Saturday, June 11, 2016

Judge dismisses $30mil Medical Malpractice Suit for Mother and Child to $275,000.

DETROIT – A $30 million settlement between Henry Ford Hospital and Lennette Williams, negotiated in 1984 to compensate her and her daughter Mailauni for gross negligence in the child’s 1981 birth, was slashed to $275,000 during a court hearing May 25 in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Muriel Hughes.

Judge Muriel Hughes
Attorneys for Henry Ford Health Systems and Walter Sakowski, Trustee for the questionably legal “Mailauni R. Williams Irrevocable Trust,” agreed to the judgment.  Attorney Lee Stevens of the Bier Howlett law firm sent a notice of the “settlement” to Williams to have her sign, then called her and retracted his request, saying her signature was not needed. (See

Judge Terrance Keith
Mailauni suffers from severe cerebral palsy and brain damage. Her mother is unable to work a steady job due to permanent damage to her back and stomach. In 1981, HFH doctors refused at first to admit Williams, then refused to perform a Caeserean section, instead filling her full of drugs for 36 hours before Mailauni’s birth.

“I have more respect for a common thief who holds you up in the alley with a gun or a knife than I have for these racist maggots that target you in Probate Court,” said Williams, who is Black.

She has battled judges, lawyers, trustees, guardians, and police for decades, often acting pro se in court, fighting for the right to live peacefully with her daughter in their Grosse Pointe Farms home on the settlement proceeds, without having to beg for every penny of their money from various trustees.

Throughout their battles, Williams has received support from the Rosa and Raymond Parks estate, because Rosa Parks considered Mailauni her godchild, and from activists like Arnetta Grable of the Original Coalition Against Police Brutality and Cornell Squires of We the People for the People.

Former Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack decided early on That a Black woman could not handle her own money, contradicting an opinion in 1986 from Mailauni's guardian ad litem (GAL) that Williams was perfectly capable of doign so.

The GAL recommended that the matter be left out of probate. Instead, probate judges, trustees, guardians and other court-appointed officials have raped the Williams estate for decades.

(To see the many dozens of times Williams has been subjected to demeaning hearings in on just one of three tracks in Probate Court, click on

Williams compared her situation with that of the Grosse Pointe South High School students who published a racist video calling for the re-enslavement of Black people, but were punished with a simple suspension from school instead of arrest for a hate crime. (See part of video below.)   (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:

Stories from the Field - Robin

What is your story? 

My name is Robin and I have had Cerebral Palsy my whole life. My mother and sister acted as my caregivers until they both passed away several years ago. For the last few years, I have been a resident in a nursing home facility in Baltimore City, Maryland. I volunteer with the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care where I serve as an advocate to improve the lives of people in similar situations to mine.

Why do you choose to advocate for older adults? 

I chose to become an advocate for others after serving as an advocate for myself for the last five years. I have seen things in my nursing home facility that I wanted changed or thought could be improved and have chosen to speak up. This made me interested in being a voice for others and I appreciate working with Consumer Voice to improve the lives of others who need long-term care.

What are your experiences with the eldercare workforce? 

The biggest concern I have about the workforce is the quantity and quality of staff.  Staffing is so important. At my facility, there are so many people to care for and it’s important that there are enough staff members to provide quality care. It can be hard to be attentive to individual needs when staff members are caring for too many people. Having more staff available to care for residents is critical to ensure that everyone receives high-quality care to meet individual needs and goals.

What is the most important thing you want members of your care team to understand about providing high-quality care? 

I wish all members of my care team would treat me as an individual. I wish that they understood that my needs change day-to-day and not everything is a set routine. I don’t need the same care or attention every day and my interactions with my care team should change based on my needs. I also don’t have the same goals or priorities as my neighbors so it is important for health care providers to understand the unique perspectives of those they treat.

Why is the training of the health care workforce to care for older adults so important? 

It is so important to have a well-trained health care workforce because many people in residential facilities don’t have anybody else to care for them. Some of my fellow residents have friends and family who come visit, but many others only have the people they see every day in their care facility. Therefore, the health care workers are critical in ensuring consumers have a high quality of life.

Whether it be providing social interaction, ensuring residents make their favorite art class, or helping individuals get out and interact with the world, the health care workforce plays an important role in bringing joy to residents in long-term care facilities.  

Full Article & Source:
Stories from the Field - Robin

Walk in the Shoes of an Alzheimer’s Patient with this Simulation!

Understanding what a person with Alzheimer’s is going through is an impossible task unless you have been in the same shoes. Attempting to connect and understand the effects of the disease, and how it changes the person’s daily life is important in order to continue to build that caregiver and patient relationship. In this video, one man goes through an Alzheimer’s disease simulation and find out that living with this disease is much more difficult than he thought.

See the experience in the video.

Full Article & Source:
Walk in the Shoes of an Alzheimer’s Patient with this Simulation!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Campbell Falk Bill Tested

Glen Campbell and daughter Debby
Campbell Falk Bill Tested and the Bill WON big time as Debby Campbell-Cloyd was ultimately allowed access for a visit with her father after being denied at the door. The Daily Banner spoke to Trudy Andes Campbell who is the wife of Travis Campbell and she recounted the scenario as it unfolded yesterday.

Debby Campbell-Cloyd made her way to the Memory Care Facility where her father, the iconic Glen Campbell is housed.  Debby is currently a flight attendant and always wants to visit with her Dad when she is on a layover in Nashville.  For two years, Campbell’s oldest children had to fight for visitation via a court order and then after mediation, a settlement was reached granting only limited and restricted access to their father.  The Campbell Falk Bill was supposed to change all that and change all that it did. The Campbell Falk bill tested yesterday and passed the test with flying colors.

When Debby was denied access to her father yesterday, she sent a text message to Senator Rusty Crowe and she called her brother Travis.  His wife Trudy Andes Campbell jumped into action.  She called the police in Nashville.  In the interim Senator Rusty Crowe who helped with the situation yesterday and was also quite instrumental is pushing the bill through to law went to work lending his assistance.  The Bill we are speaking about is the Tennessee Campbell Falk Bill which was signed into law on May 16, 2016 by Governor Bill Haslam. The Campbell Falk Bill tested in a big way and the bill did its job.

The Memory Care Facility was faxed or emailed a copy of the Bill and even though Glen Campbell’s wife Kim told them that,
“She could not see her Dad cause she didn’t schedule a visit with her.”
Ultimately, Debby was granted access to her father and they had a wonderful tear-filled cheerful visit.    The Campbell Falk Bill was tested and the Bill WON.

To read the Campbell Falk Bill, visit the website of Catherine Falk, one of the great crusaders of this cause to get BILLS of this kind passed in every state in America which will protect our elderly against elder abuse and abuse of power by conservators.

Full Article & Source:
Campbell Falk Bill Tested

Probation for man involved in elderly exploitation case

PRINCETON — A co-defendant in the case of an elderly Princeton man who lost thousands of dollars while being financially exploited was sentenced Tuesday in Mercer County Circuit Court to five years probation.

Manuel Dominques, 70, of Newport News,Va. appeared before Circuit Court Judge William Sadler. Dominques had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, according to Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger.

Dominuques is a co-defendant in a case involving Mary H. Williams, 74, of Lerona. In April, Williams entered a best interest plea before Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope on a charge of financial exploitation of an elderly person. The case involved the late Harold DeWeese of Princeton.

DeWeese died in 2013. Harshbarger said during Williams’ plea hearing that the state’s evidence would show that he died and was buried on Williams’ property without his family’s knowledge, and that he was listed as having no assets. Sgt. Mark Haynes of the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment started an investigation two years ago, leading to an indictment in October 2015.

A bank account with more than $160,000 was the investigation’s focus, Harshbarger stated. The purchase of a doublewide home placed on Williams’ property was traced to the account.

Williams was hired as a caregiver for DeWeese and his wife in 2009 when he was 88. Deweese’s wife was later placed in an assisted living facility and during that time he divorced his wife and received approximately $400,000 from the division of marital assets. It was also thought that DeWeese may have been suffering from dementia, Harshbarger said. DeWeese had little contact with his children, and moved into Williams’ home.

Williams’ sentencing is set for June 15. At Tuesday’s hearing, Sadler said that he thought Dominques’ involvement in the case was “minimal.”

Sadler had harsher words for Williams, who did not attend her co-defendant’s hearing.

“It just astonishes me, the evil perpetrated on this person,” Sadler said about what happened to DeWeese, adding his family “was not even allowed to see him and say goodbye.”

“She emotionally and financially raped this man,” Sadler said.

Dominques was placed on five-years probation and required to pay restitution. His attorney, David Kelley, later said that Sadler gave his client “deferred adjudication.” Sadler did not enter a guilty finding. If Dominques completes his probation, the court will not enter the guilty plea.

“I thought it was very fair,” Deborah Toler, DeWeese’s daughter, said afterward. “I met (Dominques) one time when they were both indicted, not until Sgt. Haynes did the original investigation.”

Full Article & Source:
Probation for man involved in elderly exploitation case

Russellville couple indicted for elder exploitation

RUSSELLVILLE – A local man and his wife are in jail after being indicted for using an elderly family member’s debit card to get money to play bingo.

Rickey Joe Murray, 54, Willow Bend Apartments, and his wife, Carol, 43, have been indicted on charges of financial exploitation of the elderly, Police Chief Chris Hargett said.

Police said the two turned themselves in to Russellville police after they were indicted. The indictments were issued during the May session of the Franklin County grand jury.

Reports indicate the victim is 75, and was in a Russellville medical facility when the couple is accused of taking the credit card.

“They just took advantage of her not being around, took her credit card, and went to an ATM and withdrew cash,” Sgt. Jake Tompkins said.

Reports indicate the couple went to Mississippi and used the money to play bingo.

Police said the woman discovered the money had been taken without her knowledge and contacted police.

Tompkins said following an investigation, the case was turned over to the district attorney's office, which presented it to the grand jury.

Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said the couple is scheduled to be arraigned June 28 by Franklin Circuit Judge Terry Dempsey. He said the cases could be put on a pretrial conference docket for August.

They were being held Monday in Russellville City Jail without bail.

Full Article & Source:
Russellville couple indicted for elder exploitation

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Florida guardian charges big bucks to protect ward with Alzheimer's living in Hungary

SARASOTA, Fla. - A grieving daughter is fighting against a system that was designed to protect her dad.

She regrets the decision of turning to Florida's professional guardian system for help.

She says that decision cost her father's estate a million dollars, and as the I-Team found out, the guardian was racking up those bills, when her father was living thousands of miles away.

“He was an immigrant, came here with one little suitcase and worked himself into millions of dollars,” said Mercedes Gyorgy, describing her father Akos Gyorgy.

He earned millions as a Sarasota real estate broker, eventually owning 8 homes in three countries..
But his family says his estranged wife exploited him when he got alzheimer's disease.

They asked for the court to appoint a guardian to protect him and his assets, but now believe that was bad decision.

“We turned to the courts to stop the financial abuse, and after that, over a million dollars has been spent on this guardianship,” Mercedes Gyorgy said.

On Wednesday, she asked the court to release her late father's remaining assets to his estate, but the guardian and the guardian’s attorney are fighting against that.

“In the first two months of the case, one attorney billed $30,000,” Mercedes said.

And some of those bills came while her father was not even around.

He had disappeared while his Emergency Temporary Guardian was supposed to be protecting him.

“I Called the police. They never called the police. They never called the police and said this man was missing,” Mercedes said.

In a court document filed weeks later, it was revealed that Akos Gyorgy, who was incapacitated, managed to catch a cab from Sarasota to Orlando, then flew to Frankfort, before catching another flight to Budapest Hungary.

Gyorgy was originally from Hungary, as was his estranged wife.

Mercedes says her father met her when his friend placed an ad in a Hungarian newspaper seeking a new bride for him, after his first wife died of cancer.

He lived there for five years, which family members contend was out of the Sarasota court-appointed guardian’s jurisdiction.

While the guardian supposed to protect him from his estranged wife, she made multiple trips to Hungary to visit him.

So did the guardian.

On one visit, he billed his ward nearly $24,000 for a first class plane ticket, lodging at a 5-star hotel, and other expenses.

“It was a vacation for sure,” Mercedes said.

And that's not all.

The court allowed the guardian to use the ward’s money to buy him a $200,000 home in Hungary just weeks before he died.

“It's a crazy case, but unfortunately, it's not that out of the norm with what's been going on in guardianship in the state of Florida,” said Mark Soss, who represents Gyorgy’s family.

The judge says he's taking all of the testimony under advisement and will rule in the near future when the remainder of the ward's assets will be transferred back to the ward's family.

If you have a story you’d like to see investigated, contact the I-Team at

Full Article & Source:
Florida guardian charges big bucks to protect ward with Alzheimer's living in Hungary

Arkansas judge is investigated for sex abuse, misconduct

Wynne, Ark. • For many male defendants in Judge Joseph Boeckmann's courtroom, the initial deal seemed simple enough: The judge would approach them after court, either himself or through a bailiff, and offer a way out of traffic or court fines.

His instructions were to gather some cans and bring them to his house or another location. Then he asked the defendants to take off their shirts, pretend to be picking up trash and let the judge take a few photos of them bending over to prove they had performed community service.

Sometimes, the men told investigators, the encounters went further. The judge might tell them to spread their legs a little. He might touch their buttocks a little. He might offer them a drink. Then the fines would disappear.

Now dozens of the defendants have accused Boeckmann of sexual abuse and misconduct, saying the small-town judge paid them to allow him to spank their naked buttocks with a paddle and to take photos of the red skin. Others said they posed nude in exchange for money to pay off court fines.

The head of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission called it "if not the worst, among the worst cases of judicial misconduct" in state history.

The case brought into the open gossip that had circulated in private for years about the judge from a prominent family that settled in the farming community more than a century ago.

Boeckmann "systematically used his authority and the trust of the state of Arkansas ... to prey upon people he knew would be less credible, people who were in danger of losing their houses, their jobs and their freedom. He is a predator," said David Sachar, the commission's executive director.

The 70-year-old Cross County judge, who has denied the allegations through his attorney, resigned in May, ending the commission's investigation. But at least part of the probe has been turned over to criminal investigators. No charges have been filed.

"His resignation is not to be construed as an admission of anything," said Boeckmann's attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig. He said his client concluded that it was "not worth going through the hearing to keep a position that he would have vacated at the end of this year anyway." The judge did not seek re-election in March.

Once the investigation became public, Sachar said, men came forward with similar stories from as much as 30 years ago, alleging Boeckmann had propositioned them, taken nude photos or engaged in other sexual behavior when he was the city attorney in the county seat of Wynne and a deputy prosecuting attorney.

One man, identified only as A.A. by the commission, reported having a sexual relationship with Boeckmann that started when A.A. hired the judge as his personal attorney. The relationship continued for more than a decade.

A.A. told investigators the judge sometimes loaned him out to friends for work to pay off A.A.'s debts or in exchange for leniency. Other defendants said A.A. put them in touch with Boeckmann and told them the nude photos were an easy way to pay off court fines.

About 4,600 photographs depicting nude or semi-clothed men in various positions were recovered from computers belonging to the judge, according to Sachar.

The commission also subpoenaed checks worth tens of thousands of dollars written from the judge's law firm and real estate company accounts to his own court, to other district courts and to defendants who had or later would appear before him as a judge.

The town of 8,400 people stands in the shadow of Memphis, Tenn., and is heavily dependent on agriculture.

By economic measures, Wynne is doing better than many communities in the Arkansas Delta. It has a handful of factories and a median household income approaching $40,000.

Townspeople had heard rumors about the judge for years.

Randy Scott's brother claimed Boeckmann propositioned him in the 1990s, when he was convicted of a murder charge. Scott moved away almost two decades ago, returning in 2014 in the hope that the small school district would be good for his teenage son.   (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Arkansas judge is investigated for sex abuse, misconduct

Crimes against the elderly a growing Kentucky concern

In state fiscal year 2015, Adult Protective Services investigated nearly 46,000 reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation in Kentucky. Yet, despite the fact that a growing number of elderly are increasingly vulnerable to a broad range of exploitation and abuse, knowing just how many and who they are, is often quite difficult to identify.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services, there are a number of reasons why it is hard to measure how widespread the problem is. One initial — and unresolved — issue is how best to define “elderly.” While age 65 and above is commonly used, this definition varies across studies, state laws, and service providers such as Adult Protective Services. Another concern is that a single category of “elderly” is too broad no matter what age demarcation is used.

Kentucky does not have an “elder abuse” law, rather the law provides for protection of adults age 18 and over “who because of a mental or physical dysfunction cannot carry out the activities of daily living or protect themselves from others who may abuse, neglect, or exploit them.” According to Steven Fisher, Branch Manager of Adult Protection Services in Frankfort, “The vulnerability of the alleged victim is a paramount consideration in screening and determining who is eligible for APS investigation.”

In states where non-fatal crimes involving elderly victims have been recorded, the data shows that victimization of older adults span all types of crime. However, according to a National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS), older adults overall have the lowest reported victimization rates in comparison to other age groups, despite the fact that, “isolation, reliance on caregivers, and decreased physical or mental capacity can increase older people’s exposure to physical and mental abuse.”

The survey further points out that older adults — especially those on the brink of retirement or otherwise viewed as having resources to exploit — may also be targeted for these crimes.

There is widespread agreement that fraud in general is dramatically underreported. A 2015 True Link Report on Elder Finance Abuse revealed that seniors lose over $36 billion each year to elder financial abuse — more than twelve times what was previously reported.

That’s one reason why Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear joined with Kroger, AARP and more than 25 other partner organizations in the state to recently launch Scam Alerts — a text messaging service that notifies consumers when con artist are on the attack. However, it’s not just seniors who stand to benefit. In the past four months, Beshear has notified Kentuckians of a student loan debt relief scam, the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes scam, a scam targeting victims of financial fraud, IRS and federal warrant scams and a labor law poster scam targeting small-business owners. Kentuckians can sign up for Scam Alerts by texting KYOAG Scam to GOV311 or enroll online at .

According to the Better Business Bureau Top Ten Scams of 2015, tax scams were by far number one, more than the next three categories (debt collections; sweepstakes/prizes/gifts; and tech support) combined. “Scammers are all basically imposters,” noted Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for 113 local independent BBB’s across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. “Three of the top four scams reported to us are those that scare people with threats of arrest, lawsuits, or other frightening actions. Scammers are pretending to be government agents, lawyers, debt collectors, police officers. They engage directly with you.” Her best advice for avoiding a scam, “stop engaging.” “Hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, shut the door.”

There is a science to scams that many experts would agree, rely on one of three basic approaches. The scammer establishes a connection by building a rapport and a relationship with the victim. The scammer shows source credibility by pretending to be from a trusted business or government agency; or the scammer plays on your emotions to get you to make a quick decision before you have time to think about it.

Yet despite what we know, national research estimates report that as few as 1 in 25 exploitation cases are ever brought to the attention of APS and other authorities. What may be even more alarming is the research indicating that adult children and relatives make up just over 50 percent of perpetrators of all types of maltreatment including exploitation. According to Adult Protection Services, “when we think of adult maltreatment or abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly and disabled, we need to consider the persons that have access, who may be in a position to foster dependence, isolate, control or manipulate the adult and their environment. Most often these are familial relationships that again are largely undetected and under-reported.”

Elder abuse is often a silent crime. Most of us never see it because most victims are abused behind closed doors. And, too often, people who do see it choose not to get involved because it’s “none of my business.” Since Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state (Reference KRS 209.030), the law says it is our business. If you suspect elder abuse, you are legally required to report it. Calls can be made anonymously at the 24 hour toll free hotline 1-800-752-6200.

Abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation are not just a victim’s issue; they’re everyone’s issue.

To learn more, tune in to Community Conversations at 1340 WEKY or 1500 WKXO on Wednesday June 8 at 1 p.m.

Full Article & Source:
Crimes against the elderly a growing Kentucky concern

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Administrative Tribunals: How the Constitution Is Neutered

by Marti Oakley
June 2, 2016

NOTE: I am not, and have never claimed to be an attorney or an expert in the law. But, after reading through various legal doctrines, interpretations, SCOTUS rulings and other works readily available online, I have concluded that those who penned these verbose pieces of unintelligible, rambling discourses that are open to interpretations and which many times can never be determined to make any kind of sense, will resolve nothing. With this in mind I have concluded that one must be marginally insane to consider “the law” as it exists, as anything other than a collection of writings penned by lunatics at an asylum.
new-logo25We need to abolish the probate system in its entirety and return to a system of common law. The claims of efficiency, and cost savings were more of the deceit perpetrated on the public as this system of human trafficking for profit was established for no other reason than to allow the profiteering by professional predators who make their living preying on the most vulnerable in society. We, as a collective society, have become the commodity on which the new economy is predicated.

How we ended up with the Probate Predator Based System
I have spent considerable time reading multiple arguments about the validity of the claim that probate tribunals (which includes all forms of family tribunals) are Article III courts. They are not. Probate tribunals, no matter which title they operate under, are administrative tribunals and exist under the executive branch of government both state and federal. These kangaroo tribunals do not have to follow rules of evidence, or rules of civil procedure, and do not recognize any Constitutional rights or protections as would be required in a legitimate Constitutionally established court under Article III.

These tribunals are guided by rules and regulations determined by the BAR Association, the College of Probate Judges (an oxymoron) and the National Guardianship Association.

Probate tribunals operate under the executive branch in government, another clear indicator that they are neither legislative nor judicial. These tribunals are almost always operated under an umbrella agency such as Social Services, Health & Human Services and other executive branch agencies. This allows them to access federal funding when available (and it almost always is available). There are a few states where Probate is handled under the district court, such as Illinois, although how they managed to accomplish this is a mystery.

In these kangaroo tribunals, hear-say evidence is allowed but only so long as it is uttered by one of the predators accessing the court to profit at the expense of the targeted victim. In an actual court of law this would never be tolerated.

Contrived medical reports by “experts” at the request of the predators who work routinely with the same attorneys, administrative appointees euphemistically called judges, and doctors and psychiatrists all contribute to the effort, and profit. Many times, psychiatric assessments are rendered to the tribunal without the issuing psychiatrist ever having spent a moment with the victim. Not a problem! No evidence is needed or required as long as you are not the victim.

Evidence produced by those attempting to save the victim from the predators is routinely denied entry into the record. Any one viewing the record of proceedings of the tribunal are led to believe that no evidence was submitted refuting the hearsay claims of the predators. After all, the record is intentionally blank except for the commonly false claims made by those waiting to plunder the estate.
When at first they practice to deceive……….

The fact that a myriad of opinions, legal interpretations, undecipherable arguments presented as authoritative confirmations of lawful legitimacy and commentary have been produced in an effort to justify and try to appear to make lawful the corrupt nature of these tribunals, only to become a testament to their lack of legitimacy and a clear indicator that these tribunals were constructed specifically to facilitate the human trafficking of individuals including the elderly, with the intent to profit. No amount of legalese rambling and obfuscation can make right what is clearly a horrific wrong.

Also to be considered is the fact that states such as Iowa, have intentionally removed the right to due process from their probate trafficking statutes. How could any so-called “court” be constitutional when it specifically violates the very tenants of the document it claims is the genesis of its existence?

Furthermore, that person sitting on the bench is NOT a judge as those who sit as members of the judicial branch are. They are in fact, executive administrative appointees and sit in place of and instead of an authentic judge because these tribunals are not concerned with the law. You might be wondering in what capacity they are sitting on the bench at all! They sit as appointees of the executive branch and are not part of either the legislative branch, nor the judicial branch of government. They administer code and statute, not the law and also perform non-judicial acts.

The Probate Exception: The Human Trafficking of the Elderly
One of the more insidious legal doctrines is that called “The Probate Exception”. This so-called doctrine is based on statutes and statutory interpretations, and exists outside the provisions of the Federal Constitution, and most state Constitutions. Statutory rules and regulations (these are artificial constructs intended to avoid any Constitutional prohibitions or provisions) routinely violate the natural rights and liberties guaranteed in both state and federal constitutions.

Your natural rights and liberties are very different than “civil rights”. The former are guaranteed in the Constitution(s) and are supposedly unalienable. The latter, are privileges granted by those in power. Civil rights can be taken away as quickly as they were given and are administered under contract law. Asking for your civil rights is to ask to contract with the government for special privileges. At this point, once that request is made, you have waived your natural rights and liberties as guaranteed in the Constitution.

As an aside regarding that last statement, try asserting your Constitutional rights in an administrative tribunal and see how quickly you get smacked down.

Probate Courts in whatever form they take are a resurrecting of the old slave laws. These laws make clear that some of us have value only in the fact that we can be bought, sold, and traded. We are to be viewed as chattel property, and we can be hunted down, and imprisoned and have all of our valuables taken from us, including our liberty and rights as someone else is given, and has claimed, ownership of our very person.

The doctrine of Probate Exception, is premised on the thinking that property held within a state is the states’ jurisdiction (even human beings). It is this interpretation that SCOTUS relies on when refusing to hear cases predicated upon the abuses of probate tribunals, even though these cases routinely involve kidnapping, isolation and chemical restraint to facilitate the theft of the estates of thousands of elderly individuals each year. These activities if handled in a legitimate court of law, would be considered felonies. Done under the protection of an administrative tribunal such as estate probate, these activities are treated as “business as usual”.

The Administrative Procedures Act was passed in 1946. This Act facilitated the creation of administrative agencies and was designed to allow the government to rule and regulate in areas not enumerated in the Constitution, or specifically prohibited by it. The Act was quickly adapted to state laws and was and is used to bypass constitutional provisions. Very nearly every thing done by agencies created under these Acts is a violation of the “Non-delegation doctrine”. Simply put: Congress cannot delegate its authority or power to an agency, nor can it delegate power or authority it does not possess, to any agency. This includes creating non-constitutional tribunals that are used to by pass the constitution, either state or federal.

Full Article & Source:
Administrative Tribunals: How the Constitution Is Neutered

Former Caretaker arrested for forgery and exploiting an elderly man

DECATUR – Decatur Police say they arrested a 51-year-old Decatur woman after family members told authorities she was taking advantage of their elderly relative.

Jo Ann Vinson was arrested after reports came in alleging she had financially exploited an 80-year-old man.

The first report came in on April 6 from the man’s granddaughter who told Decatur Police he has dementia and has trouble remembering things and making sound decisions. The granddaughter also told police that her grandfather now lives in a nursing home, but he had previously shared a residence with Vinson, who acted as his caretaker.

Vinson lived with the man for three months to take care of him. Relatives told authorities Vinson had also needed a place to live when she moved in with him.

The man’s granddaughter also told authorities that her grandfather’s bank account had recently been emptied.

According to the elderly man’s interview, he did not remember what happened to the money in his account but claimed he never gave it to Vinson.

Then, the man’s daughter filed a report saying five checks were forged on her father’s checking account. The checks were written out in her and her father’s names, with four of them being paid to “Jo Ann Vinson,” and the fifth being written for County Market.

Decatur authorities recovered security camera footage from County Market that shows Vinson making a purchase and paying with a check.

Relatives say the elderly man now lives in Georgia and completed affidavits of forgery for each check. They also pointed out that none of the checks used had the correct signatures while reviewing the records of the checks.

The family also told investigators that numerous items were missing from the elderly man’s residence after he moved into a nursing home. Some of the items stolen included a stove, refrigerator, bed, dresser, living room furniture, washer and dryer, clothing and two televisions.

Decatur Police arrested Vinson on June 3.

While in the Macon County Jail, Vinson called her sister in Mississippi and admitted to stealing property from the man’s home. She told her sister she would give some of the items back and offered to pay for some of the others. This phone call was recorded as per jail regulations.

Witnesses and friends of Vinson also interviewed with authorities. One witness confirmed she drove Vinson and the man to the bank to get money. Another told police she saw Vinson and two other people moving items out of the man’s previous residence.

Vinson is currently being held on $30,000 bond facing charges of forgery, theft of over $300 in value and financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person.

Full Article & Source:
Former Caretaker arrested for forgery and exploiting an elderly man

Quebec couple must pay $1.2 million in damages to estate of 97-year-old man they exploited

In 2003, Albany Duhaime, 87, was distraught over the death of his wife of 34 years while they were on a trip to France. Alain Satgé and Liliane De Vries, Duhaime’s longtime friends, offered to help with his finances.

By the time police stepped in seven years later, Duhaime’s assets had been wiped out. Worth more than $1 million in 2004, they were valued at less than $5,000 by 2009.

Duhaime was 97 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease when he died in 2013.

On Monday, in the biggest judgment of its kind ever handed down, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ordered the Trois-Rivières couple to pay $1.2 million in damages to Duhaime’s estate.

“Their actions are all the more reprehensible when you consider that they orchestrated the stripping of the assets of a friend who believed them to be sincere,” Judge Yvan Nolet wrote in his ruling.

The ruling came three months after Satgé, 79, and De Vries, 71, were sentenced to three and four years in prison, respectively, for defrauding Duhaime.

The case was brought before the Tribunal by the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which took on the case after several people contacted it about Duhaime’s finances in 2010.

The couple was accused of contravening Article 48 of Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It states that “every aged person and every handicapped person” has a right to “the protection and security that must be provided to him by his family or the persons acting in their stead.”

Duhaime’s world began to crumble when his wife died in France in 2003. He was inconsolable because, suffering from a broken hip in a different hospital, he was unable to be by her side when she died and could not attend her funeral.

Depressed and alone, he was crying constantly and was helpless without his wife, who had managed the household and the couple’s budget, the Tribunal was told.

Satgé and De Vries were “well aware of Duhaime’s vulnerability and his sudden dependence on them” and of “the blind trust he had in them because he perceived them as true friends,” the Tribunal judgment notes.

Duhaime and his wife had helped Satgé and De Vries immigrate to Canada from France in 1998.

Beginning in 2003, De Vries opened new bank accounts for Duhaime, obtained a bank card and had access to his safety deposit box. Duhaime at one point gave the couple carte blanche to deal with his affairs after they “fuelled his anger and fear” toward his family and his wife’s son, who was disinherited in favour of the couple, the Tribunal heard.

Duhaime ceded his Trois-Rivières home to the couple, continuing to live in it but paying for maintenance and repairs. The couple took his $18,000 car and used $79,000 to buy a truck for their son. Some cash was used to pay for the couple’s vacations and renovations to their home, and to finance their resort, Scoobyraid in Lamarche, near Lac St-Jean.

Over a few months, hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to Duhaime was withdrawn in cash from a Caisse populaire and a Bank of Montreal branch.

“It’s somewhat surprising that financial institutions allowed a mandate holder to withdraw amounts this big, in cash, at counters,” Judge Nolet noted. “It’s even more surprising when the account holder is elderly. How were such withdrawals allowed without at least questioning whether the person was being exploited?”

In 2010, Duhaime complained to family members that someone was stealing his money. He later told Trois-Rivières police that he had never given the couple permission to take his money.

With the investigation underway in 2010, police discovered the couple had purchased one-way tickets to France for themselves and Duhaime. That’s when the couple was arrested.

The Tribunal dismissed the couple’s assertion that they had all the proper paperwork for the money transfers and that Duhaime gave them gifts because he wanted to thank them, “pamper” them, and help them “enjoy life.”

In 2010, a doctor concluded that Duhaime had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for five or six years, meaning his mental abilities were deteriorating when many of the transactions in question took place, the Tribunal was told.

The Quebec Human Rights Commission defines exploitation as “the act of taking advantage of a person’s vulnerability or dependency to deprive them of their rights.” Anyone who thinks they are a victim of exploitation or suspect an elderly or disabled person is a victim can seek help from the Commission.

Full Article & Source:
Quebec couple must pay $1.2 million in damages to estate of 97-year-old man they exploited

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Richard Simmons Hospitalized for ‘Bizarre’ Behavior After Two-Year Disappearance: Report

Richard Simmons was reportedly hospitalized for “bizarre” behavior on Friday, June 3, just three months after his close friends raised concerns that he was being held hostage at his Hollywood Hills house.

According to TMZ, the 67-year-old fitness guru was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Friday night after someone at his home “became sufficiently alarmed to call 911.”

Paramedics reportedly rushed to Simmons’ house, where they determined that he should be transported to the hospital for evaluation.

In March, the workout expert’s close friend told the New York Daily News that Simmons, who has been out of the public eye for about two years, was possibly being held hostage by his longtime housekeeper, Teresa Reveles.

Just a day later, Simmons broke his extended silence with two new interviews, where he said that his disappearance was entirely voluntary and that the hostage reports were “very hurtful.”

“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” he said during a phone interview on the Today show on March 13. “You know, I do what I want to do as I’ve always done, so people should sort of just believe what I have to say because, like, I’m Richard Simmons!”

The Sweatin’ to the Oldies star also told Entertainment Tonight, “I am not kidnapped, I am just in my house right now. No one should be worried about me. The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me.”

Full Article & Source:
Richard Simmons Hospitalized for ‘Bizarre’ Behavior After Two-Year Disappearance: Report

Oklahoma: Adult Protective Services Offers Training

Adult Protective Services in Pontotoc County will commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 22 with a local effort to raise awareness about elder abuse and neglect in our community.

Adult Protective Services in Pontotoc County will host Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults: The Growing Epidemic. This training for local financial institutions regarding the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults will be held on Wednesday, June 22, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Department of Human Services, 2320 Arlington Suite B, Ada. Representatives from all local financial institutions are invited to attend this discussion on identifying indicators of financial exploitation and strategies that can be used to respond to possible financial exploitation situations. Please RSVP to Cathy Wood at (580) 310-7050 or before Tuesday, June 21.

Did you know that every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the US alone? That trend is going to continue for nearly the next 20 years. Our demographics are shifting, and we will soon have more elder people in the US than ever before. At the same time that the population is growing, we know that a startling number of elders face abusive conditions. Every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported.

WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders. The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006 in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse. WEAAD is in support of the UN’s International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. 

Full Article & Source:
Adult Protective Services offers training

Senior Care Facilities With World Class Art

Artworks by Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, Marc Chagall and Alex Katz adorn the walls. There is a fabric and paper collage by Romare Bearden, and a drawing by Diego Rivera. A corridor is lined with 10 silk-screened portraits by Andy Warhol and a few of William Wegman’s photolithographs of his bedecked Weimaraner dogs.

This is not some museum in the middle of Manhattan, or a billionaire’s estate. It is the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a senior care facility in the Bronx. Its 32-acre campus offers nursing and rehabilitation services and assisted and independent living. But it also houses a collection of more than 5,000 mostly modern and contemporary works of art by a roster of world-class artists, in addition to 1,400 Jewish ceremonial objects that constitute the Derfner Judaica Museum. The Derfner, along with a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River, another exhibition space called the Elma and Milton A. Gilbert Pavilion Gallery and all the hallways of the Hebrew Home, are filled with art, intended not only for the population that resides there but for the public as well.

“Art is an integral part of life here,” said Emily O’Leary, associate curator of the Derfner Judaica Museum + the Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale, as the museum is officially known. She said the collection was started in the early 1970s with the aim of bringing art to the residents. “Because many of them can’t go out to museums,” she said, “the idea was to bring the museum to them.”

Senior Care Facilities With World Class Art

Monday, June 6, 2016

Jensen led way on Peter Falk Act

My name is Catherine Falk, the daughter of the late Peter Falk, best known for his role as Lt. Columbo. I had the honor to work with Sen. Phil Jensen who sponsored our Falk-NASGA Right of Association bill protecting wards wrongly isolated from family and friends in guardianships.

Our bill is a bipartisan bill that Sen. Jensen championed in South Dakota. The bill was titled after my late father, Peter Falk, in memory of millions of people faced with the possible permanency of separation, isolation, exploitation and removal from social interaction. This bill protects persons with disabilities and the elderly while holding guardians accountable for their treatment of those under their care and control. Sen. Jensen sponsored this bill with such vigor that by the time I blinked my eyes, the bill cleared both chambers and was signed by the governor.

South Dakota is the first state to pass the Peter Falk Act in the same session as a bill for South Dakota seniors and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect and exploitation. I am so honored and excited that the Peter Falk Act has passed in the 2016 session of South Dakota

~Catherine Falk
San Marino, California

Jensen led way on Peter Falk Act

State Audit: California Bar Put Public at 'Significant Risk'

A recent state audit raises serious questions about the California state bar's ability to protect consumers. The state bar is in charge of investigating and disciplining attorneys, but a 75-page state audit found major problems with the way the bar worked to clear a huge backlog of disciplinary cases against thousands of attorneys. The result, according to the California State Auditor's Office's, was "the State Bar allowed some attorneys whom it otherwise might have disciplined more severely – or even disbarred – to continue practicing law, at significant risk to the public."

According to the audit, the backlog of disciplinary cases topped 5,174 cases in 2010, "prompting the state bar to take steps to quickly reduce it." While the state bar managed to decrease the backlog by 66 percent within a year, the audit revealed that "speedier resolutions" came at a cost as the State Bar began issuing less severe punishments to attorneys. As a result, the Bar dismissed more cases and settled others with written reprimands that may stay hidden in a lawyer's discipline file.

"That's working your numbers to try and look good, even when you're potentially hurting consumers," said Ed Howard, an attorney with the Center for Public Interest Law, a government watchdog group that monitors state boards and agencies.

"The state bar does not do in any way shape or form, the kind of job – when it comes to disciplining lawyers – that Californians deserve and Californians expect," said Howard, who has previously testified before the California legislature to voice his criticism of the California Bar.

State Bar: "Unviable" Policies Caused "Crisis”

"We need to get our house in order," said Leah Wilson, the newly named Chief Operating Officer of the California Bar.

Wilson acknowledged the problems facing the bar, and said a 2011 policy requiring a "zero-backlog" of complaints was to blame for the Bar's ultimate failure in adequately disciplining attorneys.

"That focus on backlog reduction, absent the infusion of significant resources, was bound to result in that type of crisis that you saw reflected in the audit," Wilson said. "It just was just an unviable situation."

The audit found that "since 2007, the State Bar has changed its backlog goal four times: from 200, to 250, to zero, to less than 15 percent of all active cases (its current goal). While the State Bar has met its current backlog goal since it was implemented in 2011, the audit found that the backlog of complaints has increased each year since that time, "indicating that the goal may not be effective in reducing the overall backlog."

While Wilson said the bar agreed with the audit's recommendations, she was only hired five months ago – after the audit was released – and repeatedly told the Investigative Unit she could not answer certain questions concerning the audit's findings.

"I don't want to speak for what happened when I wasn't here," she said. "We're going to focus on fixing the underlying structural problems or conditions that caused that problem to occur."

Wilson said approval from supervising attorneys is now required before most disciplinary cases against attorneys can be settled. The state bar is also in the process of trying to determine how to best restructure its staff to adequately handle complaints while also minimizing its backlog. According to Wilson, that plan will be presented to the state legislature in May.

Woman Blames Former Attorney For Leaving Her Bankrupt

Katherine Roberts says the additional oversight should have been in place long ago, and if it were, that might have helped her with her former attorney Drexel Bradshaw. She says her legal troubles began in 2004 after trying to fight an eviction from her San Francisco home.

"I ended up in one day losing my apartment and being a half million dollars in debt," Roberts said. 
"It's been extraordinarily painful."  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
State Audit: California Bar Put Public at 'Significant Risk'

Elder abuse on the rise in Florida

Lillian Moses
SANFORD — In a hospital bed, Lillian Moses, 95, was wheeled into the courtroom of Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr.

The judge asked about her grandson, Thomas Keefe White, who is charged with physically abusing and neglecting her.

They used to live together, but she was moved to a hospital, then a long-term care facility, after authorities discovered in January that she had a broken leg, bed sores and an infection.

White had hit her, she told investigators in January, and although she was bedridden, he had left her alone for several days at a time. He was careful, she said, to leave her a bottle of water, some crackers and Ensure, according to his arrest warrant.

After the May 13 hearing, White's lawyer said White did not abuse Moses, adding that she made those allegations while she was on medication that had left her confused.

The judge asked Moses where she wants to live now: She could stay in the nursing facility, where she's cared for by aides, or she could move back home and have White, who is free on bond, take care of her while he awaits trial.

"I just want to go home," she told the judge.

Moses is not the first elderly person who has asked to be put back in the care of someone who's accused of abusing her, Lester said.

No federal agency keeps detailed, comprehensive national data on the number of elderly people who are abused and neglected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but dozens of social service and government agencies track what happens on the state and local level.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse on the rise in Florida

Sunday, June 5, 2016

As NY shifts to for-profit nursing homes, abuse and neglect complaints spike

Editor’s note: This article is the first in a three-part series examining how and why New York’s nursing homes too often fail to keep their residents safe. Read the second part here

New York’s nursing homes have received failing grades from watchdog groups for years. Now, recent statistics and reports suggest the state’s nursing homes are getting even worse as for-profit operators gain a larger share of the market and oversight agencies struggle to provide quality control.

Reports to the New York Attorney General’s office, which investigates and prosecutes criminal and civil cases related to nursing home care, were up “markedly,” according to an official in the office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Between 2013 and 2015, allegations of abuse and neglect climbed from 1,392 to 1,644, or about 18 percent.

While officials caution that the spike may be the result of better reporting at nursing homes, the figures may also be indicative of a worrying trend.

Many studies show that for-profit nursing homes generally provide lower quality care when compared with nonprofit or government-owned homes, according to Dr. Charlene Harrington, professor emeritus at University of California San Francisco. She is among the leading researchers on nursing home quality, chronicling the endemic problems in for-profit facilities.

It is a long documented trend. A 2009 study from the federal Government Accountability Office found that the worst nursing homes in the country tended to be run for profit.

“The for-profit large chains are the worst in terms of both staffing and quality,” Harrington said. “New York has been sort of unique in keeping out a lot of national chains, but I know New York has a lot of regional chains. The real growth has been in these chains. And the chains have definitely been problematic.”

The damage to quality care is typically seen in two categories: a higher number of deficiencies and short staffing. Since higher staffing correlates with healthier residents, fewer staff members means just the opposite. In other words, there often just aren’t enough nursing staff to provide decent care for the residents.

“Nursing homes are labor intensive, so basically, they're about staffing. And the main place these companies can cut their cost is having fewer staff with wages and benefits and have less well-trained staff,” including critically-important registered nurses, Harrington explained. “They cut corners on all of that. That's the main way they make their money.”

In the past year alone, several grisly cases of abuse and neglect have come to light in New York. In one case, a nurse aide at West Lawrence Care Center in Far Rockaway allegedly pummeled a bedridden 80-year-old, leaving her battered, black-eyed and ultimately hospitalized.

But while cases of outright assault against elderly nursing home residents are shocking, it’s comparatively rare, said Paul Mahoney, deputy chief of the state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit that investigates and prosecutes such crimes.  

“Many more of the incidents of abuse and neglect involve activity in which no one was intending to create a bad outcome. But shortcuts were taken – due to a lack of oversight or staffing – and something goes wrong,” Mahoney said. “Then, someone doesn't handle it properly. What is an accident becomes a crime, because instead of giving a person care for the accident, they cover it up.”

Mahoney pointed to perhaps the most egregious case his office prosecuted in the past year, in which a nursing home worker at Medford Multicare Center for Living, Inc. on Long Island was convicted of criminally negligent homicide after she failed to connect 72-year-old Aurelia Rios to her ventilator while she slept, ignoring a doctor’s order. Several nurses ignored alarms for two hours warning that Rios had stopped breathing. After her death in 2012, administrators and staff falsified records and lied to the family for years.

Aside from criminal indictments, what both the Medford case and the West Lawrence case have in common is that they are both for-profit operations.

In 2006, for-profits owned half of all New York nursing homes. In the last decade, however, for-profits bought up 20 percent of all government and nonprofit nursing homes in the state, increasing for-profit nursing home ownership to nearly 60 percent of the state's total, according to an analysis of government records by City & State.

While the majority of New York's nursing homes are now run for profit, those homes are more than twice as likely to hold the lowest federal rating (1-star) as those that are nonprofit or government run. In fact, among the state’s 371 for-profit homes, 92 of them – or 1 in 4 – ranked among the state's lowest-quality facilities.

A report by ProPublica last October showed that New York’s largest for-profit chain, SentosaCare, LLC, has successfully expanded its ownership in recent years despite a record of repeat fines, violations and complaints of deficient care among its 25 facilities.

“In my experience, abuse and neglect is far too widespread in far too many facilities," said Brian Lee, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Families for Better Care. While he allowed that the increase may be attributable to improved reporting, he said, “It could be that the abuse and neglect was there all the time and it’s just finally getting found out.”

New York state has over 105,000 elderly people in nursing homes, according to federal statistics, more than any other state in the country, but it has consistently received some of the lowest marks nationally.

"You guys have some of the worst nursing home care I've ever seen," said Lee, who previously served eight years as Florida’s state long-term care ombudsman in a federal program investigating complaints and advocating for nursing home residents. “Some of those nursing homes are little shops of horrors.”

Lee’s organization analyzes government statistics and releases nursing home report cards for each state. When the rankings are released later this month, New York will receive an "F" rating for the third year in a row while ranking a dismal 44th overall. According to the forthcoming report card, 95 percent of the state’s facilities were cited for one or more deficiencies (a 3 percent increase over the previous year), while nearly two-thirds failed to score an above-average health inspection rating.
The general public often fails to understand the problem, Lee said. “Yes, people die in nursing homes because they have serious ailments and that's to be expected,” Lee said. “But to see how many are being neglected to death? It's just insane. It should not be happening in our country.”

Advocates, researchers, and watchdog groups point to short-staffed government overseers as another key reason for the proliferation of poor quality nursing home care in the state.

A recent report from the New York state comptroller’s office found that although the state Health Department, charged with enforcing minimum care standards in nursing homes, was “generally meeting its obligations,” the enforcement division was so inefficient that there were delays of “up to six years between when the violation is cited and the resulting fine is imposed.” The delays undermined incentives for nursing homes to clean up their act, particularly repeat offenders, the report noted.

A spokesperson from the comptroller’s office said the problem appeared to stem from a single part-time employee who was saddled with both the obligation to process the fines for all the nursing homes in the state as well as conduct his own investigations.
When asked for comment on the comptroller’s findings, a New York State Department of Health spokesperson said the report “found DOH to be in compliance with federal regulations governing the inspection of nursing homes, and that the agency acts quickly on serious complaints. A new enforcement process was implemented by the DOH Nursing Home Division in April 2015 and we are continuing to work to ensure that fines are assessed in a timely manner.”

Nevertheless, investigators at the attorney general’s office say more could be done.

“There is room for more oversight,” said Mahoney, the deputy chief of the state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. “The Department of Health could use more enforcement staffers.”

But the problems at the Health Department go beyond short staffing, critics say. They believe the nursing home regulatory system suffers from deeply flawed oversight and poorly implemented policies that ultimately put frail and vulnerable New Yorkers at risk.

Richard Mollot, a leading advocate for nursing home residents at The Long Term Care Community Coalition, said the state Health Department has abdicated its role as the state agency responsible for enforcing quality care in nursing homes.

“In essence, they don't see their role as a regulatory agency, even though they are a regulatory agency,” he said. “That's really what the problem is.”

Full Article & Source:
As NY shifts to for-profit nursing homes, abuse and neglect complaints spike

NYC nursing homes forcing residents into homeless shelters

Editor’s note: This article is the second in a three-part series examining how and why New York’s nursing homes too often fail to keep their residents safe. Read the first part here.

Robert Negron, 60, has been shuttled between more nursing homes than he can remember – at least six and perhaps as many as 20 – before landing in his current bed at Beth Abraham Health Services in the Bronx. The instability has been wearing on Negron, a Crohn’s disease patient who uses a wheelchair and needs regular attention for an unhealed wound on his foot and chronic skin ulcers – but it’s still better than being in a homeless shelter, he would say.

“In the shelters it's dirty, it’s nasty. You could not get enough medical attention and lose a limb,” Negron said, explaining how the unsanitary conditions at the men’s shelters on Ward’s Island, over the 10 years he occasionally stayed there,put him at risk. Although he visited a clinic for care and did the best he could to change his own bandages, “There were times when my foot was really bad,” he said. A New York City Human Resources Administration spokesman said that since Negron’s stay, “substantial improvements” have been made at that shelter.

Yet nursing homes, Negron said, have forced him into city homeless shelters three times. While there, the only thing that concerned him more than the lack of medical care were the people around him.

“They victimize you,” Negron said. “The criminals and the undesirables, they prey on the homeless disabled.” Once, he said, another man assaulted him in the shelter when he refused to hold drugs for him.

Negron’s case is an extreme one, advocates for the disabled say, but he is not alone. His experience is illustrative of a long-standing practice of nursing homes placing residents into New York City’s Department of Homeless Services shelter system. These vulnerable New Yorkers often have chronic medical conditions that have improved little, advocates say, but are moved to shelters that are poorly equipped for ailing individualsand are rife with violence.

Long-term care advocates are alarmed by a sudden spike in the number of older adults who report being forced out after having received nursing home care for many months or years. Although the city keeps no official statistics on transfers from nursing homes to shelters, advocates say there is evidence that the figures are rising.

In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the city’s homeless shelter system “deplorable” and “dangerous,” citing recent news reports that show high numbers of assaults. The city has taken steps to try to address these issues, most recently opting to retrain shelter security staff in order to manage the violence.

“We are in the throes of a homelessness crisis in New York City … and we are watching people being poured into the shelters from nursing facilities,” said Susan Dooha, executive director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. These often frail individuals, she said, “cannot be cared for in the shelters,” where there is no skilled nursing care and part-time clinics offer what is often the only medical aid available.

Nursing homes are required by state law to ensure all transfers are made to a safe place. For that reason, Dooha said she “cannot fathom” how nursing homes could send their residents to the city’s homeless shelters. Beyond that, Dooha said, federal protections were also being trampled.

When reached for comment, an HRA spokesman said “no one” should have been transferred from a nursing home to a shelter “if the needed medical treatment is not available at that shelter.”

“Their civil rights are being violated, in my opinion,” Dooha said, citing protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act that ensure safety and accessibility for the disabled. "I recently brought this up with people in the governor's office because I'm so concerned,” Dooha said, adding that she had also alerted the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Office for the Aging.

“People are not furniture,” Dooha said.

Nevertheless, nursing home administrators responsible for what they call “involuntary transfers” of their residents into homeless shelters tell watchdogs that there’s little they can do. If someone no longer requires a “nursing home level of care,” the logic goes, that person needs to leave. And for those with nowhere else to go, that means they go to a shelter.

“What I've heard directly from the people who were responsible for the discharge is, ‘Yes, it's unfortunate. We wish we had another option. Our hands are tied. They gotta go,’” explained Richard Danford, director of the New York City Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, a federally mandated and largely volunteer group advocating for nursing home residents.

In the past, Danford said, “You could count the number of shelter discharge complaints the ombudsman program got in a year on one hand.”

In the last four months, however, complaints are coming in at eight times the normal rate.

Since last November, the program fielded calls from 16 nursing home residents in New York City complaining that they were being transferred to homeless shelters. And while that number may appear low, Danford said, those complaints represent only a small fraction of what’s happening in the city’s nursing homes. It is likely that there are many others being sent into homeless shelters who did not call to complain, Danford said.

“These are the people who have it together enough to be able to read their notice, realize they can call us, and realize they can appeal the discharge,” Danford said.

And those calls did not originate from a single nursing home or even a few nursing homes. The calls came from 16 residents in 15 different homes, in four out of the five boroughs in New York City. In other words, Danford said, there are indications that the transfers are not only increasing in number, they’re becoming more widespread.

“We're really worried that that's the tip of an iceberg,” Danford said. “It's clearly becoming a practice. … There’s no question about it. Our biggest fear is that the number is substantially higher” than the call logs show.

After City & State requested statistics on the number of nursing home residents discharged into city homeless shelters, a spokesman for the Human Resources Administration responded that “DHS has not been systematically tracking entries from nursing homes but will be doing so in the future.”

The spokesman added, “As part of the 90 day review, we will be enhancing DHS procedures to make sure that clients are not discharged from nursing homes to DHS shelters when that is not appropriate.”

Daniel Ross, a lawyer with MFY Legal Services, which provides pro-bono civil representation for vulnerable New Yorkers, has counseled several nursing home residents threatened with a transfer into a homeless shelter.

“Most shelters are inaccessible (to the disabled) and they're unsafe,” Ross said, citing news reports describing shelter conditions. “And those two things are particularly concerning for nursing home residents who are particularly vulnerable to those conditions.”

“I don't think a homeless shelter can be an ‘appropriate discharge plan’ for long-term nursing home residents,” Ross said, referencing the plans that nursing homes must develop before removing someone from their care.

Nursing home residents can be discharged against their will for a few reasons, according to state regulations, including a determination that “the transfer or discharge is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved sufficiently.” Advocates say that this is the most common reason nursing home residents are given when they are told they are being transferred to a shelter.

Nursing homes are required to provide residents written notice 30 days before transferring them. The notice should include a care plan that shows the facility has arranged for relocation to a specific destination that is safe. Guidelines even suggest an advance visit to the destination.

But actual notices reviewed by the ombudsmen cast doubt on how or if nursing homes are meeting these requirements.

One recent notice, dated March 4, appeared not to give the resident 30 days notice. It noted an “Effective/Anticipated Date of Discharge” of just one week later, on March 11. It also didn’t specify where exactly the resident was going. The transfer destination, scrawled in looping handwriting, read simply: “Department of Homeless Services.”

Looking at the form, Danford wryly noted, “That’s it. Just any shelter (they) can drive him to.” In summary, he said, the notice “is not in compliance with the legal requirements.”

But on the face of it, the reason for the transfer was valid: “As per interdisciplinary team, resident has completed health goals and no longer requires skilled nursing care.”

Since nursing home medical staff can make that determination themselves, advocates believe that many residents feel helpless in the face of a transfer, so they do not challenge it.

Residents have the right to appeal to the state Department of Health, but advocates worry that few are even aware of that, because they have found that nursing homes do not always give residents that information, as required.

Ross, at MFY Legal Services, has represented residents who wanted to challenge their transfer.

In one case, a client had lived in the nursing home for years, receiving care for an array of problems. 

The man, an amputee, had an ill-fitting prosthesis that left him reliant on his wheelchair to move around. Nevertheless, his nursing home wanted to send him to a shelter.

He appealed the decision to the Health Department, which regulates nursing homes and acts as arbitrator in transfer disputes. An administrative law judge from Albany came down to New York City to preside over a hearing in a conference room at the nursing home.

Gathered around the table, each side presented their case. The nursing home’s physical therapist argued the man did not need to be a resident any longer. Ross argued the man needed further care.
The judge ruled in the nursing home’s favor and approved the man’s transfer into a homeless shelter. Ross said he has not heard from his client since then and did not know where he was.

“If a nursing home wants to do this,” Ross said, “it's not that challenging.”

Ross explained that a core problem is that the Health Department has decided that homeless shelters can be an “appropriate” place for long-term nursing home residents. “I think we just disagree with the Department of Health about what ‘appropriate’ is,” Ross said.

The Department of Health’s in-house administrative law judges have approved discharges to shelters “in certain instances,” a spokesman acknowledged, “particularly where an individual was homeless prior to being admitted to a nursing home for short-term skilled nursing care and have no other housing options.” The department did not respond to requests for statistics on how often these hearings occur.

The department spokesman also stressed the responsibility of nursing homes to “establish that the discharge is safe and appropriate for the person’s clinical needs.”

Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, which represents for-profit nursing homes in the New York City area, agreed with the Health Department on that point, stressing the need for nursing homes to follow state regulations.

But Balboni said there are pressures from state-implemented federal programs, aimed at reducing health care costs, that incentivize nursing homes to push out patients who don’t require skilled nursing care particularly the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program and managed care.

Richard Herrick, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association, which represents a variety of long-term care facilities, echoed that sentiment, agreeing that nursing homes were under pressure to discharge patients. The state Health Department, he said, is “always very strict about warning us about the inappropriate placement of patients in nursing homes ‘inappropriate’ means that they don't meet skilled (nursing) needs.”

A spokesperson for LeadingAge New York, an organization that represents the state’s nonprofit nursing homes, further explained that discharging a nursing home resident to a shelter may allow that person to access public assistance benefits they would be unable to receive while living in nursing home care.

That reasoning sounds familiar to Negron.

He recalled a social worker telling him before he was transferred into shelter, “All we can do is send you to a shelter, but you won't be there long. They'll help you get out.”

“But that's a crock, man,” Negron said. “They don't give anyone with a wheelchair housing. All you're doing is waiting to be shipped off to another nursing home.”

“Between the shelter and the nursing home, there is a revolving door,” Negron said of his experience. “It’s a vicious game.”

Whatever the rationale, advocates say long-term nursing home residents like Negron should not be placed in the city’s shelter system.

The ombudsman’s office has a catalog of stories about such long-term patients that it believes should never have been removed from nursing care. In one such instance last summer, a man who had been transferred out of a nursing home into a homeless shelter immediately walked himself to the nearest hospital emergency room and was admitted for inpatient medical care.

As the number of complaints go up, Danford’s office expects to have more stories to tell.

“There’s definitely been an increase, there’s no doubt about it,” Danford said. “Something’s going on and someone needs to figure out what it is.”

Balboni agrees.

“The Department of Health, the state Senate, the state Assembly should hold joint hearings on this. They should find out what's going on,” Balboni said. “But more importantly: How do you stop it?”

For now, Negron holds out hope that the current care he’s receiving at Beth Abraham will allow him to recuperate enough to find his own place someday. And perhaps, he said, sharing his story will help others, too.

“Maybe if there's enough exposure,” he said. “Maybe someone will say we need to do more for those people.”

You can view an example of a nursing home discharge/transfer notice below. 

Nursing Home Notice of Discharge or Transfer

Full Article & Source:
NYC nursing homes forcing residents into homeless shelters