Saturday, June 27, 2020

New Mexico guardians get a new watchdog

State Auditor Brian Colón
By Colleen Heild

The New Mexico State Auditor’s Office now has a permanent watchdog function over the nearly 6,000 cases in which state district courts have appointed guardians and conservators to manage the affairs of those who are deemed incapacitated.

The announcement Thursday comes on the heels of a one-year pilot project undertaken by State Auditor Brian Colón, whose auditors found 194 “risk factors” in annual reports filed among more than 300 conservator cases sampled.

Among the risk factors cited by auditors: lack of supporting documentation, conflicting information, and assets of the protected person being understated or unaccounted for. Auditors also found instances of checks written directly to conservators or conservators charging large fees for services or reimbursement of expenses.

More than 40 letters were written to notify the judges who appointed the conservators of the “increased risks factors” discovered.

With recurring legislative funding, coupled with a green light from the judiciary, Colón’s office will now have oversight and involvement in what had traditionally been a closed system that sometimes excluded even family members of the incapacitated person.

Colón appeared with state Supreme Court Justice Shannon Bacon, a judicial leader in the state’s move to reform the guardianship system, at an Albuquerque news conference broadcast via Zoom.

“We have an opportunity to step up oversight, not just requiring that documentation, but the timeliness of the reports is critical to accountability,” Colón said. “We’ve got to fill in the cracks (in the system) so we know those most vulnerable don’t fall through.”

Conservators are appointed to make financial decisions for an incapacitated person, often times those with dementia or other impairments. Guardians are appointed to make health care and personal decisions.

Bacon said in recent years the state Legislature and the judiciary have added more transparency to the system and enhanced reporting requirements of guardians and conservators.

Now, she said, the courts plan to implement measures “to give auditors open access to guardianship and conservatorship cases.” Bacon said the state Administrative Office of the Courts has permitted the auditors special access to reports within the online court case system. Typically those reports are not public.

Judge Shannon Bacon
“We want them to be able to do random audits and go to banking institutions to review records,” Bacon said. “This ongoing process and partnership is how we increase the sunshine and avoid the abuses of the past.”

The auditor’s pilot project found a need for guardians and conservators to provide supporting documentation, instead of simply listing the amounts of assets and expenditures on standarized forms filed annually or after 90 days of appointment by a judge.

The auditor’s report also recommended “increased focus on review of financial affairs of protected persons with substantial assets.”

Critics of the system, most often family members, have complained about having little recourse if they suspect conservators are overspending and otherwise mishandling assets of an incapacitated person. Bacon and Colón urged anyone with a complaint to fill out a grievance form found on the state Supreme Court’s website.

Colón said the recent criminal sentences of two of four defendants in the now-defunct Ayudando Guardians Inc., highlight the need for more oversight in New Mexico. A federal investigation, triggered by employees coming forward, exposed a near-decade long scheme in which top officials stole $11 million from vulnerable clients who received guardian, conservator or other financial services.

“Le estoy ayudando,” Colón said Thursday. “I want to be able to say ‘I am helping.'”

Full Article & Source:
New Mexico guardians get a new watchdog

Isolated during the pandemic, seniors are dying of loneliness and their families are demanding help

By Christopher Magan

Minnesota’s efforts to protect its most vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic is also having an unintended consequence — the isolation is killing some of them.

“Families are literally watching as their loved ones die of loneliness,” said Kristine Sundberg, executive director of Elder Voice Family Advocates. “We know full well, isolation has a significant impact on both physical and mental well-being.”

Sundberg and other advocates for seniors and vulnerable adults say the recent guidance the state Department of Health released for window and outdoor visits doesn’t go far enough. After more than three months in isolation, long-term care residents desperately need contact with their loved ones, they said.

“So many of our families are just desperate to see their people, especially those with memory issues,” Sundburg said. “We are seeing serious impacts. We need to figure this out. We need to help families get together.”

Three Minnesotans, all in their 90s, who died in early June had “social isolation” listed as a cause of death or contributing factor on their death certificates. Only one of them had tested positive for COVID-19, but all three lived in long-term care facilities that have been ordered to restrict outside visitors to protect residents from the coronavirus.

Stella D. Fadden, 99, and Chester E. Peske, 98, both died June 2 at Copperfield Hill – The Lodge in Robbinsdale. Both were struggling with Alzheimer’s and while only Peske tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus was also suspected as a contributing factor in Fadden’s death.

The third fatality, Forest D. Lehman, 90, died June 4 at Ecumen Prairie Hill in St. Peter. Lehman also struggled with Alzheimer’s disease and while he was not suspected to have the coronavirus, “failure to thrive” due to isolation because of COVID-19 restrictions was listed as the chief cause of death.

Family members of the three who died due to social isolation were unable to be reached at press time.

Ashley Fjelstad, who oversees licensing and compliance for Copperfield Hill, said as soon as they learned isolation was listed as a cause of death for two of their residents, they were “very concerned” and immediately contacted Allison Fiedler, the certified practical nurse who certified the residents’ death certificates.

Fjelstad learned that Fiedler determined isolation played a role in the residents’ deaths because they had lost interest in eating and slept constantly after having their routines disturbed during the pandemic.

“We already knew a change in routine is tough, especially for people with dementia,” Fjelstad said, noting that residents still had regular contact with staff, but their interactions with family and other residents was curtailed. “Their daily routine is what was upended, more so than any type of complete isolation.”

State officials said listing “social isolation” as a cause or contributing factor in someone’s death was unusual. They noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recognize social isolation as a cause of death in its vital statistics manual.

Health officials said a search of Minnesota death records did not find other references to social isolation as a cause of death.

“We absolutely know social isolation and emotional disconnectedness is a major health concern in its own right,” said Jan Malcolm, state health commissioner. “The separation that has happened for residents of long-term care facilities and their loved ones is one of the most heartbreaking things about the epidemic.”

Malcolm noted that the state Department of Health recently announced guidelines for visiting long-term care residents at their windows and outside. Window visits became common for some during the pandemic and outdoor visits are the latest step state officials have taken to address seniors in isolation.

Malcolm acknowledged that those types of visits may not be enough for long-term care residents and their families. But health officials warn that further contact comes with inherent risks and they want to do it as safely as possible.

“It is a tricky balance to strike,” Malcolm said.

Dustin Lee, president of Prairie Senior Cottages, agrees it is a tough balance, but he says it can be done. Prairie Senior Cottages has seven locations across rural Minnesota and caters to seniors needing dementia care.

“I do think opening up to visitors will open up exposure,” Lee said, but he added that the risks need to be balanced against the benefits for residents.

Prairie Senior Cottages sites have worked hard to avoid exposing residents to the coronavirus. But Lee says the separation of families is causing trauma for both seniors and their loved ones.

“Untreated trauma leads to long-term health consequences,” he said. “We have to find some kind of balance.”

In addition to window and outdoor visits outlined by the state Department of Health, operators of long-term care facilities and advocates for residents are trying to figure out safe ways for families to visit.

That would likely include separate spaces inside long-term care facilities where families and residents could spend time together. State officials have yet to offer any guidance on how such visits may occur.

Without that kind of contact, advocates fear more residents will die of loneliness.

“They need to listen to families. … This is literally killing people,” Sundburg said.

Full Article & Source: 
Isolated during the pandemic, seniors are dying of loneliness and their families are demanding help

Caretaker accused of stealing from 94-year-old Niceville patient

Megan LeAnn Burleson
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has charged 30-year old Megan LeAnn Burleson of Andalusia with elderly exploitation, theft of funds from a person 65 or older, altering or forging bank bills or checks, and uttering a forged bank bill or check with intent to defraud.

An Alabama woman hired as a caretaker for a 94-year old Niceville resident is now charged with defrauding the man of nearly $12,000 over a six-month period.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has charged 30-year old Megan LeAnn Burleson of Andalusia, Alabama with elderly exploitation, theft of funds from a person 65 or older, altering or forging bank bills or checks, and uttering a forged bank bill or check with intent to defraud, according to an OCSO press release.

Burleson is currently being held in the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview.

An OCSO investigator says Burleson became a caretaker for the victim in December 2019. The investigation revealed between January and May 2020 she stole and forged a dozen checks, and between February and May she altered five legitimate paychecks to make the amount appear greater than what was originally written.

Full Article & Source:
Caretaker accused of stealing from 94-year-old Niceville patient

Friday, June 26, 2020

Kids-for-cash judge released from prison over virus concerns


Michael Conahan
A former Pennsylvania judge involved in a scheme to send children to a for-profit jail in exchange for kickbacks was released from federal prison with six years left on his sentence because of coronavirus concerns, two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press.

Michael Conahan, 68, was sent home from the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Miami last Friday on a 30-day furlough that could lead to permanent home confinement for the remainder of his sentence, the officials said.

Prison officials had released Conahan in part because he has medical conditions that put him at a high risk for complications if he contracted the disease, according to the law enforcement sources, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

With a furlough, an inmate like Conahan is able to go home sooner while a final decision on home confinement is still being made.

In a handwritten court petition for compassionate release, which was rejected last week on a technicality, Conahan said his high blood pressure, heart issues and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves — put him at “grave danger of not only contracting the virus, but of dying from the virus.”

Conahan, whose corruption behavior was dissected in a documentary film, books and national news coverage, joins the likes of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen in getting sprung from prison early.

A message seeking comment was left with Conahan’s lawyer. The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, first reported Conahan’s release.

Conahan was sentenced in 2011 to 17½ years in prison for his role in what became known as the kids-for-cash scandal. The ex-Luzerne County judge pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge for accepting a share of $2.8 million from the builder and co-owner of the for-profit detention center.

Conahan, who headed the county’s court system in Northeastern Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2006 and earned the nickname “The Boss,” closed down a county-owned juvenile detention center and signed a secret agreement to send children to the for-profit facility, prosecutors said.

Mark Ciavarella, the ex-juvenile court judge who sent thousands of children to the for-profit detention center, was convicted at trial and is serving a 28-year federal prison sentence.

Soon after their arrests, Conahan and Ciavarella reached a plea agreement to serve a sentence of more than seven years in prison each, but a judge rejected the deal. Had it taken effect, Conahan would have been allowed to leave prison in 2016. Conahan’s petition to the Justice Department to have his sentence commuted is still pending.

With the coronavirus sweeping through federal lockups, the Bureau of Prisons has been increasingly relying on home confinement to clear cramped quarters and spare high-risk inmates from infection.

The federal prison system has struggled to combat the coronavirus pandemic behind bars, where social distancing is nearly impossible, and as of Tuesday, 6,341 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at facilities across the U.S.; nearly 5,000 had recovered. Officials said 87 inmates have died since late March. 

The agency has given priority to inmates who’ve served at least half of their sentence and those within 18 months of release, though it has the ultimate discretion on who can be released.

The Miami facility where Conahan was incarcerated has had seven inmates and 12 staff members test positive for COVID-19, but no deaths, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

In comparison, a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, has had more than 600 inmates test positive, with 12 of them dying of the disease.

Full Article & Source:
Kids-for-cash judge released from prison over virus concerns

Legislature adopts sweeping reforms for senior care homes

By Carrie Teegardin

A bill to improve staffing, training and accountability in Georgia’s senior care homes is headed to Gov. Brian Kemp after the House on Wednesday approved a Senate version of HB 987.
The House unanimously signed off on the Senate’s version of the bill, which added requirements for handling COVID-19 to the bill’s reforms of the senior care industry.

“I am so proud of Georgia’s House and Senate for making the necessary changes to ensure the safety of our seniors who choose to live in assisted living facilities,” said Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, the lead sponsor of the bill.

Kemp has said he strongly supports the legislation, which will bring dramatic changes to the state’s assisted living communities and large personal care homes. Memory care units would have to get certified and have more staff, directors would have to be licensed and homes that break the rules would face higher fines. Assisted living homes would be required to have nurse staffing. Homes would also have to disclose financial problems to residents and families.

Plus, senior care homes must plan for a pandemic, have a short-term supply of personal protective gear, test residents and staff and notify residents and families of an outbreak.

Cooper drafted the bill to help prevent the types of neglect and abuse in senior care homes that were exposed last year by a series in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Advocates applauded the Senate’s move to add the COVID-19 requirements.

Most of the bill relates to assisted living and personal care homes with 25 beds or more. But the additional COVID-19 requirements would also apply to the state’s nursing homes.

“Georgia’s seniors gain new protections in this landmark legislation,” said Kathy Floyd, executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging.

Full Article & Source:
Legislature adopts sweeping reforms for senior care homes

Families of Ohio nursing home residents plead to visit as Covid-19 cases rise by more than 500 in a week

Families of nursing home residents plead to visit as Covid-19 cases rise by more than 500 in a week
By Sara Goldenberg

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Deaths from Covid-19 in Ohio nursing homes have reached nearly 2,000.

Families worried about their loved ones say visitors need to be allowed in again.

“Their quality of life matters, and whatever they’re doing now clearly isn’t working,” said Cathy Williams.

Her parents, Liz and Roger, are both in nursing homes.

They’re at separate facilities in Strongsville and Brunswick.

At least 1,949 nursing homes residents have died of Covid-19, according to the latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Health.

At least 6,735 residents and 3,193 staff tested positive for the virus since April 15, bringing the total cases of Covid-19 in nursing homes to 9,928.

That’s up nearly 550 cases in one week.

19 Investigates found Cuyahoga County is now ranked third in the state for deaths in nursing homes.

But we also learned there aren’t a lot of large clusters of the virus in Northeast Ohio nursing homes like there were before.

“Anytime there is a flu outbreak, whether you call it the flu or not, a virus outbreak, there’s going to be a portion of the population that’s more susceptible or vulnerable,” Williams said.

She said her mom has not been allowed out of her room since mid-March.

“So she’s not even able to sit in the hallway in her wheelchair and visit or communicate with another resident,” she said.

Williams worries about her mother’s mental health.

“I’m more worried about that then my 85-year-old mother getting Covid-19, to be perfectly honest with you,” she said.

An announcement about visitation in nursing homes could come any day from Governor Mike DeWine.

Families have not been able to see their loved ones in person now for three months.

Williams hopes that changes soon.

“It’s awful, it’s completely awful,” she said.

Nursing home residents still make up about 70 percent of all Covid-19 deaths in the state.

Nationwide, more than 43,000 residents and staff have died from the virus, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Experts warn that’s likely an undercount.

Full Article & Source:
Families of Ohio nursing home residents plead to visit as Covid-19 cases rise by more than 500 in a week

Thursday, June 25, 2020

New Book by John Caravella: "Scams, Tricks and Deceptions"

When John Caravella retired from police service 25 years ago, he took on consumer fraud investigations for various agencies. He also published a book titled, "Marked for Destruction" which chronicles the deliberate targeting of a elderly Florida woman named Adele Fraulen upon her receiving an unexpected inheritance:

"What Adele Fraulen might have thought to be nothing more than a meaningless bad dream one night in 1935 would actually come true.

At age 79 she would find herself living a nightmare -- a struggle for her life, simply because she innocently trusted the wrong professionals to help with her portion of a Million Dollar inheritance; they would steal her very existence.

Her neighbors, Chris and Patricia Zurillo, would realize that Adele's life was going terribly wrong and dedicate themselves to freeing her from captivity.

“Marked For Destruction” is a rare book that exposes an ever-expanding crime against our elderly."

John's interest in various forms of scams (including those which are especially successful against the elderly) led him to unfair, fraudulent or deceptive new car purchases and inspired him to write a new book, "Scams, Tricks, and Deceptions - a Guide for New Car Buyers."

NASGA is pleased to promote Mr. Caravella's latest book, and to take the opportunity to once again promote "Marked for Destruction"  --- one of NASGA's all-time favorite books on guardianship abuse.

Both books are available at the Marked for Destruction Website

South Carolina Lawyer Who Misled on Bar Application Disbarred

A South Carolina lawyer found to have provided numerous false statements and incomplete answers on her application for admission to practice law in the state was disbarred by the state high court.

Margaret Lanier Brooks admitted to violating ethics rules prohibiting lying on a bar application and not responding to information requests from a disciplinary authority or bar admissions committee, which warrants the sanction, the South Carolina Supreme Court said June 24.

It noted that she consented to any sanction, including disbarment.

The day after Brooks was sworn into the state bar in February 2019, the office of bar admissions discovered that she’d lied on her application, the court said.

Brooks didn’t initially admit the reason for withdrawing her application for admission to the Wyoming bar in 2016, the court said. She first said it was because she didn’t want to practice there, but during her interview with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, she said she omitted the fact that there had been “resistance” from the character and fitness board in that state, it said.

She also didn’t include that her driver’s license had been suspended after being arrested for driving under the influence in 2005, the court said.

Although Brooks disclosed a 2014 DUI arrest on her South Carolina Bar application, she didn’t include a citation relating to the arrest for failing to cooperate with the police, it said.

She also stated on her application that she never acted in a way that would call into question her ability to practice law ethically, the court said.

But during her disciplinary counsel interview, she said that she submitted an altered document on her application to the Wyoming Bar, which was going to hold a hearing into her conduct.

Brooks also knowingly provided false statements on applications to the North Carolina and Idaho bars, the court said.

In light of her admissions, the court accepted Brooks’s agreement for discipline by consent and her request to disbar her retroactive to the date of her interim suspension, which was in October 2019.

One year before filing for reinstatement, she will have to complete an ethics course, it said.

Brooks didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is In re Brooks, 2020 BL 233455, S.C., No. 27983, 6/24/20.

Full Article & Source:
South Carolina Lawyer Who Misled on Bar Application Disbarred

All of Fotis Dulos’ properties now in foreclosure

All of Fotis Dulos’ properties now in foreclosure

FARMINGTON — The one-time property empire owned by Fotis Dulos and his high-end real estate company is being dismantled by foreclosure proceedings as his estate makes its way through probate court.

Fotis Dulos died Jan. 30 from an apparent suicide while facing murder and other charges in connection with his estranged wife’s death and disappearance. Jennifer Dulos was last seen on May 24, 2019 and has been presumed dead based on blood evidence found in the garage of her New Canaan home, according to arrest warrants.

Attorney Richard Weinstein, representing Jennifer Dulos’ mother, expects to have the title to the 14,000-square-foot Jefferson Crossing property in Farmington by late July.

Jennifer and Fotis Dulos lived in the home until June 2017 when she left with their five children for New Canaan and filed for divorce.

Fotis Dulos remained in the home with his former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and her daughter. At the time of his death, Fotis Dulos had not made mortgage payments for about a year, Weinstein said.

Weinstein said he will put the house up for sale once he receives the title. He expects a judge to grant him the title as soon as this week, but there will then be a 20-day appeal period.

Gloria Farber moved to foreclose on the house last year as Fotis Dulos was the prime suspect in the death and disappearance of her daughter.

Five other properties owned by Fotis Dulos are also in foreclosure proceedings, court records show.

A Superior Court judge recently awarded Farber nearly $2 million in two lawsuits she filed against Fotis Dulos on claims he failed to repay her family business loans made to him while he was married to her daughter.

Attorney Kent Mawhinney, who at one point represented Fotis Dulos in the lawsuits, and Troconis have each been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the Jennifer Dulos case. Troconis also faces tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution charges.

The estate of Fotis Dulos is now in probate court as Farber raises the couple’s five children. The items owned by the Dulos children that were still in the Jefferson Crossing house were retrieved last week, Weinstein said.

Troconis had also filed paperwork with the probate court in Farmington to retrieve her personal property from the home.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Cesar Noble agreed Thursday to allow Farber to receive $25,000 from the estate in legal fees for bringing forward one of the lawsuits, which claimed Fotis Dulos stopped paying a $500,000 loan that was used to help build the Jefferson Crossing house.

People’s Bank has started foreclosure proceedings on three other Farmington properties owned by the Fore Group at 80, 84 and 88 Mountain Spring Road, court records show. Harry Masiello, a longtime friend of Fotis Dulos who loaned him $600,000 in 2017, is now foreclosing on an Avon property at 585 Deercliff Road, which is just a few hundred feet from the Jefferson Crossing home.

The Savings Bank of Danbury started foreclosure proceedings in late 2019 on a Sturbridge Hill Road home in New Canaan that Fore Group had developed and planned to sell.

Farber and Masiello are named as defendants in several of the foreclosures since they have liens on the properties. The properties at 80, 84 and 88 Mountain Spring also have a $6 million lien placed by a bail bond agent who signed off on the $6 million bond that released Fotis Dulos from prison in January when he was charged with murder.

The probate court is still working on “sensitive issues” as the estate is finalized, Weinstein said. All money remaining from the probate process will go to the children who have been in Farber’s care since their mother disappeared, Weinstein said.

Full Article & Source:
All of Fotis Dulos’ properties now in foreclosure

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Anita Cameron: How Many More Have To Die In Nursing Facilities In the Age of COVID-19?

Anita Cameron
COVID-19 continues to rage through America, but not many of us outside the media and disability rights and justice groups are talking about an overlooked population – residents of nursing facilities and institutions for disabled people, who are dying of COVID-19.

To date, more than 51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died. That’s more than 40 percent of the total death toll in the United States. These are only the numbers they tell us.

In April, 17 deceased people were discovered in a morgue in a facility in Andover, NJ, after authorities received a tip. Those 17 were among 68 recent deaths at the facility, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II. Two nurses also died. Of those who died, 26 people had tested positive for the virus. People are still dying in that facility.

A high school friend, whose relative died in May in a Georgia nursing home, was told that 142 people contracted COVID-19 in that facility. 100, including her relative, died.

These are the numbers we know. What of the numbers we don’t know? And what’s being done to protect residents and staff?

Because relatives and loved ones in nursing facilities have been denied visitors due to COVID-19,  it’s almost impossible to find out what’s happening. Family members sometimes learn well after the fact that their loved one has died.

Nursing homes want immunity from civil suits when their residents die of COVID-19, and several states, including New York, have given it, making it impossible to investigate violations and neglect, or pursue justice when people have died.

So, what, if anything, is being done to help and protect folks in nursing facilities, institutions and other congregate facilities?

Disability justice activists and independent living centers have been working on ways to safely transition folks to community settings. Chicago ADAPT, along with other local disability organizations, had a meeting with Illinois State administrators and department heads on emergency evacuations, or relocations. Some of their demands on transition were:


Governor Pritzker to implement an executive order to:

1) Transition facility residents to hotels/temporary independent housing that is less likely to put residents and workers at risk of infection

2) Reassign overflow nurses to these non‐institutional settings rather than to institutions
Governor Pritzker to reinforce the Colbert/Williams [Olmstead class action] Decrees by:
  • Utilizing the Strike Force to expedite the decrees
  • Establishing a consumer-led body to work with the Strike Force on transitions to provide essential input
  • State of Illinois to require that MCOs [managed care organization] provide community-based consumers the same or broader waivers as those provided to institutional settings
Peter Grosz, of Chicago ADAPT, says that while Pritzker’s staff seemed sympathetic at the meeting, they received this response on May 21st. Note, this is the response regarding transitions, not the entire response to all of their demands, which overall, were unhelpful.

“While the Olmstead Decrees continue to remain a priority for the entire Administration, we have assessed that IDHS and its service providers are unable to conduct safe transitions while providing the typical, robust level of community-based supports during this pandemic. IDHS will continue to work tirelessly to plan around this pandemic in the interest of Class Members, including providing virtual services.

“IDHS also remains committed to ensuring that Class Members, regardless of where
they are currently residing, maintain their status in Consent Decree programming and access to the same entitlements. IDHS is preparing for a complete re-vamping of the service delivery system for Class Members for the time it becomes safe to facilitate transitions.”

“As you know, people in institutions are no different from people not in institutions except that they are in institutions,” said Peter Grosz. “Illinois has not hesitated to transition homeless and front-line workers to temporary facilities equipped with nurses and other supports. In the eyes of the state, the label alone of nursing home resident or psych facility resident or prisoner diminishes an individual’s rights to appropriate safeguards and services against all form of injustices and natural disasters, including at this time, pandemics.”

Members of ADAPT participated in a townhall meeting with other disabled stakeholders in response to COVID-19 in nursing facilities. Anaya Robinson, of Atlantis Community, an independent living center in Denver, Colorado, detailed their plan of relocating people to a local hotel and pairing them with attendants who would quarantine with them. Atlantis Community is hiring currently homeless individuals who receive attendant services training while quarantined with the former nursing home resident, and housing when that person is then transitioned into their own place. Misty Dion, of Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, cited a similar program of emergency relocation. They’ve teamed up with restaurants to provide free meals to those in their program. The Center for Disability Rights, in Rochester, New York, has a relocation program quite similar to Denver’s; they train homeless folks in attendant services training through their consumer directed attendant services program, while they quarantine in a local hotel with their supervisors [individuals needing consumer-directed services].

I spoke with three individuals in a Chicago nursing home, Lyndsay, Ernest, and Gina. Their facility has 15 people who tested positive for COVID-19. I wanted to know how they felt about living there during this pandemic.

“It’s very scary, like a time bomb” said Ernest. “They aren’t telling us anything. Its like we’re in a dark room. We have 15 cases of COVID-19 here, but they only told us about 4 people. We’ve been quarantined here for 4 months, but every day, they’re bringing in new staff from the outside. Some of them wear masks, some of them don’t.”

“We have become each other’s support,” said Gina. “The nurses they bring in don’t have the training to do stuff we need, like wound care, so we help each other. There’s been 4 doctors here since January, actually, 3 doctors and a physician’s assistant. I saw a doctor two weeks ago. He just stuck his head in the door to say hi. That’s all.”

“My transition person disappeared,” said Lyndsay. “She said she couldn’t do this anymore. I’m trying to find out what I can do. This is a matter of life and death now, with COVID-19. My transition has just stopped and nobody’s doing anything. I’m waiting for housing and nobody’s telling me anything.”

Therein lies another issue. People’s Olmstead rights are being violated. Olmstead v LC is the Supreme Court decision affirming the right of people in nursing facilities and other institutions, like psychiatric hospitals, to live in the community with the services and supports they need to remain independent. According to the decision, “Unnecessary institutionalization is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Each state is supposed to have an Olmstead plan to transition folks from institutions to their own homes and receive services “in the most integrated setting possible.”

While governmental agencies are saying that people in nursing homes are too medically fragile to be transitioned to the community, many disabled folks reject that claim. Today, on the 21st anniversary of the Olmstead decision, they are still fighting  for the right to live at home. You would think with COVID-19 on the rampage in nursing facilities, there would be concerted efforts nationwide to get people out of those places, to safety, then into their own homes. How many more people in nursing homes and other institutions for disabled folks have to get sick and/or die from COVID-19 before we do anything?

Full Article & Source:
Anita Cameron: How Many More Have To Die In Nursing Facilities In the Age of COVID-19?

Life Care fired staffer who revealed nursing home nightmare to Reuters

by Chris Kirkham

(Reuters) - A nursing home owned by Life Care Centers of America Inc has fired one nurse and banned another from the premises after the two were quoted in a Reuters investigation detailing horrific conditions, a staff exodus and a botched management response to the facility’s deadly COVID-19 outbreak. 

An undated handout photo of nurse Colleen Lelievre, who was fired last week from her job at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Massachusetts, days after being quoted in a Reuters article detailing a staff exodus and a botched management response to the facilityÕs deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Colleen Lelievre/Handout via REUTERS
Life Care terminated one of the nurses, Colleen Lelievre, last week after managers at the Littleton, Massachusetts, home accused her of making clerical errors involving narcotics for residents. She said she had not been told of any issues until June 12, two days after publication of the Reuters report. Another nurse, Lisa Harmon, said a manager barred her from the building the same day, without explaining why.

“I don’t know how they think that they’re just blatantly doing this and getting away with it,” said Harmon, a supervisor.

The Reuters report included interviews with Lelievre and Harmon describing an overwhelmed and overworked staff. In one instance, so many workers had quit or called in sick that managers assigned a teenage nursing-assistant trainee to a shift caring for nearly 30 dementia patients, Harmon and a former worker said. Eighty- to ninety-hour weeks became the norm, the two nurses said. In a dementia unit, workers were unable to keep residents from wandering into hallways and other patients’ rooms, potentially spreading infection.

The two nurses also said management left staff in the dark about the outbreak and didn’t provide staff testing until mid-May. Thirty-four workers had tested positive by that month’s end, federal data shows. Twenty-five residents and one nurse died of COVID-19. (To read the Special Report, click )

Amy Lamontagne, the facility’s executive director, denied that she fired Lelievre for talking to Reuters. Lamontagne said Harmon has not been terminated but that administrators wanted to meet with her to discuss concerns she raised in the article. Harmon said she hasn’t been paid since being barred from the facility.

Lamontagne said she terminated Lelievre for errors in “the administration and documentation of narcotics.” Lamontagne declined to detail that lapse and would not address why she hadn’t raised the problem with Lelievre until after the Reuters article ran. She said the facility started investigating Lelievre two days before the article ran.

“The timing of it is poor,” Lamontagne said.

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Attorney General, told by Reuters of Life Care’s actions against the nurses, said “we take allegations of workplace retaliation very seriously.”

Spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis added that the attorney general is already scrutinizing the facility’s management of the crisis: “We have an active and ongoing investigation into the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, who represents the Littleton area, said the nursing home put its own interests above patient and staff safety.

“If the corporate leadership of Life Care Centers of America showed as much concern for residents and workers at their facility in Littleton as they do for their public image and self-preservation, lives could have been saved,” Trahan said. “Shameful behavior like whistleblower retaliation is often used to cover up wrongdoing.”

Life Care is among the largest U.S. nursing home operators, with more than 200 homes. Company President Beecher Hunter did not respond to requests for comment. Company spokesman Tim Killian declined to comment on the alleged retaliation and did not answer questions about whether corporate higher-ups directed or knew about the actions against the nurses.

Life Care also presided over one of the first and deadliest U.S. outbreaks of the coronavirus at its nursing home in Kirkland, Washington - with 45 deaths linked to the facility, according to local public health authorities. (For a story on the Kirkland outbreak, click

In its investigation, Reuters interviewed several other workers and former workers at the home, who also detailed mismanagement, staff shortages and lapses in care. But Lelievre and Harmon were two of three current employees who agreed to have their names published, and both nurses were quoted more extensively than the third worker.

The facility never restricted Lelievre’s access to drugs before she stopped working, Lelievre said. At the time of the alleged paperwork errors, Lelievre said, she had been working 16-hour days during the outbreak and in one case worked 24 hours because no one else could fill shifts.

Harmon, the nurse supervisor, said if paperwork mistakes during the outbreak are grounds for termination, then “every nurse in that building should be fired.”

Harmon herself contracted COVID-19 during the outbreak and used 10 days of accrued sick time because the company offered no additional paid days to workers who contracted the disease. 

Lamontagne said Harmon never addressed staffing issues with management before speaking to Reuters, “even though that’s her supervisory role to bring it up through a chain of command.”

Harmon said she raised concerns about staffing shortages many times with Lamontagne and other administrators, often telling them the home had no nursing assistants on certain shifts.

“The whole time, I have been begging for help,” Harmon said. “How much more do you need to know that the staffing is horrible?”

Full Article & Source:
Life Care fired staffer who revealed nursing home nightmare to Reuters

Five days after their protest, families visit loved ones in NYS group homes

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — The COVID crisis took a toll on a lot of our neighbors. It was particularly hard on families with children and siblings in group homes that were in lockdown.

At the start of this week, News10NBC showed you how the families demanded the homes open up.

On Friday, they made their first visits in four months.

Brean: "The last time you were able to see him in person was March 12. It's been a long time."

Beverly Lillie, son in a group home: "It's been a very long time."

I first met Beverly Lillie at the protest Monday outside the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.

The families wanted the governor to open the homes for visits.

The governor did that Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Beverly, her husband, and grandchildren showed me where her son Chris is living in Greece.

And now, five days since the protest, she's seen her son face-to-face for the first time in four months.

Beverly Lillie: "When he first came out and he looked at us he wanted to come right over and touch us and give us a hug and I had to back off, my husband and I, just a little bit, let him touch us and then back off because we didn't want him quarantined."

Beverly took these photos of her son and his dad doing a Father's Day project. The finished piece said "Dad."

Coronavirus hit the 38,000 people who live in group homes in New York.

The OPWDD says 2,473 residents got infected, and 378 died.

Sharon Messina took cell phone video and photos when she visited her brother at his group home in Fairport. Families are thankful for the change to visit, but they want the state to loosen the rules at group homes even more.

Sharon Messina, brother David is 51-years-old: "We just want a plan. We just want a safe plan for them to go back to their day programs, for them to have their physical therapy, occupational speech therapy."

Brean: "Where do you want to go from here? What changes do you want to see now?"

Beverly Lillie: "Open the doors up. Let us take him home."

"Families of people with developmental disabilities all across New York State were able to successfully visit with their loved ones in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency beginning today," wrote Jennifer O'Sullivan, spokeswoman for OPWDD.

"The resumption of visitation in group homes is a very important first step in our efforts to return to a 'new normal,' and as always, our number one priority as we resume visitation is to continue to ensure the health and safety of the people we support."

OPWDD says occupational and physical therapy was done through Zoom meetings, and the office is looking into safe ways to do that work in person.

Full Article & Source:
Five days after their protest, families visit loved ones in NYS group homes

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Nursing Homes Struggle As Staff Choose Unemployment Checks Over Paychecks

by Gabrielle Emanuel

Some nursing homes and long-term-care facilities say they're struggling to fill shifts as certified nursing assistants opt for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
SolStock/Getty Images
Shanna LaFountain has been a nursing assistant in New England for 20 years. About two months ago, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, she stopped working.

"It was an extremely hard decision," she said.

LaFountain has three children and made the decision once their schools closed and their learning went online.

"My son was not answering teachers, not doing assignments," she said. "I had to be home with my children."

Instead of working, she gets state unemployment benefits and receives another $600 each week from the federal government. She is making more money now than when she works.

LaFountain is not alone. As part of the CARES Act, the federal government added an extra $600 per week to individuals' unemployment checks. Such benefits may be available not only to those who were let go but also to those who quit their jobs due to the virus.

While a Federal Reserve report said the expanded benefits provide a critical lifeline to many individuals, there is concern that the additional money is leading crucial workers to stay home. Nursing homes and long-term-care facilities, hard hit by the pandemic, have been struggling with understaffing.

The nurse staffing agency LaFountain used to work for, called IntelyCare, reports that about 30% of its certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, are choosing to take unemployment during the pandemic.

"Without them, you've got administrators, cafeteria workers, you've got all sorts of nurses performing the CNA duties. And then you just have people that aren't getting attention because there's just not enough people working," said David Coppins, CEO of IntelyCare, which operates in 14 states and helps long- term-care facilities fill their empty shifts.

In a typical nursing home, about two-thirds of the workforce are CNAs, Coppins said. They often have the closest relationships with the patients and spot early signs of health problems.

Before the pandemic, IntelyCare found workers for about 80% of the shifts that long-term-care facilities asked help in filling. Now, Coppins said, it's lucky to fill 50%.

"I've been talking with administrators day and night and they're all crying about this," said Micha Shalev, who co-owns Dodge Park and Oasis at Dodge Park, two facilities in Worcester, Mass., that specialize in dementia care.

So far, none of Shalev's residents have tested positive for the virus. His facilities and others have been taking extra precautions, he said, but are doing so with far less staff than they need — in large part because of the unemployment checks.

"I'm not against paying people for their unemployment," he said. "But in order to do justice, they should be paying all the front-line workers in health care at least the same, if not even more."

Shalev has resorted to offering his staff bonuses during the pandemic, but said that's not realistic for all facilities. He said the government should supplement the wages of nurses and CNAs.

Congress is debating whether to extend the extra $600 a week unemployment benefit beyond the end of July.

"Without that 600, I would have to go back," said LaFountain. While she misses her patients, she added, the pay rates don't match the risks.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Homes Struggle As Staff Choose Unemployment Checks Over Paychecks

Report: Newark village justice charged with stalking ex-girlfriend

(WHAM) - A judge for the village of Newark and town of Arcadia was arrested Friday on charges of stalking his ex-girlfriend.

Our news partners at the Times of Wayne County report Newark Village Police arrested Michael Miller.

The 53-year-old judge had previously been issued a stay away order of protection on April 29 after his ex-girlfriend of 4 1/2 years filed a petition who told court officials Miller was going up onto her porch and looking into her windows.

After the order was issued, Miller is accused of talking with his ex-girlfriend's neighbors, who let him go into their backyards and watch her house. Miller also allegedly used the house of his secretary, who lived near his ex-girlfriend, to walk into neighboring yards to stalk the woman.

Miller also allegedly stalked the woman at her job and home.

According to the Times of Wayne County, the woman was afraid that the legal community would not prosecute or even seek charges against Miller because of his position as a judge.

Miller is reportedly charged with first-degree criminal contempt and fourth-degree stalking.

Miller was arraigned in County Court and released on his own recognizance. He is reportedly suspended pending the outcome of his case.

If convicted on the felony criminal contempt charge, Miller would also be disbarred as a practicing attorney in New York State.

Full Article & Source:
Report: Newark village justice charged with stalking ex-girlfriend

Letters: Congress, advance this Alzheimer’s bill

My family has been devastated by Alzheimer’s disease. My mother is living in late stage Alzheimer’s, and we have already lost seven other family members to the disease. The prevalence of this disease in my family put our loved ones at higher risk for elder abuse.

Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. As Colorado’s population ages, our state is expected to see a 21% increase in the number of Coloradans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over the next five years. Because of the cognitive decline associated with the disease, these individuals will be at greater risk of abuse and neglect.

How can we protect Coloradans living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia from physical, mental, emotional, sexual and/or financial abuse? Congress has the answer – the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (H.R.6813/S.3703). This initiative requires the Department of Justice to educate emergency responders, judges, prosecutors and other justice system workers about how to communicate and interact with people with dementia. This important training will improve those workers’ ability to assist people with dementia and protect them from all forms of abuse and neglect.

I hope my representatives in Congress, Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton, will consider actively supporting this significant legislation. It’s an easy way to help protect some of Colorado’s most vulnerable residents.

Teresa Valko

Full Article & Source:
Letters: Congress, advance this Alzheimer’s bill

Monday, June 22, 2020

‘They Just Dumped Him Like Trash’: Nursing Homes Evict Vulnerable Residents

Nursing homes across the country are kicking out old and disabled residents and sending them to homeless shelters and rundown motels.

Credit...Andrew Cullen for The New York Times
By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Amy Julia Harris

On a chilly afternoon in April, Los Angeles police found an old, disoriented man crumpled on a Koreatown sidewalk.

Several days earlier, RC Kendrick, an 88-year-old with dementia, was living at Lakeview Terrace, a nursing home with a history of regulatory problems. His family had placed him there to make sure he got round-the-clock care after his condition deteriorated and he began disappearing for days at a time.

But on April 6, the nursing home deposited Mr. Kendrick at an unregulated boardinghouse — without bothering to inform his family. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Kendrick was wandering the city alone.

According to three Lakeview employees, Mr. Kendrick’s ouster came as the nursing home was telling staff members to try to clear out less-profitable residents to make room for a new class of customers who would generate more revenue: patients with Covid-19.

More than any other institution in America, nursing homes have come to symbolize the deadly destruction of the coronavirus crisis. More than 51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died, representing more than 40 percent of the total death toll in the United States.

But even as they have been ravaged, nursing homes have also been enlisted in the response to the outbreak. They are taking on coronavirus-stricken patients to ease the burden on overwhelmed hospitals — and, at times, to bolster their bottom lines.

A Lakeview official said the company’s evictions were appropriate and weren’t an attempt to free space for Covid-19 patients. But similar scenes are playing out at nursing homes nationwide. They are kicking out old and disabled residents — among the people most susceptible to the coronavirus — and shunting them into homeless shelters, rundown motels and other unsafe facilities, according to 22 watchdogs in 16 states, as well as dozens of elder-care lawyers, social workers and former nursing home executives.

Many of the evictions, known as involuntary discharges, appear to violate federal rules that require nursing homes to place residents in safe locations and to provide them with at least 30 days’ notice before forcing them to leave.

While the popular conception of nursing homes is of places where elderly people live, much of their business is caring for patients of all ages and income levels who are recovering from surgery or acute illnesses like strokes. Medicare often pays for short-term rehabilitation stints; Medicaid covers longer-term stays for poor people.

Nursing homes have long had a financial incentive to evict Medicaid patients in favor of those who pay through private insurance or Medicare, which reimburses nursing homes at a much higher rate than Medicaid. More than 10,000 residents and their families complained to watchdogs about being discharged in 2018, the most recent year for which data are available.

The pandemic has intensified the situation.

With nursing homes not allowing visitors, there is less outside scrutiny of their practices. Fifteen state-funded ombudsmen said in interviews that some homes appear to be taking advantage of that void to evict vulnerable residents.

Credit...Andrew Cullen for The New York Times
Many nursing homes are struggling in part because one of their most profitable businesses — post-surgery rehab — has withered as states restricted hospitals from performing nonessential services.

Treating Covid-19 patients quickly became a popular way to fill that financial void.

Last fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid changed the formula for reimbursing nursing homes, making it more profitable to take in sicker patients for a short period of time. Covid-19 patients can bring in at least $600 more a day in Medicare dollars than people with relatively mild health issues, according to nursing home executives and state officials.

“They could be big money for nursing homes,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.

It is not always about the money. Several states, including New York, New Jersey and California, urged nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients to help relieve pressure on hospitals. Some nursing home employees worried that would endanger their vulnerable residents.

There is no national data on the number of nursing home residents who have been moved into homeless shelters, motels and other facilities. The New York Times contacted more than 80 state-funded nursing-home ombudsmen in 46 states for a tally of involuntary discharges during the pandemic at facilities they monitor. Twenty six ombudsmen, from 18 states, provided figures to The Times: a total of more than 6,400 discharges, many to homeless shelters.

“We’re dealing with unsafe discharges, whether it be to a homeless shelter or to unlicensed facilities, on a daily basis, and Covid-19 has made this all more urgent,” said Molly Davies, the Los Angeles ombudsman, whose office works with residents at about 400 nursing homes.

In Connecticut, a nursing-home resident was told he had less than a week to pack his things and move to a homeless shelter, according to the resident’s lawyer. In Philadelphia, a nursing home planned to discharge a resident with schizophrenia to the city’s office of homeless services, which was closed during the pandemic. A lawyer said she intervened to stop the eviction on the grounds that it was unsafe.

Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, nursing homes tried to discharge at least 27 residents to homeless shelters from February through May, according to data from the New York City Department of Homeless Services. Ombudsmen and city officials blocked many of the discharges, which they said were medically unsafe.

But those figures are most likely a dramatic undercount. “What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Susan Dooha, executive director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, a nonprofit group that is the home of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in New York City.

Traditionally, ombudsmen would regularly go to nursing homes. In March, though, ombudsmen — and residents’ families — were required to stop visiting. Evictions followed.

“It felt opportunistic, where some homes were basically seizing the moment when everyone is looking the other way to move people out,” said Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, a long-term care ombudsman in New Jersey.

Nursing homes are allowed to evict residents if they aren’t able to pay for their care, are endangering others in the facility or have sufficiently recovered. Under federal law, before discharging patients against their will, nursing homes are required to give formal notice to the resident and to the ombudsman’s office. They must also find a safe alternative location for the resident to go, whether that is an assisted living facility, an apartment or, in rare circumstances, a homeless shelter.

But some homes have figured out a workaround: They pressure residents to leave. Many residents assume they have no choice, and the nursing homes often do not report them to ombudsmen.

That is what David Mellor said happened to him. Mr. Mellor, 54, was recovering from spinal surgery that left him numb from the neck down at a nursing home in Fremont, Calif. In April, Mr. Mellor said, the staff at the Windsor Park Care Center, an 85-bed facility, told him that he had to go to a hotel to clear the way for coronavirus patients. Mr. Mellor, who had been trying to arrange long-term housing, felt he had no choice and agreed to leave.

“I saw what was going on,” Mr. Mellor said. “They were forcing people out.” At the Radisson Hotel in Oakland, which was being used to house the homeless, Mr. Mellor said there was no one to help him learn to walk again or to assist him with the medications he takes to control his blood sugar and pain.

A spokesman for the Windsor Park Care Center declined to comment. It is part of a chain owned by Lee Samson, a major fund-raiser for President Trump. “Whatever my political affiliation, Windsor’s commitment to protecting its residents will never be compromised,” Mr. Samson said.

Nursing home evictions can be disruptive and dangerous during normal times — and even more so during a pandemic that preys on the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

In March, seven groups that represent nursing home residents wrote to New York’s health department, urging it to stop nursing homes from evicting residents because they are “particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus.” Such discharges, especially to homeless shelters, they wrote, “pose particular public health risks, due to the close living quarters in shelters.” The letter also warned that sending patients from nursing homes — hotbeds of the coronavirus — into the community could hasten the spread of the disease.

Advocates for nursing home residents have also urged California’s health department to halt evictions.

While at least four states have restricted nursing homes from evicting patients during the pandemic, New York and California have not. Some companies appear to be taking advantage.

In California, Rockport Healthcare Services, which manages the state’s largest chain of for-profit nursing homes, has repeatedly been cited by state regulators for illegal evictions.

On March 31, with Covid-19 cases soaring, a Rockport executive wrote in an email to colleagues that they should begin “discharge planning immediately,” noting that any discharges should be done safely.

Dr. Michael Wasserman, who was the chief executive of Rockport until 2018, said that was code to kick out the least-lucrative residents. “You are looking to replace the poorest, least profitable patients with the highest paying ones,” said Dr. Wasserman, who resigned after clashing with the chain’s owner.

This spring, Los Angeles County designated three of Rockport’s nursing homes as preferred destinations for Covid-19 patients. Since then, one of them has tried unsuccessfully to evict at least two residents against their will, according to a lawyer who was contacted by the residents’ families.

David Silver, the chief executive of Rockport, said the company was trying to be a good partner to the state by making room for an expected surge of Covid-19 patients. “This has absolutely nothing to do with money,” he said. He declined to comment on individual residents, citing confidentiality.

In New York City, the Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Queens tried to evict more than 20 residents at one point in March, according to residents and elder care lawyers. Employees at Silvercrest — including the director of social services — told residents or family members that the discharges were necessary to free beds for Covid-19 patients.

Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Abraham Hightower, a 57-year-old man on Medicaid who suffers from kidney problems and high blood pressure, arrived at Silvercrest in January. Since then, the home has tried to evict him three times.

In February, Silvercrest tried to send him to a Best Western hotel that New York City uses as a homeless shelter, according to Mr. Hightower and his lawyer. He appealed and an administrative judge determined that such a facility was not appropriate given his health needs.

Mr. Hightower said he was told by Silvercrest employees that they were evicting residents to make way for Covid-19 patients. In March, he received another discharge notice, this time sending him to a homeless shelter in Manhattan, according to records reviewed by The Times. When Mr. Hightower appealed, Silvercrest backed down.

This month, Silvercrest issued the third eviction notice. Mr. Hightower’s appeal is pending.

“They just want to get rid of me,” he said.

Michael Tretola, the president of Silvercrest, declined to comment on Mr. Hightower’s case or to say how many residents have been evicted. “The health and safety of every patient under our care is always our first concern,” he said.

Lakeview Terrace in Los Angeles, which evicted the 88-year-old Mr. Kendrick, has a history of illegally ousting residents. In February 2019, the Los Angeles city attorney, Mike Feuer, reached a $600,000 settlement with the nursing home to resolve accusations that it had illegally evicted mentally ill and homeless residents. As part of that settlement, in which Lakeview denied wrongdoing, prosecutors appointed someone to monitor the facility. As the coronavirus intensified in March, the monitor had to stop visiting.

Around this time, said three Lakeview employees, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly, their superiors began encouraging them to find ways to discharge residents to make room for coronavirus patients.

On April 6, the staff moved Mr. Kendrick to an unlicensed boardinghouse in Van Nuys, Calif., about 20 miles away.

The next day, the police called Mr. Kendrick’s nephew, Darryl Kennedy. They had found his uncle, who had wandered away from the boardinghouse, Mr. Kennedy said.

“They just dumped him like trash,” Mr. Kennedy said.

David Weaver, the administrator of Lakeview Terrace, wouldn’t say why Mr. Kendrick was evicted, citing confidentiality, but he said all of the nursing home's discharges were “clinically appropriate.”

Mr. Weaver said that while Lakeview — which has space for 99 patients — has discharged or transferred 16 residents since March, it had not done so to make room for coronavirus patients and in fact had not knowingly admitted any.

After the police found Mr. Kendrick, Mr. Kennedy agreed to let his uncle stay with him, even though he could not provide the level of supervision that Mr. Kendrick would have received at Lakeview.

About a month later, Mr. Kennedy woke up at 3 a.m. to find Mr. Kendrick standing over him with a steak knife. His uncle stabbed him in the back and the head. Mr. Kennedy called the police. He needed 30 stitches.

Mr. Kendrick turned 89 on May 6. He spent his birthday at the Los Angeles County jail, about four miles from Lakeview Terrace.
Full Article & Source:
‘They Just Dumped Him Like Trash’: Nursing Homes Evict Vulnerable Residents