Saturday, March 28, 2020

101-Year-Old Man Who Survived 1918 Flu Beats Coronavirus, Too

His "family brought him home yesterday evening, to teach us that even at 101-years-old, the future has yet to be written."


by Foster Kamer

There are those who have been around the block, and then, there’s this guy: A 101-year-old Italian man has survived the 1918 flu, a World War, and now, the coronavirus. What’d you do today?

A patient known as “Mr. P” was admitted last week to Infirmi Hospital in Remini, Italy after testing positive for COVID-19. Mr. P was born in 1919, as the 1918 flu pandemic — which would go on to kill an estimated 600,000 Italians — was in full-swing. And on Wednesday night, 101 someodd years later, Mr. P was discharged from the hospital, and taken home by his family.

The Vice Mayor of Rimini, Gloria Lisi, provided a statement to local newspaper ReminiToday about the man. The (incredibly poetic) statement, roughly translated, reads:
“Given the progress of the virus, it could not even be called a ‘story like many’ if it were not for a detail that makes the life of the person returned to their loved ones truly extraordinary.
Mr. P., from Rimini, was born in 1919, in the midst of another tragic world pandemic. He saw everything, hunger, pain, progress, crisis and resurrections. Once over the 100-year-old barrier, fate has put this new challenge before him, invisible and terrible at the same time. Last week, Mr. P. was hospitalized at in Rimini after testing positive for COVID-19. In a few days, it became ‘history’ for doctors, nurses, and the rest of the healthcare personnel who treated him.
A hope for the future finds itself in the body of a person over a century old, as the sad chronicles of these weeks mechanically tell every day of a virus that is raging especially on the elderly.
Yet, Mr. P. made it. The family brought him home yesterday evening, to teach us that even at 101-years-old, the future has yet to be written.”
Per the Hopkins Map, as of this writing, Italy leads the world in COVID-19 infections resulting in death, and is likely to overtake China within the day for total confirmed infections. But their rate of infections continues to slow, and the country’s lockdown appears to be working. The reality of the math is brutal, but Mayor Lisi isn’t wrong: The future, as doubly evidenced, isn’t entirely bleak, and has very, very much yet to be written.

Full Article & Source:
101-Year-Old Man Who Survived 1918 Flu Beats Coronavirus, Too

How to Support Older Relatives During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Cathleen Colón-Emeric, MD, chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the Duke School of Medicine
by Mary-Russell Roberson

Like many of us, Dr.  Cathleen Colón-Emeric, chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the Duke School of Medicine, has older parents who live nearby. Here are some of her suggestions for navigating the new and urgent conversations and decisions facing many families, including her own.

Q: What conversations should we be having with our older relatives?
Colón-Emeric: This is challenging because it requires talking about difficult topics like mortality. The message we’re giving to older adults is that after age 70 your risk of dying from this infection goes up exponentially, from less than 1 percent for younger people to as high as 13 percent for adults in their 70s and 80s. If your father says, “I’m healthy and strong,” change your appeal to “You could bring the virus home to mom and she’s more frail.” 

For older adults with cognitive impairment, we suggest putting up signs on the refrigerator or the door as an extra reminder they need to stay put. Frequent reminders and daily check-in calls can be really helpful. Think proactively of how you can facilitate their social distancing by making sure their pantries are stocked and arranging for home delivery of medications. 

Q: My parents and I are arguing about what’s safe for them to do. What’s the most important point I need to make?
Colón-Emeric: The activities you want to discourage are where they are going to be in close proximity with a lot of folks. If there is something that your older loved one is insisting on doing, try to understand their motivation. Is there a compromise to make that activity safer? With going to grocery store, it may be they are worried about imposing on you. Set up a grocery delivery option, or curbside pickup.

Q: How can I keep my extroverted dad from getting socially isolated?
Colón-Emeric: There’s plenty of literature to suggest that if we completely cut off older adults from social engagement, that’s not healthy. It’s a matter of judging risk versus benefit for those social contacts. If your dad has a friend that he goes out to lunch with, have them convert that to a walk where they can maintain more social distance. Or they could develop an online chat group. 

Be creative and look for opportunities to engage virtually. Set up a video chat time every night. Try games and apps where you can interact virtually, like Words with Friends. Do online crossword puzzles “together.” Many of the symphony orchestras are converting to virtual concert halls, including the Berlin Philharmonic. My family is going to watch a concert virtually in our own homes and we’ll be able to talk about it afterward. We’re celebrating my husband’s birthday by going to a park with my parents, just the four of us.

Q: Should my older relatives go to routine medical appointments?
Colón-Emeric: For routine check-ups, or routine visits to the dermatologist or a specialist for a chronic medical condition that’s stable, we’re suggesting those get converted to telemedicine appointments. If they need to be seen face to face, that’s fine, but for most folks it’s to their benefit to stay put and touch base via telemedicine.

Q: How can I encourage my parents to stay physically active while self-isolating?
Colón-Emeric: Sitting on the couch all day is not healthy either, so encourage them to get out and take a walk. Most local parks are staying open, and there are lots of lovely trails they can explore. The National Institute on Aging has an online program called “Go 4 Life” with great at-home exercise videos, a downloadable book, online chat groups, and the option to make and track exercise goals.  

Q: Should my parents move in with me?
Colón-Emeric: If you are working in healthcare and potentially bringing home the virus, that would be something you want to avoid. If your parents need a lot of care or if social isolation is getting to them and your whole family is going to be hunkered down, it could be a reasonable solution for some families.

Q: My parents receive visits from professional caretakers. Should we cancel this service?
Colón-Emeric: Again, that’s going to be an individual family risk-benefit decision. All home care agencies have protocols in place to screen workers each day and they are making sure they are doing hygiene between visits, but it’s still a risk. Some families are temporarily suspending those services; others are saying the family isn’t able to provide those services, so the risk is worth it. There is no one-size-fits-all. 

Q: What if my older relative develops symptoms of COVID-19?
Colón-Emeric: The most appropriate thing to do is call their primary care provider. All primary care providers have protocols in place for how they are going to assess people over the phone. Let the primary care provider make the call about whether they meet testing guidelines. If they do, the provider will have to decide whether to send the public health nurse to their home, or have them come to a drive-through testing site, or go to the emergency room.

If a loved one doesn’t have a primary care provider, then the local public health department has these services available. If they are going via 911, let the dispatcher know that they are displaying symptoms so EMS workers can take specific precautions.

Full Article & Source:
How to Support Older Relatives During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Missouri governor mobilizes National Guard for virus fight

By JIM SALTER and HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri braced for a surge of coronavirus patients as the number of deaths grew to nine, with the governor mobilizing the state's National Guard and a top St. Louis County official urging recently retired health care workers to return to work.

During a virtual press conference with the governor on Friday, Missouri National Guard Adjutant General Levon Cumpton said the Guard is "here to help you, not to control you.” He said missions might include setting up community-based testing centers and transporting medical equipment.

“I want to be perfectly clear: This is not about putting Missouri under martial law,” Gov. Mike Parson said.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, in a YouTube video released Thursday, asked that any recently retired doctors, nurses or other health care professional come back to work.

“In the coming weeks our medical institutions will face a heavy burden,” Page said. “We need your help to make sure everyone gets the treatment that they need.”

The number of confirmed cases increased Friday to 670, up 168 from Thursday, according to state health officials. They also reported nine deaths Friday before Springfield-Greene County health officials announced a fourth person had died at an assisted living home in Springfield.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said a woman in her 90s died at the Morningside East assisted-living center before three other women at the center died. The agency said the woman wasn't tested but it is considering her a COVID-19 victim due to her close contact with them. Four other people at the home have tested positive for the disease.

Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri health department, said Friday the state would not “at this time” count the Springfield woman's death as a coronavirus death.

Missouri Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams on Friday said about 7,000 people have been tested for the virus in Missouri, putting the state's rate of positive cases among individuals tested for the COVID-19 virus at closer to 10%. The state health department is rationing tests and doesn't recommend testing people without symptoms.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But the virus can lead to pneumonia and even death for some people, especially older adults and those with existing health problems.

Missouri's Social Services Department on Saturday will start fielding phone calls about food stamps seven days a week to deal with the influx of requests for help. The agency on Friday also announced that the federal government approved its request to temporarily suspend phone interviews for food stamps.

Among the hard-hit places in Missouri is Life Care Center in St. Louis, a nursing home that has reported six cases. Sean Buckley, executive director of the Life Care Center in St. Louis, said in a written statement that four residents were hospitalized and two employees were directed to stay at home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the nursing home is owned by the same company that operates the Life Care Center of Kirkland, near Seattle, where 37 people died from COVID-19. Another Life Care facility in Kansas City was the site of Kansas’ first coronavirus death.

Stay-at-home orders are in place across much of the state, and on Friday the city of St. Louis cracked down further, closing all playgrounds. The St. Louis Department of Health said people had been gathering in large groups at playgrounds, increasing the risk of children either contracting or spreading the virus.

Full Article & Source: 
Missouri governor mobilizes National Guard for virus fight

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Staggering, Heartless Cruelty Toward the Elderly

Crises can elicit compassion, but they can also evoke callousness. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve witnessed communities coming together (even as they have sometimes been physically forced apart), and we’ve seen individuals engaging in simple acts of kindness to remind the sick and quarantined that they are not forgotten. Yet from some quarters, we’ve also seen a degree of cruelty that is truly staggering.

Earlier today, a friend posted on Facebook about an experience he’d just had on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: “I heard a guy who looked to be in his 20s say that it’s not a big deal cause the elderly are gonna die anyway. Then he and his friend laughed … Maybe I’m lucky that I had awesome grandparents and maybe this guy didn’t but what is wrong with people???” Some have tried to dress up their heartlessness as generational retribution. As someone tweeted at me earlier today, “To be perfectly honest, and this is awful, but to the young, watching as the elderly over and over and over choose their own interests ahead of Climate policy kind of feels like they’re wishing us to a death they won’t have to experience. It’s a sad bit of fair play.”

Read: America’s nursing homes are bracing for an outbreak

Notice how the all-too-familiar rhetoric of dehumanization works: “The elderly” are bunched together as a faceless mass, all of them considered culprits and thus effectively deserving of the suffering the pandemic will inflict upon them. Lost entirely is the fact that the elderly are individual human beings, each with a distinctive face and voice, each with hopes and dreams, memories and regrets, friendships and marriages, loves lost and loves sustained. But they deserve to die—and as for us, we can just go about our business.

It is bad enough if we remain indifferent to the plight of our elders; it is far worse to dress up our failings as moral indignation.

As a rabbi and theologian watching this ethical train wreck, I find myself thinking about the biblical mandate to “honor your father and mother.” The Hebrew word usually translated as “honor,” kabed, comes from a root meaning “weight.” At the deepest level, then, the biblical command is thus to treat the elderly as weighty. Conversely, the Bible prohibits “cursing” one’s parents. The Hebrew word usually translated as “curse,” tekalel, derives from a root meaning “light.” At bottom, then, the biblical proscription is on treating the elderly lightly, as if they are inconsequential.

Why do I say “the elderly”? In its biblical context, the obligation to honor parents is a command given to grown children (as are the Ten Commandments more broadly—you don’t tell children not to commit adultery nor to covet their neighbors’ fields). When you are an adult, the Bible instructs, you must not abandon the elderly. Giving voice to a pervasive human fear, the Psalmist prays, “Do not cast me off in old age; when my strength fails, do not forsake me!”

What does it say about our society that people think of the elderly so dismissively—and moreover, that they feel no shame about expressing such thoughts publicly? I find myself wondering whether this colossal moral failure is exacerbated by the most troubled parts of our cultural and economic life. When people are measured and valued by their economic productivity, it is easy to treat people whose most economically productive days have passed as, well, worthless.

From a religious perspective, if there is one thing we ought to teach our children, it is that our worth as human beings does not depend on or derive from what we do or accomplish or produce; we are, each of us, infinitely valuable just because we are created in the image of God. We mattered before we were old enough to be economically productive, and we will go on mattering even after we cease to be economically productive.

Varied ethical and religious traditions find their own ways to affirm an elemental truth of human life: The elderly deserve our respect and, when necessary, our protection. The mark of a decent society is that it resists the temptation to spurn the defenseless. It is almost a truism that the moral fabric of a society is best measured by how it treats the vulnerable in its midst—and yet it is a lesson we never seem to tire of forgetting. “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old,” the Bible says—look out for them and, in the process, become more human yourself.

Full Article & Source:
The Staggering, Heartless Cruelty Toward the Elderly

Lakewood nurse sentenced to 3 years probation for stealing prescription drugs from patients

By Chris Anderson and Tiarra Braddock

Click to Watch Video
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A former nurse from the Lakewood area was sentenced to probation on Wednesday morning.

Michelle Brown appeared in front of a judge on theft and drug possession charges after being convicted for stealing prescription drugs from her patients.

“I took one of the patient’s morphine and I would replaced it with water,” said Brown.

Before the judge handed down her sentence, Brown explained it was her addiction to alcohol that made her steal medication from her patients.

“I know I can overcome this, I know I can,” Brown added.

The judge ordered that Brown serve three years of probationary community control. If she violates the sanction, Brown could be sent to prison for up to 18 months.

Investigators say Brown stole drugs from patients while she was working at the Crestmont North Nursing Facility on Detroit Road.

“This defendant took advantage of her position as a nurse to illicitly obtain drugs and tried to conceal the evidence. In doing so, she placed innocent patients at risk by tampering with their medication,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said.

Full Article & Source:
Lakewood nurse sentenced to 3 years probation for stealing prescription drugs from patients

A Louisiana judge says drug users are too unhygienic to be released from jail

By Radley Balko


Earlier this month, Calcasieu Parish, La., public defender Harry Fontenot sent a letter to judges and the district attorney’s office arguing for the release of nonviolent offenders from the parish jail to prevent the spread of covid-19. Judges, prosecutors and court staff held a meeting March 16 to discuss the matter. Defense attorneys were not invited. But just before the gathering, 14th Judicial District Court Judge David Ritchie sent a text to some of the attendees outlining his thoughts on the matter. A source shared the text with me. It reads:
I want to know what was considered by those who agreed that “under the circumstances” it is a good idea to release the nonviolent prisoners from the [Calcasieu Correctional Center], other than Harry’s email from last week. Who is this intended to help? As we all should know, the members of this particular population are overwhelmingly drug addicts who have the worst hygiene of anyone in the community, other than the mentally ill. Right now, they are realistically quarantined in jail. I assume that none of you called the jail to find out if it was necessary or advisable to take this action, since I called [CCC warden Chris] Domingue and he wasn’t aware of any such contact. He told me that they have implemented protocols to do their best to make sure Corona doesn’t enter the CCC, which includes screening people as they are booked in, not allowing visitors, etc. The drug addicts will be right back out using and stealing and getting rearrested, which is much more likely to introduce the virus into the jail and spread it in the community. I’ll have more to say at the meeting, but it makes no sense at all, if the purpose is supposed to be to prevent the spread of Corona.
Two people have confirmed that they received this text from Ritchie. Both sources, who requested that they not be identified, said that Ritchie reiterated these comments at the meeting, almost verbatim. One said Ritchie’s comments shocked many of those present. “There was a pause in the room. I think we were all surprised to hear a judge talk about people that way.” Ritchie’s office did not respond to a voice mail and email requesting comment.

“This judge seems to have said the quiet part out loud,” said Rachel Elise Barkow, a New York University School of Law professor and author of “Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration.” “Some of us suspect and fear judges are locking up people who they think are generally undesirable without really thinking about the danger of future crime, and this judge made it explicit.”

Even if Ritchie’s blanket, offensive characterization of drug users and the mentally ill were true (and of course not all people arrested for drug possession are “addicts”), it wouldn’t be a legally valid reason to keep them in jail. “When the Supreme Court upheld allowing dangerousness to be part of the bail determination, it specifically focused on the danger of future crime,” Barkow said. “If the notion of dangerousness could include something like a defendant’s hygiene or propensity to get sick, we’d see our jails even more overflowing than they are now and the end of due process as we know it.”

Defendants in Calcasieu Parish already face a system that can keep them in jail for long stretches before even getting a hearing. Judges in the parish typically set bonds before defendants are assigned a public defender, which means there’s no one present to advocate for a lower bond or for release on personal recognizance. Judges also cycle between the criminal and civil courts, meaning the judge handling a particular case may not hold another criminal court session for weeks. Parish public defender Carla Edmondson told me that it isn’t unusual in, for example, a drug possession charge for a defendant to be incarcerated for weeks before getting a chance to challenge his or her bond. One client of hers spent three months in jail without a hearing, only to later have all of the charges dropped.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, there have been additional challenges. Jail visits have been suspended for the past week, which makes it more difficult for defense attorneys to communicate with clients. And judges are working from home, making them more difficult to reach.

Ritchie was the judge on duty last week in what’s locally called “72-hour court,” or the court that sets bonds, signs warrants and takes care of legal matters that can’t be postponed. Edmondson tried to file an omnibus motion to release 16 nonviolent offenders from the jail, citing the threat from the virus. Ritchie refused to sign the motion, or to even set a hearing. Edmondson then contacted the judge presiding over those cases at home and, two days later, won the release of 15 of the 16 defendants after conferencing with the new judge and a prosecutor.

On March 16, the ordered a postponement of jury trials. It has since ordered state courts to suspend nonemergency hearings and, as best they can, conduct emergency hearings via telephone or video conferencing. The courts in Calcasieu Parish are still transitioning. One defense attorney said her last hearing was in a courtroom with the prosecutor and judge, but her client appeared from the jail via video.

Currently the Calcasieu Parish jail is holding 1,085 people, just short of its 1,200 capacity. There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases, though there have been at other corrections facilities in the state. The sheriff’s department said it’s screening new arrivals at the jail, including taking their temperatures, and inmates are under a type of quarantine. But of course those infected with covid-19 can shed the virus before presenting with symptoms such as fever. ″You can’t socially distance in jail," Edmondson said. “By keeping people in there for nonviolent offenses, you’re sacrificing not just my clients, but their families, and corrections staff and their families.”

Meanwhile, arrests in the parish for low-level offenses haven’t stopped. In just the past several days a man was arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief, and multiple people were arrested on charges of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Full Article & Source:
A Louisiana judge says drug users are too unhygienic to be released from jail

Thursday, March 26, 2020

98 Year Old Mom Moves to Nursing Home To Look After 80-Year-Old Son

Of all the types of love, a mother’s is the strongest. … A mother’s love is unconditional and eternal. A mother will do anything for her children, regardless of their age!

A 98-year-old mom went viral after moving into the same nursing home her 80-year-old son was in order to take care of him.

Ada Keating is an exceptional woman who wanted to stay by her son`s side when they needed each other the most. Even in her age, she knows best, and it seems that both of them are grateful for the closeness in the picture below.

Tom Keating, Ada’s son, moved to the Moss View care home in Huyton, Liverpool as he needed more care than what could have been given to him at home. The next year, his mom decided to move into the same nursing home because she couldn’t stand being without him.  Mother and son are so grateful they get to spend their time together, playing games and watching TV to pass the time. 

About the Keatings 

Ada and Tom have always been very close, mostly because Tom never married but lived with his mom for all his adult life. As Ada explained, they have certain daily routines, so he knows what to expect.  “I say goodnight to Tom in his room every night and I’ll go and say good morning to him,” she said. “I’ll tell him I’m coming down for breakfast.

They have a very deep bond even in their old age. When I go out to the hairdressers he’ll look for me to see when I’m coming back,” she said. “When I get back he’ll come to me with his arms outstretched and give me a big hug. You never stop being a mum.” Tom added, “They’re very good here and I’m happy to see my mum more now she lives here. Sometimes she’ll say ‘behave yourself.’ She’s very good at looking after me.

Tom is the oldest of 4 children; he had 3 sisters, Janet, Margi, and Barbara who passed away at 13. Tom worked as a decorator and painter before he retired while his mom worked as a nurse at Mill Road Hospital before her retirement. Their family members visit them often and are very happy to see them together. “There’s no parting them. It’s reassuring for us that they’re both getting looked after 24/7,” Debi Higham, Ada’s granddaughter said.

Philip Daniels, the manager at this nursing home, said he is very happy the mother and son can be together at his facility.

 “It’s very touching to see the close relationship both Tom and Ada share and we are so pleased we were able to accommodate both of their needs,” he said.

He added, “It’s very rare to see mothers and their children together in the same care home and we certainly want to make their time as special as possible. They are inseparable.”

Full Article & Source:
98 Year Old Mom Moves to Nursing Home To Look After 80-Year-Old Son

Lakewood nurse convicted of stealing prescription drugs from patients set to be sentenced

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A former nurse from the Lakewood area is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday morning.

Michelle Brown is convicted of theft and drug possession. Her sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Investigators say Brown stole drugs from patients while she was working at the Crestmont North Nursing Facility on Detroit Road.

Brown would remove bottles of morphine and hydromorphone from a medication cart that was prescribed for patients, according to prosecutors. She then added water to bottles in an attempt to conceal the theft.

Lakewood nurse convicted of stealing drugs from patients

“This defendant took advantage of her position as a nurse to illicitly obtain drugs and tried to conceal the evidence. In doing so, she placed innocent patients at risk by tampering with their medication,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said.

Full Article & Source:
Lakewood nurse convicted of stealing prescription drugs from patients set to be sentenced

What should be done? Mental health conservatorship in California

Law for who can receive involuntary treatment leaves families without options


By Jocelyn Wiener / CalMatters 
Mark Rippee's sisters Catherine "CJ" Hanson and Linda Privatte
Families of individuals like Mark Rippee worry if they’ll survive the night. 

Rippee has schizophrenia from a motorcycle accident, which left him blind and with severe brain damage. 

Some families recognize that conservatorship – in which a court-appointed conservator manages another person’s living situation, medical decisions and mental health treatment — is no panacea, and should be a last resort.

In the half-century since it was passed, much of the debate about helping people like Rippee has centered on the Lanterman-Petris-Short law, which set strict guidelines for involuntary treatment of people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others, or gravely disabled.

While several recent bills have sought to modify the law, focusing on the term “gravely disabled,” a shortage of placements and a lack of funding for county programs means there would be nowhere to send many of those who would qualify to be conserved. Earlier this year, a state budget proposal to increase the amount of funding for public guardians by 35 percent, or $68 million, failed.

More than 5,000 people in the state were in permanent conservatorships, and close to 2,000 were in temporary conservatorships, as of 2016-17, according to data collected by the Department of Health Care Services. State administrators say the data is extremely incomplete. 

Most state hospital beds are now reserved for people in the criminal justice system. Inmates with mental illness can wait in limbo for months or even years in county jails before a bed opens up.

Five years ago, an average of 343 inmates with mental illness were awaiting placement. Last year, the average was 819.

“The easiest legislative fix is to expand conservatorship,” said Chris Koper, a legislative analyst for the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians and Public Conservators. “It then will appear that the Legislature is trying to do something. But as is often the case with social problems, the wound is so much deeper than that. And the wound will require a lot of money.”

Last year lawmakers agreed to create a narrow five-year pilot program that makes it easier for three counties (San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego) to conserve homeless individuals with serious mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders. The program allows courts to conserve individuals who have been placed under a 72-hour psychiatric hold at least eight times in a year. 

Disability rights advocates insist that maintaining the standards outlined by Lanterman-Petris-Short is essential to protect people’s civil rights. Most people with serious mental illnesses aren’t refusing help, they say. Appropriate help just isn’t available.

As San Francisco has assumed new authority to place people under conservatorships, The San Francisco Chronicle found a backlog. In a locked ward at San Francisco General Hospital, individuals who were conserved were waiting four months for placement in Napa State Hospital, and even longer for a residential facility.

Even without the pilot program, depending on where you live, public defenders, judges, public guardians and others have different interpretations of the law.

On April 24, 2018, Rippee’s sister, Linda Privatte, told the Solano County Board of Supervisors that her brother had attempted suicide more than 20 times, showing up repeatedly to beg the board for help. This spring, she received an email from Supervisor Skip Thomson’s office on behalf of the county, explaining that her brother could not be conserved in part because each time he was placed on an involuntary hold, he stabilized to the point that he legally had to be released.

“This is not a situation that we have ignored nor that we condone,” the letter said. “Simply the law requires stringent standards to impose conservatorships – standards that so far we cannot meet.”

Last fall, dozens of mental health leaders from around the state gathered in Sacramento to talk about the future of Lanterman-Petris-Short. They discussed how counties lack the resources to build out a continuum of care.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked his colleagues if the debate around involuntary treatment might be reframed to insist that people have both a right —and an obligation —to come indoors. That would mean that, before the state could compel people to come indoors, they would have to have safe, appropriate placements to offer them.

“Our North Star needs to be to end this horrific situation,” he said.

For Rippee’s sisters, Privatte and Catherine Hanson, they worry their own health problems might someday leave no one to fight for him. 

 “He is the worst-case scenario of anybody being so vulnerable on the streets,” Hanson said. “Every winter we wonder: Is this going to be the year that he dies?”

Full Article & Source:
What should be done? Mental health conservatorship in California

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Action News Investigation: Local nursing homes cited for infection control before COVID-19 outbreak

Click to Watch Video
By Chad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf, Yun Choi

An Action News Investigation analyzed data to see which local facilities had a history of infection control problems.

The American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, called COVID-19 a perfect killing machine of the elderly.

And, with cases in nursing facilities, the rising potential spread of the virus is leaving families with loved ones in homes on edge.

Mirian Williams' 93-year-old mother suffers from congestive heart failure and upper respiratory problems.

She lives at ManorCare Health Services in Yeadon, Pennsylvania.

"I am concerned because I can't check on my mom," said Williams.

Medicare and Medicaid gave the nursing home a 1-star rating for overall care, the worst designation.

Action News found health inspectors cited the home for poor pest control earlier this year.

"We've seen a lot of unclean conditions there, under-staffing, German cockroaches, insects flying around and mice," she added.

Inspectors also cited ManorCare Yeadon for poor infection control in September of 2018 and October of 2019.

With nursing homes locked down to visitors, the family is concerned.

"My mother is 100% dependent on ManorCare Yeadon," said Williams.

An Action News Investigation analyzed data to find out which nursing homes had a history of infection control problems.

Despite ManorCare Yeadon's 1-star rating, Action News found ManorCare is not even our region's nursing home with the most infection control related citations.

Infection control covers a wide range of nationally recognized standards.

The Investigative Team did a deep dive into state inspections over the last five years and found these nursing homes had the most citations in our area for either failing to have adequate infection control plans or failing to implement them properly.

We found these facilities cited four times during the five-year analysis: New Castle Health and Rehabilitation in Delaware, Atrium Post Acute Care of Woodbury in New Jersey and Immaculate Mary Center for Rehab and Healthcare in Philadelphia.

New Castle Health and Rehabilitation had its last citation in 2017.

ManorCare Health Services Pike Creek in Delaware and Brinton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation in Pennsylvania were cited three times, most recently in March 2019.

Martin Kardon, an attorney and nationally recognized expert in the field of elder abuse and neglect said people are placing their trust in nursing homes to incorporate best practices, provide quality care and prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

"I'm concerned that with the coronavirus out there, some of these places are going to consider it a free pass to fall asleep on the job," Kardon said.

He acknowledges there are challenges.

"It's hard to keep people healthy when they're bunched together with everyone else," said Kardon.

The Action News five-year data analysis found of the 25 most cited nursing homes for infection control in our region, 20 were for-profit corporations and partnerships.

Advocates for the elderly will tell you nursing home staff are poorly paid and overworked, but they're on the front lines for the elderly in this outbreak.

Dr. Thomas Lawrence, who is the director of geriatric medicine for Mainline Health, said a lot has been learned since a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing facility in Washington state.

"It was a medical mess...literally a disaster," he said.

So far, nearly three dozen people have died there.

Dr. Lawrence said handwashing, restricted visitation and screening for symptomatic patients and employees are critical.

"The message to nursing home staff: isolate and keep yourself away from people because you have a duty to care," said Lawrence.

Lawerence also said that for nursing homes meeting the CDC requirements, "the safest place to be actually is in the hallways of a nursing facility where the staff has been screened coming in and the residents have not had travel exposure."

New Castle Health and Rehabilitation, Immaculate Mary Center for Rehab and Healthcare and Brinton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation did not respond to Action News' requests for comment on our findings.

ManorCare released the following statements:

"ManorCare Yeadon and Pike Creek cleared their previous citations and are currently in compliance with those infection control citations. The infection control citations did not have any harm in scope or severity. We take all surveys seriously and whenever there is a citation, such as infection control, the process to correct that deficiency requires heightened focus on training and self-auditing."

Specific to COVID-19, we have followed and implemented the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state recommendations to limit exposure and reduce risk of our vulnerable population. These recommendations include restricted visitation, temperature and symptom checks for entry by anyone entering the center including vendors, employees and authorized visitors. We have also increased our screening and monitoring of patients for fever and respiratory symptoms and reaching out to family and friends to inform them of our processes."


As for the pest citations at ManorCare Yeadon:

"Last year, we did have a pest issue resulting from water issues. We have since corrected the issue, regraded the area and improved the drainage. While we are still working through this issue, we feel we have had excellent results and believe this will soon be completely remedied," ManorCare said.

The spokesperson also said they've been in contact with families since the visitation restrictions went into place and have had many satisfied families on the phone, Skype, Facetime, and visiting through the windows of the center.

"We have an iPad on its way to the center for additional social engagement with loved ones. We realize the COVID19 concerns and our visitation restrictions are causing a lot of stress for everyone and we appreciate our families' and residents' patience as well as our employees' commitment as we work through this together. We are here to make it as easy as possible during this time," ManorCare added.

Atrium Post Acute Care of Woodbury, a Spring Hills managed facility, told us they take the prevention of infection very seriously:

"As two of the listed deficiencies occurred before the management change, we knew that we had quite a bit of work to do to bring this building to its current deficiency-free status as it relates to infection control.

The remaining two deficiencies occurred in our first year of management while evaluating what changes needed to be made. Seeing this, we brought in a new Administrator, Patricia Hedeman.

In September 2019, she received a letter from the Department of Health that stated, "we have accepted your plan of correction and find that as of September 30, 2019, your facility has achieved substantial compliance with all participation regarding the deficiencies stated on the August 9, 2019 survey."

As part of her efforts to correct these deficiencies, Mrs. Hedeman hired a full time Infection Preventionist, Dr. Pat Madden, who has come to Atrium after being the Corporate Director of Nursing for Jefferson Hospital.

Since Dr. Madden was hired, we have invited the Department of Health into the facility to see the changes we are making which includes the development a Sepsis Program designed to identify high-risk patients and treat prior to sepsis, preventing the need for re-hospitalization."


Full Article & Source:
Action News Investigation: Local nursing homes cited for infection control before COVID-19 outbreak

Man who coughed on elderly person and said he had coronavirus is arrested as Justice Department reveals those who intentionally spread the virus could face terrorism charges

  • Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen's memo came as Pennsylvanian cops said they were charging a 57-year-old man with making terrorist threats 
  • North Middleton Township Police arrested Daniel Tabussi after he coughed on an elderly victim who was shopping at a Karns store during a seniors-only time
  • The elderly man is recovering from pneumonia and had gone into the store wearing a medical face mask and gloves at the time of the incident on March 20 
  • On top of the terrorist threat charges, Tabussi has been charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment
  • Rosen's memo to prosecutors and department leaders warned that they may run into 'purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19'
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

By Matthew Wright

The Justice Department's number two senior official said that those who intentionally spread coronavirus could be charged with terrorist threats. 

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen's Tuesday memo came on the same day that Pennsylvanian authorities announced that they were charging a 57-year-old man with terrorist threats for coughing on an elderly man. 

North Middleton Township Police in Philadelphia have already charged 57-year-old Daniel Tabussi with making terrorist threats after he allegedly coughed on an elderly victim who was shopping at a Karns grocery store during a seniors-only time.

North Middleton Township Police charged 57-year-old Daniel Tabussi with making terroristic threats after he allegedly coughed on an elderly victim who was shopping at a Karns grocery store during a seniors-only time (stock)
Police said the victim wore the items because they are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

Tabussi is described as having deliberately coughed near the victim while mocking them at the store located on the 1700 block of Spring Road.

Authorities shared the man told the victim that he had COVID-19 on numerous occasions. 

On top of the terrorist threat charges, Tabussi has been charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.  

Rosen's memo to prosecutors and department leaders across the country warned that they may run into 'purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19.'  

'Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent'… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation's terrorism-related statutes,' Rosen wrote, according to Politico. 'Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated.'

Additionally, the Justice Department has also set up a task force to investigate cases of hoarding and price gouging. 

Full Article & Source:
Man who coughed on elderly person and said he had coronavirus is arrested as Justice Department reveals those who intentionally spread the virus could face terrorism charges

Pa. nursing home chain to pay $15 million to settle claims of unnecessary rehab

A Pennsylvania nursing home chain with facilities in the Pittsburgh region has agreed to pay more than $15 million to settle claims that it provided unnecessary rehabilitation to residents, including some with dementia or in hospice care, to make money instead of addressing clinical needs.

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh announced the settlement Wednesday with Guardian Elder Care Holdings.

The company is based in Brockway, Jefferson County, and has more than 50 homes across the state, including some in Allegheny, Beaver, Westmoreland, Fayette and Indiana counties, as well as in Ohio and West Virginia.

The settlement resolves allegations contained in a whistleblower suit filed in federal court in Philadelphia in 2015 under the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to sue on behalf of the U.S. and share in the recovery of money. Prosecutors in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia worked on the case together.

The whistleblowers were Philippa Krauss and Julie White, both former employees of Guardian, who will share a $2.8 million chunk of the settlement.

Ms. Krauss and Ms. White were rehab managers at Guardian's skilled nursing facility in Carlisle. Both said they had been pushed to do rehab that wasn't necessary with Medicare and Medicaid picking up the bill.

According to the suit, Guardian officials continually pressed for rehab for residents who had no need for it or didn't want it, such as dementia or hospice patients.

"As a result of Guardian’s constant pressure and directions given to [staff], many Medicare Part A patients were subjected to rehabilitative therapy that was medically unreasonable, unnecessary, unskilled and possibly harmful," their original suit said.

The complaint cited numerous examples.

In one, a Monday morning status report at the Carlisle facility in February 2014 noted that "Patient 8" was dying. But the patient still received physical therapy. Six days later the person died.

In 2012, "Patient 4" was dying and refusing all therapy. But managers were told to provide therapy anyway, such as changing his position and stretching his legs, to keep him on the caseload and maintain revenue levels.

During a meeting in May 2012, Ms. Krauss said Patient 4 was dying but was told to put the patient on a stationary bike so that Guardian could report the required minutes of therapy and maintain its revenue level. The man continued to receive the therapy for a month and then died.

Ms. Krauss left the company in 2013 and Ms. White the following year.

The lawsuit settlement also resolves claims that Guardian employed two people who were excluded from federal healthcare programs but nonetheless received payment for services to Guardian.

"We thank Ms. Krauss and Ms. White for their role in bringing this alleged scheme to light," William McSwain, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said in a statement.

He also commended Guardian for voluntarily disclosing the employment of the two excluded providers.

In addition to paying $15.5 million, Guardian entered into a "corporate integrity agreement" with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote future compliance.

Guardian said in a statement that resident care "remains our first priority" and that the company is committed to meeting its obligations under the agreement.

Full Article & Source:
Pa. nursing home chain to pay $15 million to settle claims of unnecessary rehab

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Walt Disney’s grandson locked in legal battle for personal freedom, millions in inheritance – Crime News

By Rosemarie Block

Leisure visionary Walt Disney couldn’t have imagined the wrestle that grandson Bradford Lund has endured attempting to assert his share of the household fortune.

For 15 years, Lund, 50, has battled estranged relations, trustees and probate court docket officers, attempting to point out he’s mentally match to handle an inheritance value a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars}. He’s needed to show again and again that he doesn’t have Down syndrome, that he can deal with such a large infusion of funds.

Now he’s preventing not only for cash, however for his freedom, after a Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom choose appointed a guardian to briefly make all his authorized choices.

“Do I wish to give 200 million {dollars}, successfully, to somebody who could undergo, on some degree, from Down syndrome? The reply is not any,” Decide David Cowan mentioned from the bench, refusing later to retract the assertion even after he was given DNA proof that Lund doesn’t have Down syndrome.

Disney’s grandson has discovered himself trapped in a probate system prone to predatory guardians, trustees, fiduciaries and others who command massive salaries for his or her illustration — all paid by the shopper.

The court docket probate system is, amongst different issues, supposed to guard the aged and disabled from being victimized by relations and others. However it’s a system that incentivizes abuse. The longer the shopper is deemed incapable of managing his or her personal affairs, the longer the guardian, attorneys and others receives a commission. And the shopper will get no say over the place they reside, who they see and the way their cash is spent.

“The system is damaged,” mentioned Rick Black, a director on the Middle for Property Administration Reform in North Carolina. “That is purely an estate-trafficking case and it’s being managed by predatory attorneys.”

Grandson sues choose


Lund, nevertheless, is preventing again.

In a uncommon transfer, his legal professionals — Sandra Slaton of Scottsdale, Arizona,  former White Home counsel Lanny Davis and Joseph Busch III of Newport Seaside — have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Cowan of appointing the guardian with out due course of.

Suing a choose is nearly by no means performed. However Davis, a former member of the federal Privateness and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, mentioned his workforce had no selection.

“This criticism alleges that Cowan rendered a judgment from the bench that adversely impacts a person in such a considerable approach, depriving him of life and liberty with no truthful trial,” Davis mentioned.

Within the 31-page lawsuit, Lund’s legal professionals wrote: “The choice by Decide Cowan to nominate a (guardian advert litem) … with no listening to … and totally ignoring constitutional necessities of due strategy of regulation is all too paying homage to a perspective the place details don’t matter however various details do.”

U.S. cartoonist Walt Disney and household out strolling within the June sunshine, his daughter Sharon is at far left, his daughter Diane at left, and his spouse Lillian at proper, England, June. 24, 1949. (AP Photograph)

Household historical past


How Lund obtained here’s a story with extra twists and turns than a Matterhorn bobsled.

Considered one of Lund’s essential opponents is his twin sister, Michelle Lund. Brad and Michelle have been born in 1970 to Disney’s daughter, Sharon Disney Lund. The twins attended special-needs colleges as kids reportedly for studying impairments.

When Lund was 19, his mom created a belief fund — now valued at $400 million — for him, Michelle and their sister, Victoria. Sharon Lund appointed 4 trustees: Diane Disney Miller, her sister; Invoice Lund, father to the three kids; Ron Gother, Sharon’s belief lawyer; and First Interstate Financial institution, the company trustee.

The grandchildren have been to obtain a part of their shares at ages 35, 40 and 45, with the rest stored within the belief and given to them as gradual earnings.

As years handed, Lund’s mom died, as did his sister Victoria. And among the trustees resigned, whereas others with no household connections took their locations.

When Brad Lund turned 35, the trustees voted in opposition to paying him a portion of his inheritance, saying they didn’t imagine he was financially and mentally competent.

4 years later, Michelle Lund suffered a mind aneurysm following an alleged drug overdose, however she obtained her share of the cash as scheduled.

Courtroom order sought


Additionally in 2009, Michelle Lund and her two half-sisters sought an order in Arizona court docket that will place Brad Lund underneath a guardian to make his authorized choices due to “persistent deficits and psychological problems.”

Thus started a seven-year case in Arizona, which led to a 10-day non-jury trial earlier than Decide Robert H. Oberbillig. Oberbillig declared Lund mentally able to dealing with his personal affairs.

As a part of the Arizona case, two docs and a neuropsychologist examined Lund and decided he already was getting sufficient assist to handle his life and assets. After a prolonged examination on the witness stand, Oberbillig dominated in 2016 that Lund proved he isn’t incapacitated and didn’t want a guardian.

His trustees already had denied Lund’s subsequent scheduled inheritance fee at age 40. Their membership had modified once more, with First Republic Belief Co. taking up as the company trustee.

Authorized struggle strikes


Whereas the Arizona case was nonetheless underway, Lund filed for a court docket petition in Los Angeles County to take away his trustees for numerous violations. It’s via that case that Decide Cowan in the end entered the image.

The choose was offered with a settlement settlement between Lund and his trustees, through which he would pay them $14.5 million in alternate for his or her removing and alternative. Cowan authorized the cash alternate however wouldn’t permit Lund to interchange the trustees, Davis mentioned. Cowan then appointed the short-term guardian advert litem.

“When a choose comes to a decision, even a short lived one, all we allege is the elemental proper to due course of,” Davis mentioned.

Cowan’s lawyer, Matthew Inexperienced, declined remark.

Lund’s workforce turned to the federal court docket as a result of state appellate justices wouldn’t rule on a short lived appointment.

Davis is not any stranger to such controversy.

He served as particular counsel to then-President Invoice Clinton within the late 1990s and represented President Donald Trump’s former private lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded responsible to tax fraud, violating marketing campaign finance legal guidelines and different federal crimes in 2018.

However authorized specialists say Davis is dealing with a excessive mountain in focusing on Cowan and alleging that state regulation permitting the choose’s actions is unconstitutional.

“Judges usually have immunity on choices they make, even when they’re lifeless fallacious,” mentioned Mario Mainero, a professor on the Dale E. Fowler College of Legislation at Chapman College in Orange. “You don’t get to sue judges.”

One exception, Mainero mentioned, is for civil rights violations through which somebody is looking for reduction and never damages in opposition to the choose, as is Lund.

But it surely’s nonetheless no stroll within the household park.

Full Article & Source:
Walt Disney’s grandson locked in legal battle for personal freedom, millions in inheritance – Crime News

See Also:
Walt Disney’s Grandson Sues Judge in Battle Over $200 Million Inheritance

Family suing Santa Fe Police for wrongful death of family member

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of an elderly woman who they say froze to death is now suing the Santa Fe Police Department.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 92-year-old Antonia Garcia’s family says she may have gotten lost on her way to church in March 2019. A criminal complaint states a woman called Santa Fe Police after seeing an elderly woman leaning against a metal post.

Those documents say the dispatcher and police officers treated the call as a “low priority call”. Garcia’s family is now suing for wrongful death.

Full Article & Source:
Family suing Santa Fe Police for wrongful death of family member

Warren nursing home worker charged with abusing 91-year-old woman

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WARREN, Mich. – A Warren nursing home worker has been charged with abusing a 91-year-old woman.

Security cameras were rolling at the Advantage Living Center on 12 Mile Road near Hoover Road as the worker manhandled the 91-year-old resident, according to authorities.

“She’s being muscled, pushed around in her wheelchair,” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said. “She tries to move, but can’t move.”

The abuse didn’t stop there, police said. Ronald Fletcher, 64, was also recorded holding the 91-year-old victim by the back of her neck, forcing her face down repeatedly, officials said.

Prosecutors said at some point the woman hit her head, leaving a gash on her forehead.

“Where she’s striking the desk is not in camera (view), but very soon she has a tissue and the defendant puts a Band-Aid on her forehead,” Smith said.

The woman’s injury raised suspicion, and one day after the alleged assault, workers at the living center called police.

“Someone noticed the Band-Aid, reviewed the video and called police,” Smith said.

Fletcher was arrested and charged with vulnerable adult abuse. Prosecutors said he is a licensed practical nurse and had only been working at the facility for three weeks. Nothing came up during a background check.

“You can check background all you want,” Smith said. “You don’t know what’s lurking the in the heart. They did a check, but didn’t know."

Fletcher was briefly suspended and then fired from Advantage Living Center.

The 91-year-old grandmother is recovering, officials said.

Here is a statement from Advantage Living Center:

We are currently in the middle of our internal investigation and working collaboratively with the local police department and the State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Advantage Living Centers remains committed to continuing to provide high quality care and treatment to the residents and families we have the privilege to serve.”


Full Article & Source:
Warren nursing home worker charged with abusing 91-year-old woman

Monday, March 23, 2020

Siblings come up with a unique way to visit their mother in nursing home

By Emerson Lehmann

WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) - Siblings Sara Helmer and Mark Michlig understand why they can’t visit their mother, Carol like they normally would while she is living at the Rennes Health and Rehab Center in Weston. Like most nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Rennes isn’t allowing in-person visits during the COVID-19 outbreak to help protect both the people living there and the staff.

Mark Michlig and Sara Helmer hold up the signs made for their mother at Rennes Health and Rehab Center in Weston. (WSAW photo 3/19/20)
“We are really focused on following the guidelines of the CDC and DHS,” explained Vikki Baumler, the public information officer at Rennes. “The data shows that this virus is extremely dangerous for the elderly and people with extreme health conditions. The best thing we can do is try to keep visitors out of the building and prevent the virus from ever entering our facility.”

Instead of choosing to just call or Facetime their mother, Helmer and Michlig got creative.

“The idea of saying ‘Hello’ in a different way and making light of putting a little humor in this,” said Michlig. “My mom is restricted to her bed, so going to her window with a sign that says ‘Good morning’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘Hi Mom’ was a surprise for her.”

Helmer agrees, crediting her brother with coming up with the idea.

“She loves it,” Helmer said. “The first time we went there, she cried because we didn’t tell her. We went up there and knocked on the window and she loved the signs, and she was crying, and she just loved it, talking on the phone so we talked on the phone for a few minutes and sat out there.”

It has become a daily tradition for the brother and sister duo to visit their mother from outside her window, with other residents and staff members taking notice.

“It’s definitely meant a lot to our residents and our staff,” said Katie McMahon, activities director at Rennes. “Anything positive right now is just really nice to see.

While Michlig and Helmer aren’t sure when they’ll be able to go inside and sit with their mother again, they’re happy that they can still see her, and show her how much they love her, through the window.

“We’re just adults being children,” Michlig beamed. “This is a way of expressing our love for my mother and all the residents that are here. Hopefully, they get some attention, too.”

“A big thank you to the nurses and the staff here,” Helmer added. “We totally appreciate everything they do for all the residents here.”

Full Article & Source:
Siblings come up with a unique way to visit their mother in nursing home

State's assisted suicide bill imperils elder citizens

by Sally White

In 20 years of working with geriatric patients, I have seen the frightened faces, emaciated and bruised bodies, and the hopelessness of abuse victims. My patients taught me the five types of elder abuse: neglect, financial exploitation, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. New York state legislators could create a new category: legally protected abuse.

If it ever becomes law, assisted suicide legislation will increase opportunities for abusers to euthanize adults. This act intentionally puts lethal drugs into the hands of people who could easily misuse them.

Like child abuse, spousal abuse and hate crimes, elder abuse occurs when a class of people does not get equal protection, equal treatment and social supports to prevent harm. New York may create a class of people who receive lethal medication and suicide instructions instead of suicide prevention interventions and social support to prevent harm. In states with similar laws, the vast majority of people dying from lethal prescriptions are older than 60.

The National Council on Aging reports that almost 60 percent of elder abusers are family members. The New York assisted suicide bill does not require physicians to see patients alone to reduce coercion by family or caregivers. In the era of telemedicine, this bill does not even mandate an in-person appointment to request the lethal medication. Thus, there is no guarantee the patient is not being coerced, or that the patient is even the one requesting to end his or her life.

New Yorkers who do not speak English are especially vulnerable to deception and coercion. This bill allows non-English speakers to sign medication requests written in the English language. Self-designated interpreters require no specific language competency or knowledge of medical terminology.

New York does not prevent, protect, or prosecute elder abuse, even when people suffer severe psychological and physical harm. "Under the Radar," the first statewide study of Elder Abuse, reports that elder abuse happens to 76 of every 1,000 adults older than 60 living in the community. That's 260,000 New Yorkers every year. Since New York is the only state without mandatory reporting of elder abuse, it's no surprise that less than 5 percent of these events are reported to any agency.

In 2018, the Assembly Committee on Aging stated that one of its "top priorities is to increase opportunities to identify signs of abuse, increase outreach and education." The committee could begin by educating sponsors and supporters of New York's assisted suicide legislation about elder abuse. Social isolation and dependence on others for daily needs make terminally ill patients easy targets. Yet this bill does not require an abuse risk assessment to be conducted before lethal medication is dispensed. Its unenforceable warning not to commit forgery, homicide and coercion reads like a plea for immunity or absolution. It offers vulnerable older adults no protection.

This bill is dangerous not only because "safe suicide" is an oxymoron, or because doctors often make mistakes in estimating life expectancy, but also because the bill's so-called "safeguards" are missing or unenforceable. Now is the time to stand up for those who are too vulnerable to stand up for themselves. Now is the time to stop elder abuse — not to legalize it. 

Dr. Sally White works with vulnerable adults in rural Franklin and St. Lawrence counties.

Full Article & Source:
State's assisted suicide bill imperils elder citizens

Coronavirus: Fraudsters impersonating officials are targeting the elderly

Fraudsters are knocking on the doors of the elderly and scamming them out of their savings by impersonating officials during the coronavirus crisis, a body has warned.

Exploitative criminals are committing burglary or fraud by pretending to be Government, council or medical officers, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

People are also being targeted with phishing emails offering quick remedies and vaccination kits, while others are asked to donate to fake charities.

And emails which appear to be from travel companies are asking people about cancelled holidays in a bid to get their payment details.

Other vulnerable residents are paying over the odds online for essential goods, such as hand sanitiser, only to never receive the product because it was being sold on a fake platform.

It comes as reports of scams increased by 400% within the space of a month in the City of London.

The police force said there had been 105 reports to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000.

The LGA is urging elderly, isolated residents not to accept services from strangers who offer to run errands, such as collecting prescriptions or shopping, if they ask for cash or card details upfront.

Councillor Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer & Stronger Communities Board, said: “By tricking elderly and vulnerable people in self-isolation to part with their cash, fraudsters are playing roulette with the lives of those most at risk.

“Keeping the elderly and those with underlying health conditions safe is every councils’ top priority and councils will do everything in their power to prosecute fraudsters and seek the toughest penalties for criminals taking advantage in this despicable way.

“Councils have plans in place for dealing with the very challenging circumstances presented by the coronavirus and will continue to review how best to use their staff and mobilise community resources to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable are given the support they need.”

Examples of exploitation include scammers impersonating officers at Rochdale Borough Council and offering to run errands for the vulnerable.

Birmingham City Council has prosecuted a retailer selling harmful hand sanitisers, while a neighbourhood watch group in Lewisham and Blackheath reported people knocking at doors of elderly people saying they are from the Health Authority doing mandatory testing for coronavirus.

Anyone who thinks they may be a fraud victim should speak to their bank immediately and contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

It comes as Age UK launched an emergency fundraising appeal to raise £10 million so it can help older people through the pandemic.

Its helpline has seen a 30% increase in demand, while another service, the Silver Line helpline, has seen 40% more calls.

The charity said its biggest worry is for the millions of older people who do not have family and friends to rely on.

Laurie Boult, fundraising director at Age UK, said: “The reality is that in the weeks and months ahead older people are going to need Age UK in huge numbers, and to an extent we have never seen before.

“We are determined to rise to the challenge and be there – to provide comfort, hope and practical support. But we can only do it if we have the funds that it will take.”

Full Article & Source:
Coronavirus: Fraudsters impersonating officials are targeting the elderly