Saturday, June 4, 2016

Resident Waits Hours to be Sent to Emergency Room




Based on interview, record review, hospital emergency room record, and review of the facility’s falls policy it was determined the facility failed to ensure one (1) of six (6) sampled residents (Resident #6) received adequate supervision and assistance to prevent accidents. Resident #6 had an amputation of the right great toe on 12/04/15 and returned to the facility the same day. The facility failed to assess the resident’s need for assistance with ambulation and develop a care plan to address the risks related to the amputation of the toe. As a result, Resident #6 ambulated to the bathroom without assistance and sustained a fall with injury fracturing the right humerus and the right hip on 12/04/15.

Record review revealed Resident #6 was found on the floor of his/her bathroom at 11:20 PM on 12/04/15. The resident was assessed to have an abrasion to the right eyebrow and a raised area to the forehead and no other injuries. There was no documented evidence the physician was immediately notified of the fall. Further review revealed staff assisted the resident back to bed. The resident had complaints of right arm pain and was given Tylenol (pain medication) on 12/05/15 at 12:20 AM, and again at 4:45 AM.

Record review revealed the physician was not notified of the fall until 12/05/15 at 10:00 AM. According to the record, the resident continued to complain of pain and the physician was contacted again at 1:30 PM on 12/05/15 and ordered x-rays that revealed a fracture to the right humerus. Orders were received for the resident to have a sling/immobilizer and follow up with an orthopedic physician. According to nurse’s notes, pain flow sheets, dietary intake record, and the resident’s care flow record, Resident #6 continued to have pain and declined in eating and drinking and activities of daily living. On 12/09/15 at 5:30 PM, the resident’s family requested the resident be sent to the hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Interview with the Director of Nursing (DON) on 01/12/16 at 4:00 PM revealed if the resident had a fall, the resident should have been assessed at the time of the fall, the physician and family contacted, and if the resident had injuries requiring treatment the resident should have been transferred to the hospital. The DON further stated if the resident had no injuries at the time of the fall, the resident was to be monitored for 72 hours for any further complications, and the physician notified of any changes of condition. According to the DON, when a resident returned from the hospital after a procedure, the resident was to be assessed and the resident’s care plan updated with any interventions the resident would require related to the assessment.

Personal Note from NHA-Advocates: NHAA shares with all the families of loved ones who are confined to nursing homes the pain and anguish of putting them in the care of someone else. We expect our loved ones to be treated with dignity and honor in the homes we place them. We cannot emphasize enough to family members of nursing home residents; frequent visits are essential to our loved ones’ well-being and safety. This nursing home and many others across the country are cited for abuse and neglect.

You can make a difference. If you have a loved one living in this nursing home or any other nursing home where you suspect any form of abuse or neglect, contact us immediately.

We can help you and your loved one file a state complaint, hire a specialized nursing home attorney or help you find a more suitable location for your loved one.

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Generations who fought before us deserve justice, protection

Commentary  by Karen C. Buck
Imagine a world without the elders of our country — those who fought racism and discrimination in the civil rights, voting rights, and women's rights movements; those who fought bravely on foreign shores, in WWII against Nazi brutality and on other harrowing grounds; and those who blazed trails for all of us. Strong women and men who through the last half-century have helped raise their voices for justice, for equality, and for their communities, who helped enrich our city and our world at large.

In July 1965 in Washington, D.C., President Lyndon B. Johnson envisioned a nation that "no longer will ... refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country." As a result of his eloquence and advocacy, the federal Older Americans Act was passed, perhaps the most important piece of aging legislation in our lifetimes.

President Obama signed its reauthorization in April, after years of no reauthorization by Congress. Essential life-saving services for older Americans, our parents and grandparents, our senior veterans, those who have been instrumental in the defining events of modern American history and law, were seemingly not a priority.

Seeking justice for older Americans, as our country faces what has been deemed an "aging tsunami," is today a dynamic area of law, often called "elder justice." Congress passed the Elder Justice Act with broad bipartisan support to recognize that elder abuse is a national crisis. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has made access to justice for older Pennsylvanians a priority with the groundbreaking Office of Elder Justice in the Courts, and the Advisory Council on Elder Justice.

Judicial leaders in Philadelphia are strategizing on how to create an Elder Court and/or court-based Elder Justice Resource Center. Great progress and leadership. Yet the challenges continue for seniors in our country: poverty, homelessness, abuse, exploitation. And most seniors deal not with death and end of life, but with all of the complexities of modern life.

Currently, Pennsylvania is the fourth "oldest" state in the nation, with 2.8 million individuals aged 60 and older — 20 percent of the state population. By the year 2030, it is estimated that 3.6 million Pennsylvanians will be aged 60 and older. More than a quarter of grandparents over the age of 60 are primarily responsible for their grandchildren under the age of 18. Seniors serve and enrich their communities, families, and country at all ages and in all economic, racial, and linguistic sectors. They are cherished mentors, advocates, caregivers, volunteers, leaders.

We as public-interest attorneys and advocates provide free services to those in need in complex and daunting areas which affect real people's lives, their safety, security, and survival. SeniorLAW Center celebrates 38 years of pursuing elder justice, and proudly recognizes those who came before us.

At its annual gala earlier this month, SeniorLAW Center recognized remarkable older Americans and advocates for justice. We honored older women who broke glass ceilings in the law and the judiciary; who fought sexual harassment before it was recognized as an actionable and despicable act; who advocated for diversity in our profession and posthumously fought for admission of a grandfather into the Pennsylvania Bar decades after he was denied on grounds of being black; older artists who used their tools of film and photography to tell the stories of poverty and access to justice; those who created programs for the elderly and poor in our most struggling neighborhoods; and all who continue to fight for what is right and good and just.

Today, hundreds of thousands of seniors face their elder years in poverty or are targeted for exploitation, abuse, fraud, disenfranchisement and homelessness as they enter the "third age" and last chapters of their lives. At least 1 in 10 older Americans will be a victim of abuse over their lifetime.

According to research funded by the National Institute of Justice, almost 11 percent of people age 60 and older, or 5.7 million individuals, suffered from some form of abuse in 2009 alone. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, self-neglect, and shocking and sometimes highly sophisticated forms of financial exploitation.

Elder abuse is deadly: Victims of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation have three times the risk of dying prematurely. Elder abuse is devastating: Financial exploitation costs older Americans at least $3 billion nationally, as estimated by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Abuse of power of attorney or guardianship, fraudulent deed conveyances, home repair contractor fraud, credit card and bank account fraud, and unauthorized use, pressured sales of unsuitable products, lottery scams, and illegal and exploitative telemarketing and collection practices are just examples of the many forms of elder financial exploitation. And elder abuse is the only form of family violence for which the federal government has historically provided virtually no funding.

Philadelphia is home to one of the largest populations of senior citizens in the country — and one of the poorest. One in five of our seniors lives in poverty. Most are women. Last year, SeniorLAW Center assisted over 5,000 clients throughout Pennsylvania ranging in age from 60 to 101, and as diverse as our nation, of all colors, races, languages, and orientations. We are the only such organization in Pennsylvania and one of few in the nation focusing the power of the law to help elders live their best lives.

I recently returned from a two-month sabbatical in Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, meeting with leaders in government, the law, and aging to share and glean best practices in elder justice. There is much we can learn from the world, and they from us. Aging is a universal truth: If we live, we will age. Our elders represent where we've come from, our ancestors, and where we are going, our future. Join us as we strive to ensure that elder justice becomes not just a new term of art, but a reality, for the elders of today and for generations to come.

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Generations who fought before us deserve justice, protection

Miami Teens Give Whole New Meaning to Senior Prom

Though many people decry the behavior of teens these days, it is difficult to fault the efforts of a group of high school students from TERRA Environmental Research Institute in Miami to bring joy into the lives of senior citizens at the Palace Nursing and Rehab Center. These young people organized a prom for the residents of the center, who are between 80 and 101 years old. They arranged a gathering complete with decorations, food, music and dancing.

The principal of their school, Caridad Montano, told reporters that the teens thought of the idea as they were making plans for their own prom event. They prepared tiaras and corsages and took portraits. The school mascot, which was one of the teens in a wolf costume, encouraged the seniors to dance. During the event, the staff of the nursing home voted for a prom king and queen. Since there was a tie, two queens received crowns.

Eleanor Bessin, the oldest resident of the center at 101, showed a picture of the boy with whom she went to her high school prom. She explained that they had intended to get married, but he had left to fight in World War II. He was diagnosed with cancer and died soon after he got back. Another resident, 86-year-old Sadie Gilbert, said that this was her first prom, as she was not invited to her prom when she was a teen.

Principal Montano pointed out that the students were concerned that the elderly get the respect and love they deserve. Student government president Sabrina Rosell emphasized that since their families may not have the opportunity to visit as often as the seniors would like, the teens wanted to offer the seniors the reassurance that the community appreciates them as well. 

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Miami Teens Give Whole New Meaning to Senior Prom

Friday, June 3, 2016

Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless

LOS ANGELES — They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives.

“It’s hard when you get older,” said Ken Sylvas, 65, who has struggled with alcoholism and has not worked since he was fired in 2001 from a meatpacking job. “I’m in this wheelchair. I had a seizure and was in a convalescent home for two months. I just ride the bus back and forth all night.”
The homeless in America are getting old.

There were 306,000 people over 50 living on the streets in 2014, the most recent data available, a 20 percent jump since 2007, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They now make up 31 percent of the nation’s homeless population.

The demographic shift is mirrored by a noticeable but not as sharp increase among homeless people ages 18 to 30, many who entered the job market during the Great Recession. They make up 24 percent of the homeless population. Like the baby boomers, these young people came of age during an economic downturn, confronting a tight housing and job market. Many of them are former foster children or runaways, or were victims of abuse at home.

Nation’s Homeless Growing Older

The surge in older homeless people is driven largely by a single group — younger baby boomers born between 1955 and 1965, according to an analysis by Dennis P. Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies homelessness. This group has made up a third of the total homeless population for several decades.

But it is the emergence of an older homeless population that is creating daunting challenges for social service agencies and governments already struggling with this crisis of poverty. “Baby boomers have health and vulnerability issues that are hard to tend to while living in the streets,” said Alice Callaghan, an Episcopal priest who has spent 35 years working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

Many older homeless people have been on the streets for almost a generation, analysts say, a legacy of the recessions of the late 1970s and early 1980s, federal housing cutbacks and an epidemic of crack cocaine. They bring with them a complicated history that may include a journey from prison to mental health clinic to rehabilitation center and back to the sidewalks.

Some are more recent arrivals and have been forced — at a time of life when some people their age are debating whether to retire to Arizona or to Florida — to learn the ways of homelessness after losing jobs in the latest economic downturn. And there are some on a fixed income who cannot afford the rent in places like Los Angeles, which has a vacancy rate of less than 3 percent.
Homeless men lined up for food being given out this month in downtown Los Angeles. Many of the nation’s poor have long flocked to Skid Row, drawn by a year-round temperate climate and a cluster of missions and clinics. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Horace Allong, 60, said he could not afford a one-room apartment and lives in a tent on Crocker Street. Mr. Allong, who divorced his wife and left New Orleans for Los Angeles two years ago, said he lost his wallet and all of his identification two weeks after he arrived and has not been able to find a job.

“It’s the first time I’ve been on the streets, so I’m learning,” he said. “There’s nothing like Skid Row. Skid Row is another world.”

The problems with homelessness are hardly uniform across the country. The national homeless population declined by 2 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some communities — including Phoenix and Las Vegas — have declared outright victory in eliminating homelessness among veterans, a top goal of the White House.

But homelessness is rising in big cities where gentrification is on the march and housing costs are rising, like Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu and San Francisco. Los Angeles reported a 5.7 percent increase in its homeless population last year, the second year in a row it had recorded a jump. More than 20 percent of the nation’s homeless lived in California last year, according to the housing agency.

Across Southern California, the homeless live in tent encampments clustered on corners from Venice to the San Fernando Valley, and in communities sprouting under highway overpasses or in the dry bed of the Los Angeles River. Their sleeping bags and piles of belongings line sidewalks on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Along with these visible signs of homelessness come complaints about aggressive panhandling, public urination and disorderly conduct, as well as a rise in drug dealing and petty crimes.

“There is a sense out there that some communities are seeing a new visible homeless problem that they have not seen in many years,” said Dennis P. Culhane, a professor of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Beleaguered officials in Los Angeles, Seattle and Hawaii have declared states of emergency, rolling out measures to combat homelessness and pledging to increase spending on low-cost housing. Honolulu has imposed a prohibition on sitting or lying on sidewalks in the neighborhood of Waikiki. San Francisco has cleared out some encampments, only for them to sprout up in other parts of the city. Seattle has tried to create designated tent camps that are overseen by social service agencies. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless

Local banks are protecting seniors from financial scams

Bank of the West in Los Altos Staff
Some cases hit closer to home, with family members or caretakers conning seniors into a financial gift or salary advance.

Local banks fight fraud

Banks are often the first line of defense against such fraud.

Amal Allan, branch manager for Bank of the West in Los Altos, has dealt with three cases of elder financial abuse or fraud within the past month. According to Allan, such crimes are on the rise. In the past five years, she has seen an uptick in financial elderly abuse among her clients.

“It’s unfortunately one of the fastest-growing crimes,” she said. “When they get hit with elderly abuse and identity theft, they’re so vulnerable. You feel like you’ve been violated in some way.”

Elderly clients are especially susceptible to abuse from caretakers or family members – the most common suspects in a financial abuse case. Allan said her staff is trained to identify and respond to signs of financial abuse. Any transactions that seem uncharacteristic of the senior client prompt further investigation from bank staff to determine whether the transaction is legitimate.

“If the elderly abuse case involves a caretaker or a family member, we first and foremost separate the elderly from the caretaker or family member,” Allan said. “We then ask the elderly clients whether or not they are comfortable making this transaction.”

If the senior is not comfortable and the staff member deems it necessary, the bank initiates a thorough process to alert the authorities. Allan or her staff notifies a corporate investigator, the police and Santa Clara County Adult Protective Services (APS) of the abuse. Other banks follow similar procedures when they suspect financial abuse.

“We are required to notify APS when we suspect one of our clients is a victim of financial elder abuse,” said Diana Olveira, director of marketing at Heritage Bank of Commerce, which has a branch in Los Altos. “In fact, anyone can contact APS if they suspect financial exploitation of a friend or family member.”

Guarding against abuse

Reports of elder abuse commonly come from financial institutions and family members, according to Sgt. Mark Bautista of the Los Altos Police Department. Members of the department’s investigative unit will look into the case, and lost assets may be restored in part or fully in a restitution process via the courts or the district attorney.

“The elderly person should designate a trusted family member or friend with the power of attorney regarding their financial accounts before they are unable to make their own decisions,” Bautista said.
Bautista and Allan both advise people to keep a close watch on older family members’ accounts for suspicious transactions.

“Have a family member look at the elderly client’s statement and ask, ‘Are these things habitual?’” Allan said. “If the client usually writes checks and suddenly she’s doing debit card purchases from Taco Bell or Target, you need to take action.”

While dealing with financial abuse can be an exhaustive and often frightening experience for the victims and their families, Allan asserts that she and her team will do everything in their power to help their clients.

“The clients need to know that I’m going to walk them through this, step by step,” she said. “For me, it’s extra work, but I never turn it down.”

To report financial abuse, call Adult Protective Services at (408) 975-4900.

For more information on elder abuse, visit

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Local banks are protecting seniors from financial scams

Banks join fight to help financial exploitation of seniors

BUTLER COUNTY —With the population of Americans ages 60 and older growing faster than previously estimated, financial institutions are joining law enforcement in helping seniors being swindled of their life savings by scam artists.

“Elder financial exploitation has been called the crime of the 21st century, and fighting it has never been more urgent,” Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general who is now director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, recently told The Columbus Dispatch.

Though financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of elder abuse, it also is one of the least reported, he said.

Many victims are too embarrassed to pursue criminal action, Cordray said. Others are too emotionally or physically frail.

True Link Financial, a private financial-services company, estimates that elder exploitation costs victims about $36.5 billion a year — 12 times more than previously thought.

Older adults make attractive targets because they often have significant assets or equity in their homes and a steady source of income, such as Social Security or a pension, Cordray said.

Many also have cognitive decline or physical disabilities and are isolated from family and friends.

Many financial groups said protecting customers, especially the most vulnerable, is a top priority.

“Many banks already have procedures in place to detect fraudulent activity within older adults’ accounts,” said Christine Mulvin of HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, which serves 36 Ohio counties, including Butler County.

“Trained tellers look for signs of fraud, including large or frequent cash withdrawals, new account transfers or other unusual transactions. Another sign tellers look for is when another individual deposits checks for an older adult or checks begin being deposited through an ATM or mobile device,” she said.

Financial intuitions are using fraud detection software that looks for suspicious activity in an older adults’ account and special limits on older adults’ accounts can also be put in place, such as cash withdrawal limits or geographic limits that only allow for withdrawals within a certain region, according to Mulvin.

Still, financial institutions also have to be careful about what personal information they share if they detect fraud.

Banking institutions are generally able to report suspected financial fraud to authorities without violating privacy provisions in federal banking laws. Last year, the Ohio House also passed a bill that would add financial institutions to the list of mandatory reporters.

Technology has created new types of fraud and scams to swindle seniors out of their life savings, according to Laurie Petrie, vice president of communications for the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, an agency that advocates on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities in Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties.

“A lot of elderly people trust caller ID and think that it will keep them safe,” Petrie said. “Now scammers have software to use a number that someone will recognize.”

“New and more sophisticated methods that are happening every day are being developed to rip off our seniors,” she said. “And as soon as you figure out a way to stop something like this from happening, the scammers find a way around it.”

In 2011, the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office started the Butler County Crimes Against the Elderly Task Force.

Susan Monnin, community outreach director for the prosecutor’s office, said the task force is working, but the scams are unfortunately finding success too.

“These scammers prey on the most vulnerable and have no conscience whatsoever,” she said, adding that they appeal to a senior’s emotions.

“These scammers call the elderly and appeal to their emotional side of the brain because they are lonely,” Monnin said. “The offer of a trip or lottery win appeals to that side of the brain rather than the rational side. You get a call saying a loved one needs money or they are going to jail and often times that scam can work.”

The Ohio attorney general’s office also has increased the investigation and prosecution of elder-abuse cases and improved victims’ access to services. It is working to develop a new advanced training course for law enforcement on the topic and will hold a financial-exploitation symposium in northeastern Ohio in August.

“The victim is who we need to worry about,” Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Dispatch. “The real tragedy of these things is you end up with a person who doesn’t feel safe or secure any longer. It’s not just about losing money.”

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Banks join fight to help financial exploitation of seniors

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Despite law, still stuck in nursing homes

Marvin Dawkins was a 53-year-old AT&T manager when a blocked blood vessel left him paralyzed. It took 11 years, one lawsuit, repeated tangles over Medicaid rules — and a chance meeting on a church van — before he could extract himself from a nursing home outside Baltimore.

Now he lives in an apartment with the assistance of an aide, gets out for a job that he says gives him purpose, socializes with new friends and old ones, and revels in his freedom. “I determine what happens to me,” he said. “I was there at the nursing home basically just laying in bed and watching TV. I didn’t think it was much of an existence.”

Across the nation, many other Americans who could live elsewhere with help are unwillingly confined to nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Nearly 20 years after the Supreme Court ruled that people with disabilities who require public support were entitled to live in their community, rather than in institutions unless medically necessary, the federal government and states are still far from achieving that goal. Because of budget cuts, inflexible rules, a patchwork of programs and a widespread failure to bolster alternative care, others like Dawkins describe feeling stuck in deeply unsatisfying, sometimes miserable, settings.

“Those people are not in view,” said Eve Hill, the deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division at the Justice Department. “We forget about them because they are not in our everyday lives. And that just can’t be the answer. We can’t ignore this.”

Since 2009, the department has conducted investigations, brought lawsuits and settled with eight states over compliance with the court decision, which Hill said changed the assumptions of what people can do. “That requires us to unbuild something,” she added, “and to build it differently.”

Some states, including Minnesota, Oregon and Washington, have made real progress, taking steps like shifting more Medicaid dollars to home support, training caregivers to administer medications and paying family members who provide assistance. But in many others, government inaction and structural obstacles like a shortage of home health care aides has often made nursing homes the only option. South Dakota was singled out last week by federal officials who threatened to sue if the state did not fix its problems.

More than 1.4 million Americans live in nursing homes, but it is hard to know how many of them could move back home. Federal data suggest that about 155,000 nursing home residents have a low need for round-the-clock assistance. And about 217,000 people are of working age, another group that experts say could function well at home. But long-term care experts said that some who are sicker might also be good candidates to leave.

A range of factors conspires to prevent residents from leaving. In many states, Medicaid programs restrict home health services, limiting the hours of care, for example. Waiting lists are common. Mentally ill people, for whom nursing homes are shelters of last resort, are particularly difficult to place. And everywhere, it seems, affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities is in short supply.

Living at home is not the right choice for everyone, of course, even with assistance. Some people are too ill. Managing aides can be daunting, and family members might not be able — or willing — to care for relatives or share their homes, particularly when cognitive skills are impaired. For those without family, living alone can be isolating.

Still, about half of Medicaid spending on long-term care now goes toward services in the home or community, compared with less than 20 percent two decades ago, though that varies widely by state. Health care officials predict demand for in-home services will only grow as the population ages. Emily Johnson Piper, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, said, “The baby boomers in Minnesota and across the country have the expectation that they will be offered and afforded availability of services for them to live out their retirement years in their communities.”

Many states have concluded that caring for people at home is more cost-effective. Washington state, for example, has found that its costs for one nursing home resident would pay for home care for seven people. Alabama calculated that it cost the state about $25,000 a year less, per person, to offer care at home.

The few studies that have compared the outcomes of people in nursing homes with those cared for at home have reached mixed conclusions. In one recent study, researchers surveyed thousands of former nursing home residents. They reported significant improvements in satisfaction and fewer unmet needs for help with personal care. However, more than three-quarters of them said they had visited an emergency room or been admitted to a hospital or nursing home during the first year of living in the community. Some advocates have also raised concerns about abuse in unregulated home care.

Representatives of the nursing home industry acknowledged that many residents do not need to remain in their facilities. But they said better alternatives were required. “If there is no one with the state to help coordinate that transition process, then there is nowhere for that person to go,” said Mike Cheek, a senior vice president at the American Health Care Association, which represents for-profit nursing homes. 

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Despite law, still stuck in nursing homes

2 Upstate NY women get jail for bilking elderly with false claims for bail money

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Two women from Northern New York have been sentenced to jail for defrauding elderly people by telling the victims that their grandchildren or other relatives needed money for bail.

Naromie Joseph, 29, and Christie Joseph, 25, both of Plattsburgh, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, federal authorities said.

Naromie Joseph was sentenced to time served after spending 13 months in jail awaiting the disposition of her case, followed by three years of supervised release.

Christie Joseph was sentenced to four months of weekends in jail and three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy ordered the women to pay $27,200.00 in restitution to victims who sent money to Plattsburgh addresses that the women set up for the scam before placing phone calls in December 2013.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Kopita prosecuted the case, which began with an investigation by Plattsburgh City Police, which later partnered with Homeland Security Investigations.

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2 Upstate NY women get jail for bilking elderly with false claims for bail money

Local, state leaders ignite call-to-action for Elder Abuse Awareness Month

Only one in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported in New York State, according to the Council on Elder Abuse. June is World Elder Abuse Awareness month and, in New York, local and state officials are working to create a safer community for senior citizens by working to bring those who take advantage of the elderly to justice.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is calling on the entire community to unify and stop elder abuse.

“Most of these allegations and what we know of elder abuse generally does not get reported,” Poloncarz said. “Why? Because the individual who was taken advantage of doesn’t want to admit that the individual who hurt them was a family member or a caretaker. That’s why we all have to come together to address this.”

Elder abuse can take many forms – psychological, sexual, physical and financial. Nationally, $36 billion is lost to financial exploitation of the elderly each year. The New York State Senate passed legislation in April that will help prevent the financial exploitation of mentally impaired elderly individuals.

State Senator Patrick Gallivan is working with community leaders to bring awareness to the critically underreported issue of elder abuse.

“It’s really hard to know the extent of the problem that we face, but we know that we have a problem,” Gallivan said. “And we know that to try to tackle it, and to try to do something about it comes in the form of education, and awareness, and people standing together and working together to try to do something about it.”

Karen Nicolson, CEO of Legal Services for the Elderly
Credit Dan Almasi / WBFO News
Karen Nicolson, CEO of Legal Services for the Elderly, is leading a call-to-action, urging the community to take a stand against elder abuse. Nicolson reminded the public that while Elder Abuse Awareness Month is a great platform to bring light to the issue, there is a need for proactive efforts to stop elder abuse year-round.

According to Legal Services for the Elderly, the victim knows his or her abuser in 90 percent of all elder abuse cases.

“It makes it a really difficult issue to get people to come forward and to discuss, and it makes it a really difficult issue for law enforcement to even hear about it,” Nicolson said. “So, we really are excited today that we can shine a spotlight on elder abuse prevention.”

Both Buffalo City Hall and the Peace Bridge will be illuminated purple – the official color of World Elder Abuse Awareness – on June 15th.

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Local, state leaders ignite call-to-action for Elder Abuse Awareness Month

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Steve Miller: Rambo in a Wheelchair

Source: The Vegas Voice

Largest Calif. nursing home chain accused of wrongful death

Czersale Hilton, right, with her mother Geneva
CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES-- The owner of California's largest chain of nursing homes has come under fire, accused of abuse and wrongful deaths.

CBS Los Angeles reports the daughter of a resident of one of their nursing homes has filed a lawsuit, claiming her mother died prematurely as a result of the care she received.

Czersale Hilton's mother, Geneva, 68, was admitted into Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre West in Inglewood in 2014. Five weeks later, she was dead.

"I was shocked. Of course, I was shocked, because the last time I spoke to my mom, she was herself," Hilton recalled. "I loved my mother with all my heart, and I miss her every day."

Los Angeles millionaire Schlomo Rechnitz owns Centinela West. His charitable efforts have been chronicled on television. He's the same man who reportedly gave thousands of lottery tickets to some of his employees earlier this year.

During a layover in Ireland, he gave 400 American soldiers $50 each so they could purchase a meal.

Rechnitz's companies own 81 nursing homes in California, the most in the state.

In 2014, CBS Los Angeles' investigative reporter David Goldstein tallied $500 million in taxpayer Medicare and Medi-Cal money. But they have come under fire for allegations of neglect, abuse and wrongful deaths, something that is well known to elder-care experts like Molly Davies.

"We see the same persistent problems. So that speaks to me of an unwillingness to make the necessary changes," Davies said.

Hilton has sued Centinela West, claiming elder abuse and negligence. According to the lawsuit, her mother "was admitted for rehabilitative care following a hospitalization for chest pains. Her lungs were clear and she was in good condition."

But five weeks later, she was rushed to a hospital in critical condition, suffering from pneumonia, dehydration and a body temperature of lower than 80 degrees.

According to the lawsuit, doctors suspected elder neglect. "So, something went on there. I am still not clear on what happened over there," Hilton said.

Goldstein visited Centinela West with a hidden camera. He witnessed a patient moaning, and his producer smelled human waste.

According to the most current 2015 Medicare nursing home profile, Centinela West has an overall rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

But the nursing staffing and health inspection categories both got only 2 stars, something Medicare considers below average.

Centinela West is not the only nursing home with multiple complaints connected to Rechnitz.

"It was like zombies walking around here," said South Pasadena police chief Art Miller, who described patients at South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital when it used to be owned by Rechnitz.

The federal government decertified it last year, denying its eligibility to get Medicare money. It happened after Courtney Cargill, 57, set herself on fire.

The FBI has also raided two of Rechnitz's facilities, including the Alta Vista Healthcare & Wellness Center in Riverside. No charges have been filed.

The California attorney general filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing facility in Montrose and two staff supervisors after a 58-year-old male patient died.

The attorney general tried unsuccessfully to block Rechnitz from owning more nursing homes saying his "continued and repeated refusals to comply with industry laws and regulations was harming the skilled nursing industry."

Patricia McGinnis with the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform asked: "If that's the case, why are you giving out more licenses to this company?"

"Under his particular company, we've had more closures and more decertifications in such a short period of time than any time that I can think of in the last 30 years," McGinnis added.

The California Department of Health, which licenses nursing homes, refused a request for an on-camera interview about Rechnitz's facilities.

After several requests for an on camera interview, a spokesperson for Rechnitz issued a statement: "Mr. Rechnitz has for years been an integral part of providing quality nursing home services to Californians, rescued 59 institutions from insolvency, preserved 6,000 jobs, provides life-aiding services to thousands of Californians."

The spokesperson said Rechnitz has gone above and beyond what is necessary to deal with the challenges of the industry.

As for Hilton, she is still searching for answers and hopes telling her story will help others. "I didn't want my mom's death to be in vain."

In response to the accusations, the company provided the following statement to CBS Los Angeles:

"No matter how much one sensationalizes a story with foreboding music, hidden cameras and scurrilous charges, the fact remains that Mr. Rechnitz has for years been an integral part of providing quality nursing home services to Californians throughout the state.

Regardless of the accusations of the rapacious plaintiffs bar, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform and other special interests, the facts are clear:
  • Mr. Rechnitz has rescued 59 institutions from insolvency, resulting in the continuation of care for more than 6,000 patients and the maintenance of 6,000 jobs.
  • He currently provides life-aiding services to thousands of Californians; and
  •  He has dealt with any challenges that these homes have faced by going above and beyond what is necessary to meet those challenges.
Any claims to the contrary ignore the facts in favor of the kind of salacious, cheap headlines that do little more than damage someone who is working tirelessly to help a population that is far too often underrepresented."

Full Article & Source:
Largest Calif. nursing home chain accused of wrongful death

Elder Abuse & Exploitation expo & symposium

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the State Attorney's Office and IHeart Radio will join together to present "Seniors Fighting Back" Expo and Symposium. The event, which is open to the public, will be held at IHeart Radio studios at 13320 Metro Parkway from 10 a.m. to 1 pm, with limited seating available.

"Seniors Fighting Back" is geared specifically to older adults, caregivers, and community members concerned about elder exploitation and abuse that have the desire to better understand this complex issue. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and State Attorney Steve Russell will be guest speakers, along with members of their respective Economic Crimes and Elderly Fraud Units.

Local organizations involved in the prevention of and response to elder abuse will also be on-hand to answer questions and provide information to help navigate through what is now being called the crime of the 21st century, according to a recent study by MetLife's Mature Market Institute.

Among the government, social service agencies and community organizations participating in "Seniors Fighting Back" will be Adult Protective Services, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Seniors vs. Crime, Florida State Guardianship Association, The Alvin Dubin Alzheimer's Resource Center, the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys, Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership, Victim Advocates from the State Attorney's Office, Senior Service Representatives from the Sheriff's Office, Southwest Florida Security Association, Area Agency on Aging Southwest Florida, and the State of Florida Ombudsman Program.

This is a free event with wheelchair accessibility and plenty of parking. Light refreshments provided by Mission BBQ will be served. Seating is very limited so reserve early by calling the Lee County Sheriff's Office at 258-3287.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse & Exploitation expo & symposium

Most abusers of elderly know their victims

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The vast majority of people who abuse older New Yorkers know their victim. And many of them are caretakers.

Those were among the staggering statistics released Tuesday by advocates for the elderly, as they kicked off a campaign aimed at highlighting and bringing to an end such abuse.

June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

Across the state, more than 260,000 older adults are victims of at least one form of abuse. For every one case of elder abuse that’s reported in New York state, 24 cases go unreported — so that number should be considered a lot higher, according to Karen Nicolson, CEO of Legal Services for the Elderly.

Nicolson said an estimated $36 billion is lost to financial exploitation of older adults every year across the country.

In Erie County, there were more than 1,600 cases of elderly abuse were investigated in 2015; More than 1,200 of those were assigned to be assessed. Of those, 320 were for financial exploitation, 82 were instances of physical abuse, 163 were abuses by caregivers.

Most of the time, the abuse is not random.

“Ninety percent of the perpetrators of this terrible crime know the victim,” Nicolson said. “So, imagine that. Somebody’s stolen your money, somebody’s beaten you up, you’re elderly, you’re frail. You want to get help, but the person who is doing this to you is a caretaker of yours.”

There are plenty of resources available to help raise awareness, prevent and combat elder abuse.

Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York (LSED), is a nonprofit agency that provides free legal services to seniors and low-income adults. LSED can be contacted by calling (716)-853-3087.

Erie County Department of Social Services specializes in protective services to vulnerable adults, ages 18 and older whose conditions or circumstancess make them vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. Adult services can be reached at (716) 858-6877.

More information on elder abuse and events being held in Erie County this month can be found by clicking here. 

Full Article & Source:
Most abusers of elderly know their victims

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Judge’s wife facing more complaints about guardianship fees

Dan Schmidt and Carla Simmonds
Carla Simmonds, a Delray Beach nursing administrator and mother of two, decided two years ago to get in shape by attending a “boot camp workout.”

But after a vigorous session in February 2014, Simmonds suffered a life-shattering stroke caused by a leak in her carotid artery that triggered a massive blood clot in her frontal lobe. Doctors were forced to temporarily remove half of the 47-year-old’s skull to contain swelling so her brain did not dislodge from her spinal cord.

Simmonds was left unable to speak and with the mental capacity of a 4-year-old. All she could do was cry. Years of recovery awaited.

Daniel Schmidt, a former boyfriend and retired Merrill Lynch financial planner, stepped up, taking her into his home and guiding her on a remarkable recovery.

But the court system also ended up putting the stroke victim in the hands of professional guardian Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt, the wife of embattled Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin.

The judicial power couple were the subject of a series of reforms handed down this year by the chief judge after The Palm Beach Post’s series, Guardianships: A Broken Trust. The newspaper’s investigation showed how Savitt took tens ofthousands of dollars in fees without prior court permission from seniors in her guardianships and compiled a litany of complaints from families of her wards.

All of Savitt’s guardianship cases were moved to the north county courthouse to avoid any appearance of favoritism toward the judge’s wife.

Savitt, though, is still drawing complaints about her fees in the handful of guardianship cases she has left. When families ask her to resign, she has demanded fees upfront for her and her attorney Ellen Morris. The judge’s wife insists they also agree not to sue or pursue litigation against her.
‘All about the money’

In the Simmonds case, Savitt, a former tennis pro, attempted to draw fees from the stroke victim’s $640,000 trust, which wasn’t part of the guardianship money, and then wanted to drain her $46,000 IRA to pay fees for about one-quarter of its worth.

But Schmidt stood in Savitt’s way. Simmonds before her stroke had given him her power of attorney.

“From the outset, whether it be her family, the lawyers or the guardian, nobody has acted in Carla’s best interest but me. It’s been all about the money,” Schmidt told The Post.

In order to get Savitt to resign, Schmidt opened up his own wallet and wrote a $9,000 check to Morris. He wrote another check from Simmonds’ trust account for $4,300 for Savitt’s fees. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Judge’s wife facing more complaints about guardianship fees

New bill would change laws for reporting caregiver abuse

You need help from police, but you can't call 911 for help -- that's the plight of some victims of abuse in nursing or full-time care homes. And with growing numbers of illnesses like Alzheimer's disease in baby boomers, many more of us depend on this care.

Instead of calling 911 to report abuse, people are directed to a state hotline. A proposed law would make it easier for police to know about abuse but some who depend on care don't support the bill.

Calling 911 might get an immediate response, but it may also be intimidating for some people. And if a caretaker is arrested, it could leave his or her client alone with no care, so some do not see these changes as good news.

"It's about freedom and independence," says Rochester resident Jensen Caraballo. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
New bill would change laws for reporting caregiver abuse

Houston woman sent to prison for bilking elderly of $3 million

A Houston woman has been sentenced to 2o years in prison after she pleaded guilty to bilking a dozen elderly clients for a total of more than $3 million dollars.

Celia Castillo, 59, was convicted after the Texas Department of Insurance discovered she operated an annuity scam, according to department officials.

Officials said they opened an investigation into Castillo after receiving complaints about the legitimacy of the investment products she was selling. Case records show people believed they were purchasing annuities from Castillo, but she was diverting their investments into a bank account she had created for herself and no annuities were purchased.

Castillo's clients were all older than 70 and two were older than 90. None one of them had family members living near them.

"She would really become part of their lives, carefully building relationships with each of these folks," said Geneva Titus, a department investigator. "She would visit with them, give them rides, have dinner with them, all with the goal of gaining their trust and eventually stealing their life savings."

Full Article & Source:
Houston woman sent to prison for bilking elderly of $3 million

Monday, May 30, 2016

"My Yoni": I Am Not Old

I am not old…she said
I am rare.
I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.
I am the retrospective
Of my life as art
I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense
I am the fullness
Of existing.
You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found
I am a treasure.
I am a map.
And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey
Ask me anything.
~Samantha Reynolds
Photo: Riitta Ikonen and Norwegian photographer Karoline Hjorth

2 Campbell County lawyers accused of stealing from clients’ accounts

Wesley Hatmaker (L) and Conrad Troutman (R)
JACKSBORO (WATE) – Two Campbell County attorneys are charged with stealing money from his clients’ accounts in two separate cases.

Wesley Lynn Hatmaker, 50, is charged with one count of theft over $250,000; four counts of theft over $60,000; and two counts of theft over $10,000. Conrad Mark Troutman, 57, is charged with one count of theft over $250,000; two counts of theft over $60,000; and one count of theft over $10,000.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began looking into complaints of theft against Hatmaker in December and developed information that from April 2009 to November 2015, Hatmaker stole more than $250,000 from the trust account for his clients. TBI says he never returned the money to the estates or victims and instead used it for his own personal use.

Hatmaker was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Campbell County Jail. He was released after posting $150,000 bond.

Meanwhile, TBI began investigating Troutman in January and learned that on several occasions between 2014 and 2016, he allegedly unlawfully spent money in a trust account for his clients without their knowledge. He says he then concealed the funds use by using additional client funds to replace previously used funds.

Troutman turned himself into the Campbell County Jail after being indicted by a grand jury. he was released after posting $50,000 bond.

Both attorneys’ law licenses have been suspended.

Full Article & Source:
2 Campbell County lawyers accused of stealing from clients’ accounts

Carl Junction man receives shock prison time for exploitation of elderly woman

A Jasper County judge sentenced a Carl Junction man this week to 120 days of shock time in prison on convictions for financial exploitation of an elderly woman and tampering with a victim and a witness in another case.

Marco K. Jeffries, 28, pleaded guilty to the two counts March 28 in Jasper County Circuit Court in a plea deal with the prosecutor's office that capped the prison time he might receive at five years and dismissed burglary and stealing charges that he was facing.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane accepted the deal at a hearing Monday and assessed Jeffries five years on each count with the terms to run concurrently and be served in the state's shock-incarceration program, which calls for court review after 120 days for possible placement on probation.

The judge also ordered Jeffries to have no contact with the victims in any of his cases and no business contacts with anyone older than 60. He also must begin paying $47,725 in restitution to the victims in the exploitation case involving a 77-year-old Joplin woman with senile dementia and in the Carl Junction burglary and stealing case that was dismissed.

Jeffries deceived the Joplin woman by offering to remove scrap metal and trash from her property while actually making off with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle worth $7,000, a pop-up camper worth $2,000 and tools worth $5,000, according to police and court reports.

The defendant picked up the tampering charge in November 2014 when he approached both the victim and a witness in a Carl Junction burglary case, trying to convince the victim that someone else committed the crime and to get the witness to change his testimony in his favor.

Full Article & Source:
Carl Junction man receives shock prison time for exploitation of elderly woman

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Florida Judge's Wife, A Professional Guardian, Facing More Complaints About Guardianship Fees

Carla Simmonds, a Delray Beach nursing administrator and mother of two, decided two years ago to get in shape by attending a “boot camp workout.”

But after a vigorous session in February 2014, Simmonds suffered a life-shattering stroke caused by a leak in her carotid artery that triggered a massive blood clot in her frontal lobe. Doctors were forced to temporarily remove half of the 47-year-old’s skull to contain swelling so her brain did not dislodge from her spinal cord.

Simmonds was left unable to speak and with the mental capacity of a 4-year-old. All she could do was cry. Years of recovery awaited.

Daniel Schmidt, a former boyfriend and retired Merrill Lynch financial planner, stepped up, taking her into his home and guiding her on a remarkable recovery.

But the court system also ended up putting the stroke victim in the hands of professional guardian Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt, the wife of embattled Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin.

The judicial power couple were the subject of a series of reforms handed down this year by the chief judge after The Palm Beach Post’s series, Guardianships: A Broken Trust. The newspaper’s investigation showed how Savitt took tens of thousands of dollars in fees without prior court permission from seniors in her guardianships and compiled a litany of complaints from families of her wards.

All of Savitt’s guardianship cases were moved to the north county courthouse to avoid any appearance of favoritism toward the judge’s wife.

Savitt, though, is still drawing complaints about her fees in the handful of guardianship cases she has left. When families ask her to resign, she has demanded fees upfront for her and her attorney Ellen Morris. The judge’s wife insists they also agree not to sue or pursue litigation against her.

Full Article and Source:
Judge's Wife Facing More Complaints About Guardianship Fees

Book: "Momma, Help Me Please"

Momma Help Me Please is one woman’s story of how love and perseverance kept her daughter with C.H.A.R.G.E. Syndrome alive for 22 years and the tragedy that stole her away one unfortunate Valentine’s Day.

This incredible book is full of miraculous miracles embedded in a dream that one day Deirdre D. Gilbert’s daughter would live a “whole” life.

Her courage and incredible faith in God, kept her fighting for her daughter’s right to breathe. As Jocelyn neared the fulfillment of her mother’s wish, an unimaginable twist in her story brings a mysterious end to her battle for life.

This “Momma’s baby” left an undeniable impression on everyone she met and reading their love story will literally leave you … breathless.

Available on Amazon

Code Blue Conference - Breaking the Code of Silence

Code Blue Conference-Breaking the Code of Silence

October 17, 2016 - October 19, 2016


Event Description:
Educational conference that will equip, and inform patient safety advocates across the country with new ideas on strategic and effective ways to combat medical errors. Bringing bright minds together who have a passion for change, passion for justice, and a passion for patient safety.

Hotel Galvez Resort & Spa 2024 Seawall Boulevard Galveston, TX 77550

Date/Time Information:
October 17-19, 2016 4:00PM- 12 noon on the 10/19/16

Contact Information:
Deirdre D. Gilbert (832) 488-5765

$125 registration fee $129 Hotel fee