect can occur when elderly, disabled and mentally ill people are not checked on routinely, she noted.

“They might not be getting adequate food supplies, they might not be getting medical care, they might not be taking their medication or getting them refilled,” Straatmann said.

Some older people have been neglected or unable to take care of themselves and “can be very seriously ill,” she said.

Health and Finances
Two basic roles are performed by the public administrator — guardian and conservator. The office can also be appointed to handle the estates of people who have passed away.

The guardian is involved in health care decisions while the conservator helps with financial matters, such as paying monthly bills and filing tax returns.

The theme across the state is that she and other public administrators will get more cases as the population grows older, Straatmann said.

“We’re keeping people alive longer,” she said, adding that the office is currently working about 100 cases.

As a person’s guardian, Straatmann communicates with the person’s doctors and care providers, consents to treatments and learns about surgeries and medication.

She also helps decide where a person should be placed, such as in a secured or unsecured facility. Clients can also be placed in facilities outside of the county.

Mental Illness

It can be hard for a family to manage a mentally ill person at home when the individual will not take his or her medication, Straatmann noted.

“Missing one dose of medication can change everything,” Straatmann said. “With psychiatric medications you can’t skip a dose.”

They can become disagreeable with family members who are trying to help, Straatmann said.

“They may begin having problems functioning at home,” she said. “They may get in trouble out in the community.”

She does not want to be critical of families, saying it can be very challenging to deal with mental and physical disabilities.

Sometimes it is easier for the public administrator to step in. That way, if the person wants to be upset with someone it can be the public administrator and not the family, Straatmann said.

Full Article & Source: 
Elderly, Disabled Facing Neglect Can Get Help — Hotline — 1-800-392-0210

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lawyer Looted $1 Million From WWII Vet's Living Trust: Cops

The Tinley Park man stole the money over the course of two years, police said.

A Tinley Park man with a legal office in Mokena stole $1 million from the living trust of a World War II veteran, according to a criminal complaint filed in Will County court.

John Pleta, 55, was jailed Tuesday on two counts of felony theft. His bond was set at $750,000.

The Mokena police investigated the case. Pleta’s law practice is located in Mokena, according to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Pleta allegedly stole the money out of the living trust of Isadore Tobianksy. Tobiansky died at at the age of 93 in January 2013. He enlisted in the military in February 1942.

Pleta was charged with driving under the influence in June 2012, despite his alleged attempt to talk the arresting officer out of it by letting him know he is an attorney.

“While escorting John to my squad, he stated, ‘Do you really have to go there? I’m a lawyer, you know,’” an officer said, according to a police report.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer Looted $1 Million From WWII Vet's Living Trust: Cops

Gourmet grocer worker defrauds elderly victim

Pinellas Park, Florida --  Police arrested a retail meat salesman Thursday on charges he defrauded an elderly victim of $3,800 in ATM and retail transactions and another $1,200 in stolen checks from two others victims.

Police say Christopher Miller, 41, allegedly used the victim’s Chase and Sam’s Club cards to conduct more than 20 ATM and retail transactions to Gourmet Grocery, where he worked as a salesman selling meats, totaling $3,845 in the city of Pinellas Park. He also defrauded his employer by using a credit card terminal to obtain funds from two other elderly victims -- $751 from one, $528 from another.

This was a not Miller’s first run-in with the law on elder exploitation. His arrest affidavit stated he has exploited others in and around the Pinellas County area.

Full Article & Source:
Gourmet grocer worker defrauds elderly victim

New program seeks to protect seniors from financial exploitation

More than two dozen incidents have already been investigated by state agencies through the Senior$afe program.

Banks and credit unions in Maine have trained more than 300 tellers to identify and report suspected financial abuse of seniors as part of a state-sponsored program that is becoming a model for the nation.

So far, eight training sessions have been held in Portland and Bangor as part of the Senior$afe program.

The program targets front-line employees of financial institutions and their managers because they are often in the best position to notice warning signs of elder financial abuse, the organizers said.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in 10 seniors age 60 and older is a victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation each year. In Maine that number is about 32,242 people annually. In national prevalence studies, financial exploitation was either the most frequently or second-most frequently self-reported form of elder abuse, with 3.5 percent to 5.2 percent of older adults reporting financial exploitation by a family member, according to the Justice Department. A MetLife study in 2011 estimated seniors lose a minimum of $2.9 billion annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation.

The program is a joint initiative launched in early 2014 by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Aging and Disability Services; the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which includes the Maine Office of Securities; the Maine Bankers Association; the Maine Credit Union League, the state’s Legal Services for the Elderly; and all five Area Agencies on Aging.

Since the program began, banks and credit unions have reported nearly 30 suspected cases of abuse to a special hotline set up for the Senior$afe program that have been investigated by the state Office of Securities and other agencies. Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who co-chairs the program, testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging this year to tout the program’s effectiveness. In November, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, co-sponsored a bill that would expand the Senior$afe program nationwide.

PeoplesChoice Credit Union in southern Maine is one of the dozens of financial institutions in the state that have signed on to the program, said Brenda Piecuch, the company’s vice president of compliance.

“Financial elder abuse is probably one of the greatest concerns we have in the financial industry right now,” she said. “They (seniors) are prime targets for abuse, and we’re seeing that right now.”

While Piecuch and others involved in the program declined to give names and descriptions of suspected victims and perpetrators for privacy reasons, they described several observed cases of extortion, coercion and financial scams that have targeted seniors.

In one instance, a prominent municipal employee allegedly had threatened to burn an older woman’s house down unless she changed her will to make him the beneficiary of her estate, Piecuch said. The incident has been referred to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, she said.

In another, a senior was sending money to a man claiming to be an investment adviser living in Maryland. But an Office of Securities investor educator traced the address to a gas station and used a Google Earth picture to convince the senior that the adviser wasn’t legitimate.

The Senior$afe program has identified a number of “red flags” that financial professionals should watch out for. They include:
• A person accompanying a senior shows excessive interest in the senior’s finances or accounts, does not allow the senior to speak for himself or herself, or is reluctant to leave the senior’s side during conversations.
• A senior shows an unusual degree of fear, anxiety, submissiveness or deference toward a person accompanying him or her.
• The sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a senior’s affairs and possessions.
• Abrupt changes to financial documents, such as power of attorney, account beneficiaries, wills and trusts, property title and deeds.
• Frequent large withdrawals, including daily maximum currency withdrawals from an ATM machine.
• A senior displays unexplained or unusual excitement over a financial windfall or prize check but may be reluctant to discuss the details.
• Noticeable neglect or decline in a senior’s appearance, grooming or hygiene.
• A new caretaker, relative or friend suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of a senior.
In many cases, bank tellers are in a better position than anyone else to spot behavior that could indicate elder financial abuse, said Chris Pinkham, president and CEO of the Maine Bankers Association. The purpose of Senior$afe is to provide those employees with tools and strategies to follow up on those warning signs and alert the proper authorities if necessary.

“There’s all kinds of problems and they vary,” Pinkham said. “Sometimes you need law enforcement. Sometimes you need legal assistance.”  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
New program seeks to protect seniors from financial exploitation

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Police investigate guardian case

A police report has been filed against a prominent Winston-Salem attorney alleging that he committed “fraud” after receiving the “large sum” estate of a ward “… 6 months prior to [the attorney] being appointed guardian.” The Winston-Salem Police Department is now reportedly investigating.

As The Chronicle exclusively reported two weeks ago, attorney Bryan Thompson was accused of “felony theft by fraud …” in a Nov. 24, 2015 motion filed in Forsyth County Superior Court for allegedly taking over $44,000 left to Steven Epperson prior to being appointed Epperson’s estate guardian. The motion primarily sought to have Thompson removed as guardian.

That motion, which was heard in a Dec. 16 hearing in Superior Court, was filed by Winston-Salem attorney Reginald D. Alston on behalf of Epperson’s siblings, Susan and Kelvin Epperson.

They alleged that the money in question came from the estate of their deceased father, John W. Epperson, and was due to be paid to Steven. A “Final Receipt” from the Forsyth Clerk’s office dated Nov. 15, 2009 for  “cash” in the value of $44,180.68, listed as the  “personal representative/trustee” for John W. Epperson’s estate responsible for distributing the funds as  “Bryan C. Thompson.”

And the “undersigned beneficiary” receiving that money, according to the signed and witnessed receipt, was also “Bryan C. Thompson,” who was also listed as “Guardian of Steven W. Epperson.” Thompson signed the document.

But it is not until April 15, 2010, court documents show, that attorney Bryan Thompson was allegedly appointed by assistant clerk Paula Todd as “Successor Guardian of the Estate” for Steven Epperson, allegedly replacing Susan, the sister.

The Epperson siblings’ motion alleged that attorney Thompson “…  committed a felony theft by fraud in withdrawing in excess of $44,000 from an estate in which he, acting as fiduciary and without legal authority, taking possession of that money based upon the fraudulent assertion of guardianship of Steve Epperson at least 6 months prior to his appointment.

At the Dec. 16 hearing, Thompson’s attorney, Molly Whitlatch of Greensboro, countered that the November 15, 2009 date on the receipt is a “typographical error,” and that Thompson did not take control of the funds until months later, after he was appointed estate guardian.

Whitlatch said that she had documentation to back up her client’s assertion, but attorney Reginald Alston, representing the Epperson siblings, countered that there were two notarized documents confirming Thompson’s receiving the money when stated.

Alston then told the court that the Winston-Salem Police Department had been asked to investigate the matter.

According WSPD “Incident/Investigation Report” #1567012 that The Chronicle has obtained and reviewed, on December 10, 2015, attorney Alston did render an investigative complaint, taken by “Officer J. A. Henry.”

Officer Henry writes in the report that on that date, he met with attorney Alston at the Public Safety Building to get the details.

“He advised that he is an attorney representing a family in reference to what he felt like was fraudulent representation of guardianship in the dispersal of a deceased person’s estate,” Henry wrote, adding that attorney Alston alleged that the Forsyth County Clerk of Court appointed Thompson “… to be guardian of different estates … in violation of current laws that pertain to Estate law.”

Henry continued to outline the crime Alston was alleging, writing that “Mr. Thompson received the estate 6 months prior to being appointed guardian. This is where Mr. Alston alleged that fraud had occurred.”

“Mr. Alston’s next contention was that an incompetent son of the last person mentioned was supposed to receive money from the father. Instead Mr. Thompson became guardian of the son and dispersed his money to different areas associated with the care of the incompetent son,” Officer Henry wrote. “Mr. Alston advised that there were different family members that could have been appointed a guardian but were not.”

The significance of that last allegation was that Thompson “received a large sum for being guardian.”
Officer Henry continued that another officer, “Detective Workman was already looking into this case prior to this report.”

In a Dec. 17, 2015 letter to The Chronicle, Bryan Thompson’s attorney, Molly Whitlatch, wrote, “As I stated in court, Bryan Thompson did not take possession of any funds of Steven Epperson’s prior to the time he was appointed as guardian in April 2010. There is a typographical error on the receipt, but the financial records show that no transfer was made until June of 2010. There was certainly no finding of fact by the court that Bryan Thompson wrongfully obtained any funds, or obtained funds prior to his guardianship appointment.”

What attorney Whitlatch did not say is that the reason why Judge J. Mark Pegram, the Rockingham County Clerk of Superior Court who presided over the Dec. 16 hearing, did not issue a “finding of fact” about the alleged fraud is because that was not the primary matter before him. Nor was another allegation from attorney Alston regarding Thompson’s collection of $9,000 in commission for his work as estate guardian, also referred to in the police report.

Even though, as attorney Alston pressed the case, Judge Pegram offered to allow Bryan Thompson to take the stand and testify in his own defense, also confirming any evidence proving his innocence of the allegations, which never happened.

So the only defense offered was an unproven claim of a typo on the receipt and alleged financial records that were not entered into evidence during the hearing, according to observers.

Judge Pegram only determined that the Eppersons’ motion to have attorney Thompson “immediately” removed as estate guardian for Steven Epperson and replaced by his sister Susan was essentially moot because Thompson had been “… discharged as guardian after a final account that was audited and approved,” according to attorney Whitlatch.

In other words, Thompson was no longer guardian anyway.

All other issues argued before Judge Pegram pertaining to the Epperson case were dismissed.

But the WSPD probe into the complaint filed against attorney Thompson is ongoing, attorney Alston confirmed Monday.

Full Article & Source:
Police investigate guardian case

California's Vexatious Litigant Statute - US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Ronald Pierce and others appeal from the district court's dismissal of their putative class action challenging California's Vexatious Litigant Statute, as it is applied in the context of parental custody disputes.

13-17170 Ronald Pierce v. Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Saturday, December 26, 2015

..."Old Age is Like a Bank Account; You Withdraw What You've Put In"

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.

As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.

“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.” And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.


Beaumont Hospital - Dearborn revokes guardianship from ill patient’s family

DEARBORN — A local family is frustrated with Beaumont Hospital- Dearborn (formerly Oakwood Hospital- Dearborn) regarding the treatment of an elderly relative who has remained hospitalized for more than 18 months.

Amine Zriek, 86, had been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2009, due to 50 years of heavy smoking. He made frequent visits to various local hospitals due to his worsening condition, which included breathing problems, lung and respiratory infections and congestive heart failure. He is currently placed on a ventilator.

The family claims that on Friday, October 2, he was transferred to Beaumont in Dearborn after doctors at Beaumont Hospital- Wayne had ruptured and damaged his liver while trying to remove fluid from his lungs. The family alleges the medical error has caused him endless severe pain and suffering.

Shortly after this, hospital management removed Zriek’s longtime Arabic-speaking family doctor and placed him under the care of a doctor who had never treated him before.

In November, Beaumont- Dearborn filed a petition in Wayne County Probate Court to revoke guardianship from Zriek’s family. He had exhausted his Medicare benefits and the hospital was looking to place him in a sub acute rehabilitation facility either in Grand Rapids or Toledo, a move the family strongly opposes.

"That makes no sense of how a complete stranger with no blood ties or similar cultural background is making these decisions on behalf of the family for my grandfather," said Zinab Zriek. "Where is the logic and justice behind that?"

Earlier this month a judge approved revoking the family’s guardianship rights. However, an independent doctor will be reviewing Zriek’s medical records to determine whether he is stable enough to be moved out the Beaumont- Dearborn facility. An unscheduled follow up hearing is expected in coming weeks.

The family believes the hospital is persistent on removing Zriek from the facility because he has become a financial burden. The hospital is persistent on moving him to a sub acute facility that receives subsidized funding from the state and would allow him to stay in their care for as long as needed.

On Friday, November 20, the family said a nurse made a request to move Zriek from the eighth floor of the hospital to the third floor to receive intensive care. However, shortly after that request a doctor cancelled it and kept him on the eighth floor.

Zinab Zriek expressed concern that the hospital is undermining her grandfather’s condition, making it appear that he no longer needs extensive treatment. However, she said his condition has only worsened in recent weeks.

"Within the last month he has been on code blue," she said. "He has not been responsive and they’ve had to send a whole team in to get him to respond. He needs acute care, but they insist that he needs to be taken to another facility."

The family said within the last few weeks, Zriek has suffered from a high fever, vomiting and very inconsistent blood pressure that reaches both alarmingly low and high levels. As recently as last week, doctors had to perform two rapid response calls on him, which left him drifting in and out of consciousness.

During the last two months the family said they’ve been given the runaround by hospital staff regarding Zriek’s condition. At one point, doctors placed him on an antipsychotic medication called Risperdal, usually given to patients with bipolar or schizophrenic disorder. The family claims the medication made him senile.

During another incident, a doctor claimed Zriek had stage 4 lung cancer. But no biopsy was ever followed through to confirm that diagnosis, despite numerous concerns from the family to do so.

The family said the mistreatment Zriek has been subjected to by hospital staff has mentally impacted him and contributed to his deteriorating health. The family is concerned that if the hospital succeeds in relocating him to another care facility, he might not survive much longer.

Moving him to a distant facility will cause his family to become estranged from him. Zriek has eight children and many grandchildren who have been making frequent visits to the hospital. If he is moved away from the area, it will become increasingly difficult for them to see him.

There is also concerns that a new guardian may make decisions that would contradict Zriek's and the family’s cultural and religious beliefs. Muslims generally oppose assisted suicide and hospice care, but those decisions could very well be made on Zriek’s behalf now that the family has lost guardianship.

"Without having his family there, he won’t survive," Zinab Zriek said. "What’s kept him alive up to this point is the fact that we’ve been around him. If they take my grandfather away to another facility, he will lose all hope to live and survive."

A Beaumont representative declined to comment on Zriek's case, stating that it was still pending in litigation.

Full Article & Source:

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays

How the Elderly are Regarded in Different Parts of the World

How the elderly are regarded varies in different parts of the world. Here are seven very cool things about how the elderly are seen and treated in other countries:

1. Japan has a national holiday called Respect For The Aged Day.
The third Monday of every September in Japan is a national holiday designated to honor and show appreciation for the elderly. It's a paid holiday from work and traditionally, gifts are given to grandparents after sharing a festive meal with them.

2. Honoring your mother and father is now the law in China and elsewhere.
Elderly parents in China can sue their grown children for both financial and emotional support. Filial piety is the law in China, India, France and the Ukraine. In Singapore, adult children who do not give their parents an allowance can face up to six months in jail.  And in China, it's not just financial support; more than 1,000 parents have sued because their adult children don't visit them regularly.

3. In Scotland, they actually listen to the elderly.
Scotland's "Reshaping Care for Older People" program sets out with this vision:  "Older people are valued as an asset, their voices are heard and they are supported to enjoy full and positive lives in their own home or in a homely setting."

4. Who are you calling "old?"
"Old man" isn't a slur in Greece; in fact, it is quite the opposite.

5. "Respect your elders" has real meaning in Vietnamese society.
Elders are considered the carriers of tradition, knowledge, and wisdom in Vietnam and in Vietnamese communities in the dispora. Elderly grandparents and parents live with the family for support and care.

6. Turning 60 is a big deal in Korea.
Because 60 years is considered a full cycle in the Asian Zodiac, a large birthday celebration is held for those who reach this milestone birthday. Traditionally, it is also the age when a man can retire and let his sons support him.

7. A nursing home for elderly pets.
When pet-owners age and reach the point that they can no longer care for their beloved pets, what happens to those animals? The re-homing rate is low for senior dogs and cats turned into animal shelters.  In Japan, a nursing home for older pets has opened to meet the needs of the aging population.

Seven Very Cool Things Other Countries do for the Elderly

Five Wishes

Five Wishes is used in all 50 states and in countries around the world. It meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in 42 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. In the other eight states your completed Five Wishes can be attached to your state’s required form.

Why Do Individuals and Families Choose Five Wishes for Their Advance Directive? 

There are several reasons more than 25 million people have used Five Wishes to put their wishes on paper. Choosing a document to express your desires at end of life is a very personal choice. Here are a few of the reasons families and individuals choose Five Wishes:

A. Five Wishes is America’s most popular living will because it’s written in everyday language and helps people express their wishes in areas that matter most — the personal and spiritual in addition to the medical and legal. It also helps you describe what good care means to you, whether you are seriously ill or not. It allows your caregiver to know exactly what you want.

B. Completing Five Wishes is a gift to your family, friends and your doctor because it keeps them out of the difficult position of having to guess what kind of treatment you want or don’t want.

C. Families also use Five Wishes to help start and guide family conversations about care in times of serious illness. Five Wishes is helpful for all adults – everyone over 18 years old – and anyone can start the conversation within a family. Sometimes it begins with grandparents and other times it is the younger family members who bring up the topic. Regardless of your age, you can bring this gift to your family.

Five Wishes

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Screen Legend Kirk Douglas Gives $15 mil to Build Alzheimer's Center

Screen legend Kirk Douglas celebrated his 99th birthday, but instead of receiving gifts, he used the occasion to give one — a new Alzheimer’s treatment facility to Southern California.

 He used his birthday party to announce the $15 million donation to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF).

The money will help pay for the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion, which will be able to take care of up to 80 Alzheimer’s patients from the entertainment industry. Douglas and his wife, Anne, have donated $40 million to the fund over the years and in 1992 launched the fund’s first Alzheimer’s facility, Harry’s Haven, named for Douglas’ father.

Kirk Douglas Gives $15million to Build Alzheimer's Center

Heartfelt Creations

When I'm an old lady, I'll live with each kid,
And bring so much happiness just as they did.
I want to pay back all the joy they've provided.
Returning each deed! Oh, they'll be so excited!
When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

I'll write on the walls with reds, whites and blues,
And I'll bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets and oh, how they'll shout!
When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

When they're on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach.
Oh, they'll snap their fingers and then shake their head,
When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

When they cook dinner and call me to eat,
I'll not eat my green beans or salad or meat,
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
And when they get angry I'll run if I'm able!
When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

I'll sit close to the TV, through channels I'll click,
I'll cross both eyes just to see if they stick.
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
And play in the mud 'til the end of the day!
When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

And later in bed, I'll lay back and sigh,
I'll thank God in prayer and then close my eyes.
My kids will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
And say with a groan, "She's so sweet when she's sleeping!"

-by Joanne Bailey Baxter

Heartfelt Creations

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Texas Right to Life mourns the passing of Chris Dunn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Texas Right to Life mourns the passing of Chris Dunn We are deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Dunn, a 46-year-old Houston man who bravely brought awareness to an unjust and unconstitutional Texas law.

Houston, Texas- December 23, 2015: This morning, Texas Right to Life mourns the passing of 46-year-old Chris Dunn.  One month after Houston Methodist Hospital determined that Chris’s life was not worth living and that his condition was not even worth diagnosing or treating, Chris succumbed to his illness.  We commend Chris’s mother, Evelyn, and the other family members who labored tirelessly to protect Chris from death imposed by the hospital and legally sanctioned by the draconian Texas Advance Directives Act.  Through Chris’s illness and disability, Evelyn never lost sight of the value of Chris’s life.  Texas Right to Life is honored to have played some small role in comforting Chris and Evelyn as they endured this tragic circumstance.

We ask that you join Texas Right to Life in prayer for Evelyn and Chris’s family, and we pray that Chris is at rest now with our Heavenly Father where Chris can celebrate the birth of the Savior from above.

In the wake of Chris’s passing, Texas Right to Life will continue to challenge the unconscionable state law that allowed doctors to deem Chris’s life “futile” and continues to jeopardize the lives of countless other hospitalized patients in Texas.  The legal efforts of Chris’s family and his lawyers to stall the state-sanctioned, involuntary euthanasia proved effective.  Not only was Chris’s death not imposed by the hospital, but he and his family also raised unprecedented awareness of the unconstitutional and unjust nature of the Texas Advance Directives Act.

Throughout his lengthy ordeal, Chris and his family conveyed gratitude for the assistance of Texas Right to Life and the dedication of our supporters who rallied behind Chris’s cause.  Until the very end, we worked together to do everything possible to ensure justice for Chris.  Although the hospital refused to treat Chris’s illness based on a discriminatory “quality of life” judgement, Evelyn and Chris’s family take solace in the fact that Houston Methodist continued life-sustaining treatment and cared for him in his final days.

Together let us continue to pray for Chris’s family and for an end to state-sanctioned hospital discrimination and killing in Texas.

Founded in 1973, Texas Right to Life is the oldest, largest, and only statewide Pro-Life organization in Texas.  Recognized as the statewide leader of the Pro-Life movement in Texas, TXRTL works through legislation and education to protect the rights of the unborn, persons with disabilities, the sick, the elderly, and the vulnerable through legal, peaceful, and prayerful means.

Melissa Conway
Director of External Relations
Texas Right to Life
713-782-LIFE or 832-648-0770

Nursing Home Workers Share Explicit Photos of Residents on Snapchat

A ProPublica review found 35 cases since 2012 in which nursing home or assisted living workers surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents on social media. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat.

This story was co-published with the Washington Post.

Nursing home workers across the country are posting embarrassing and dehumanizing photos of elderly residents on social media networks such as Snapchat, violating their privacy, dignity and, sometimes, the law.
Janet Hartranft at the Newaygo Medical Care Facility

ProPublica has identified 35 instances since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds and then disappear with no lasting record.

Some have led to criminal charges, including a case filed earlier this month in California against a nursing assistant. Most have not, even though posting patients’ photos without their permission may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law that carries civil and criminal penalties.

The incidents illustrate the emerging threat that social media poses to patient privacy and, at the same time, its powerful potential for capturing transgressions that previously might have gone unrecorded.
Abusive treatment is not new at nursing homes. Workers have been accused of sexually assaulting residents, sedating them with antipsychotic drugs and failing to change urine-soaked bed sheets. But the posting of explicit photos is a new type of mistreatment — one that sometimes leaves its own digital trail.

In February 2014, a nursing assistant at Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center in Centralia, Wash., sent a co-worker a Snapchat video of a resident sitting on a bedside portable toilet with her pants below her knees while laughing and singing.

The following month, one nursing home assistant at Rosewood Care Center in St. Charles, Ill., recorded another using a nylon strap to lightly slap the face of a 97-year-old woman with dementia. On the video, the woman could be heard crying out, “Don’t! Don’t!” as she was being struck. The employees laughed.

And this February at Autumn Care Center in Newark, Ohio, a nursing assistant recorded a video of residents lying in bed as they were coached to say, “I’m in love with the coco,” the lyrics of a gangster rap song (“coco” is slang for cocaine). Across a female resident’s chest was a banner that read, “Got these hoes trained.” It was shared on Snapchat.

The woman’s son told government inspectors that his mother, who had worked as a church secretary for 30 years, would have been mortified by the video. Days after the incident, the home changed hands and is now known as Price Road Health and Rehabilitation Center. Greystone Healthcare Management, its new owner, said it “provides extensive, on-going training, support and oversight to insure that we provide patient centered care.” (The prior owner, Steve Hitchens, said the incident happened days before the home was sold and he does not recall details.)

In a statement, PrestigeCare said it fired the employee, alerted authorities and instituted new, stricter cellphone and social media policies. “We take these situations very seriously and are thankful that our own internal procedures alerted us so promptly to the issue.”

Rosewood Care Center did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“Something hasn’t happened now unless there’s a selfie or Facebook posting about it,” said Marian Ryan, the district attorney of Middlesex County, Mass., whose office is pursuing elder abuse charges against two women who posted numerous videos of nursing home residents on Snapchat. “The use of social media is just pervasive across every aspect of society.”

ProPublica identified incidents by searching government inspection reports, court cases and media reports. Ryan said she suspects such incidents are underreported, in part because many of the victims have dementia and do not realize what has happened.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Workers Share Explicit Photos of Residents on Snapchat

State investigates Modesto nursing center over patient transfers

By Deborah Schoch and Ron Campbell
CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Jill Hernandez knew something was wrong as soon as she got the request from a Lodi nursing home.

A new resident had just arrived from Vintage Faire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Modesto – a woman with no family and with severely impaired mental skills. The Lodi home asked Hernandez to represent her in making decisions about her care.

“How did she get there? Who signed her out?” asked Hernandez, the long-term care ombudsman program director for San Joaquin County, where Lodi is located.

Hernandez met with the woman. Then she complained to the California Department of Public Health, prompting an investigation of Vintage Faire.

The story widened. The Modesto home had shipped a total of seven long-term residents in March to two sister nursing homes in San Joaquin County, according to state records. One resident said she had only 15 minutes to decide whether to go.

Vintage Faire failed to notify most families and friends of the transfers. At least four of the residents, all women, were diagnosed as severely mentally impaired.

One mentally challenged woman later told a state investigator that she walked the 38 miles from Modesto to Lodi, demonstrating by moving her legs back and forth, records say. Another woman said that “she did not know why she was there, how she got there or where she was.”

“It was shocking to me that someone would do that, that a facility would just send them out like that,” Hernandez said in an interview.

Her complaint led to a state finding that Vintage Faire had transferred the residents “without medical justification as necessary for resident welfare, needs or safety,” a violation of federal regulations. The fine: $2,000.

A key question remains unanswered: Why did Vintage Faire want to transfer those patients?

The facility won’t comment, citing the fact that it has appealed the citation.

But according to hundreds of records obtained by The Bee under the state Public Records Act, the home’s staff told some residents and families that it was removing long-term residents to make room for more short-term patients.

“It says that right in the citation. It’s pretty darned explicit,” said Tony Chicotel, staff attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, or CANHR, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. He said he has seen similar cases at other homes.

Chicotel said “short term” is code for higher-paying Medicare patients and that long-term refers to residents on low-paying Medi-Cal insurance for the poor.

Andrew F. Torok, general counsel for Covenant Care, which owns Vintage Faire and more than 50 other facilities, would not comment on the transfers by Vintage Faire. But he said his company doesn’t engage in transferring long-term residents for monetary gain.

“That’s not how we operate,” Torok said. “Our culture is one of doing the right thing, for the right reason. It would be absolutely unthinkable that we would do something like this.”

In a corrective plan sent to the state, the facility said it would assure “safe and proper discharges in accordance with federal requirements.” It promised to audit long-term care discharges for three months and review patterns of noncompliance.

On average in California, Medicare pays nursing homes roughly three times the daily rate that Medicaid pays. That’s because Medicare pays for short-term, intensive rehabilitation after a hospital stay while Medicaid – known as Medi-Cal in California – pays for long-term care.

Last year, a typical Medicare stay in a nursing home lasted 51 days, according to Medicare data. A Medicaid stay could last several years, often until a resident’s death.

State records do not show if the seven residents were on Medi-Cal.

Deborah Pacyna, a spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Facilities, said she is not familiar with the Vintage Faire case and could not comment. She cautioned, however, against assuming a single example could signal an underlying trend.

“We reject any allegations that patient admissions or discharges are tied to payment sources,” Pacyna wrote in an email.

Patients later evaluated

The woman known as Resident 1 had lived at Vintage Faire for nearly 15 years when the home approached her.

An aide told state investigators that the woman was asked if “it was OK to transfer her, and she said it was.”

So Resident 1 was placed in a van on March 27, bound for the Arbor nursing home 38 miles away in Lodi.

Her story, and that of the six other transferred residents, is described in the July 6, 2015, citation that the state issued to Vintage Faire. The citation refers to them as Residents 1 through 7 to protect their privacy.

The day after Resident 1’s transfer, a state evaluator visited Arbor and talked with the woman in her new room, filled with Barbie dolls, toy firetrucks and a dollhouse-sized firehouse. The woman stated “fireman” and pointed at the firehouse.

“Resident 1 nodded her head or said ‘yes’ to questions but was unable to respond in complete sentences,” according to state records. She was interviewed to assess her cognitive ability, scoring 0 on a scale of 0 to 15. Any score of less than 7 is considered “severe cognitive impairment,” the records state.

Two other transferred residents scored 5 and 3 on the same scale.

Another woman, Resident 4, a Cantonese speaker and a resident since 2007, is described in records as “severely impaired – never/rarely makes decisions.”

A man described in the state records as her “responsible party” said Vintage Faire contacted him the day she left, to say she was being transferred and that the home was “getting rid” of long-term residents. He said her relatives could not easily visit her in Lodi because of transportation problems.

Her family had visited her frequently in Modesto, speaking in Cantonese and bringing home-cooked food that she ate with them in the dining room, where she always ate, records say. In Lodi, she ate most meals in her room.

Resident 7’s friend found her missing just two days after bringing her fresh laundry. Vintage Faire had moved her to Arbor without notifying the friend, who held power of attorney for her health care needs. The facility’s staff said they could not locate the paperwork.

“They just sent her. She was not prepared,” the friend said.

Arbor’s staff wrote in her clinical record that she described herself as depressed and frustrated, saying, “Things just aren’t going well for me.”

Vintage Faire’s director, who is not named in state records, told investigators that she received a call in March from the company’s regional director of operations, telling her that another facility had some open long-term beds and that any resident who wanted could transfer there.

The home’s director said she told two social services aides to make the offer to alert, oriented residents. The aides were not adequately trained, she added, and she should have supervised them. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
State investigates Modesto nursing center over patient transfers

Oklahoma seniors are reminded to beware of scams during holiday season

Scams and tricks aimed at senior citizens are again on the rise this holiday season, as perpetrators try to steal money, furniture, jewelry, family heirlooms, stock certificates, cellphones, prescription medications and identities, state elder care leaders say.

“Financial exploitation is a crime. It robs the victims of more than their assets. It takes away their sense of safety, peace of mind and dignity,” said Cindy Opheim, field representative for Adult Protective Services.

“Many victims are afraid to report exploitation because of retribution from the abuser, fear of being seen as out of touch, or they are ashamed or embarrassed they were victimized,” Opheim said.

“Victims who are cognitively impaired may not be able to report they were victimized.”

Often, “the elderly are depressed and lonely and when someone reaches out to them, they appreciate the conversation and company,” said Mary Brinkley, director of Leading Age Oklahoma, which represents not-for-profit aging services in the state.

“By befriending the elderly, scammers actually ask the person to send a check, pay a bill or buy merchandise from them. They go back and ask their 'friend' for continued help and they get the money. The elderly individual doesn't see it as a scam, since they are helping a friend,” Brinkley said.

"It is important that someone is providing oversight to the financial resources of seniors, because oftentimes when it is discovered, it's too late,” she added.

Common scams
The names of vulnerable adults are often as good as cash, elder care officials said. There are many scam scenarios, said Sheryl Presley, TRIAD coordinator for the Oklahoma City Police Department. 
TRIAD was formed more than a decade ago to curb crimes against seniors.

Presley has particular recommendations for seniors.

“TRIAD recommends that, when possible, seniors' homes should have caller ID, so they can see the name and number of the person calling. If they do not recognize the number, they shouldn't answer it,” she said.

Examples where seniors have been victims include the so-called IRS scam.

“A scammer calls and leaves a message saying it's the IRS, and they did an audit and you owe them money," Presley said. The caller threatens to sue or arrest the senior.

But the truth, Presley said, is: “The IRS never calls you; they only send out a letter if you owe money. IRS has no power to issue a warrant for your arrest, only a police department does. The call is very scary to our seniors and they are convinced that they really owe the IRS money.”

Then there's the “grandparent scam.”

“Scammers are from another country. They call the senior early in the morning or late at night, hoping they are asleep. They pretend to be a grandson or granddaughter. They then tell the grandparent they went to Mexico or Canada with some friends and rented a car. Police allegedly stopped them and asked if they could search the car; the suspect says they said yes, and drugs were found," Presley said.

"Then they say: 'Please don't tell Mom and Dad. My bail is $2,000. When I get back we can tell Mom and Dad together.'"

The senior will wire the money believing it was their grandchild, Presley said.

"Having a code word for family members is a good way to verify a family member's identity,” Presley said.

Elder care officials also have identified charity, sweepstakes and home-repair scams.

For help or information
For more information, Presley can be reached at 316-4336.
If you believe you have been targeted by scammers, contact the Oklahoma attorney general's office at 521-3921 or the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357.

Full Article & Source:
Oklahoma seniors are reminded to beware of scams during holiday season

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Steve Miller: Embattled Private Guardian April Parks Censured For Exploiting The Elderly, Mastermind Jared Shafer Stays Under The Radar - For Now

Where are the Feds when the fleecing of wealthy Southern Nevada retirees continues even while local and state law enforcement agencies claim to be conducting in depth investigations of at least two of our city's most prolific private guardians?

This week, April Parks, the jolly lady who is often appointed by the Clark County Family Court to look after vulnerable, and always wealthy, local seniors is still in business despite scathing censures by the national agency entrusted to certify persons who conduct business as private for-hire "guardians."

The Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC) on December 10, confirmed a complaint against Parks claiming she had looted the savings, and allowed the deeply discounted sale of a home owned by a "ward" she was appointed by Hearing Master Jon Norheim to care for. Even after this revelation, "Hearing Master" Norheim, an appointed court official serving under Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin, remains in high esteem in the Las Vegas judicial community and was just appointed by the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission to serve on a prestigious committee to hear complaints of elder exploitation.
Investigative reporter Darcy Spears of KTNV TV News reported on December 17, that Parks is still being allowed to stay in business despite an ongoing police investigation and CGC censure.

Thief Who Preyed on Elderly Lady Surrenders: Police

JOLIET, IL — A thief wanted for allegedly exploiting an elderly lady by writing checks in her name, stealing her cash, and using her identity to purchase electronics surrendered to the police Thursday evening.

Vivian Burgos, 29, faces charges of aggravated identity theft, financial exploitation of the elderly, and theft. Burgos was released on $5,000 bail.

Burgos lives in Aurora, according to police. The warrant for her arrest lists addresses for her in both Joliet and Marseilles.

Burgos used a 72-year-old woman’s identity to purchase more than $300 worth of electronics, according to a criminal complaint on file in Will County court. Burgos also allegedly wrote checks to herself from the same woman’s bank account for more than $300, and stole more than $500 cash.

In total, Burgos may have stolen as much as $17,000, according to the complaint.

Burgos did all of this in May, the complaint said.

Full Article & Source:
Thief Who Preyed on Elderly Lady Surrenders: Police

Is a Court-Appointed Guardianship, Using Paid, Private Guardian, "Worse Than Prison"? Latest from Nevada

As we've reported several times over the course of the last year, concerns about cost, misuse of authority, and lack of appropriate oversight of court-appointed guardians for adults in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada, have lead to a state-wide inquiry into how better to protect the civil rights of alleged incapacitated persons.  According to news reports recent proceedings before the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission, one judge described past neglect of the alleged incapacitated individual's rights as being "worse than being sent to prison."

A frequent concern raised by family members has been the cost of court-appointed guardians, particularly for individuals or family members who disagree with either the need for a guardianship or the scope of the guardian's powers over the individual or the individual's assets.  During the most recent proceedings addressing potential solutions, judges and others argued that a solution to some of the abuses was court-appointment of a lawyer at the outset of any guardianship proceeding to represent the interests of the individual.  Thus, there is some irony, that an additional layer of potential costs -- the cost of the appointed counsel -- would be argued as part of the solution.  On the other hand, limiting the amount of money such an attorney can charge (whether paid from the individual's estate or from public funds), can have the practical effect of what might be described as "de minimus" representation.

The Nevada proceedings have attracted considerable attention from media nationally -- and from family advocates challenging court-supervised guardianships in other states and who are sharing information about problems and potential solutions.   (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Is a Court-Appointed Guardianship, Using Paid, Private Guardian, "Worse Than Prison"? Latest from Nevada

Monday, December 21, 2015

Houston Methodist Hospital still seeking to pull plug on patient

HOUSTON,TX (FOX 26) - Houston's Methodist Hospital is still seeking to pull the plug on a man who is actively requesting that doctors try to save his life.

On December 2nd, Chris Dunn is seen in a video with his mother and attorneys, nodding yes and putting his hands together in prayer, that doctors will try to treat his condition. People who have been able to visit Chris say his health is no better now, but it's also not any worse.

"He's not unconscious. He's never been unsconcious." says Emily Horne with the organization Texas Right to Life. "He's very communicative whenever we're able to ask him questions and talk to him."

Dunn came into the hospital more than 2 months ago with a large growth on his pancreas that is impairing his digestive system.  According to Dunn's mother, Evelyn Kelly, Methodist hospital has not done a biopsy to see if it's a cancerous tumor, but it has communicated with Kelly and other family members that it would be futile to try and save his life.

If Dunn's mother hadn't taken the hospital to court, Methodist it would have discontinued and withheld all life sustaining treatment starting on November 24th. That is according to the letter shared with us by Kelly's attorney, and Texas Right to Life, which has taken up Dunn's cause.

"We are currently helping 4 families in this situation, and we've helped hundreds," Horne says. "This is not just an isolated incident. This happens all over Texas all of the time."

The attorney representing both Kelly and Dunn says the primary problem is a Texas Law.

"The statute allows the hospital to say 'We don't think the remainder of your life is worthwhile. We think we have the right to prematurely terminate your life against your mother's wishes against his own wishes,'" Joe Nixon says, describing the position taken by Methodist Hospital's Bioethics Committee.

The complicating factor now is a dispute over Dunn's guardianship. He lives with Kelly, and she has been his primary caretaker, but the hospital filed a court challenged to her guardianship. Kelly says the challenge now is being made by her ex-husband, Dunn's biological father. Methodist Hospital says it will not try to treat Dunn, or stop life sustaining treatment, until guardianship is determined in court.

Meanwhile Texas Right to Life started a website about Dunn, "," that is growing in followers.

"People are just appalled that this could happen," Horne says.  "There's been a lot of people coming to that page, looking at the updates and praying, and people even sending Christmas cards."

Methodist hospital says it's doctors have always made decisions based on the best interest of the patient, and say some of Dunn's family members agree with the position taken by the hospital.

Fox26 could not reach Dunn's father for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Houston Methodist Hospital still seeking to pull plug on patient

See Also:
Attorneys representing Chris Dunn contest Methodist Hospital’s attempt to seize guardianship

Hospital Trying to Seize Guardianship of Disabled Patient From His Family in Order to Kill Him