Saturday, February 16, 2019

Ohio AG: Nursing home patient ‘rotted to death'

Current and former employees of an Ohio nursing facility are accused of mistreating two patients in their care, including one who died as a result of the nurses' actions, Attorney General Dave Yost said Thursday.

A Franklin County grand jury indicted seven people who worked as nurses in 2017 at Whetstone Gardens and Care Center in Columbus, Yost said in a news conference.

The defendants face 34 charges, including involuntary manslaughter and patient neglect, Yost's office said.

One patient "literally rotted to death" as a direct result of the nurses' neglect, Yost said, adding that another suffered physical harm because nurses falsified her medical records and forged signatures.

"This is gut-wrenching for anyone who has entrusted a care facility with the well-being and safety of a loved one," Yost said.

The accused include six current and former employees and a contracted certified nurse. According to online court records, they have not entered pleas and no attorneys were listed for them.

A spokesman for Whetstone said it has been cooperating with law enforcement since concerns arose two years ago.

Four employees were immediately fired for falsifying the second patient's records, spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch told CNN.

But Whetstone "strongly" disagrees with accusations that its employees were responsible for the other patient's death, Stubenrauch said.

Two employees accused of manslaughter were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, he said. The contracted certified nurse is no longer at the facility, he said.

"It's truly a tragedy any time one of our residents dies," he said. "We're confident that this man's tragic death was not the result of neglect at our facility."

A timeline of the allegations

The first patient developed wounds on his body in February 2017 that progressed to gangrenous and necrotic tissue, Yost said. Nurses delayed bringing him to a hospital, where he died on March 5, 2017, from septic shock as a result of the wounds.

Three defendants were indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter, gross patient neglect and patient neglect, Yost said. They are accused of failing to take medically appropriate steps that could have saved his life.

Whetstone disagrees that the treatment provided by employees caused his death, Stubenrauch said.

"There are a lot of circumstances around that gentleman and his untimely passing," Stubenrauch said. "We are confident that once those things come out it will be clear that the care he was provided at Whetstone did not contribute to his death."

The second patient suffered physical harm as a result of inadequate care because nurses falsified her medical records, Yost said.

The patient's medical records contained false information and forged signatures of nursing staff. An investigation found that the patient's medical file listed care at times when the patient was not physically present at the facility.

"As soon as it happened we did an immediate review and fired the people who broke our rules and our trust," Stubenrauch said.

Five nurses were indicted on charges including forgery and gross patient neglect. The patient later died, but no one faces charges related to the death.

"These victims were completely dependent on others for day-to-day care, which their families trusted Whetstone Gardens to provide. Instead of providing that care, evidence shows these nurses forced the victims to endure awful mistreatment and then lied about it," Yost said.

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Ohio AG: Nursing home patient ‘rotted to death'

Nebraska attorney in medical school killings case disbarred

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court has disbarred an already-suspended attorney who played a key defense role for a former doctor convicted of killing four people with ties to an Omaha medical school.

The high court said in a ruling Friday that Jeremy Jorgenson violated state law and attorney rules of conduct by continuing to make filings and practice law after his 2017 suspension, failing to inform clients of his suspension and failing to return clients' money.

Jorgenson's disbarment is the latest in a string of troubles he's faced since agreeing in 2016 to help represent Anthony Garcia in the former doctor's first-degree murder case.

Garcia was convicted later in 2016 of killing the 11-year-old son and a housekeeper of Creighton University faculty member William Hunter in 2008, and killing pathology doctor Roger Brumback and his wife in 2013. Prosecutors said Garcia blamed Hunter and Brumback for his 2001 firing from Creighton's pathology residency program. Garcia was sentence last year to death.

Full Article & Source:
Nebraska attorney in medical school killings case disbarred

News Florida News Jury selection starts in $1 billion Florida Medicare fraud case

Chicago Tribune reporter David Jackson explains how wealthy nursing home operator Philip Esformes allegedly became the orchestrator of a $1 billion Medicaid and Medicare bribery and kickback scheme. Oct. 4, 2016.
Jury selection is set to begin in the trial of a health care executive accused of defrauding Medicare of $1 billion, one of the nation's biggest such cases.

Jurors chosen beginning Monday will decide the fate of 50-year-old Philip Esformes, who operated a network of 30 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida. Prosecutors say Esformes and other conspirators referred thousands of Medicare patients to their facilities even if they didn't qualify for services.

He has a history of running nursing homes in Florida, Missouri and Illinois.

Esformes is also accused of accepting kickbacks for steering Medicare patients to other health care providers, which then billed the government program for unnecessary services.

Esformes has pleaded not guilty and has been jailed since his 2016 arrest. Two others involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty.

Esformes faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

Full Article & Source:
News Florida News Jury selection starts in $1 billion Florida Medicare fraud case

Friday, February 15, 2019

Left on patio in wheelchair, ex-Marine died of heat stroke at care facility, Calif. lawsuit says

Gene Rogers lived a large life before dementia began to chip away at it.

A former Marine who signed up at 17 and fought in Korea, Rogers went on to become a stock car racer, earned an electronics degree and spent more than three decades working for AT&T as he and his wife, Kathryn, raised three boys during their 60-year marriage.

He spent his retirement in Carlsbad, Calif., living near Camp Pendleton where he started in the Marine Corps and where his passion for golf took him to a course nearly every day.

Then, he got sick.

Faced with the reality that 81-year-old Kathryn couldn’t care for him alone, the family sold the Carlsbad home, banked the proceeds and found a pleasant, $5,540-a-month assisted living facility where Rogers could receive around-the-clock care in a secure environment.

On Dec. 30, 2017, Rogers went to live at Meadow Oaks of Roseville, a tan stucco facility along Linda Creek in California that touts itself as offering “well-being and a positive, active lifestyle.”

Six months later, the 83-year-old Rogers was dead from heat stroke after allegedly being left alone on a patio in his wheelchair, then forgotten about for hours outside as the summer heat built. State licensing officials investigated the death and in October, announced their fine: $1,000.

But the Rogers family is far from satisfied with the results of the state’s investigation, which they said has left them with numerous questions about what happened to Gene Rogers.

“It was June the 30th, the hottest day of the year so far,” his son Jeff said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee. “We got a call late in the day and they said, ‘Hey, your father’s being taken to the hospital to get checked out.’ They weren’t specific about what happened. They just said, ‘We’re hoping to have him checked out. Seems like he’s OK.’ There was no panic in their voice.

“Then I got a call from the hospital and they said he came in in critical condition, and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He was completely unresponsive to anything but pain stimuli, his skin temperature was like 104, they had to bag him in what they refer to as a cooling bag to get his skin temperature down.”

An investigation by the state Department of Social Services’ community care licensing division found that “staff failed to provide adequate care and supervision” and levied the fine, which was doubled from $500 because “you have been cited for repeating the same violation within 12 months.”

State records show that 24 days after Rogers was left on the patio, another resident living at Meadow Oaks with her husband “was able to leave the facility unattended” at 7 p.m. on July 24, 2018. That resident “fell outside on the street while walking and 911 was called,” a state facility evaluation report dated Aug. 6, 2018, states.

Westmont Living, the La Jolla-based company that operates Meadow Oaks, did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment.

Rogers’ death has spawned a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of his family by Sacramento attorney Sean Laird, as well as an enhanced review of whether the facility should face a fine of up to $15,000, the most allowed under state law, according to elder care advocate Carole Herman.

The case also has raised questions about the events that led to Rogers’ death, with the family and the lawsuit alleging that staff members gave conflicting stories about what happened that day.

High hopes

Rogers’ family said they had high hopes when he was placed at Meadow Oaks, a location they preferred after looking at other options and deciding he was better off near Sacramento rather than the San Diego area, where monthly residential fees could easily top $10,000.

Hector Amezcua 
They also said things appeared to be going well for Rogers at the facility, where he enjoyed watching “The Big Bang Theory” on television and playing chess and checkers with a young staffer who had taken a liking to him. Family members visited on Sundays, once bringing along four generations of relatives.

But problems began to emerge, according to Jeff Rogers and his mother, who said they began to notice his hygiene was beginning to suffer and that they found him alone on the patio several times.

“This complete neglect led to a variety of harm to (Rogers) at Meadow Oaks, where he was unkept (unkempt), unmonitored and recklessly neglected,” according to the family’s elder abuse and wrongful death suit, which was filed in Sacramento Superior Court in November. “On multiple occasions family members found (Rogers) unattended in his wheelchair on the patio where he was left for long periods of time, without assistance, and would become groggy and difficult to understand.”

The suit says Rogers “could not push himself in his wheelchair, and certainly could not push himself and open the door either to exit or enter the facility by himself.”

“Family members, on multiple occasions, instructed the facility not to leave him outside unattended,” the suit reads.

Despite that, Rogers ended up on the memory care patio of the facility after breakfast about 9:45 a.m. June 30, the state’s report on the incident states.

The report was compiled after a complaint was filed by Herman, president of the Foundation Aiding the Elderly, or FATE, in Sacramento, on behalf of the family.

“On 6/30/18, during a heat storm with temperatures hovering around 103 degrees, Mr. Rogers was left unattended on the patio of this facility for an estimated 3-4 hours and suffered from extreme heat exposure which caused him to suffer a heat stroke,” Herman’s complaint states.

Hector Amezcua 
The high temperature that day in downtown Sacramento was 103, according to the National Weather Service, and Rogers remained on the patio until at least 11:30 a.m., according to the state’s investigation.

Who was watching?

Logs kept at the facility show Rogers was checked on hourly, and the facility’s executive director told investigators Rogers was given water at 10:30 a.m. One staffer told investigators she gave Rogers “water to avoid dehydration several times,” according to the state’s report.

That staffer, who is identified as “S2” but not named, went to lunch from 10:35 a.m. to 11:10 a.m., and investigators who interviewed three other staffers who were on duty that day “could not confirm that S2 found a replacement caregiver to cover her lunch break,” the state’s report states.

During the lunch break, there was only one other staffer on duty, and that worker told investigators she did not cover for the woman during lunch, according to the report.

At 11:30 a.m., two workers went outside to bring Rogers back inside for lunch and “found him unresponsive,” the report says.

“Ambulance records, however, revealed that 911 was called at 12:04 p.m.,” the state’s report says. “(Rogers) had been sitting outside for 1 hours, 45 minutes or longer when temperatures were increasing and reached 93 degrees by 12 PM when emergency services were called.

“The temperatures were verified by a local city weather graph. When (Rogers) arrived at the hospital, his body temperature was 103.4 (F), he was dehydrated, and had multiple areas of sunburn (basic blister burns)/redness on body.”

Rogers was admitted to intensive care, but family members said doctors told them there was little hope for him, and that at one point he became unable to swallow. He was moved to hospice care and died July 14. The cause of death was listed as “heat stroke due to prolonged exposure to sun and heat,” the state report found.

The report initially was classified as “confidential.” But after inquiries by The Bee, social services officials released the report and filed a new copy of it, noting that the original “was inadvertently marked ‘confidential’ instead of ‘public.’ ”

Placer County coroner’s officials listed Rogers’ death as “accidental.”

The Rogers family alleged in their lawsuit that Meadow Oaks frequently did not have enough staff on hand to supervise residents. Jeff Rogers said he was present when one resident managed to slip out the front door of the facility unnoticed, and said he had to alert staffers.

“In fact this facility had been cited by the state of California for inadequate staffing based on multiple events in 2017 and 2018,” the Rogers lawsuit states.

The Rogers family said they believe Gene Rogers died simply because staffers forgot he was on the patio and left him there.

“I went down there and I said, ‘What happened...?’ ” Jeff Rogers said. “The only person that gave me their story was the director. It was like she was reading from a script: Dad got himself outside like he often did, he was checked on and given water at regular intervals and that’s when he got himself back inside.

“Well, someone’s handing me a boatload there,” Rogers said, insisting that his father could not have wheeled himself out the door and certainly could not have gotten back inside through a door that he said was kept locked. “It seemed like something was being covered up.”
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Left on patio in wheelchair, ex-Marine died of heat stroke at care facility, Calif. lawsuit says

Ex-wife of fugitive former attorney speaks as manhunt continues

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. (WGCL) - The ex-wife of a fugitive former attorney suspected of killing his mother says she and her children are terrified he'll show up.

On the day he was supposed to begin serving a prison sentence for fraud, police say disbarred Georgia attorney Richard Merritt killed his own mother.

A nationwide manhunt has been underway ever since.

Merritt’s ex-wife and children are in protective custody.

"We are scared, we've been hiding, we have protection from the US Marshals office,” Dr. Merritt said.

She says her ex led a double life, was a verbally abusive drunk and allegedly snapped on Feb. 2, when he allegedly killed his own mother.

That was the same day he was set to turn himself over to authorities for a 15-year prison sentence for defrauding clients.

"I think he was drunk and I think he told her he wasn't going,” Dr. Merritt said.

She says she believes others are helping Merritt evade capture. Dr. Merritt added that she's fearful of how a confrontation with police will end.

"I think suicide is a possibility,” she said. “He destroyed us with what he did."

The US Marshals service is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to Merritt's capture.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-wife of fugitive former attorney speaks as manhunt continues

See Also:
Disbarred Georgia attorney Richard Merritt on the run after allegedly killing his mother

Disbarred Cobb attorney gets prison for defrauding clients 
Disbarred Lawyer Jailed on Theft, Elder Abuse Charges

Minnesota Senate panel approves cameras to watch nursing home residents

Full Article & Source: 
Minnesota Senate panel approves cameras to watch nursing home residents

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

May this day bring you many smiles!

Impact of homeless conservatorship plan more limited than expected

A plan to expand San Francisco’s ability to involuntarily hold the homeless for mental health and substance use treatment will impact far fewer people than initially thought.

While The City has identified dozens of people potentially eligible for the holds, a requirement of the state law authorizing the local program has inadvertently limited the pool of those who could qualify to fewer than 10, city officials told the San Francisco Examiner Friday.

To be considered under the proposal for a judge-ordered involuntary hold, or conservatorship, a person would need to have had eight or more 5150 psychiatric emergency holds in a year, according to the terms of Senate Bill 1045. The bill, co-authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener and passed by the state legislature last year, is intended to address the chronically homeless who are suffering from substance use and mental illness.

The City has identified 55 persons “who potentially meet the criteria for SB 1045,” having had eight or more more 5150 holds in 12-month periods over the past two years, according to Rachael Kagan, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health.

But further limiting the possible number of eligible people is a requirement that The City also has to first seek through court petition to help the person through Laura’s Law, otherwise known as assisted outpatient treatment, or AOT.

It’s estimated that that prerequisite brings the number eligible down to below 10, Mayor London Breed’s spokesperson Jeff Cretan confirmed to the Examiner.

That’s because most of the 55 put on frequent 5150 holds are known to be unsuitable candidates for assisted outpatient treatment.

Wiener is now seeking an amendment to SB 1045 to change the provision, which was added to the bill last year during the approval process. He called it “clean-up legislation to ensure that SB1045 can be effectively implemented.”

“It would be unethical to force The City to seek frivolous AOT petitions for people they know aren’t appropriate candidates,” Wiener said in a text message. “The bill retains the AOT requirement, but with flexibility in cases where the department medically determines that a person isn’t an AOT candidate.”

Cretan said that they are “aware Sen. Wiener is working on legislation to address this issue” and that they still plan to move forward with the program. He said that it’s “worth doing” if it can help just one person.

He added, “This is not a one year program. It is a multi-year program.”

The debate over the conservatorship proposal could come to a head as early as March before the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who co-introduced the local legislation with Breed to implement the program, said he is committed to seeing it through, despite the limited reach of the proposal and opposition from groups like the Coalition on Homelessness and the Mental Health Association of San Francisco.

“I’m not willing to back down,” Mandelman said. “If it’s four, it’s still worth doing. If it’s one, it’s still worth doing.”

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, chair of the Rules Committee, hasn’t taken a position on the legislation, but questioned whether the limited impact it would have is worth it, given the concerns being raised by advocates over civil liberties.

Ronen said that she’s been told by staff in the Mayor’s Office it would only impact two to five people given the limitations of SB1045, which were apparently only recently recognized.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Ronen told the San Francisco Examiner Friday. “I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s just not going to be very impactful.”

The plan has strong support in some sectors, however, including among downtown business interests.

A Jan. 23 letter signed by leaders of 10 influential groups, including the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Travel Association, the Hotel Council and the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, calls upon the Board of Supervisors to pass the legislation.

“The public health and humanitarian crisis playing out on our streets impacts all of us,” the Jan. 23 letter reads. “Without adequate tools to intervene, people battling untreated mental illness and drug addiction will continue to deteriorate on sidewalks, in parks, and across our public spaces. The status quo is unacceptable to those who are left outside to suffer.”

The letter concludes: “We live here, work here, and represent businesses that collectively employ tens of thousands of people who also live in this city. We believe that Housing Conservatorships will make a lasting, positive long-term impact in the lives of our neighbors most in need.”

Jessica Lehman, executive director of Senior and Disability Action, which opposes the legislation, said in response to the letter that “decisions about how to respond to the homelessness and mental health crisis must be made with people directly affected, people who have had trouble accessing services and getting their needs met.”

She said that “forcing people into treatment is not only wrong; it is ineffective at creating lasting change and it is the wrong use of the city’s funds.”

“If we are serious about helping people, we need to provide quality, intensive mental health and substance use services, along with permanent supportive housing. To think that anything else will work is to ignore the facts,” she continued.

Breed, who made the conservatorship plan part of her platform in her run for mayor last June, most recently referred to the legislation during her Jan. 30 state of the city address.

“To help those who are truly suffering get real treatment, I’ve partnered with Supervisor Mandelman on conservatorship legislation,” Breed said. “Because when people can’t care for themselves, we need to care for them.”

She also announced that she would create a new position, the Director of Mental Health Reform, “who will better coordinate mental health care for those suffering in our City, strengthen the programs we have that are working, and, yes, cut the ineffective programs — because clearly some things just aren’t working.”

Full Article & Source:
Impact of homeless conservatorship plan more limited than expected

Companies expand family leave to include elder caregiving

Leslie Tracy holds a photo of her mother.
Leslie Tracy wanted to be able to help when her mother took a turn for the worse in her battle with ovarian cancer last spring. Employed as a graphic design and production assistant at the biotech manufacturer Promega, Leslie looked into the company’s new policy for family caregivers and found she could take two weeks’ worth of paid leave as needed over several months.

It made a huge difference. Leslie, 32, was able to spend time in the hospital and at home when her mom was the sickest and be with her during the last moments of her life. And when she was at work, Leslie was able to concentrate more.

“It was just easier for me to get through my day knowing that if I had to leave for an afternoon, I didn’t have to pick up and start working again at 9 p.m.,” Leslie said. “I was able to just go and do what I needed to do at home, and then I could pick back up the next day or in a few days when I came back to work.”

That “soft” return on investment factored into Promega’s decision on family leave, said benefits manager Diana Clark. The company believes that offering paid leave for employees who need it – over and above parental leave – will reduce stress, improve productivity and result in a healthier and happier workforce, she said.

A small but growing number of companies agree. In 2017, only two of the nearly 60 companies surveyed by the advocacy group PL+US confirmed that they offered benefits for non-parental family caregivers. Last year, the same survey found that 10 companies offered such benefits.

The increase reflects growing awareness by companies, employees, and investors that workers need and want family leave beyond caring for newborns. More than eight in 10 employers recently told the Northeast Business Group on Health that they expect caregiving to become an increasingly important issue over the next five years.

“We’ve seen a tectonic shift in the private sector and from individual employers moving on family leave,” says Annie Sartor, directory of advocacy at PL+US. Companies are recognizing that “more people may need time to care for a seriously ill family member than to bond with a newly arrived child.”

Corporate policies

The structure of paid leave varies. The accounting firm Deloitte offers 16 weeks of fully paid leave to workers, while most companies’ offerings range from one to four weeks, according to the PL+US report. Of the 10 companies providing paid leave to caregivers, eight make no distinction between full time and part-time employees.

Deloitte expanded its paid family leave policy to include non-parents in September 2016, when management became worried that the challenges of caregiving were having a negative impact on its workforce, which spans five generations.

Since its implementation, more than 5,000 workers have taken advantage of the program, Carolyn O’Boyle, leader of Deloitte’s Talent Strategy & Innovation team, said last July during a congressional hearing on paid family leave. O’Boyle said that the cost of the program was lower than projected because the company was able to temporarily backfill employees with other team members.

“This expanded leave program has had a profound impact on our people, and the realized benefits have far outstripped concerns about operational disruption,” O’Boyle said.

Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Meyers Squibb in March announced it was broadening its paid family leave program, offering eight weeks of paid leave to not only new parents, but also to all types of caregivers and family members of all ages.

“We realize that our employees can work best when they feel their responsibilities at home and at work are being supported,” Chief Human Resource Officer Ann Powell Judge said in a statement.

Paid family leave ranked as the most desired work perk among employees polled by benefits provider Unum in August, with nearly six in 10 saying that they wanted the benefit. Still, there were many more companies, including CVS, Lowe’s and Dollar General, that offered new parental leave policies last year without expanding that leave to those caring for non-newborn family members.

“We know that the population is rapidly aging, the number of caregivers is shrinking, just because of demographics, but companies, by and large, just have not caught up,” says Vicky Shabo, a vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families. 

Currently, about 34 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older, according to a report from the National Alliance on Caregiving. As more women enter and stay in the workforce, there are fewer non-working family members who can take on that care. Meanwhile, six in 10 family caregivers are also employed, with an average 35-hour workweek, the report found.

Caregivers who leave the workforce, even for a brief period, can face financial ramifications for decades. Awareness of the monetary and psychological stress around caregiving may be why more than nine in 10 workers recently surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said that the paid leave is important to their overall job satisfaction.

Yet companies that want to provide family leave for employees face hurdles. The policy potentially affects many more workers than maternity and paternity benefits do, making it much more expensive. For small businesses, the cost may be too much. Larger companies may need to be pushed into offering more leave.

Seeking government help

And that’s part of why there’s a parallel movement on the government side to pass policies that would provide a basic paid leave to caregivers. Seven states have some kind of paid caregiving leave policies, including Massachusetts, which acted this past summer. Four other states have bills in the works.

Federally, the current policy is the Family and Medical Leave Act. Passed in 1993, it mandates that large employers provide 12 weeks unpaid leave for workers who need to take time off to care for family members or recover from illness. The U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t offer any paid leave.

“There’s just a recognition that all of these other countries have figured out how to do this,” says Jeff Hayes, program director, job quality and income security, at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “Companies there are still running; they’re still considered competitors.”

The 2016 election was the first time that both major presidential candidates said that they’d support paid leave, according to Megan Sholar, a political science professor at Loyola University Chicago. The midterm election, which saw a record wave of women and younger candidates ascend to office, also may spur movement at the federal level. President Trump renewed some hope for legislation during his State of the Union speech this week when he said he supported a plan “for nationwide paid family leave so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.”

But some advocates say policy solutions should go further. Any new legislation must value all care, said Ellen Bravo, co-director of Family Values at Work.

“There will be pressure to accept something narrow and minimal just for parents, or six weeks for a lower rate of pay,” Bravo said. “That won’t help American families, and it won’t help the people who need it the most.”

Even in states with paid family leave regulations, many workers don’t know about them or don’t understand them, a recent AARP report found. Real solutions to the caregiving crisis will require not only new laws, but shifts in corporate culture that encourage caregivers to take leave, much like corporate culture is starting to support men taking paternity leave.

The fact that both the government and corporate America are starting to recognize the needs of non-newborn family caregivers could mark a tipping point, Bravo said.

“It’s just the beginning, but it’s a place to start,” Bravo says. “It’s been 25 years since we passed FMLA, and we should just pass paid leave. We can do it.”

Full Article & Source:
Companies expand family leave to include elder caregiving

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Florida caregiver arrested for impregnating woman with disabilities, police say

Willie Fred Shorter, 58, was arrested for allegedly impregnating a woman with disabilities in 2015, when he worked in a group home. (Brevard County Sheriff's Office)
A Florida caregiver was arrested Wednesday after a years-long investigation revealed he impregnated a woman with disabilities while working in a group home, police said.

Willie Fred Shorter, 58, was arrested on a charge of committing lewd and lascivious battery on a disabled person, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said.

Shorter was working in a group home run by the Bridges foundation when he allegedly impregnated a woman who has “the mental capacity of a small child” and is unable to give consent, Florida Today reported. The staff discovered the woman, who was not identified, was pregnant in January 2015 and contacted police.

The woman initially named three men who were potentially the father of her child, FOX35 reported. Shorter’s name came up, but he denied the allegations and there was not enough evidence for authorities to obtain a DNA sample.

The woman gave birth in May 2015 and her family adopted the baby, but the investigation stalled until last April, when the victim said Shorter touched her genitals while she was in the group home.

Shorter voluntarily submitted a DNA sample, which matched with the child, police said.

Shorter was an employee with Bridges for about eight years and worked as a “direct support staff” with people with disabilities, Bridges president and CEO David Cooke told Florida Today.

"We've been in Brevard for 62 years serving people with disabilities. We are absolutely devastated," Cooke told the news site. "This is devastating for the client, for the family. It's devastating for the staff who work so hard everyday, working for our clients with significant disabilities."

Full Article & Source:
Florida caregiver arrested for impregnating woman with disabilities, police say

Editorial: Stronger fight for seniors

We have little sympathy for criminals in the first place.

But there’s something especially repulsive about a person who would prey on the most helpless in our society - children, the elderly and the disabled.

Maxine Donaldson, 53, pleaded guilty Monday in Richmond County Superior Court on charges stating she did precisely that: neglecting older and disabled folks under her supposedly competent supervision and, on top of that, siphoning off financial benefit from them.

The charges spanned two cases - neglect of an elderly person; operating an unlicensed personal care home; and 13 counts of exploitation of an elderly person. In a plea deal, Judge Daniel J. Craig sentenced Donaldson to 15 years in prison and five years on probation.

She was arrested first in 2017 for the exploitation part - specifically, stealing $25,000 from a 69-year-old Alzheimer’s patient she looked after. We hesitate to say that Donaldson actually “cared for” this vulnerable man.

Prosecutors said she told the man’s children she would tend to the man’s needs for $1,600 a month. But a few months later, she upped the fee to $2,600 a month, and by that time she had added herself to the man’s bank account. The man’s children had no idea any of this was going on, prosecutors said.

This took place in Donaldson’s licensed personal care home, Shavonna’s Place. While she was out on bond in that case, an elderly abuse task force found she had been running an unlicensed personal care home on the side, on Belair Road.

The judge also ordered Donaldson’s name be placed on Georgia’s newly instituted elder abuse registry, the product of several measures passed last year by the Georgia General Assembly aimed at protecting seniors from being mistreated.

It’s been an ongoing mission in our state legislature for several years. In 2013, for example, lawmakers had the wisdom to pass House Bill 78, which shifted the state’s elder abuse laws into the criminal code. That now gives law enforcement greater authoritative muscle to respond to reports of abuse.

Last year, one of the bills lawmakers passed enabled district attorneys statewide to form special teams to respond to suspected cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation. The Augusta Judicial Circuit already had that - the local Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly task force. That’s the group of investigators that ferreted out the unlicensed care home in the Donaldson case.

As America’s population grows grayer, we find ourselves more often relying on other people to help look after our older loved ones. Some people just don’t have the time or the ability to give their senior relatives the comfort and care they deserve.

That often means seeking out smaller personal care homes, especially if you don’t have deep enough pockets to pay for accommodations in a larger, more professionally operated assisted living facility. And these homes need to be safe and secure.

Thanks to increasingly tougher Georgia laws, seniors who deserve special care are getting better protection against the unprincipled leeches out to do them harm.

Full Article & Source:
Editorial: Stronger fight for seniors

Seniors Are Buying Tiny Homes to Live Their Golden Years Off the Grid

It’s now a significant trend among senior citizens to buy cute tiny homes for their post-retirement years. Not RVs, but tiny wooden structures sometimes put up on wheels as an alternative to assisted living. These homes make it easy for elderly people to cope on their own.

Having to worry about paying an outrageous mortgage and managing excess space is not healthy. A lot of elderly people want something cozy and compact to make life less stressful. It’s also much easier to make small homes suited to the needs of the elderly.

Tiny homes make living off the grid more feasible

In a chat with, 72-year-old Bette Presley reveals how comfortable her life has been in her tiny home. She lives off the grid in a mobile 166-square inch home in Arroyo Grande, and she’s confessed to living her best life for the past 14 years.

Mrs. Presley had wanted somewhere small and cozy she could live entirely off the grid and be mobile. She got her dream when her tiny home with wheels came in and solar panels were installed. She got rid of a lot of the old, useless stuff taking up her space, and she moved in with the most essential items. She wanted to reconnect with nature, and her new home literally brings her ‘down to earth’.

Tiny homes are great options for downsizing

When all your kids move away and you loathe the idea of assisted living, compact living may be the next best thing. In a chat with Today Home, 61-year-old retired music teacher Adele Smith said she couldn’t endure the size of her large house anymore.

`“I had my little corner of the living room where I’d watch TV, and I’d use the bathroom and my bedroom and the kitchen. And I’m like, I’m just storing crap in this house. I’m not using this stuff.”

Mrs. Smith decided to move into a tiny home because she couldn’t deal with the massive space she was living all alone in. Her only daughter had moved out and she needed something that’d make her feel less lonely.

She got rid of her 1300-square-foot and got a 140-square-foot bungalow in Oregon. It’s much smaller than she’s ever lived in, and she says, “It fits me to a T. I’m really very content.” Her new home has everything a home should have, and most importantly, it’s small.

Money saved when space is saved

Many elderly people move into these homes to save money, not particularly because they need to downsize. Tiny homes are quite affordable, ranging from $10,500 to about $20,000 depending on the size and furnishing. In fact, they have been selling quickly.

It’s the best option for anyone seeking something affordable and probably mortgage-free. A lot of elderly people being catered for by their children wouldn’t want them spending a lot on useless space. They opt to move into these tiny homes so their children can save funds.

Assisted living, move over!

Tiny homes are a great alternative for senior citizens who don’t want to move into assisted living. The homes can be tweaked to suit their physical and mental needs. According to Today Home, Dani Moore who has osteoporosis had a wheel-chair ramp installed in front of her house.

She also installed a chain host with a rock climbing harness to help her lift off her seat. Some tiny homes even have visual and voice assistants to remind the elderly of certain things, such as prayer and medication.

MEDCottage designs and constructs tiny homes with this purpose as a major pace-setter. Their cute homes – nicknamed “granny pods” – are state-of-the-art homes that basically watch over the elderly. Their homes have facilities equipped into the tiny spaces to make it easy for elderly people to live on their own, unaided by nurses and caregivers.

Tiny homes as a business strategy

The Sausage Nonnas of Italy are using their tiny mobile homes to put the ‘-s’ in ‘strategy’. These three grandmothers from Italy run a wonderful sausage delivery service in Chicago from their small homes. They make sausages on Sundays for events. Sometimes, they move their homes the location and set up shop on site. Other times, they just deliver batches to their clients. Nonna Antonia, Nonna Gina, and Nonna Lidia can’t stop being working class ladies, even in their golden years!

Full Article & Source:
Seniors Are Buying Tiny Homes to Live Their Golden Years Off the Grid

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Assisted-living facility owner charged with raping 67-year-old woman with dementia

A woman who ran an assisted-living facility out of her Baltimore home was charged with raping a 67-year-old woman suffering from dementia, court records show.

Dorothy Ann Brown, 72, was arrested last month over the allegations, which were reported to police in June – prompting five adults in her care at a home in the 4500 block of Garden Drive to be relocated or to move in with relatives, according to court records cited by the Baltimore Sun.

The 67-year-old victim who “suffers from a diminished mental capacity” told police that Brown forced her to perform oral sex in the basement of Brown’s home. Brown also performed oral sex and other sex acts on the woman before threatening to assault her by slapping her face if she relayed details of the assault to anyone, the woman told police.

Detectives responded in June to Golden Doves Adult Medical Daycare, where the victim told staffers about the alleged abuse. Staffers at the facility then contacted police, the Baltimore Sun reports.

An assistant manager at Golden Doves told the newspaper that he remembered the victim getting emotional while reporting the alleged abuse to a social worker. The woman had been visiting the facility for about a year for medical care while living at Brown’s home facility, assistant manager Ashfaq Ahmed said.

A forensic examination taken at a hospital later revealed that Brown’s DNA was found on the woman’s breasts, according to charging documents.

Police told the newspaper that the victim was then removed from Brown’s care and returned to live with her relatives.

Attempts to reach Brown — who was released on her own recognizance last week on charges of first-degree rape, vulnerable adult abuse and other counts — were unsuccessful Friday.

Brown’s attorney, Richard K. Scott, told the newspaper that Brown will plead not guilty to the allegations. She’s scheduled to return to court on Feb. 21.

“As a result of the allegations that were made against her, [state officials] forced her to close down her adult day care,” Brown told the Baltimore Sun. “They took away her income and put her in jail for several days. She’s been in the business of adult day care for 50 years with no problems from what she told me.”

Scott did not return a message seeking comment on Friday.

Full Article & Source:
Assisted-living facility owner charged with raping 67-year-old woman with dementia

North Carolina News: Durham Woman, Teresa Denise Schneider Who Defrauded Elderly Victim Pleads Guilty

Winston-Salem, N.C. – A woman who embezzled from an older person for whom she was a caretaker pleaded guilty to federal charges on Friday, February 8, announced United States Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Teresa Denise Schneider, 52, of Durham, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud, in front of the Honorable Loretta C. Biggs, United States District Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina.

“We should honor our elders, not steal from them. Ms. Schneider abused her position of trust as caretaker. We will aggressively pursue those who commit such acts,” said U.S. Attorney Martin, adding, “I commend the Department of Treasury Task Force, NC SBI, and AUSA Chut who worked diligently to make sure this defendant is held accountable for exploiting a vulnerable victim and abusing the trust of the victim’s family.”

According to court documents, Schneider began caring for the victim in 2010 and continued to do so until the victim’s death of natural causes at the age of ninety in 2013. During this time, family members of the victim, who visited almost daily, became concerned about Schneider’s involvement in the victim’s finances. In September 2011, a family member instructed Schneider to provide monthly copies of all bank and credit card statements. Schneider complied, but after the victim’s death, the family discovered that the account statements Schneider provided had been altered to remove or conceal transfers of funds to Schneider. In total, Schneider embezzled approximately $370,000 from the victim.

Schneider’s main source for converting the victim’s funds to her own use involved the victim’s credit card. Schneider transferred funds from the victim’s deposit and investment accounts to overpay wildly the credit card by tens of thousands of dollars. Schneider then converted this money in two ways. First, she made numerous unauthorized purchases on the card, including paying for spa treatments, travel, college tuition, dining, and expensive shopping sprees at department stores. Second, Schneider used a direct transfer feature of the credit card to transfer over $100,000 to her personal bank account.

Schneider knew that she was not entitled to these funds and not authorized to make these transfers.
The sentencing is set for July 18, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. in Winston-Salem. Schneider faces up to thirty years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000, and supervised release of not more than five years following release from prison. At sentencing Schneider will also be ordered to pay restitution.

This case was investigated by the United States Department of Treasury Office of Inspector General Task Force and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Frank J. Chut, Jr. prosecuted the case.

Elder abuse includes physical abuse, caregiver neglect, financial exploitation, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and abandonment. Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors.

Full Article & Source:
North Carolina News: Durham Woman, Teresa Denise Schneider Who Defrauded Elderly Victim Pleads Guilty

Lawsuit: November death of Mount Carmel patient triggered investigation

A Grove City woman who went to Mount Carmel West hospital was the last intensive-care patient to receive an excessive and potentially fatal dose of pain medication from Dr. William Husel, and the case triggered the hospital's investigation, attorneys said Wednesday.

Husel apparently was escorted out of the hospital sometime after 82-year-old Melissa Penix died shortly before 11 p.m. on Nov. 20. She had received a 2,000-microgram dose of the opioid fentanyl, said attorney Craig Tuttle of the Columbus firm Leeseberg & Valentine.

The dose is the highest reported by attorneys representing more than 15 families of Mount Carmel Health System patients who died under Husel's care. The highest previously reported dosage was 1,000 micrograms.

Tuttle called the dose given Penix "absurd and unfathomable."

"It was just stunning. ... And the family was appalled and shocked at learning the truth," he said.

Health care professionals have told The Dispatch that a 250-microgram dose would be enough to raise questions.

Husel has been accused of ordering excessive doses of painkiller from 2015 to 2018 for 33 near-death patients at Mount Carmel West in Franklinton and one such patient at Mount Carmel St. Ann's in Westerville. All the patients died, and Mount Carmel has said the doses potentially caused the deaths of 28 of them.

Attorneys said a wrongful-death lawsuit probably will be filed on behalf of Penix's husband in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. A copy of the suit decries the health system for failing to act on formal complaints filed on Oct. 25 and Nov. 19 about Husel's care, and it says that hospital representatives told Penix's family that her death triggered their investigation.

Mount Carmel has said Husel was removed from patient care on Nov. 21, and it has acknowledged that three patients died after the Oct. 25 complaint. A public apology was issued in January. All patient families also have been notified about the dosing issues, the system has said.

"Our family is immensely disappointed in the tragic choices of Dr. William Husel, the nurses, pharmacists, and leadership of Mount Carmel Health System," Penix's family said in a statement. "Melissa, affectionately known as Mel or Meemaw, was a devoted Christian, a wife of more than 65 years, a mother to all who graced her home, a loving and laughing grandmother and cookie-giving, color-right-along-with-you great-grandmother."

The Penix suit will name as defendants Mount Carmel, Husel, a pharmacist believed to have approved the order, and a nurse believed to have administered it. It also will list unnamed administrators and managers who were aware of the Oct. 25 report and/or the Nov. 19 report.

Penix, the law firm said in a statement, had been taken to the hospital with stomach pain on Nov. 15 and subsequently was diagnosed with pneumonia. On Nov. 19, she was admitted to the ICU with increasing difficulty breathing and was placed on a ventilator to allow her body to rest and heal, the statement said.

Penix was able to smile, make gestures and interact with family members, according to the firm. Then, on the afternoon of Nov. 20, she complained of stomach pain. A few hours later, Husel told her family that she had a severe stomach infection and was brain-dead, and that her organs were failing, the firm said. They were encouraged to remove care, which they did.

Penix, the firm said, died within five minutes of being administered the fentanyl.

Also on Tuesday, attorney David Shroyer, who has filed three wrongful-death lawsuits in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on behalf of patient families, said he submitted a motion agreeing to postpone questioning Husel under oath but asking a judge to allow the civil cases and evidence-gathering to proceed.

The motion is in response to one filed Tuesday by Husel's attorney, Gregory Foliano, who argued that the civil cases should be put on hold until after the completion of a related criminal investigation and any potential prosecution so that Husel does not have to respond to questions that could be used as evidence in any criminal matter.

The Ohio Department of Health said Mount Carmel submitted a correction plan Wednesday for St. Ann's hospital in response to a warning from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the hospital could be terminated from the Medicare program over serious pharmaceutical-service deficiencies. A plan for Mount Carmel West was submitted Tuesday.

Full Article & Source:
Lawsuit: November death of Mount Carmel patient triggered investigation

Monday, February 11, 2019

Disbarred Georgia attorney Richard Merritt on the run after allegedly killing his mother

A nationwide manhunt is underway for a disbarred Georgia attorney accused of killing his mother.

Richard Merritt had been sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 years on probation after being convicted of stealing money from his clients and elder abuse. The court found him guilty on more than 30 counts of theft, forgery and elder exploitation.

He was given until 5 p.m. on February 1 to get his affairs in order before turning himself in.

Instead, the US Marshal Service says he cut off his ankle monitor and fled.

The day after Merritt was supposed to surrender, his mother, Shirley Merritt, was found violently killed. Her car was missing, while Merritt's vehicle was found at the scene, the US Marshal Service said in a statement.

"The vehicle he may be driving is a 2009 silver Lexus RX350, bearing a Georgia tag CBV 6004," the US Marshal Service's statement reads. "He may have shaved his head or otherwise changed his appearance, and should be considered armed and dangerous. Do not try to engage him. If you see Merritt, please contact law enforcement immediately."

Merritt had admitted to settling civil lawsuits on his clients' behalf without their knowledge, forging signatures on settlement checks and documents and keeping money intended for his clients, the Cobb County District Attorney's office said in a statement.

"The victims came to him for help, and he helped himself instead," Senior Assistant District Attorney Jason Marbutt said. "People ought to be able to trust their lawyer. When a lawyer lies, it has ripple effects on the entire system."

Merritt was also ordered to pay $454,706 in restitution to his clients.

"Some of his client-victims were pursuing medical malpractice claims and are now further injured financially because of Merritt's crimes and abuse," the Cobb County DA's office said. "Some other victims are elderly. Merritt lied to the victims, leading them to believe he was still pursuing their legal claims. Meanwhile, he was spending the unauthorized settlement funds on lavish vacations and a Porsche."

CNN has reached out to the lawyer representing Merritt in his initial conviction for comment but has not yet received a response.

Disbarred Georgia attorney Richard Merritt on the run after allegedly killing his mother

See Also:
Disbarred Cobb attorney gets prison for defrauding clients 
Disbarred Lawyer Jailed on Theft, Elder Abuse Charges

Great Falls woman allegedly stole more than $20K from 82-year-old

Karen Mills Thomas
A local woman faces a second set of charges for elder exploitation after authorities claimed she stole more than $20,000 from an 82-year-old woman over the past two years.

In September 2018, Adult Protective Services received a referral regarding financial exploitation by Karen Mills Thomas.

Thomas, 66, currently has criminal charges pending for elder exploitation against a different victim.

According to charging documents, Thomas offered to help an elderly woman with her finances after she broke her arm. The woman resides in a local nursing home.

The woman claimed she had not seen her bank or credit card statements in several years because Thomas had them all sent to her home address. The woman asked to see the statements, but Thomas would not bring them to her.

The woman said when she went to her credit union to review her bank account, she noticed changes she had not made. She showed the manager her debit card, which had expired, and the manager told her she had been sent a new card. The address where the card was sent belonged to Thomas.

A teller at the bank provided a letter indicating that Thomas had identified herself as the alleged victim and provided a password for her account.

Upon review of the bank statements, APS found that Thomas had not paid any of the woman’s bills in more than a year. The woman’s credit report showed several new accounts that she claimed she did not open or give permission to open, and some of the woman’s existing accounts had balances she said were much higher than those she had accrued.

In October 2018, the alleged victim requested a change of address from Thomas’ address to her own and began receiving bills in her name.

It was also discovered that Thomas’ alleged lack of payment had landed the woman in collections on several accounts for balances she had not accrued.

Thomas allegedly racked up debts at Sears, Pier 1, Herberger’s, Montgomery Wards and Target. She also allegedly signed up for Direct TV under the woman’s name and had the service hooked up at her own address.

The affidavit states that a total of $20,619.98 is unaccounted for in the alleged victim’s credit union account, and this total does not include the expenditures on the woman’s existing credit cards and accounts or the new credit cards and accounts that Thomas allegedly opened in the woman’s name.

In August and September 2018, Thomas allegedly wrote a total of three checks for the woman’s rent at the nursing home that were returned for insufficient funds.

Thomas was arrested on a warrant with a $10,000 bond.

Full Article & Source:
Great Falls woman allegedly stole more than $20K from 82-year-old

Grandparents Getting Ripped Off Is A $3 Billion Problem

Many seniors suffering from dementia are getting fleeced out of their money, often by someone they know.

“He had lung cancer and he had advanced dementia,” Paul Barnett said of his uncle near the end of his life.

After fighting in the Korean War Ollie settled in a Park Manor home, later collecting a nice pension from his days working at Chicago Public Schools.

“My uncle was receiving $4,200 a month,” Barnett said.

Barnett said Robert Griffin was his uncle’s friend and would help him out.

“Mow the lawn and shovel snow and go to the store for him,” Barnett said.

When Uncle Ollie recently died, Barnett took possession of the estate and noticed suspicious activity on a bank account he shared with his uncle.

“There were a lot of checks for cash for $5,000 just written out to “Cash,” he said.

By Barnett’s analysis, the checks in question totaled more than $100,000. All were signed by Ollie Smith, but Barnett said his uncle’s friend, Robert Griffin, told him he signed Ollie Smith’s name on the checks even though he didn’t have power of attorney.

Griffin would not talk to CBS 2 Investigators on camera but did say twice during phone conversations that he signed the checks in question using the name Ollie Smith.

Griffin claims that Ollie asked him to sign the checks because he no longer could, and he claims he used the money to pay bills for Ollie but can’t provide a detailed accounting of the funds.

And there’s a Veterans insurance policy for $10,000. The beneficiary changed to Robert Griffin – signed by Ollie Smith – but after Paul objected the Veterans Administration ruled the signature was a forgery and gave the money to Paul.

Again Griffin claims Ollie told him to sign his name.

Barnett said he thinks Griffin took advantage of his uncle and his dementia.

“Oh yes, definitely,” he said. “It’s called undue influence.”

To make matters worse, Paul Barnett’s name was on his uncle’s account at Hyde Park Bank. But he was never notified of the large withdrawals for cash.

A spokesman for Hyde Park bank said they cannot comment on specific bank procedures, but they do take elderly abuse very seriously and provide training for their staff.

Charles Golbert, acting Cook County Public Guardian, says the problem is “huge and it’s growing, and it’s continuing to grow.”

It’s Golbert’s job to protect the money and property of those who can’t do it themselves and have no one else to help.

“Today with the aging baby boomers, robbing older people is a lot easier than robbing banks, and its where the money is today,” he said.

Forty percent of the new cases in the public guardian’s office involve  financial theft of the elderly,

One such recent case involves Symphony nursing home.

“A worst case because of the top to bottom level of corruption,” Goldberg said.

Grace Watanabe suffers from Dementia. According to a civil suit filed by the public guardian’s office on Grace’s behalf, staff members at the Symphony nursing home stole more than $700,000 by forging her name on some checks and accessing her ATM account.

“They were really preying on her and trying to make her feel terrible about having money and not sharing with them,” said Dawn Lawkowski-Keller.

Watanabe said it makes her feel “angry and just terribly disappointed.”

And 96-Year old Nellie Bridgeman, who also suffers from dementia, was allegedly fleeced out of $330,000 by Nicholas Chervyatiuk, a priest at Nelly’s church.

Bridgeman said she trusted him — at first.

“I figured if you can’t trust a priest who can you trust?” she said.

Chervyatiuk is charged with theft and is awaiting trial.

“He shouldn’t have done that. That’s not his,” Bridgeman said.

About half of the states in the US have laws requiring banks to report suspected elder financial abuse. Illinois does not.

The public guardians office says such a law would help stop these types of cases much earlier on.

“Illinois is behind the curve on this,” Golbert said “Every time it’s been proposed the banks lobbyists have knocked it down.”

The Illinois Bankers Association says the industry “treats the issue of financial exploitation extremely seriously” but is concerned about banks “overly-reporting on customers” which could lead to “violating the customers’ expectations of trust and privacy.”

Golberts concern remains on the victims who end up losing their money.

When asked about the people who would do that to elderly people, Golbert said, “They’re scum. They’re also cowards, Don’t pick on people with dementia and physical infirmities and who are vulnerable and who are alone.”

Chicago police confirm they are investigating the case involving Ollie Smith’s money. A spokesperson for Symphony Residences says that upon learning about the incident with Grace Watanabe they contacted law enforcement and are cooperating with the investigation. They added that the employees named in the public guardians suit no longer work there.

Experts urge family members in cases like this to keep an eye on their loved ones’ financial statements.

Full Article & Source:
Grandparents Getting Ripped Off Is A $3 Billion Problem

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rice Woman Charged With Felony Theft While Acting as Guardian

FOLEY -- The Benton County Attorney's Office has charged a Rice woman with illegally obtaining medical assistance while acting as the guardian and conservator for a man who was hurt in a car crash.

Fifty-two-year-old Sheila Burski is also charged with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult for allegedly taking social security payments intended for that man, 69-year-old Norman Meinert.

The felony charges show Burski was appointed Meinert's guardian in December 2013. She listed Meinert had no assets when filing for medical assistance for him.  From 2013 until Meinert's death in the fall of 2017, the county and state paid approximately $132,000 in medical assistance payments.

Upon his death, Burski completed a final accounting of Meinert's estate and court records show several discrepancies, including a real estate sale from Meinert to Burski and her husband in the amount of $510,000 in 2005. In 2011, records show the contract for deed was satisfied somehow. Based on the monthly payments, Burski would have paid just over $162,000 of the $510,000. It's unknown if the nearly $350,000 remaining on the property was ever paid to Meinert.

The charges allege Burski didn't disclose the property sale. The contract for deed was satisfied in 2011 and with Meinert's accident occurring in 2013, the money fell within the 5-year look-back window to disclose assets and ultimately would have prevented Meinert from qualifying for the medical assistance payments.

Burski is also accused of taking Meinert's social security payments, cashing them through her own bank account and failing to disclose those payments over a three-month span in 2017 prior to Meinert's death.

Burski is due back in court April 24th.

Full Article & Source:
Rice Woman Charged With Felony Theft While Acting as Guardian

Arizona care unit where incapacitated woman gave birth to stay open

The embattled operators of an Arizona long-term care facility have agreed to be regulated by the state, effectively ending a plan to close down the unit where an incapacitated woman gave birth after being raped.

Patrick Ptak, spokesman for Governor Doug Ducey, said the state received written confirmation that Hacienda HealthCare would enter into a voluntary regulation agreement.

“This is good news and the best immediate outcome as it means Hacienda patients and families would be allowed to stay in the home they’ve known for years while ensuring new and enhanced protections and oversight are put in place,” Mr Ptak said in a statement.

Under the agreement, Hacienda will have to devise a long-term plan and timeline that priorities health and safety at the intermediate care facility where the victim resided.

Hacienda will also have to employ an on-site evaluator to make sure necessary changes have been met.
The care provider will have to work with an outside health care consultant until the state finds it is in compliance. All these conditions will also apply to the skilled nursing facility, which shares the same campus.

State agencies had issued an ultimatum after Hacienda HealthCare announced its decision to shut down on Thursday.

The provider would have to comply with an order to hire a long-term third-party management team. The other option was to allow the state Department of Health Services to hold licensing authority over the facility.

A closure would have forced the relocation of nearly 40 intellectually disabled patients, some of who are medically fragile.

State regulators vehemently opposed the idea. They also argued Hacienda contractually requires written consent from the state Department of Economic Security to close any operation.

The facility has been in turmoil since a 29-year-old patient gave birth on December 29. Nathan Sutherland, a nurse whose DNA police said matches a sample from the baby, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped her.

Hacienda has struggled to meet the state’s request to hire a third-party management team to oversee daily operations.

The provider had said its board “after a great deal of careful consideration, has come to understand that it is simply not sustainable to continue to operate our intermediate care facility”.

Hacienda operates the only privately-run intermediate care facility in Arizona. It currently serves 37 intellectually disabled children and adults. It would take weeks or months to transition all of them to other places.

“It’s not something you can do overnight,” said Will Humble, a former director of the Department of Health Services.

Full Article & Source:
Arizona care unit where incapacitated woman gave birth to stay open

See Also:
Hacienda HealthCare to cease operation at South Phoenix facility

Arizona governor calls for stronger protections after incapacitated woman’s pregnancy

Ex-nurse accused of impregnating a severely disabled Arizona woman pleads not guilty 

Lawyer: No proof nurse raped Arizona patient who had baby

Nurse arrested in rape of woman in vegetative state who gave birth at care facility

Center where comatose woman had baby faced criminal probe

Lawyer: Incapacitated woman who gave birth not in coma

Patient alleges abuse at Hacienda Healthcare, two staff members placed on leave

Facility CEO resigns after woman in vegetative state gives birth; new allegations emerge

Patient in vegetative state gives birth, sex abuse investigation underway: report