Two nurses and an aide were indicted Wednesday in
the death of an elderly patient, World War II veteran James Dempsey, who
died pleading for help while in their care, WXIA-TV reported.
Dempsey’s family, of Woodstock, Ga.,
hid a camera in the late veteran’s room in the Northeast Atlanta Health
and Rehabilitation Center which captured the night he died.
The video showed the decorated U.S. Navy veteran
repeatedly calling for help, saying he could not breathe. It also showed
the nurses failing to take life-saving measures and laughing as they
tried to start an oxygen machine.
The channel reported that Brookhaven Police launched an investigation and on Wednesday a grand jury returned an indictment.
Loyce Pickquet Agyeman’s top charge is felony murder; Wanda Nuckles, a
nursing supervisor, is charged with depriving an elder of essential
services and Mable Turman is charged with neglect to an elder, the
report said. Warrants were issued for their arrests.
The nursing home’s attorneys attempted to stop media
news outlet WXIA-TV from getting the video, but a DeKalb County judge
ruled to unseal the footage.
Nuckles told Dempsey’s family lawyers in the deposition
that when she learned the veteran had stopped breathing, she rushed to
his room and took over CPR, keeping it up until paramedics arrived,
However, the secret video showed that nobody was doing
CPR when she arrived, and she did not start immediately. After the
attorneys showed Nuckles the video, she told them it was an honest
mistake, based on her normal reactions.
When the attorneys asked why Nuckles was laughing, she said she did not remember.
WXIA-TV reported the nursing home was told of the video in 2015 but
did not terminate the nurses until 10 months later. Nuckles and another
nurse did not surrender their licenses until this September, when the
Georgia Board of Nursing was sent a link to the video by the news
Records showed the nursing home continued to have
problems, including $813,000 in Medicare fines since 2015, WXIA-TV
reported. It said the nursing home got a good inspection report in May,
but still has Medicare's lowest score, a one-star rating.
It’s expected to take until the end of the year for the Minnesota
Department of Health to tackle the backlog of complaints of maltreatment
in the state’s assisted-living facilities.
In the meantime, lawmakers are expected to use recent recommendations
from an elder abuse task force as a guide to craft new rules and
regulations to help keep Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens safe.
Gov. Mark Dayton says he’ll work with his new lieutenant governor,
Republican Michelle Fischbach, and leaders in the GOP-led House and
Senate to implement the task force recommendations.
Expanding the rights of seniors, vulnerable adults and their
families so they are empowered to report maltreatment and don’t fear
Strengthening criminal and civil penalties for maltreatment so
prosecutors can more easily charge perpetrators and victims can seek
compensation when their rights are violated.
Clearer standards for licensing of assisted-living facilities and for training of staff.
Improving enforcement of existing laws through more frequent inspections and expedited investigations of abuse complaints.
Dayton has already ordered the state Department of Human Services to
work with state health officials to improve the Office of Health
He also recently appointed Jan Malcolm as health commissioner to
replace Dr. Ed Ehlinger, who resigned after the department’s failure to
protect vulnerable adults came to light. Malcolm’s top priority is to
improve the state’s oversight of assisted-living facilities.
Charlotte, Florida - Florida may have the nation’s
highest percentage of older residents, but a national study has found
the state’s not doing a good enough job of taking care of them.
below average in terms of elder abuse and neglect protections and dead
last nationally when it comes to resources, such as funding for
long-term care ombudsmen and eldercare organizations and services,
according to WalletHub.
separate recent canvass of Florida residents revealed that concerns
regarding elder care and nursing home costs are also at an
all-time-high, with almost three in four saying they’re "somewhat
concerned" or "very concerned" in a USF- Nielsen Sunshine State Survey.
According to the research, residents are worried about and aware of the
same problems highlighted by WalletHub -- the state is not putting
enough money into these senior services, there is not enough funding for
key help such as caregivers, and the amount of services are lacking
despite such a large 65-plus community.
emergencies and deaths during power outages in the aftermath of
Hurricane Irma recently highlighted significant flaws in elder care
protocols and regulations.
Reacting to the
crisis, during which Gov. Rick Scott was accused of not following up on
calls for help, the state put in an emergency generator rule requiring
nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have a working generator
and 96 hours of fuel.
That was too late for
at least a dozen residents who died in sweltering conditions at The
Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which was located adjacent to a
medical center. But legislators say they’re poised to address the
challenges in the industry.
everyone has common sense to call 911 in an emergency and evacuate
people to the hospital across the street," state Rep. Katie Edwards
said. "They have to get their act together, they have to have a plan,
and damn it, it’s ridiculous that we have to mandate that people have to
During the ongoing
legislative session, Edwards and others are targeting Florida’s
Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which records show has regularly
turned up fewer complaints each year under Gov. Scott for the state’s
3,772 registered nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The elder care issue,
as USF- Nielsen highlighted, is of high interest in a state where Pew
Research Center found that "53 of 67 counties have an above-average
share of people 65 and older." Charlotte has the second-largest
percentage and Sarasota fourth in the U.S., among counties of more than
25,000 residents, according to a Pew analysis of 2014 Census data.
The concern is unless
more action is taken to prevent further abuse, the problem will grow as
Florida becomes an increasingly aging state. The U.S. Census Bureau
projects the national population of senior citizens is expected to
double by 2050, from 43.1 million to 83.7 million.
Already, nearly 96 percent of elder abuse instances go unreported or unresolved, according to WalletHub.
That’s why increasing
public awareness and training are the two most important factors of
preventing and addressing neglect or worse, said BeLinda AmanKwaa, Adult
Protective Operations Program Administrator for the state Department of
Children and Families in Charlotte County, North Port and other nearby
State records obtained
by the Sun show that of Florida’s 34,792 cases in 2017, only 12 percent
were verified. Of 67 counties, Sarasota and Charlotte ranked 13th and
23rd, respectively, in the number of complaints.
Dade County led the
state in total numbers but fares better than Charlotte and Sarasota
counties when it comes to the rate, according to a Sun analysis of the
data using U.S. Census numbers. Dade had one complaint for every 158
residents who are 65 or over; both Charlotte and Sarasota have one for
While the lack of
verification of complaints could partially be the result of no abuse
actually occurring in a case, many are dismissed because evidence is
sparse or does not meet certain standards, AmanKwaa said.
The standard: "Abuse
means any willful act or threatened act by a relative, caregiver, or
household member, which causes or is likely to cause significant
impairment to a vulnerable adult’s physical, mental, or emotional
health. Abuse includes acts and omissions," AmanKwaa said.
Victims are not always
able to speak out or get necessary help for themselves, making a
support system, reliable witnesses or trustworthy homes and facilities
key in obtaining justice, she said.
Likewise, the stigma
surrounding abuse in this plays a concerning role on whether or not a
case is reported, according to AmanKwaa. Bringing light to such a
situation can often make the victim feel even more vulnerable,
potentially dissuading affected individuals from coming forward. Others,
as studies have shown, keep quiet "to maintain their independent living
arrangement," said Thomas G. Blomberg, Florida State Professor of
Criminology and the university’s Executive Director of the Center for
Criminology and Public Policy Research.
"They do not want to
move in with their children or to be moved to assisted living
facilities," said Blomberg, who has studied elder abuse. "As a result,
elders often suffer from abuse and financial exploitation in silence,
for fear that their "well-meaning" children, if they are aware of the
abuse, will take away their independent living arrangement. Families
need to be open with elders and supportive of their wishes -- letting
them know that as long as humanly possible, they will live as they
choose and are able."
Florida consent laws
state that anyone of sound mind has the right to refuse services and
interventions; therefore, even outside witnesses to neglect or abuse are
not always enough to make a case if the victim themselves do not want
"A vulnerable adult
who has the mental capacity to consent may opt to refuse all services,"
said AmanKwaa. Meaning that withheld treatments or under-medication --
which could look like signs of neglect to a third-party -- could
actually be what the patient is requesting.
While legislators consider additional statutes, one current law couldn’t be more clear: "Florida law requires
the reporting of known or suspected abuse, neglect, exploitation or
self-neglect of vulnerable adults (elderly or disabled)," AmanKwaa said.
Like the TSA and Homeland Security campaigns, or even on Buzzfeed, if you see something, chances are you should say something.
Sun-Sentinel reporter Dan Sweeney and former WalletHub writer Richie Bernardo supplemented this report.
A plan to downsize a Kalamazoo nursing home that has some residents’
families and elder advocates crying foul is on hold for now, according
to the facility’s CEO.
In January, the Harold and Grace Upjohn
Community Care Center sent out a letter announcing imminent plans to
downsize by 42 residents as part of a larger facility overhaul, saying
some would have to "transition" to other locations.
But the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office calls that
unacceptable. It says state and federal law allows nursing homes to
remove residents for just a few very specific reasons -- and that’s not one of them.
of those circumstances apply in this case,” said Alison Hirschel, legal
counsel for the Ombudsman’s office. “And so we’re deeply troubled that
very fragile residents are being forced to leave when it doesn’t appear
it meets any of the federal or state requirements for an eviction.”
says nursing home residents also weren’t properly informed of their
legal rights in an “involuntary discharge” situation -- including the
right to appeal an eviction, and have that appeal heard before removal
-- and that some have already left the Upjohn Center. The affected
residents are mostly in their 80s and 90s, including at least one in
Hirschel says these concerns have been repeatedly
communicated to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory
Affairs, the agency responsible for oversight at long-term care
facilities, but LARA has not intervened. “Despite our many conversations
with them, they have not stepped up to protect these residents,” she
In a written statement, LARA says there has been "no formal
finding of non-compliance with regulations against the home has been
made at this time, and the home has been taking the necessary steps to
correct any concerns raised by the department,” according to Bureau of
Community and Health Systems Larry Horvath.
LARA says the Upjohn
Center, which is part of the larger Heritage Community of Kalamazoo, is
“proposing a reduction in licensed bed capacity,” which was communicated
via several “informational letters.”
According to an agency
statement, “the provider has been very cooperative with the department’s
review of this matter and has taken steps to correct any misperceptions
that the letters were intended as a formal discharge of any individual
Heritage Community CEO Jay Prince echoed
that, saying via email Tuesday that there’s been “a great deal of
confusion” about the matter.
“The simple answer is, no resident has been notified to leave, nor asked to leave, nor is being forced to leave,” Prince said.
also said the proposed changes are “on hold” for now. Should the
project move forward eventually, we will make sure every appropriate
step is taken to inform and support our residents in every way,” he
Prince said there is “no timetable” for proceeding with the
downsizing plan, saying that Heritage awaits “further direction from
LARA says it has received two formal complaints about the
proposed changes at Upjohn. The agency says it continues to review the
For accountants and tax professionals with clients who are
about to retire or are in retirement, here's some news that could be of
help. In a groundbreaking move, the Financial Industry Regulatory
Authority (FINRA) has released two rules that establish the first
nationwide standards for the protection of senior investors.
"These important changes, developed in collaboration with our
members, provide firms with tools to respond more quickly and
effectively to protect seniors and vulnerable investors from financial
exploitation," said Robert L.D. Colby, FINRA's chief legal officer, in a
statement. “With the aging of the U.S. population, financial
exploitation is a serious and growing problem, and protecting senior
investors remains a top priority for FINRA.”
Although the new rules were approved by the Securities and Exchange
Commission a year ago, FINRA set the effective date for this year to
allow firms to develop policies and procedures.
The need for the new rules became evident after FINRA talked to firms
and also learned that calls to the Securities Helpline for Seniors
revealed some of the issues they face.
According to FINRA, the helpline has handled more than 12,000 calls
since its launch in April 2015. More than $5.3 million in voluntary
reimbursements from firms to customers has been made since the launch.
Firms are required to collect information for a “trusted contact”
when an account is opened or updated. That includes the names of
associated people who are responsible for the account and a record of
their responsibilities for the account as long as it’s not an
institutional account. (Institutional accounts are those owned by a
bank, insurance company, savings and loan association or registered
investment company; or owned by a registered adviser with the SEC or
with a state securities commission; or owned by anyone with total assets
of at least $50 million.
The “trusted contact” is supposed to be a resource for firms in
handling customer accounts, protecting assets and responding to possible
financial exploitation of senior investors.
Members don’t have to meet the rule’s requirements for accounts
opened according to a prior FINRA rule until the member updates the
information for the account.
Creates a “safe harbor” period that makes it permissive for advisors
to hold disbursements from the account of a “specified adult” if
several criteria are met. That includes investors 65 and older or
individuals 18 and older who have a mental or physical impairment.
“It is a critical measure because of the difficulty investors face
in trying to recover funds that they have inadvertently sent to
fraudsters and scam artists,” FINRA states in the rule.
“Financial exploitation” means the wrongful or unauthorized taking,
withholding, appropriation or use of a senior’s funds or securities;
any act or omission by a person, including someone with the power of
attorney, guardianship or any other authority regarding the senior to
get control through deception, intimidation or undue influence over the
senior’s money, assets or property or convert the senior’s money, assets
A member who relies on the rule should establish and maintain
written supervisory procedures. The procedures should identify the title
of anyone authorized to place, terminate or extend a temporary hold on
behalf of the member and who is an associate serving in a supervisory,
compliance or legal capacity for the member.
Members must retain records related to rule compliance and make them available to FINRA.
woman who cared for accused Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz and his
brother filed court papers seeking control of their inheritance just one
day after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
their mother Lynda Cruz died from flu-related pneumonia last November,
Cruz, 19, and his brother Zachary, 17, were put into the care of Roxanne
A source close to the family, who has not been named, told the New York Post Deschamps kicked
Cruz out of her trailer after a fight over his gun collection. She also
reportedly also took $2,900 from him before he moved out.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parkland, Florida, where he allegedly killed 17 people, is
seen on a closed circuit television screen during a bond hearing in
front of Broward Judge Kim Mollica at the Broward County Courthouse on
February 15, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Roxanne Deschamps, Cruz's
carer, reportedly filed for control of his inheritance one day after
the massacre last Wednesday. Getty
Deschamps filed a petition for Lynda’s estate just one day later, according to court reports obtained by the Post. In the document, Deschamps argued that she should be granted control as she is “caring for a 50 percent minor beneficiary."
The source told the Post that Deschamps had Cruz’s brother involuntarily committed on Friday. It is unclear if Zachary has since been released.
filed petition does not reveal the total value of the estate. However,
the Snead family, who cared for Cruz during the time the attack took
place, said he was due to inherit at least $800,000 when he turned 22.
a judge grants the petition, Deschamps would be responsible for
allotting the children’s inheritance and paying debts owed by the
estate. She could also charge a fee for administering the estate. The
amount would be subject to the judge’s discretion according to Robert
Wolf, a Florida lawyer who is independent of the case.
picture is slowly forming of the suspected shooter, who was arrested
shortly after the incident and briefly taken to Broward Health North
hospital in Pompano Beach, before being transferred to the Broward
Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed that Cruz was a former student at the
school expelled last year for unknown "disciplinary reasons."
According to Cruz’s attorneys,
the teenager has been on suicide watch since his arrest and is
reportedly “sad and remorseful.” One of the attorneys said Cruz had the
mental state of a child.
was relayed to me was ‘he is such a child,’” Gordon Weekes, a chief
assistant for Broward County’s public defenders office, told the Sun Sentinel. “That’s the impression our attorneys are getting.”
A DeKalb County Grand Jury has indicted two nurses and an aide in
connection with the death of an elderly patient. Former licensed nurse
practitioner Loyce Pickquet Agyeman of Snellville is charged with felony
murder and neglect to an elderly person.
Wanda Nuckles of Buford, also a former licensed nurse practitioner,
is charged with depriving an elder person of essential services, while
Mable Turman, a certified nurse assistant from College Park, is charged
with neglect to an elder person. All three women were also indicted on a
single count of concealing the ceath of another in the five-count
indictment returned by Grand Jurors Tuesday afternoon.
The charges against the women stem from the Feb. 27, 2014 death of
89-year-old James Dempsey, a patient in their care at Northeast Atlanta
Rehabilitation Center in Brookhaven. Video surveillance shows the
patient suffering in respiratory distress and repeatedly calling out for
help. Soon after his distress calls, the victim became unresponsive.
The indictment alleges the Defendants, in varying degrees, failed to
provide timely and necessary medical assistance, ultimately resulting in
Mr. Dempsey’s death.
The video surveillance of the incident was made public in November
2017 following a civil lawsuit, prompting a joint investigation between
law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.
Following their indictment, grand Jury warrants were issued for the arrest of each defendant.
The case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit. A trial date has not been set.
AURORA, Ill. (AP) — A 41-year-old suburban Chicago woman
has pleaded guilty to stealing money from a resident of a long-term care
facility while working for a state contractor.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports that Kane
County prosecutors say 41-year-old Mary E. Pfingston of Joliet entered
her plea in court Friday. She faces probation or a sentence of between
three to seven years in prison. She's to be sentenced March 22. She
remains in the Kane County jail in lieu of bail.
Pfingston worked for Senior Services Associates. It was contracted with the state through the Illinois
Department on Aging. An indictment alleged Pfingston stole thousands of
dollars from a North Aurora care-facility resident in 2015. The
indictment included counts of financial exploitation of the elderly and
public contractor misconduct.
This is a photograph of Ellen Hinds celebrating New Year’s Eve 2016 at Shannondell, about 2 1/2 months before her death.
by Stacey Burling
On a frigid night last March, Ellen Hinds, who was 85 and had
dementia, left her apartment building in her retirement community north
of Philadelphia wearing only light pajamas. There was snow on the
ground, and her feet were bare. She carried a potted plant but no key.
It was 2:15 a.m.
Five hours later, she was found near a different door lying facedown
in the snow. She was turning blue. Her feet showed signs of frostbite.
There were icicles on her hands and feet, according to a report from
She died a week later having never regained consciousness. Family
members said she appeared to be in “great agony.” Her death certificate
lists “complications of hypothermia” as the cause of death.
Her son, Blake Rowe, a drug company scientist, has filed suit against
Shannondell at Valley Forge in Audubon and its security company,
Universal Protection Service LLC, claiming that they should have done
more to protect his mother. She had been allowed to stay in an
independent-living apartment after Shannondell knew she had a tendency
to become confused and wander aimlessly, the suit says.
“I put my trust in them. They said they would do an assessment they
never did,” said Rowe, who got the “horrible” news that his mother was
in the hospital as his plane landed in Florida for his honeymoon. As
for the security company, he said, “If they were doing their rounds,
someone would not be at a door for five hours freezing to death.”
Rowe’s King of Prussia-based lawyer, Robert Snyder, said Shannondell
should have put Hinds “in the right place to get the right care so she’d
still be alive today.”
The case is a nightmare scenario for many families. The Alzheimer’s
Association estimates that up to 60 percent of dementia sufferers will
wander, a hard-to-define behavior that involves traveling by foot (or
car) in ways that don’t make sense to the rest of us. A man who hasn’t
worked for years may head for the office. A woman may pace the halls of
her assisted-living facility with no goal she can name. The danger
comes when brain damage causes wanderers to get lost and then makes it
hard for them to seek help in a rational way. It’s particularly scary
in the winter, when frailty mixed with subfreezing temperatures can
quickly turn deadly.
The Hinds case also illustrates a trend in senior housing — at all
levels of care, including independent living, residents are older and
have more health problems than in the past — with safety implications
that may surprise families. Most seniors want to be as independent as they can for as long as they can.Families
shopping for senior apartments may want to look beyond the quality of
the food or beauty of the grounds and ask what will happen when a loved
one declines: Were your buildings and security designed with dementia
in mind? Whose job is it — the family’s or the facility’s — to start
the conversation when a resident needs more help?
‘Nobody’s bothered to notice’
It is impossible to know how many caregivers have gotten calls like the one Rowe received.
Many wandering incidents never involve police or health authorities.
Spokesmen for the Pennsylvania and federal human services agencies said
they could not find statistics on people who had left assisted-living
facilities and nursing homes or on deaths related to wandering. Laurie
Brewer, chief of staff of the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman, said
there were 65 cases of wandering from nursing homes and 26 from assisted
living or other residential health care in 2017. Reporting is not
required for wandering from independent-living facilities or for private
Robert Koester, an expert on search and rescue with special expertise
in elders who wander, estimates that roughly 250,000 people with
dementia will be reported missing to police this year. The number will
rise as baby boomers age. About half of older people wander from their
homes, he said, while the rest find their way out of institutions like
nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. In an analysis of 800
searches involving people with dementia, 6 percent of those in urban
areas died compared with 8 percent in wilderness.
“Nobody’s bothered to notice how big this problem actually is,” he said.
An Allentown nursing home lost its license in October in response to the death last summer of a 77-year-old resident with Alzheimer’s
who wandered from the facility. Her body was found in a ditch three
weeks later. A 2016 lawsuit involved a man in his 90s who managed to
leave the Arden Courts Memory Care Community in King of Prussia in
February 2014 and suffered frostbite. An 87-year-old man was found dead
on a cold night in 2014 after wandering outside of Arden Courts of Cherry Hill, an assisted-living facility.
But Rowe’s lawsuit explores relatively new legal territory. While
lawyers have sued nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, Snyder
and other local elder law experts said they were unaware of cases
involving residents of independent living who have wandered. Ellen Hinds
got about 20 hours a week of extra help from a retired nurse but was
not under constant supervision.
Shannondell is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), a
common form of senior living meant to help people remain in the same
development as they need more care. According to its website,
Shannondell offers a continuum from independent living to nursing home.
It has a memory unit for people with dementia.
Shannondell did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
Its lawyer, Peter Callahan, said he was not authorized to speak and
referred a reporter to insurer CNA, which did not respond to questions.
John Donovan, a lawyer for the security company, also did not respond
to a request for comment. In court filings, both sets of lawyers denied
wrongdoing. Shannondell’s responses to the suit emphasized that Hinds
lived independently and that her building was not a medical facility.
It denied knowing that she had memory problems and said it was not
responsible for her death.
How independent is independent living?
Snyder argues that the expectation of support is different for a
resident of independent living in a CCRC than for regular apartment
“You’re not independent,” he said. “You’re buying a program for
multiple steps for the rest of your life. You’re buying a first step.”
Hinds had moved from her longtime home in California in September
2016 to be near Rowe, who lives in Skippack. She paid a $145,000 entry
fee and monthly rent of $1,845 to live in a gated community with 24-hour
security, meals, and activities. While some CCRCs offer stable rents
regardless of their level of care, Hinds would have had to pay more for
personal, memory, or nursing-home care.
Martin Kardon, a Philadelphia lawyer who specializes in cases
involving medical errors and nursing-home neglect, agrees with Snyder
here. “Independent living,” he said, “is a lot different than renting an
apartment at the Academy House.”
Michael Ringold, a Marlton lawyer who specializes in nursing-home
abuse cases, said this case would be “difficult” because
independent-living facilities are not expected to provide supervision.
His own mother died after wandering from a memory unit in California in
2016. Even in locked facilities, residents can get out, he said, often
because of short staffing.
While independent living is not regulated as a health provider,
experts on aging said the line between it and assisted living — adding
help with activities like dressing and taking medicine — is blurring.
“Independent living communities are more and more ‘independent’ in
name only,” said Jerold Rothkoff, an elder law attorney in Cherry Hill.
These days, people tend to be older when they first come to
independent living, and many hire aides to help them stay there. Many
resist moving to a higher level of care, either because they don’t want
to pay extra or, more often, don’t want to admit they need extra help.
“Family members hate, hate, hate moving their family members out of
independent living,” said Julie Thomas, associate director of clinical
services for the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter.
Danielle Snyderman, a Jefferson Health geriatrician who works
frequently at The Hill at Whitemarsh, a CCRC, said wandering by someone
in independent living there would immediately put that resident at the
top of the list for a discussion about a higher level of care.
Shannondell wouldn’t comment on its practices.
Some independent-living facilities said they will admit people they
know have dementia, although that typically happens when there is also a
well spouse in the picture or an aide.
“These places were not designed to take care of people with dementia,” Rothkoff said.
‘She hated the cold’
Ellen Hinds lost her first husband in 1985, the second in 2012.
Rowe’s brother and only sibling died in 2015 of lung cancer. Rowe then
began hearing from her neighbors that his mother was depressed and
behaving oddly. She was wandering around at night. She looked for a
nonexistent lost dog in the bushes. She thought she saw children in the
Rowe intervened, and his mother wondered if the medicine she was
taking for nerve pain was making her hallucinate, but realized she
needed more help. She agreed to move to Pennsylvania. Her only
concern, said Jenny Hinds, her ex-stepdaughter-in-law and frequent
companion, was the climate. “She hated the cold,” Hinds said.
Ellen Hinds toured Shannondell and one other facility and liked them
both. Rowe pushed for Shannondell because it had more residents, and he
wanted her to “get out and meet people.” She loved how new and clean
everything was. Rowe has pictures of her dancing on New Year’s Eve.
She walked unaided and had enough stamina for 12-hour excursions to
casinos or the mall with Jenny Hinds. Before her death, the two were
planning a trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show.
Rowe says he told Shannondell officials from the beginning that his
mother had a history of wandering and memory problems, though her
symptoms had improved after surgery for the nerve problem in California.
Not long after she moved in, Rowe began getting calls from
Shannondell that his mother had been found wandering. At least twice,
he was told she’d gone into the parking lot late at night, and he
needed to come to her apartment. He took her to his house and brought
her back when she seemed all right. He says he took her to a doctor
with an office in the Shannondell community, who diagnosed her with Lewy body dementia and told him she would eventually need more care. He assumed, he said, that that information would be shared with Shannondell.
In their response to the lawsuit, Shannondell said that doctor did
not work for them, but had an independent practice that leased space.
Rowe said his mother had $900,000 when she died, plenty to pay for a
higher level of care. He would have moved her to Shannondell’s memory
unit, but no one from the retirement community brought it up. Neither
“Their nurses were the ones calling me” about wandering, Rowe said of
Shannondell. “I was figuring they should be doing something.” Ellen
Hinds’ agreement with Shannondell gave either her or the community the
right to ask for a higher level of care.
Jenny Hinds said the family felt Ellen Hinds was safe at
Shannondell. “We were looking to them to guide us,” she said. “They
said they would help us through this journey.”
Snyder says security footage viewed by Erik Snyder, his son and
law partner, shows Ellen Hinds trying to get back in the building the
night she went out without her key card. The doors have keypads that
allow residents to call security with a four-digit code. Hinds, the
lawsuit says, is seen repeatedly touching the pad as well as tugging and
banging on doors. Robert Snyder said he can’t tell whether she failed
to punch the right code or the guard failed to respond.
He contends that facilities like Shannondell should make doors safer
for residents who can’t remember the code needed to summon help, perhaps
with vestibules protected from the weather and red buttons that make it
easier to call security. David Danton, senior principal with KDA
Architects in Voorhees, which specializes in designs for senior housing,
said vestibules are unusual for anything other than main entrances.
The lawsuit said the security film showed someone inside the building
looking out shortly after 5 a.m. and failing to notice Hinds slumped
over a trash receptacle 15 to 20 feet away. By 5:52, the video showed
that Hinds had fallen in the snow. She was found around 7 a.m. and an
ambulance arrived at 7:20.
Rowe said he filed the suit because “I don’t want it to happen to someone else.”
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Two House Bills paired with one Senate Bill to protect the elderly could soon be going to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk.
House Bill 635 passed unanimously Thursday, which could more efficiently tackle elderly abuse throughout the state.
“[It] looks at the success the C.A.V.E. group has had in Augusta and
suggests that it be replicated across the state,” Kathy Floyd, the
Executive Director of Georgia Council on Aging, told NewsChannel 6.
The C.A.V.E task force, Crimes Against the Elderly, is comprised of
people from the District Attorney’s office, Sheriff’s and Marshal’s
offices and the coroner’s office.
The group was recognized last week at the state capital by the G.B.I and a House legislature.
The second bill, House Bill 803, focuses on trafficking disabled
adults. Law enforcement has discovered some illegal care home owners are
moving disabled adults around to avoid detection. And in some cases,
they are taking residents in specifically to control their social
“They don’t take enough to pay for their residents,” Floyd explained. “They take the entire amount.”
The last bill, out of the Senate, would tighten the process of how
caregivers are hired: “This is a part of the governor’s criminal justice
proposal, and it would require fingerprint background checks for all
care workers in long-term care settings,” Floyd said.
This will be especially effective for Georgia cities that border
other states, like Augusta touching South Carolina– to detect crimes
that happened in states besides the one he or she resides in.
“One of the things we want to start looking at after this legislative
session is over is at the fines and sanction of personal care homes,”
Floyd told us. “They have not been updated for a number of years.”
Rachel Aviv’s “What Does it Mean to Die?”
profiles Jahi McMath, outlining this resilient and courageous young
girl’s situation in much of its depth, conveying the complex nature of
Jahi’s medical and legal situation as it relates to the neurological
criterion for death (“brain death”) and many medical, bioethical,
philosophical, and religious dimensions of the issue of human life. Unfortunately,
in this same piece the New Yorker presents editorialized speculation
and hearsay on Terri Schiavo as if it were objective news. Worse, after
nearly two weeks of appeals, the New Yorker’s “fact checking” staff and
editors refused any correction.
The New Yorker editorializes that footage of Terri Schiavo appearing
conscious and aware “had been edited, giving the illusion that she was
tracking people with her eyes, even though she was blind”.
These “fact free” assertions dramatically misleads readers about the
nature of the early 2000s Terri-related footage. A much more objective
and medically sound characterization in the form of a correction was
proposed to the New Yorker but rejected: “Short video footage of Dr.
Ronald Cranford’s neurological examination of Terri Schiavo on behalf of
her husband, Michael Schiavo, remains controversial, due to the
uncertain nature of her visual and cognitive abilities”. CONTINUE
appeared in the Dakota Voice, available here. One can’t help but wonder
if perhaps the mainstream media is feeling a growing sense of
uneasiness regarding Terri’s death. In the two years since my sister
died I have witnessed an increasing determination on their part to
convince the public that…
Public conservatorship laws may soon expand throughout the state,
including in San Francisco, under proposed legislation by state Sen.
Wiener said at a press conference on Monday that the current
conservatorship laws are not allowing cities to help the homeless
population suffering from mental illness:
“The public conservatorship laws are simply too rigid to
allow counties to help those who are the greatest distressed on the
Wiener said those with severe mental health or drug addiction
problems that are put under a 72-hour or 14-day hold by The City, sober
up, become lucid, and may appear fit to take care of themselves in front
of a judge, usually end up back on the streets and back in The City’s
“This is a life or death situation, and it is beyond humane to just sit back and watch as these people die.”
Wiener addressed the civil liberties concerns over Senate Bill 1045,
acknowledging that taking a person’s civil liberties and making
decisions for them is serious. He said the proposed legislation will
include the state’s existing checks and balances system, which include a
judicial oversight committee.
Barbara Garcia, director of public health department, in support of SB 1045, said:
“The laws today inhibit us to do the kinds of work we that believe that they need.”
Mayor Mark Farrell and Board of Supervisors President London Breed both support Wiener’s legislation.
“We have to explore new ways to help these individuals. The status quo is unacceptable.”
Breed will introduce new legislation at the Board of Supervisors
Tuesday to transfer the responsibility of non-criminal mental health
conservatorship cases from the district attorney to the city attorney.
“These cases should not be treated as a crime, but as a civil matter. The same way we treat child and family law in The City.”
Breed will also request a drafting of legislation to create a Mental
Health Services pilot program involving the Department of Health,
Department of Aging and Adult Services, Department of Homelessness and
Supportive Housing, The City’s Police Department and BART’s Police
Under the pilot program, the agencies would create a list of
“high-risk” individuals suffering from mental illness, substance abuse
or chronic homelessness. The agencies would then meet bi-weekly do
discuss way to help those individuals on the list.
The scaled-down guardianship reform package that unanimously passed the
state House of Representatives and Senate in the waning hours of the
Legislature is, in the words of Rep. Daymon Ely, “an excellent and
substantial start, but … by no means the end of the process.”
changes in the legislation on the way to Gov. Susana Martinez will open
the now-secret process to the public and family members who for the
most part have been shut out.
The more extensive measure sponsored
by Sen. James White, R-Albuquerque, took on a guardianship system that
can generously be described as “broken.” It is an industry dominated by
insiders that has allowed wasting of assets, outright theft, and
mistreatment of wards and families by for-profit guardians and
Court oversight has been inadequate at best as
millions of dollars have either been wasted by for-profit insiders or
siphoned away from the assets of some of our most vulnerable people –
those declared by a judge to be incapacitated.
In other cases, family members who objected to mistreatment of their
loved ones or profligate spending by court-appointed conservators and
guardians found themselves barred from even seeing their family member.
Their complaints were often dismissed as “emotional.”
long overdue reform,” says Ely, D-Corrales, who worked hard in the House
Judiciary Committee to save the bill by stripping measures from White’s
bill that imposed major changes on the judiciary – changes the courts
said they were not yet prepared to deal with. In the end, the judiciary
agreed reforms are needed and has pledged to work on additional changes –
some contained in a model national statute drafted by the Uniform Law
Make no mistake. Even with the governor’s signature
and the $1 million that comes with it to implement a revised system,
there is much work left to be done. White told the Judiciary Committee
that if someone asked him now whether they should get a guardian
appointed for a loved one, “I’d say, don’t do it. This system is so
broken right now.”
Abuses of the system have been chronicled in
the Albuquerque Journal for more than a year – coverage originally met
with protests from the industry and some judges. But as the story has
unfolded – including federal criminal charges against commercial
guardian firm Ayudando Guardians, which is accused of stealing millions
from its clients, the tide of public opinion has turned.
Darnell, whose family’s issues were featured in the Journal Series “Who
Guards the Guardians,” asked members of the House Judiciary Committee to
picture themselves in the place of families caught up in the system and
pleaded with them to help those in guardianships “who don’t have a
voice.” There could be as many as 7,000 people in New Mexico under
guardianships – although the courts don’t actually know how many such
cases exist. Some of the appropriation will go to determining the status
of these cases.
Other necessary changes that are needed going
forward involve a system by which a petitioning lawyer can’t also in
effect name the guardian ad litem who will decide if a guardianship is
needed. A formal method that allows families to put forth grievances is
There has been a national movement to reform
guardianships, and as usual New Mexico has lagged behind. But lawmakers
have taken an important first step that moves us toward the forefront
and deserves the governor’s signature.
Sen. White deserves great
credit – especially as a non-lawyer taking on an attorney-dominated
industry. Other key players include Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto,
D-Albuquerque; House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe; House Judiciary
Committee Chair Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque; and Rep. Ely.
up to Gov. Martinez to make sure this first step takes effect July 1 –
with the modest appropriation needed to make it work. Thousands of
vulnerable people and their families are counting on it.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was
written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it
represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
recent article in The New Yorker reported on a case in Nevada in which a
professional guardian had herself appointed as guardian over numerous
elderly people. The elderly people became her wards without ever
requesting her services. After being appointed as their guardian, she
engaged in a pattern of fraud against the elderly wards. None of the
elderly wards had any prior relationship with the professional guardian,
nor had they even known her prior to her seeking appointment to be
attempts to regulate professional guardians, but it is nevertheless
possible for a professional guardian to be appointed as guardian even
though they are a stranger to the proposed ward.
How can this be avoided?
law provides that a court is required to give preference to a person’s
expressed desire when appointing a guardian for the person. One way this
can be accomplished is by specifying your preference for a future
guardian in a written power of attorney, which can be signed in advance
and remain in effect even if you become incapacitated later. Such power
of attorney can be distributed to family members, and a copy can be kept
with your attorney so that your wishes will be honored if it becomes
necessary in future for a guardian to be appointed. People typically
nominate friends or family members in their power of attorney document
for this purpose.
powers of attorney forms did not contain such nomination provision for
guardians. If yours does not, you should consider updating your power of
attorney so that your wishes regarding these matters will be clearly
Bruce Coalwell has been an attorney in Roseburg since 1981 and is a shareholder in the law firm of Dole Coalwell, P.C.
Staying out of probate court can save you thousands of dollars, time and frustration.
In Maricopa County, there are about 22,000 probate cases a year, and the caseload has steadily increased in recent years.
term "probate" refers to the establishment or validity of a will, but
probate court in Maricopa County handles guardianship and
conservatorship cases as well as formal and informal disputes over wills
and adult adoption.
Here are some tips from Candice Lapin, who has researched probate issues for Legalzoom. She recommends:
Write a living trust:
A living trust is merely an alternative to a last will. But unlike a
will, which merely distributes your assets upon death, a living trust
places your assets and property "in trust," which is then managed by a
trustee for the benefit of your beneficiaries. It allows you to avoid
probate entirely because the property and assets are already distributed
to the trust.
Name beneficiaries on your retirement and bank accounts: By
filling out paperwork on these forms, a person ensures that proceeds
are dispersed at death without having to pass through probate.
Create joint tenancy with a right of survivorship: Another way to keep your real estate out of probate is to consider holding your property jointly.
Chipman, an attorney at Udall Shumway in Mesa, said residents can avoid
probate court by obtaining a durable power of attorney when all of the
people involved still have their mental faculties.
it may cost a few hundred dollars in legal fees for a durable power of
attorney or a few thousand dollars to create a trust, the legal expense
typically is far less than what someone would have to pay in probate
court, Chipman said.
A Bethlehem Township woman charged with being the legal guardian for a
great aunt with dementia is accused of stealing $78,000 from the woman.
Deanna Attinello, 23, was charged Thursday with second-degree
misapplication of entrusted property and theft by failure to make a
required disposition of property, following an indictment handed up last
week by a state grand jury in Trenton.
"We allege that the defendant shamelessly exploited her position as
her aunt's trusted guardian to raid the woman's bank account for own her
personal use," New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a news
Attinello was appointed her 86-year-old great aunt's legal guardian
in January 2017, four months after the elderly woman was diagnosed with
dementia and admitted to a long-term residential care facility in Warren
County, prosecutors said.
Within days of being appointed, Attinello changed a PNC Bank account
belonging to her great aunt to a guardianship account in both their
names, and combined the aunt's five other accounts into the guardianship
With a balance of about $229,000, Attinello began withdrawing large
amounts of cash from the elderly woman's account, investigators said.
About $125,000 was taken for the great aunt's expenses, including her
residential case, healthcare costs, legal fees, and property taxes and
repair, prosecutors said.
Hamilton (pictured) said the decision to place his stepmother Cheryl
Shaw-Hamilton into the Crown Heights Center for Nursing and
Rehabilitation was heart-wrenching. (Jesse Ward/for New York Daily News)
A dementia patient wandered off in the frigid cold, without a coat,
during a transport between two Brooklyn nursing homes — and was
discovered 12 hours later by her frantic family at a Queens hospital,
relatives told The Daily News.
James Hamilton told The News the decision to place his stepmother
Cheryl Shaw-Hamilton into the Crown Heights Center for Nursing and
Rehabilitation was heart-wrenching.
"I'm desperately trying to keep her safe,” said Hamilton, 37, of Rego
Park. “From January 1 to January 10 she drastically changed.”
Shaw-Hamilton, 70, has suffered from lupus for much of her life, but
over the last nine years — after retiring from a career in bookkeeping —
she was ultimately diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Shaw-Hamilton's stay at the St. Marks Ave. facility was only a brief
stint before her expected transfer to the Linden Center for Nursing and
Rehabilitation in East New York, which has a dementia unit for long-term
care, Hamilton said.
He said on Feb. 8, he got a call around 1 p.m. that she was finally getting transferred to the Linden facility.
"When I arrived at the Linden Boulevard center around 6 (p.m.), they said she wasn't there," said Hamilton.
The worried son then called the Crown Heights facility, which told him
his stepmom was transported by Royalty Transportation LLC ambulette
services around 3:30 p.m. and arrived at 4:30 p.m.
"We checked the security footage and it shows a man guide her to the
front door,” Hamilton said. “She then walked passed the door. He guided
her again into the lobby, she walked in and he left. You see her scratch
her head, look into her bag, turn around and walk out.”
Protocol for transporting drivers is to take the patient into the
facility and complete the transfer with a staff member, a source told
"This was an egregious violation of protocol by Royalty's driver and is
totally unacceptable,” said Nelissa Garces, an administrator with
Linden Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. “By contrast, Linden
Center staff followed all patient transfer procedures properly.”
The driver was fired, according to an employee of the transportation service.
Cheryl Shaw-Hamilton suffers from Alzheimer's.
(Jesse Ward/for New York Daily News)
“The safety and well-being of our residents is paramount, and we
immediately reported this incident to the Department of Health," said
After reviewing the surveillance video with the security guard,
Hamilton said he immediately called the police to report his stepmom
From 8 p.m. on Feb. 8 until 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9, Hamilton, his cousin and
the police searched for Shaw-Hamilton throughout Brooklyn, in local
hospitals and fast-food restaurants with 24-hour sitting areas — all to
"I went home and got a call from her transportation service confirming
that she would be discharged from Jamaica Hospital. I told them not to
let her go," said Hamilton who rushed over to the hospital.
Shaw-Hamilton was confused with a large gauze over the right side her forehead and dark circles around her eyes, he said.
"I was so happy to see her. The hospital staff was able to figure out
who she was through her Medicaid cards," said Hamilton, who remembers
his stepmom as a vibrant person who loved to travel and dance before she
Hamilton's cousin Khadejia Bass, 47, contacted community activist
Geoffrey Davis, who put the family in touch with civil lawyer Sanford
"It was 10 degrees, she was out all night and didn't have on a coat,”
said Davis. “Both facilities and the ambulette must be held accountable
for allowing this to happen and not happen to anyone else."
"Clearly facilities and transportation companies that treat the elderly
with Alzheimer’s have an obligation to the patient and families to
safely transport them from one place to another. In this case, they
woefully failed the patient and her family," said Rubenstein.
Royalty Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.