Saturday, May 23, 2020

Walt Disney's grandson Brad Lund, 50, criticizes bonuses for executives after the company furloughed 100,000 workers during coronavirus shutdown

  • Walt Disney's grandson Brad Lund, 50, hit out at the company's executives over claims they will receive large bonuses
  • The company had furloughed 100,000 workers and ended their pay after parks shuttered up because of the coronavirus pandemic  
  • Lund said he hoped 'all family members will join in our dismay over senior Disney management compensation levels' 
  • The Disney heir is in the midst of his own decade-long legal case regarding his inheritance 
  • A Disney spokesperson said Wednesday 'there is no truth to any speculation about bonus payments'
  • On Wednesday, Walt Disney World allowed some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex in Disney Springs in Florida
  • It is the first step in reopening since gates were closed mid-March 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Walt Disney's grandson has hit out at the company's executives over claims they will still receive large bonuses despite furloughing tens of thousands of workers during the coronavirus shutdown.

Brad Lund, who is currently in a decade-long legal battle regarding his inheritance, told The Daily Beast of his 'dismay' over the alleged compensation.

'I have already expressed my hope that the Disney organization continue to give reasonable compensation and support to its many loyal employees in the spirit of the company of which my grandfather was so proud,' the 50-year-old said.

'To me, it's the right thing to do during these difficult times—for the company, for shareholders, for its loyal employees.' 

Waly Disney's grandson Brad Lund, pictured, has said he is dismayed at 'senior Disney management compensation levels while furloughing Disney workers at this critical time'
Disney parks around the world remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and the company is estimated to have lost $500million last month before staff were furloughed
He added that he hoped 'all family members will join in our dismay over senior Disney management compensation levels while furloughing Disney workers at this critical time'.

A spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company told, however, that 'there is no truth to any speculation about bonus payments.  

‘The facts are that the decision to furlough was not made lightly and was one of myriad actions taken to help the company weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,' the spokesperson added. 

'The company paid full salaries to workers who were unable to perform their duties for five weeks before beginning furloughs, which, unlike layoffs, allow them to remain Disney employees and receive their full health care benefits, paid for by the company.

'Furloughs occurred across a variety of our businesses, and for those employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, furloughs were agreed to by their unions.'

On Wednesday, Walt Disney World allowed some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex in Disney Springs in Florida.

These are the first signs of reopening since mid-March but there has been no plan yet announced to reopen theme parks and hotels at their resorts.

In April, Walt Disney Corporation stopped paying 100,000 operational employees after placing them on furlough because of the prolonged coronavirus shutdowns.

Employees would still receive health insurance from Disney but were added to the millions more filing for unemployment across the United States.

The move from the world's biggest entertainment company - which has parks in the US, France, China, Hong Kong and Japan - affected half its workforce.

The company was said to have lost $500million in March after closures. 

The company placed 100,000 workers on furlough and ended their pay as parks remained closed. Disney heirs Brad Lund and Abigail Disney have hit out at the decision
The move angered Disney heiress Abigail Disney, however, who Lund has now come out in support of.

'I agree with my cousin Abigail's sentiments,' he said to the Daily Beast.

Shortly after the Hollywood giant announced the furloughs, Abigail launched into a fiery tirade on Twitter in which she condemned the company for continuing to pay out executive bonuses and dividends, which have totaled $1.5 billion in the past.

The heiress, 60, argued that this money could pay for three months' salary to its frontline workers now feeling the financial impact of the pandemic. 

While no decision on Disney's dividend had been announced, she criticized a move to pay out in July, claiming that '80% of shares are owned by the wealthiest 10%' and the money would be received by people who have 'already been collecting egregious bonuses for years'.

Disney heir Abigail launched a fiery Twitter thread in April in which she condemned alleged compensation received by company executives and said the company 'must do better'. A spokesperson for the company has denied 'speculation about bonus payments'
The heiress, 60, argued that this money could pay for three months' salary to its frontline workers now feeling the financial impact of the pandemic during her Twitter tirade
The activist also commented on the announcement in March that top Disney executives were forgoing their salary considering the current crisis. 

Former chief executive Bob Iger gave up the remainder of his $3million salary for this year and his replacement Bob Chapek said he'd only take half of his $2.5million base salary, as a show of solidarity.

Bonuses these executives could receive were highlighted, however, as they greatly exceed their salaries.

Executive bonus schemes are in place at the company and are believed to be worth about 900 times the average $52,000 salary. Iger got $65.6million in incentives in 2018 and $46million in 2019.

Chapek's bonus is expected to be about 300 percent of his salary. In addition, he could bring home 'not less than $15 million' in long-term incentives.

The 69-year-old is said to have raked in $47.5 million last year.

A Walt Disney spokesperson has now denied the speculation about the bonus payments, however. 

'Senior leaders across the company accepted deep salary cuts, with our CEO forgoing half his salary and our executive chairman forgoing his entire salary for 2020,' the spokesperson told 

'There is no truth to any speculation about bonus payments. 

'Compensation for executives is closely tied to the company’s financial performance—more than 90% of total compensation for the CEO last year was performance-based—and decisions on compensation aren’t made by the Board until the end of the year. 

'So it is premature and irresponsible to speculate about bonus compensation—especially in May, during a global pandemic.'

The heiress hit out at Disney CEO Bob Chapek's (left) and Chairman Bob Iger (right) who she claimed would still receive large bonuses despite the furloughing of staff. Both said they would not take their full salary for the remainder of the year at the start of the coronavirus outbreak
The public rebuke from Lund comes as he pushes forward with a legal case surrounding his mother's estate and claims he was pushed out of his inheritance.

In June 2019, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan ruled that Lund lacked the maturity and financial ability to manage his inheritance.

'Do I want to give $200 million, effectively, to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down syndrome? The answer is no,' Judge Cown said.

The judge was requested to retract the statement as a 2016 DNA test proved Lund cannot suffer from Down Syndrome, but he refused.

Judge Cowan also refused to sign off on a multi-million-dollar settlement for all parties.

It came after a 2014 ruling in Arizona in which a judge said Lund was competent to manange the money.

His stepsisters had filed a petition in 2009 to appoint a conservator due to alleged mental incompetence. His twin sister Michelle also joined the action later, claiming that her father and stepmother had undue influence.

Disney theme parks have been shuttered since mid-March but they began to open restaurants in Disney Springs from Wednesday.

The company issued a blunt warning for visitors, saying anyone who visited the complex assumed all the risk if they fell ill with COVID-19.

'An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,' the company said on its web site.

Disney Springs, the entertainment and shopping complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, will begin a partial reopening on Wednesday. Disney and unions representing workers reached an agreement on safeguards to protect employees from the coronavirus, a union statement said on Thursday, removing one of the company's hurdles to reopening
Disney issued a disclaimer warning guests to Disney Springs that they assume all risk of contracting COVID-19 while at the facilities which began to open on Wednesday
'COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable,' the warning added.

'By visiting Disney Springs, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.'
All workers and visitors over age 2 will be required to wear face masks at Disney Springs.

Workers and visitors also will have to get temperature checks and anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be denied entry.

The number of guests allowed in will be limited to encourage social distancing, and extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be in place, the company said.

After negotiating with the company, the unions that represent more than half of the 77,000 employees at Disney World said last week that workers who contract COVID-19 will get paid time off while in quarantine.

Workers with virus symptoms also can stay home without being disciplined for being absent.

Workers will be given thermometers if they want them, and each worker will be given three face masks, according to the agreed-upon terms.

Disney and unions representing workers at Florida's Walt Disney World reached an agreement on safeguards to protect employees from the coronavirus, a union statement said on Thursday, removing one of the company's hurdles to reopening its popular theme parks.

The company said next week, third-party operating participants would open at Disney Springs and later this month three stores and venues owned and operated by Disney - World of Disney, D-Luxe Burger and the Marketplace Co-Op - would reopen.

'While our theme parks and resort hotels remain temporarily closed, the phased reopening of Disney Springs is a welcome milestone as we navigate through this unprecedented time together as responsibly as we can,' Disney Springs Vice President Matt Simon said in a statement.

The entertainment giant said it was implementing safety measures and operational changes such as cashless or contactless payment options, a requirement to wear 'appropriate' face covering, temperature screenings, social distancing practices, increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.

In the United States, Florida is ahead of California, home to Disneyland, in reopening businesses that were closed starting in mid-March.

Shutting theme park gates cost the company $1billion from January through March, Disney said earlier this month.

Walt Disney Company will partially reopen Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex on Wednesdy, May 20
Parking and Entrances – Parking will be limited to the Orange and Lime garages. All surface parking lots will be closed.

At this time there will only be 4 entrances to Disney Springs: 

Orange Garage

Lime Garages

Hotel Plaza Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge

Rideshare location 

Temperature Screening – All guests and Cast Members (employees) must undergo temperature screening upon arrival. 

Screening locations will be the second floor level of the Orange and Lime parking garages and the Marketplace Entrance.

Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be allowed entrance based on guidance from the health authorities. 

The same applies for Cast Members.

Physical Barriers – In order to limit physical contact between guests and Cast Members, physical barriers have been added in certain locations. These include: cash registers, Guest Relations, etc.

Face Coverings – All Guests 3 years and older, Cast Members and other employees are required to wear face coverings at all times. The only exception is while dining.

Cashless Transactions – Cash transactions will be discouraged. Guests should use contactless payment options such as credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, Apply Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.

Cleaning and Sanitization – The Disney Springs staff has increased its cleaning and sanitization of all high-traffic areas including tables, doors, benches, handrails, escalators, restrooms and more.
There are also new handwashing stations that have been installed throughout Disney Springs that guests are encouraged to use.

Cast Training – Disney Springs staff has been trained to employ physical distancing and will continue to receive training to improve protocols.

Signs/Queues – Queues for restaurants and shops must be respected. Signs will be installed telling guests where to stand and what guidelines to follow in the various locations.

Full Article & Source:
Walt Disney's grandson Brad Lund, 50, criticizes bonuses for executives after the company furloughed 100,000 workers during coronavirus shutdown

Habersham Medical Center responds to DCH nursing home report

Habersham Home West
Editor’s Note: The following press release was issued by Habersham Medical Center Wednesday in response to a report from the Department of Community Health showing that 47 of its 62 nursing home residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Ten Habersham Home residents have died.

Habersham Home is the licensed, 84-bed skilled nursing facility operated by Habersham Medical Center (HMC). The facility has two locations on HMC’s campus. Habersham Home East is located inside of the hospital, and Habersham Home West is located in a separate building adjacent to the hospital.

As concerns began escalating about the coronavirus pandemic in early March, HMC was one of the first hospitals in Georgia to make swift and decisive decisions to safeguard Habersham Home residents and staff.

Through intense education, screening, monitoring, and infection prevention management, the hospital enacted a series of aggressive measures to limit exposure and transmission of COIVD-19. One of the first policies implemented was a “No Visitors” stance, meaning no outside visitors were permitted on campus to visit patients in the hospital or residents of the nursing home. This stance is still in place until further notice.

Additionally, and in adherence to guidance provided by the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Habersham Home began and continues to screen employees, healthcare providers, vendors, consultants, contractors and others who provide care and services to Habersham Home residents.

Before HMC confirmed its first COVID-19 positive case at Habersham Home, hospital leadership enlisted the National Guard in mid-April to sanitize and disinfect Habersham Home. This is a service the National Guard has offered to over 200 nursing homes in Georgia.

Despite every effort and safeguard put in place, transmissions of the virus began impacting both residents and staff of Habersham Home. Unlike the majority of long term care facilities in Georgia and across the country, as the number of COVID-19 positive cases began escalating, Habersham Medical Center took an aggressively, proactive approach to test every resident and staff member of Habersham Home regardless of symptoms. Habersham Medical Center was one of the first hospitals in the state to take this approach which yields a more accurate impact of COVID-19 and provides an exact number of how many people are actually affected.

HMC enlisted the National Guard to facilitate the testing that was conducted on May 13, 2020. 151 tests were administered. The test results were analyzed by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the results concluded that 47 of the 62 residents at Habersham Home tested positive for COVID-19.

More than 50% of the residents were asymptomatic at the time of the testing, meaning they did not show any symptoms of illness. Family members were notified immediately.

Throughout HMC’s response to COVID-19, ten residents who were COVID-19 positive have passed away. While these residents were positive, their deaths cannot be directly attributed to the Coronavirus as several were receiving hospice care. It is important to emphasize that, statistically, the Habersham Home death rate is relatively flat despite the continued threats associated with the Coronavirus.

As a part of the National Guard’s testing efforts, 41 of 89 Habersham Home employees tested positive for COVID-19. Again, over 50% of the employees were asymptomatic. According to guidelines provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health, these employees will quarantine at home for 10 days.

National Guard members disinfect a
public area at a nursing home in
Southwest Georgia.  (photo courtesy
Georgia Army National Guard)
Following the testing conducted by the National Guard, HMC has been working closely with the DPH and, together, have developed a comprehensive response plan which has three key components related to staffing, facility sanitization, and testing.

To ensure Habersham Home is equipped to provide exceptional quality healthcare with the federally mandated staff-to-resident ratio, HMC will access and utilize state provided staffing resources. HMC is also redeploying clinical staff from the hospital to cover shifts at Habersham Home as needed. 

Hospital leadership has also reengaged the National Guard to conduct widespread sanitizing and disinfecting of both Habersham Home East and West. HMC will continue to aggressively and frequently test all residents and staff.

“As the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus Pandemic, the elderly will continue to be a vulnerable population to this extremely contagious disease,” says Tyler Williams, Habersham Medical Center’s incoming Chief Executive Officer. “However, protecting our residents’ health and safety is our top priority and we will take every possible measure to minimize any potential exposure to the virus.”

“While universal testing of all residents and staff is not being conducted at all long-term care facilities, HMC leadership stands behind this method as it is the most effective known strategy to use to determine the true impact of COVID-19. Having this data will guide the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 crisis,” says Williams.

Full Article & Source:
Habersham Medical Center responds to DCH nursing home report

Detroit police make arrest after video of elder abuse goes viral

Detroit — Police made an arrest Thursday after a video circulating on social media appeared to show a man punching elderly victims lying in bed.

Police said in a statement that they are holding a 20-year-old man in connection to the assault and battery of an elderly male at a nursing home on Detroit’s west side.

A screenshot from a video that went viral showing a suspect abusing an elderly man. Detroit Police acknowledged that the sharing of the video helped them track down and arrest the suspect. (Photo: Twitter)
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the department is investigating the incident that allegedly occurred at Westwood Nursing Center on the city's northwest side.

"The nursing home was unaware of the assault until they saw the video," Craig said during a press conference Thursday. "We are still investigating that aspect of the case, but we do have a suspect in custody."

 A video had been posted on social media and shared several times by concerned citizens of an incident that allegedly occurred on May 15. Police said both the 75-year-old male victim and the suspect are patients at the nursing home located in the 16500 block of Schaefer.

The victim was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for his non-life threatening injuries, police said.

The suspect was taken into custody at the nursing home and transported to the Detroit Detention Center (DDC) without incident. Detroit Police is still investigating. Ann Arbor Police Department and the Washtenaw County Sheriffs Office helped in the case. 

Full Article & Source:
Detroit police make arrest after video of elder abuse goes viral

Friday, May 22, 2020

Grim Reaper stalks Pa. nursing homes

By Bruce Frassinelli

The state Health Department is coming under increased criticism for its bungled handling to the COVID-19 pandemic at nursing homes. Nearly 70% of all deaths in the state attributed to the coronavirus have occurred at these and other elder-care facilities.

Legislators and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro are weighing in, too. The situation has become so alarming that Shapiro last week announced his office has opened criminal investigations into several long-term facilities, although he did not indicate which are involved.

As of Sunday, 69% of all deaths in Pennsylvania have been traced to residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The crescendo of criticism has resulted in the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf announcing last week that the state is launching universal once-a-week coronavirus testing in nursing homes to try to stop the spread of the deadly virus among this vulnerable group. The average age of deaths among Pennsylvanians is about 80 years.

A new Spotlight PA investigation reveals the state had an aggressive plan to protect nursing homes from COVID-19, but it was never fully implemented, and a similar but far more limited plan wasn’t activated until mid-April, long after major outbreaks at these facilities had taken hold. That put the Wolf administration in the embarrassing position of playing catch-up.

On the legislative front, Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon, plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit the Health Department from requiring nursing homes and other long-term facilities to admit infected patients.

In late March, the Wolf administration ordered medically stable residents infected with the coronavirus to be returned from hospitals to these long-term care facilities. The American Health Care Association warned that this ill-advised directive could lead to the loss of more lives. Regrettably, these predictions turned out to be accurate.

The deadly coronavirus has spread like wildfire through many nursing homes across the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, and state officials are scrambling to better protect these most susceptible members of society while their loved ones look on in horror and near helpless frustration.

State Sen. Mario Scavello, R-Northampton and Monroe, said that while the Health Department’s stepped up testing plan is a step in the right direction, ‘more work remains to be done to ensure they get the resources and supplies they need.“

State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine conceded that because of the vagaries of how the coronavirus strikes, a person can test negative one day and positive the next, so the frequency of testing beyond once a week will be individualized based on the number of cases in a facility. Levine said daily public updates will now include cases, deaths and infected staff members at these facilities.

Carbon and Lehigh nursing homes have been particularly hard hit with 13 or 76% of Carbon’s 17 deaths recorded there, while in Lehigh 109 of 139 of its total deaths (78%) occurred in nursing homes. Other counties include: Northampton, 128 of 199 deaths (64%); Monroe 35 of 70 deaths (50%), and Luzerne, 93 of 127 (73%). At the other end of the scale, Schuylkill County’s nursing homes have had just two of the county’s 15 deaths (or 13%).

As of Sunday, nursing homes and other long-term facility residents have accounted for 3,057 of the state’s 4,418 reported COVID-19 deaths, or 69%. This is a similar pattern nationwide.

Meanwhile Levine has become the target of at least one legislator. State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a first-term Republican representing Franklin and parts of adjoining counties, called on Levine to resign because of the department’s slow response to COVID-19 infection in nursing homes.

Mastriano said the policy to allow COVID-19 positive patients to be returned to elder-care facilities after being hospitalized resulted in the virus breaking out like wildfire and is the equivalent of “policy malpractice.”

Levine said these patients must test negative before they are returned from a hospital to the elder-care population.

He also accused Levine of a conflict of interest for allowing her 95-year-old mother to move from an assisted-living facility to a hotel.

On the surface, these optics look terrible for the health secretary, but she explains it this way: Her mother was in a personal care home, which is overseen by the Department of Human Services, unlike nursing homes which are overseen by her department. Levine said that her mother requested the move, so she and her sister complied.

“My mother is … very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions,” Levine said. Gov. Tom Wolf also strongly defended Levine after Mastriano’s call for her resignation, saying she is doing a “phenomenal job.”

Full Article & Source:
Grim Reaper stalks Pa. nursing homes

Appeals Court OK's Trial Judges' Order Nixing Nursing Home Arbitration Clause

The panel stopped short of ruling on the Cobb County judge's decision that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable.

By Greg Land

Bethany Schneider, Atlanta. (Photo: John Disney/ ALM)
The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled a nursing home’s mandatory arbitration agreement signed by the guardian of an elderly man raped at the facility is unenforceable because his guardian lacked authority to sign away his right to trial.

But the court on Tuesday did not rule upon the trial court’s determination that the agreement was unconscionably one-sided in favor of the nursing home, determining it needn’t reach that issue because it already declared the agreement void.

“As far as we can tell, this is an issue that’s never been addressed in Georgia: whether a guardian appointed by the probate court has the power of attorney to waive someone’s constitutional rights,” said Bethany Schneider of Schneider Injury Law, who represents the now-deceased man and the aunt who served as his guardian.

Schneider said that, while the court did not rule on the unconscionability of the arbitration agreement, such documents are commonplace in the nursing home industry.

“This decision shows that nursing homes usually think it’s automatic that any dispute is going to arbitration. This gives us more teeth on the trial level to fight those agreements,” said Schneider, whose co-counsel includes Katherine Hughes and Gretchen Holt of Wagner Hughes, and appellate lawyers Michael Terry and Jennifer Peterson of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore.

The Clinch Healthcare Center in Homerville is represented by Kevin Quirk and Kellie Holt of Quirk & Quirk and Karen Smiley of Huff, Powell & Bailey. They did not reply to request for comment Wednesday.

According to Schneider and court filings, Leroy Wiggins, who died in December at 70, had been mentally incapacitated for many years when his aunt, Minnie Fountain, was appointed his guardian by the Clinch County Probate Court in 2006.

In 2014, Fountain sought to have Wiggins admitted to the nursing home, and she signed an arbitration agreement stipulating, among other things, that “any and all claims or controversies … whether arising out of State or Federal law, whether existing or arising in the future, whether for statutory, compensatory or punitive damages, and whether sounding in breach of contract, tort, or breach of statutory or regulatory duties (including, without limitation, any claim based on an alleged violation of the state bill of rights for residents of long-term care facilities or federal resident’s rights, any claim based on negligence, any claim for damages resulting from death or injury to any person arising out of care or service rendered by the Facility or by any officer, agent, or employee thereof acting within the scope of his or her employment, any claim based on any other departure from accepted standards of health care or safety, or any claim for unpaid nursing home charges), irrespective of the basis for the duty or of the legal theories upon which the claim is asserted, shall be submitted for arbitration.”

The agreement also said the resident “has the right to seek legal counsel concerning this Agreement; [t]he signing of the Agreement is not a precondition to admission … and this Agreement may be revoked by written notice to the Facility from the Resident within thirty (30) days of signature.”

Fountain, whom Schneider said is also about 70, would later sign an affidavit saying she had to “sign this large stack of paperwork to admit Leroy” and that she “must sign all of the documents in order for Leroy to be admitted.”

She also said she was not told she could consult a lawyer and never discussed the agreement with Wiggins or asked his permission to sign it.

Fountain was “not permitted to make any changes to any of the documents or cross anything out” or “negotiate any of the documents or the wording on any of the documents,” according to her appellate brief.

In 2017, another resident who had already been accused of sexually assaulting other residents over a period of two months raped Wiggins.

Schneider said the police were called but that nursing home staff denied the accused assailant had been on site that day, and no charges were ever filed.

Fountain sued Clinch Healthcare’s corporate parent, CL SNF LLC and several related entities for negligence and other claims in Cobb County State Court last year.

Clinch filed a motion to enforce the arbitration agreement and stay the case.

Judge Jane Manning denied the motion to compel, writing that the arbitration agreement was “decidedly one sided” in favor of the nursing home. But Manning also denied Fountain’s motion to declare that she had no authority to sign the agreement waiving his rights including those to a jury trial.

Both sides agreed that the issues should go before the Court of Appeals, and Manning granted a certificate for an interlocutory appeal.

The May 19 opinion authored by Judge Brian Rickman with the concurrence of Judges Stephen Dillard and E. Trenton Brown III agreed with Manning that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable but not necessarily because it was unconscionable.

Instead, Rickman wrote, Fountain’s letters of guardianship issued by the probate court bestowed “the general duty ‘to protect and maintain the person of the ward” and more specifically, ‘to see that [Wiggins] is adequately fed, clothed, sheltered and cared for, and that [Wiggins] receives all necessary medical attention.’

“In addition,” he wrote, “the Letters of Guardianship provide that Fountain’s ‘authority to act pursuant to these Letters is subject to applicable statutes and to any special orders entered in this case.’”

The “plain language” of the statute declaring the duties of a guardian “does not provide Fountain authority to sign the Arbitration Agreement,” Rickman said.

The law “empower[s] a guardian to establish a place of dwelling and provide any necessary consents or approvals for ‘medical or other professional care, counsel, treatment, or service.’”

There is no evidence that Fountain’s signing of the agreement was a decision made in Wiggins’ best interest, “because signing it was not a condition of admission to the facility and the claims that were bound to arbitration had not yet arisen, making it impossible for her to determine at that time whether waiving Wiggins’s right to a jury trial would be in his best interest,” Rickman said.

“Accordingly, the Arbitration Agreement is not enforceable against Wiggins, and the trial court properly denied the motion to compel arbitration,” the opinion said.

Hughes, who specializes in nursing home litigation, said such agreements are routinely presented to family members or guardians trying to admit a residency, and few realize that they may not have to sign them.

“Unfortunately, almost all Georgia nursing homes are presenting families with arbitration agreements to sign along with their admission paperwork and people do not realize or understand what they are signing or the significance of the agreement (that it takes away the right to a jury trial) and that the agreement is usually voluntary and not required for admission,” said Hughes via email.

“We need a public service announcement for families to stop signing these agreements,” she said. “There is no upside to the families to signing these agreements.”

Full Article & Source:
Appeals Court OK's Trial Judges' Order Nixing Nursing Home Arbitration Clause

Florida coronavirus: State moving to release money in 'pot of gold' for nursing homes

Investigator Mahsa Saeidi has this story.

Florida coronavirus: State moving to release money in 'pot of gold' for nursing homes

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Take our COVID-19 Guardianship/Nursing Home Survey!

The Coronavirus Pandemic has laid bare a great many injustices in the United States. None more so than the tragedy that is taking place in America’s nursing homes, assisted living and long term care facilities.

If you already had a loved one in guardianship/conservatorship, or if a guardianship/conservatorship has been imposed by a probate/family court since January 2020 -- or if you just have a loved one in long term care and are concerned for their safety, we want to hear from you!

The survey takes around five minutes.

Click HERE to take the guardianship/conservatorship nursing home survey

Note: This survey is the product of a collaborative effort between NASGA and

Minnesota nursing homes, already the site of 81% of COVID-19 deaths, continue taking in infected patients

Nursing homes accepting infected patients, even as death toll mounts. 

By Chris Serres

Jeff Johnson and his mother, Kathy Johnson, are visiting their father, Michael Johnson, who is 71, at the North Ridge Health and Rehab nursing home in New Hope. The Johnsons are worried that North Ridge's policy of accepting COVID-19
Despite the devastating death toll, Minnesota nursing homes are still being allowed by state regulators to admit coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospitals.

Early in the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Health turned to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to relieve the burden on hospitals that were at risk of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Minnesota hospitals have since discharged dozens of infected patients to nursing homes, including facilities that have undergone large and deadly outbreaks of the disease, state records show.

Now that practice is drawing strong opposition from some lawmakers, residents’ families and health watchdogs, who warn that such transfers endanger residents of senior homes that are understaffed and ill-equipped to contain the spread of the coronavirus. They are calling for more state scrutiny over transfers, including stricter standards over which nursing homes should be allowed to accept COVID-19 patients from hospitals.

Currently, even poorly rated nursing homes with large and deadly clusters of coronavirus cases have been allowed to admit COVID-19 patients from hospitals. One such facility, North Ridge Health and Rehab in New Hope, has accepted 42 patients from hospitals and other long-term care facilities since mid-April even as the coronavirus has raged through its 320-bed nursing home, killing 48 of its patients and infecting scores more.

“It makes no sense to bring more COVID-19 patients into facilities that have already failed to protect them,” said Sen. Karin Housley, the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee. “If it were my mom or dad in one of these facilities, I would be really worried.”

State health officials and long-term care industry representatives have defended the practice of discharging some COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, saying it is part of a broader strategy to conserve critical hospital beds during the pandemic. Long-term care facilities can provide treatment for coronavirus patients who still need care, but have stabilized enough that they no longer require hospitalization, officials said.

So far, 11 facilities statewide have been designated as “COVID support sites,” with separate units or wings to handle coronavirus patients. These specialty sites have gone through a vetting process by the state to ensure they have adequate staffing, supplies and infection-control standards.

However, other nursing homes have been allowed to admit COVID-19 patients under private arrangements with hospitals. The practice is widespread. The state Department of Health has reviewed the cases of about half the patients hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide. The agency found that 27%, or about 268 patients, were discharged to long-term care facilities since the pandemic began.

“Hospital beds are a key resource during this pandemic, and they must be preserved for those who are in need of acute care,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement. “For COVID-19-positive patients whose care requirements are below that level, the goal is to get them out of the hospital and into an appropriate setting for their next stage of care — one that can provide the services they do need while minimizing the risk of transmission.”

But the fear that moving coronavirus patients to nursing homes might trigger more infections has been compounded by the alarming death toll in such facilities.

Statewide, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus has killed more than 600 Minnesotans at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. That is a staggering 81% of the deaths from the pandemic statewide. No other state in the nation that reports such data has such a high percentage of deaths in long-term care, according to an analysis by a Texas-based nonprofit. Nationwide, outbreaks in long-term care facilities have claimed 33,000 lives — more than a third of all deaths nationwide, according to the Associated Press.

“To be sending more contagious people into these settings is a serious cause for concern,” said Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, a member of the House Long-Term Care committee.

Jeff Johnson of Maple Grove said his 71-year-old father has been a patient at North Ridge since he suffered severe injuries in a car crash in March. He was surprised when a staff member at the facility informed him that COVID-19 patients were being admitted to the facility from area hospitals. While his father remains symptom-free, Johnson said he is concerned that staff might carry the virus from the newly admitted patients.

“I was absolutely shocked that [North Ridge] would risk exposing workers and everyone else in a facility without asking for our input,” said Johnson, a gymnastics instructor. “It seemed that we should have had some say in the matter.”

Government health records show that North Ridge has struggled in recent years to adhere to basic standards of patient care. The facility has been fined $117,000 by federal regulators and cited for dozens of health and safety violations over the last three years. The nursing home earned just two stars (“below average”) on the federal government’s five-star rating system for overall care. The facility was also listed among the most-troubled nursing homes in the nation.

A spokesman for North Ridge acknowledged that admitting patients with COVID-19 has posed challenges, but said the facility has space and enough trained caregivers to handle new admissions of COVID-19 patients. Early in the pandemic, North Ridge set up separate units to isolate COVID-19 patients from the rest of the clients and was able to provide them with a full supply of protective equipment, he added.

“We don’t regret caring for people in need for a second,” said Austin Blilie, vice president of operations at North Ridge. “These are people who are being turned away from other places that do not have the capability to care for them.”

Although there is no evidence that moving coronavirus patients to nursing homes has caused infections to spread, the practice has come under increased scrutiny nationwide. Officials in California and New York both ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients to help reduce potential overcrowding in hospitals during the pandemic; but then both states reversed those directives after an outcry from senior groups and the medical community, according to news reports.

Already, one large Minnesota nursing home has suspended plans to take in coronavirus patients amid public opposition.

The operator of Augustana Care Health and Rehabilitation in Apple Valley had planned to create a separate, 28-bed unit for people recovering from the virus, but pulled the plug in April after dozens of residents’ families and local officials voiced concerns in public Zoom calls. Despite assurances that any new patients would be separated and cared for by dedicated staff, many families expressed trepidation about bringing COVID-19 into a facility that has not been infected, said Bob Dahl, chief executive of Cassia, which operates the facility.

“We thought it was a good idea from a public service perspective, but there was significant pushback,” Dahl said. “What [families] couldn’t accept was this idea of admitting someone with COVID when it was not in the building, and why would we do that now? It was perfectly understandable.”

Advocates for nursing home residents and public health experts have argued that facilities should not be allowed to decide on their own whether to admit COVID-19 patients. And they want the homes to meet certain standards. Facilities with low staffing levels and poor infection-control records should be barred from accepting such patients, according to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonprofit legal assistance group for seniors in Washington, D.C.

Across the nation, there are examples of poor-performing nursing homes accepting coronavirus patients with little or no oversight from state regulators, said Toby Edelman, a senior attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Some of these facilities have a one-star rating of “much below average” from the government for staffing levels and quality of care, Edelman said. “Without some minimum standards, this is a recipe for disaster,” she said.

Joseph Gaugler, a professor of long-term care and aging in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, said nursing homes should be required to establish certain safeguards before accepting COVID-19 patients. These include demonstrating that they can isolate infected residents, maintaining regular testing, and have a staffing plan to handle an influx of new patients with the virus.

“If a nursing facility isn’t following best practices, then [coronavirus] patients should go elsewhere,” Gaugler said.

Full Article & Source:
Minnesota nursing homes, already the site of 81% of COVID-19 deaths, continue taking in infected patients

113-year-old woman survives two world wars, Spanish flu — and now coronavirus

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(CNN) — A 113-year-old woman, thought to be the oldest in Spain, has said she feels fine after surviving a brush with coronavirus.

Video footage of Maria Branyas, who was born on March 4 1907, shows the super-centenarian speaking to the director of the care home where she lives in Olot, Catalonia.

**For more stories about COVID-19 survivors, watch the video above**

“In terms of my health I am fine, with the same minor annoyances that anyone can have,” said Branyas in the video. It was recorded Monday, a spokeswoman for the care home told CNN.

Branyas recovered after a mild case of Covid-19. Her battle started shortly after her family visited her on March 4 to celebrate her 113th birthday, the spokeswoman said.

The family has not been able to visit in person since then. Branyas has lived for 18 years in her own private room at the Santa Maria del Tura nursing home, which is run by the Institute of the Order of San Jose of Gerona, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, the spokeswoman said.

Branyas was born in San Francisco in the United States, where her father worked as a journalist, reports the AFP news agency.

Over the course of her long life she has survived two world wars as well as the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed more than 50 million people around the world.

Although Branyas recovered from coronavirus, two residents of the same home died of it. The situation at the care home has since improved, said the spokeswoman.

Spain’s state of emergency, in effect since March 14, has strict confinement measures that remain in place. But with the infection and death rates now declining, the government has lifted some lockdown measures in certain parts of the country, on what it says will be a gradual reopening of activity.
But the initial lifting of these restrictions did not apply to Olot, where Branyas lives.

Full Article & Source:
113-year-old woman survives two world wars, Spanish flu — and now coronavirus

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

‘We’re Just Horrified’: Why a Springsteen Sideman Took On Nursing Homes

After his mother-in-law was infected with the coronavirus, a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band became determined to make nursing homes accountable.

By Nick Corasaniti

When the coronavirus outbreak was only manifesting itself in horrifying headlines from Italy and China, Nils Lofgren, the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and his wife, Amy, moved her mother into Brookdale Senior Living, a well-regarded long term care facility in Florham Park, N.J.

Almost immediately, Patricia J. Landers, Mrs. Lofgren’s mother, began complaining about missing medications and lapses in supervision. The family began to notice a pattern of neglect, particularly in treating her dementia. Then, in early April, Mrs. Landers, 83, was discovered by local police officers walking aimlessly on a frigid night, three miles away from Brookdale, shivering, bruised and confused. It was her fourth escape from the facility since she arrived in January.

A week later, Mrs. Landers was admitted to a hospital in Montclair, where she tested positive for Covid-19.

Incensed and feeling betrayed, the Lofgrens began to explore legal options when they ran into a troubling trend: Lobbyists from nursing homes across the country were pushing for immunity protection from lawsuits during the coronavirus crisis.

“It’s a pledge they made, a sacred pledge, to take care of your father, your mother, your grandparents, and they put it in writing, by the way, and now they don’t want to have any responsibilities because, why, it’s too hard?” Mr. Lofgren said. The family accelerated their efforts and filed a lawsuit against Brookdale on Wednesday.
“We’re just horrified that people’s first reaction is, ‘Well we’re making a lot of money, but now let’s make sure we’re not liable for what we promised to do, in writing,’” Mr. Lofgren said. “Don’t forget, they look you in the eye and say your loved one will be cared for.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Brookdale declined to discuss Mrs. Landers’s case specifically.
“As a matter of company policy, Brookdale does not comment on or get ahead of ongoing legal proceedings,” said Heather Hunter, a public relations manager for the company. “I will say that we work hard to maintain an open and constructive dialogue with families about their loved one and the best way that we can work together to help each resident live their best life in their community.”
Brookdale in Florham Park has, as of Wednesday, only 10 reported cases of coronavirus at the facility, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. No one at the facility has died from the virus. After her original diagnosis, Ms. Landers is now recovering from Covid-19.

As nursing homes around the country have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, killing more than 29,100 residents and staff members as of Wednesday, facilities have been scrambling to protect themselves from lawsuits.
In April, New Jersey’s governor, Philip D. Murphy, signed a law that “provides civil and criminal immunity to certain health care professionals and health care facilities during public health emergency and state of emergency.” The intent of the law was to protect health care workers coming out of retirement or shipping in from other states from lawsuits as they dealt with the unknowns of the virus. The governor’s office said that the law would indeed cover nursing homes for coronavirus cases, though not in instances of gross negligence or fraud.

Even in the face of the New Jersey law, Mr. Lofgren and his family were determined to take action, knowing that his status in New Jersey as a guitarist for the state’s pre-eminent hero would call attention to the issue.
“We think that this is going to be just the tip of the iceberg, and the care provided to the senior citizens and parents and grandparents over the past weeks has been nothing short, in the majority of cases, of grossly negligent,” said Andrew Miltenberg, the lawyer for the Lofgrens. “And the industry as a whole, its response has been to push for immunity.”
The lawsuit describes the ordeal as “every child’s worst nightmare” and follows a familiar path of confusing information and radio silence as nursing homes were quickly overrun by the virus. The family accuses the facility of negligence, fraud, deceptive trade practices and a violation of a New Jersey state law that protects the rights of nursing home residents.
Though New Jersey recently signed the law protecting health care facilities, Mr. Miltenberg is confident they still have a case.

For Mr. Lofgren, the battle extends beyond his family.
“This is not to take the light off what has been a very demoralizing, tragic story for my mother-in-law that’s still being written,” Mr. Lofgren said. “Shining a light on this problem is important.”
Mr. Lofgren, who is also a member of Neil Young’s band Crazy Horse, said he knew he was fortunate to even be in a position to have a lawyer who can help them bring a case in New Jersey, especially when the law surrounding the coronavirus outbreak is challenging and confusing.

“It’s a nightmare because 99 percent of most people can’t even afford a lawyer,” he said. “And they just take it, and their families are decimated by it.”

After she left the hospital, Ms. Landers moved to a different facility, Care One, in Livingston, N.J. But the family remains shaken.

“It’s unconscionable and immoral and disgusting,” Mr. Logren said. “It’s like their true colors are coming out, and I hope we can hold them accountable.”

Full Article & Source:
‘We’re Just Horrified’: Why a Springsteen Sideman Took On Nursing Homes