Saturday, August 1, 2020

Northern Nevada senior facility starts pen pal program

Click to Watch Video
By Elizabeth Rodil

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Carson Valley Senior Living started a Pen Pal program for its seniors during the pandemic. The program started with a simple social media post. Employees snapped photos of seniors and highlighted a few of their favorite things. 

Life Enrichment Director Adrianna Ward said, “I want to say we received over a hundred letters. We had about four care packages come in, between crossword puzzles, succulent plants, goodies, and the candies that they like.”

Ward didn’t expect the facility would get an overwhelming response. She said, “So we started the pen pal July 6th and the post went viral, within a week we had over 40,000 people reach out.”

Seniors Lorraine Strazi and Susan Rielley responded back to their new pen pals. Strazi said, “I apologized for my handwriting because it was yucky.” Rielley said, “I wrote back, she has to write back, you know, you have to wait, you know how mail is.”

According to Ward these new formed friendships have made a difference for these seniors. The facility scaled down on visitation hours since the pandemic. “With the window visits we are doing and now we are doing outdoor family visits for 30 minutes, it’s still not enough sometimes for them.” 

She continued, “To have that constant writing it keeps their mind going and they just love getting that attention and knowing that there are people out there during this pandemic that people do care.”
If you want to become a pen pal you can click here:

Employees at Carson Valley Senior Living started a pen pal program during the pandemic.
Employees at Carson Valley Senior Living started a pen pal program during the pandemic.(KOLO)
Full Article & Source:
Northern Nevada senior facility starts pen pal program

Glimpses of Isolation Part I

Virus restrictions have put long-term care facilities on lockdown. The isolation has devastating effects on those who are being "kept safe" from the virus. Find out how you can help by joining the Facebook group at

Glimpses of Isolation Part I

People in long term care ‘dying of isolation,’ Georgia group tells governor

Georgia Caregivers for Compromise

Photo of Betty
Photo of Betty
Kristian Hugo can’t hide her love for her “granny,” Betty, who is in a long-term care facility in St. Marys.

“Words can’t do it justice,” Hugo said. “She’s always been a caregiver. She’s always taken of, even as a little girl, she would go take care of the elderly.”

Click to Watch Video
Hugo is frustrated and worried since the pandemic has locked her and others out of the facilities where their loved ones live.

“It’s hard when you’re hearing, you know, the talks of theme parks opening and sports and schools,” she said. “Where are we talking about our homes that, you know, our loved ones have been in for five months in isolation?”

Hugo and Maxine Williams, her aunt, are both with Georgia Caregivers for Compromise. Williams is the administrator. A letter the group wrote to Gov. Brian Kemp reads in part:

”Our loved ones are dying of isolation and loneliness and it has to stop. While we appreciate the efforts to save them from the virus, there comes a point when the effects of isolation are more deadly than the risk of contracting COVID-19.”

The organization is asking the state for:
  • A point of contact within the administration so they can make “informed decisions based on facts, not hopeful speculation”
  • A plan for reopening facilities “in a safe, smart, step-by-step way”
  • The implementation of an essential family caregiver designation program “that’s currently being implemented in Minnesota and Indiana”
Hugo says she misses the little things, like just “being there” for her granny. But she says speaking out is what she can do for her and others.

“They need us and they don’t have the voice,” Hugo said. “They don’t have the voice to tell everyone that they need us to be there and some of them, the ones with Alzheimer’s or they have dementia or are mentally incapacitated, they cannot look through a window at their loved one. They just don’t understand. It isn’t enough. They need their touch, and they need to hear their voice.”

The group is asking for Kemp to announce a plan by Aug. 3, but so far, the the group says it hasn’t received feedback from the governor.

Full Article & Source:
People in long term care ‘dying of isolation,’ Georgia group tells governor

Friday, July 31, 2020

2,300 guardianship cases were mislabeled, inquiry finds

By Colleen Heild

An examination of more than 20,000 guardianship cases in the New Mexico court system uncovered more than 2,300 ongoing cases that were labeled “closed” even though the incapacitated person involved was still alive.

Under new legislative, and judicial adult guardianship and conservatorship reforms, those mislabeled cases have since been moved to open, active status, a senior attorney with the Administrative Office of the Courts told a guardianship reform committee Tuesday.

“This allows for the judge assigned to be able to do ongoing monitoring,” Patricia Galindo, senior staff attorney at the Administrative Office of the Courts, told the committee.

But it wasn’t clear Tuesday whether any incapacitated person may have fallen off a judge’s radar while their case was labeled “closed.”

Galindo said she understands annual reports typically were still being filed by guardians and conservators in such cases.

Judges rely on such reporting to ensure the welfare of the incapacitated person, who relies on guardians to make daily living and other decisions, and on conservators to handle their finances.

Closing out a civil case in the courts’ case management system typically means that it doesn’t “need any further judicial attention,” said state Supreme Court Justice Shannon Bacon, a member of the guardianship reform steering committee.

But that isn’t usually true in guardianship or conservatorship cases, which can sometimes run for years.

They generally end up closed when the incapacitated person has died or the guardian or conservator is no longer needed.

With the AOC review of guardianship and conservatorship cases, a total of 5,816 are now open and active, Galindo told the committee.

The review, which covered the period of July 2018 to June 2019, was part of a “clean up” to account for all guardianship and conservatorship cases in the system, some that dated back to 1947.

The case review was one aspect of a multiyear reform of the system mandated by the state Legislature and the judiciary.

Even before her appointment to the Supreme Court in January 2019, Bacon as a district court judge in Albuquerque advocated for enhanced transparency and accountability in the traditionally closed adult guardianship system.

Premature closures

She said she had heard in recent years that some court clerks around the state would close such cases once a petition for guardianship or conservatorship was granted by a judge and a guardian or conservator appointed. That occurred even though regular reports are supposed to be filed each year about the incapacitated person’s welfare and finances.

“We knew that (cases were being closed) when we were doing our big push in the Legislature (for reforms),” Bacon said. “We knew there were cases that were mislabeled.”

Asked whether some judges may have lost track of incapacitated people as a result, Bacon told the Journal, “Judges can only speak to what they’ve learned about their own cases.”

“When I was doing the case review and I was still at the district court, I was relieved to find out that nothing had gone horribly sideways.”

Bacon said she kept a spreadsheet of her guardianship and conservatorship cases to ensure every incapacitated person was accounted for.

Judges themselves, not court clerks, must keep track of when inventories of property, and annual reports and 10-year reviews are due.

Education lacking

Bacon on Tuesday said she believed plans to educate court staff on the reforms failed to include “incredibly important” training for judges.

She pointed out that some 40 new judges have been appointed in New Mexico in the past two years the reforms have been enacted.

In the busiest state courts, judges average some 1,200 to 1,300 cases. Only a small percentage involve guardianships or conservatorships.

New judges, she said, may not realize the kind of “red flags” that can surface in annual reports. They also might not know what questions to ask of a guardian or conservator to ensure the welfare of the incapacitated person or to identify financial improprieties.

“It is a disservice to my colleagues and to the public if we don’t make this (training) really coordinated and uniform so we are ensuring everybody gets the same information,” she told the committee.

Full Article & Source:
2,300 guardianship cases were mislabeled, inquiry finds

Seniors and staff caught in the middle of nursing homes' quest for profit

by Ann Neumann

The cycle of buying and selling care homes has led to shortcuts, closures, even fraud – and imperiled vulnerable residents’ health

‘It seems like they had a plan to go in there for two or three years, bleed the nursing homes and then just bail out.’
‘It seems like they had a plan to go in there for two or three years, bleed the nursing homes and then just bail out.’ Illustration: Shonagh Rae/The Guardian
In the spring of 2018, Shelly Robinson came down with a case of the flu serious enough to send her to the emergency room. “The lady was like, ‘Your insurance is no good,’” she told me, “and I was like, ‘What do you mean my insurance is no good? They’ve been taking money out of my paycheck.’”

But Robinson, a certified nursing assistant at Lancaster Care and Rehab in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, operated by Skyline Healthcare, ended up having to pay the $3,500 out of pocket. She didn’t know at the time that her issue at the hospital would become the subject of a federal class-action lawsuit alleging fraud, theft and other illicit conduct by a multimillionaire in the business of flipping nursing homes for profit.

Robinson reported the problem to her union representative, Chris Sloat, who was fielding various complaints from Robinson’s colleagues and staffers at other Skyline facilities including a pregnant woman who found out she had no insurance right before giving birth. At a facility in Rosemont, the elevator went unrepaired for weeks so staff carried patients, food, supplies and trash up and down the stairs. For other staffers, dental bills began to pile up. Some couldn’t afford to stay at their jobs.
These kinds of things were happening in dozens of Skyline facilities all over the country. In 2015 New Jersey-based Skyline Healthcare LLC, owned by Joseph Schwartz, began gobbling up nursing homes, amassing enough facilities to provide them with an estimated several hundred million dollars a year of taxpayer money in the form of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Just two years later, they were managing at least 100, including the 120-bed facility Robinson worked at.
Then Skyline effectively disappeared overnight, leaving staff to wonder why food vendors were no longer being paid, why their paychecks were bouncing, why the lights weren’t on. Nine facilities in Pennsylvania were similarly abandoned, along with dozens more in other states including South Dakota, Kansas and Massachusetts. “They actually just left. We didn’t even know they were gone,” Robinson said.
On average, nursing home workers make $19,000 a year, and many rely on second jobs or food stamps to get by. “The thing that is still sad is these people are low-paid to begin with,” Sloat, an administrative organizer with SEIU Healthcare of Pennsylvania, the largest healthcare union in the state, said about staffers cheated out of pay and benefits by Skyline. “And now the debt that they have, people coming after them for bills, is just mind-blowing. And they don’t have the money. There’s still this residual effect from everything [Schwartz] has done.”
The collapsing of Skyline was a foreboding of disasters to come – a sign of how a cycle of buying and selling had opened the precarious industry up to fraudsters who could amass a string of facilities, suck the money out of them, and then run off, leaving residents and staff without much recourse. The case was an unheeded warning that the industry was insufficiently regulated and absolutely unprepared to withstand any new crisis that might come along.

But Covid-19 came anyway. On Easter weekend, the pandemic struck a remaining Skyline facility in New Jersey, as if to prove a point. An anonymous tip brought police to Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center where they discovered the bodies of 17 residents piled into the facility’s tiny four-person morgue. Local news reported that Louis Schwartz, the son of Joseph Schwartz and the vice-president of mergers and acquisitions for Skyline, was a 50% owner of the facility.

According to Skilled Nursing News, as of July, 2019 Skyline still retained an ownership stake in “more than 50 nursing homes”.

Flipping, or the buying and selling of nursing homes with the purpose of turning a quick profit, is exceedingly common. Once dominated by individual, family-owned non-profits, over the past few decades the industry has experienced the penetration of for-profit corporate ownership leading to an increase in facility sales and contributing to the overall uptick in closures across the US – more than 550 nursing homes (out of a total of 15,600) have closed since June 2015.
While that wave of closures has not affected Pennsylvania “just yet”, nursing homes in the state inhabit an “extremely volatile market”, according to Zach Schamberg, the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents the nursing home industry. There are a total of 700 facilities in the state. In just the past three years, there have been 100 nursing home sales, changes of ownership, or reorganizations, he told me, a rate that has doubled between 2007 and 2017.

According to industry advocates like Schamberg, the increased number of sales is due to the costs of care rising about 2.5% a year while Medicaid reimbursements do not. “So do the math,” Shamberg said. But patient advocates, who acknowledge the stagnation of reimbursement rates, strongly deny that increasing those rates alone will solve the industry’s problems. Rather, studies have shown, when Medicare and Medicaid rates increase, care quality often doesn’t.
In an already fraught industry embattled by a variety of problems – particularly those that directly affect residents’ care, like eviction of Medicaid patients, lack of regulation, chronic understaffing, and poor infection control – massive fraud cases are as shocking as they are common.
Philip Esformes, whose string of nursing homes stretched from Illinois to Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last September for paying doctors to refer patients to his facilities and for taking taxpayer money that he never applied to residents’ care. His indictment included money laundering, receiving healthcare kickbacks, bribery conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Esformes, who owned multiple homes and drove around Miami Beach in a Ferrari, amassed $1.3bn in Medicare and Medicaid money. The case reached court several years after reporting by dogged journalists at the Chicago Tribune, David Jackson and Mario Ariza. In a 2016 documentary about the case, Jackson states, “the scope of the schemes is staggering”.

HCR ManorCare, a national chain of facilities, collapsed after investment from private-equity firm the Carlyle Group. Within four years, ManorCare sold most of the buildings its facilities operated in for $6.1bn, funneling the profit to shareholders. ManorCare continued operation of the facilities but became strapped with monthly rent payments they couldn’t make. With $7.1bn in debt, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018.

The elusive multimillionaire Joseph Schwartz, owner of Skyline, has become, to thousands of elders, their families and their caregivers, the face of all that is wrong with the American nursing home industry.

When Schwartz abandoned dozens of facilities, starting in 2017, residents were left sitting in their own feces, unfed and unbathed. Whatever staff remained, like Shelly Robinson, were left to buy food for elders and to pay the facility’s utility bills. “Sometimes, as employees, we purchased snacks for our residents so they had snacks,” Robinson told me.

In some cases, state governments stepped in to care for the abandoned residents, overseeing operations until a buyer could be found for the facility. Families were shocked by not just the neglect but the blatant lack of communication about their loved ones’ status.

“It seems like they had a plan to go in there for two or three years, bleed the nursing homes and then just bail out,” Thomas Pasternack, the owner of Walsh Pharmacy in Fall River, Massachusetts, told after three Skyline facilities left him with $200,000 of unpaid bills.

When they left Lancaster Care and Rehabilitation, Skyline refused to pay staff for any of the time off they had accrued. “Skyline said they weren’t paying us for our sick time or vacation time,” Robinson told me. “It was actually our time that we accrued through working, but they said they weren’t going to pay us.” Pennsylvania does not require that staff and residents of a facility be notified of a change of ownership for the first 30 days. When staff are finally informed of the sale, they must scramble to negotiate livable salaries and benefits with the new owner. The incremental erosion of wages and benefits increases the precarity of staff and their families but it also jeopardizes the health of residents who suffer from short staffing and staff members who can hardly pay their own bills.

The Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the repercussions of mismanagement, fraud and the lack of regulations. The grim Easter Sunday discovery at Andover Subacute in New Jersey, the state’s largest licensed facility, was not the end of unnecessary deaths there. By mid-June, at least 70 residents and staff members had died in the facility, where nearly 550 residents lived.

Still, states all across the country, like New York, are moving to provide immunity from Covid-19 litigation to nursing homes. Last month, 250 patient advocacy organizations wrote a letter asking legislators to not provide immunity to the nation’s facilities. The letter states: “Essentially, the only mechanism available for a nursing home resident to hold facilities responsible for substandard care is judicial recourse. By removing this safety net, nursing homes will have little to no oversight.”

The industry’s volatility has not been easy for vulnerable residents and staff. “I’ve been working in that building for nine years,” Shelly Robinson told me. “Since I have been there it’s been bought and sold and bought and sold.” When she started, the facility was called Golden Living Care, but the Texas-based company sold the operations of 36 facilities, including Robinson’s, after a lawsuit in 2015, but they kept the real estate. That’s when Skyline became Robinson’s boss – and Golden Living’s tenant.

Robinson works the night shift there. Her teenagers have busy lives but her beloved dog, Prince Brixx, is waiting for her each morning when she gets home. These days she worries about Covid-19. But she loves her residents. “If I don’t show up and the next person don’t show up, then who takes care of them?” she said.

When I ask Robinson, a veteran of the industry – she’s worked in nursing facilities for more than 30 years and joined SEIU in 1993 – what needs to be done to correct course, she tells me: “Stop making money the bottom line and care for our elders. They are people and they have lives and families and you can’t just put a dollar sign on their head.”

Full Article & Source:
Seniors and staff caught in the middle of nursing homes' quest for profit

Judge quickly stops frequent ADA plaintiff from suing three local businesses


This story about an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit has a different ending than others you’ve read.

A former lawyer in Arizona, who was disbarred for filing thousands of groundless lawsuits, last month sued three mid-Peninsula hotels for supposedly violating the ADA.

But U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland was wise to Peter Strojnik and threw out his lawsuit a day against the local businesses after it was filed. And the judge did so on his own, without the defendants asking him.

The three hotels — The Nest, Four Seasons and Hilton Garden Inn — didn’t even have to hire lawyers to defend themselves.

Strojnik was trying to sue them over things such as not having marked passenger loading zones, or too steep of a slope in their parking lots. He only stayed at The Nest, and spent a brief amount of time at the other two hotels, according to the lawsuit.

Strojnik claims that The Nest at 3901 El Camino Real was not accessible to people with disabilities because of various problems he had while staying at the hotel on Feb. 10. Strojnik has a prosthetic knee, along with other “physical infirmities” that are not laid out in his suit.

Door lock was too high

Some of those complaints about The Nest included the door lock in his room being too high and problems with the water temperature in the room.

Strojnik filed his lawsuit on June 16, and the next day, Judge White threw it out.

Judge White in his ruling says that Strojnik must prove in his lawsuits that he was harmed by the ADA violations he alleges, or that a ruling in Strojnik’s favor would cause for good to happen.

Strojnik is known for filing lawsuits crafted to harass the defendants into settling and paying him up to $5,000 in attorney’s fees.

He filed more than 1,700 of such lawsuits in Arizona and got $1.2 million in fees before the state disbarred him in May 2019.

The state bar’s investigation also found that Strojnik would hire people through Craigslist to research businesses he wanted to sue. Strojnik would often spend less than a half-hour at the places he sued, or never visited them at all, according to a report from KTAR-FM, a news station in Phoenix.

California authorities keep an eye on ex-lawyer

As a result of Strojnik’s disbarment in Arizona, the California State Bar is watching his lawsuits closely, and in May filed its disciplinary charges against him.

However, the mid-Peninsula and California is no stranger to predatory ADA lawsuits. Scott Johnson has filed thousands of lawsuits throughout the state, about 44 a month. It was one of Johnson’s lawsuits that caused Jason’s Cafe on El Camino in Menlo Park to close in April 2019.

But in May 2019, a federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted Johnson on three counts of tax fraud. If convicted, he could face three years in prison on each of the counts.

Under the law, settlements in lawsuits are taxable unless they were paid for actual physical injury or sickness. But prosecutors contend Johnson underreported the taxable income he received from lawsuit settlements and awards on his income tax returns for tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014. In fact, in 2013, he didn’t pay any federal tax at all, prosecutors said.

Johnson’s case is pending and he is set to return to court in August 2021.

Full Article & Source:
Judge quickly stops frequent ADA plaintiff from suing three local businesses

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle may not stand trial in ward’s death until 2021, attorney says

Rebecca Fierle ignored reporters questions after she was released from the Marion County jail Tuesday. The former guardian is accused of abusing and neglecting a ward who died while in her care, 75-year-old Steven Stryker. (Monivette Cordeiro)
By Monivette Cordeiro

Rebecca Fierle, the former Orlando guardian accused of abusing and neglecting an incapacitated client whose death sparked a statewide scandal in Florida’s guardianship system, may not stand trial until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, her attorney said Tuesday.

And a lawsuit filed against Fierle by the family of her dead ward, Steven Stryker, will be delayed even longer after a judge granted her request to put the civil trial on hold until her criminal case is resolved. 

During a hearing Tuesday conducted by conference call, attorney Barry Postman argued Fierle would lose her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in the criminal case if she was forced to first defend herself against the same accusations in the civil trial.

The disgraced guardian is accused of aggravated abuse and neglect in the death of Stryker, a 75-year-old man who died at a Tampa hospital in 2019. Medical staff were unable to attempt to save Stryker’s life because Fierle had signed a “do not resuscitate” order against his wishes and the protests of his daughter, health-care surrogate and psychiatrist.

Despite Stryker stating “several times that he wanted to live,” Fierle signed the DNR order and opted to have his feeding tube capped May 9, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Stryker, who was using a feeding tube because he had difficulty swallowing, aspirated and went into cardiac arrest, the suit said.

He died May 13.

“If she testifies in a civil case, she’s going to be compelled to testify in a criminal case,” Postman said. “There is an absolute prejudice.”

But Robin Treto, the attorney representing Stryker’s family, said moving forward was important not only for his client but also for the “elderly and the vulnerable in our community to get justice and reform.”

In his ruling, Circuit Judge Kevin B. Weiss said it was an “undisputed fact” that both cases are based on the same circumstances. The order requires check-ins on the status of Fierle’s criminal case every six months starting in January. 

Weiss’ order does not apply to the other entities being sued — AdventHealth Orlando and Geriatric Management, Fierle’s business. Stryker was a patient at AdventHealth Orlando when the hospital petitioned a judge to declare him incapacitated and appoint Fierle his guardian.

Without telling the court, Fierle billed AdventHealth nearly $4 million over a decade for services she provided to 682 patients and sometimes double-billed her wards for the same services, according to an audit by the Orange County Comptroller’s office. 

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady suspended all in-person jury trials in March but, as of early July, courts are allowed to loosen those restrictions when local public health conditions improve — though no courts in Florida have met the criteria.

“It does not appear that there will be any — no one knows for sure — jury trials in the rest of this calendar year in criminal cases, at least,” said Warren Lindsey, Fierle’s attorney in her criminal case out of Hillsborough. “We expect the case to be resolved sometime in calendar year 2021.”

Fierle has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle may not stand trial in ward’s death until 2021, attorney says

See Also:
Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle asks judge to pause lawsuit by family of man who died under DNR

Marion deputies release video of arrest of former Florida guardian Rebecca Fierle

Attorney General Ashley Moody fires back at embattled former Florida guardian

Guardian at center of Florida scandal appeals judge’s ruling that she broke state rules by misusing DNRs

Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle charged Altamonte Springs facility $100K, illegally pocketed refunds, investigation finds

Florida Elder Affairs chief announces ‘immediate’ changes as embattled Orlando guardian Rebecca Fierle resigns from all cases

Florida professional guardian Rebecca Fierle: Devoted or dangerous? | Exclusive

Cremated remains of 9 people found at Orlando office of disgraced former guardian Rebecca Fierle

Expert’s complaint against Florida guardian Rebecca Fierle was ignored for years before scandal erupted | Exclusive

Orlando guardian accused of filing unauthorized ‘do not resuscitate’ orders resigns from Seminole cases

Watchdog: In Short Hearing, Fierle Given Guardianship Over Patient

Judge releases confidential information to authorities investigating former Orlando guardian Rebecca Fierle

Guardianship and Autism: A Crossroads in Life

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
By Susan Moffitt

Your ASD child is turning 18 and will technically be an adult. If you feel that your child will be incapable of making adult decisions on their own behalf, you can pursue a legal guardianship so that you will retain the rights to make those decisions for them. A guardianship ends or severely limits your child’s rights and freedoms. State laws require that less restrictive alternatives are explored before guardianship is ordered.

Autism Speaks’ website explains:
“Adult guardianship is a court proceeding to appoint an individual to make decisions about a person’s health, safety, support, care, and place of residence. The procedure for obtaining a guardianship varies from state-to-state, but generally the process is initiated by an interested party filing a Petition with the court that states probable cause as to why a guardianship is necessary. The proposed ward and other interested parties – such as the proposed ward’s spouse, children and relatives – will receive a copy of the Petition, and the court will appoint an independent evaluator to assess the ward and make a written recommendation about the ward’s capacity. A hearing is held after the completion of the evaluation where the court will make a determination regarding the necessity of a guardianship. The ward has a right to hire counsel to represent him or her or the court will provide counsel.”
Once a guardian is appointed, the court may limit or terminate the ward’s right to consent to medical treatment, establish a residence, change domicile or vote. A guardian of the person may exercise most of the ward’s personal rights with the exception of the right to vote. The guardian must make decisions that are always in the ward’s best interests, cooperate with the conservator, if any, and encourage the ward’s participation in personal decisions so he or she may become more independent and regain the ability to manage his or her own personal affairs. The guardian must also file an annual report with the court to advise of the ward’s personal status.

Guardianship rules vary a great deal from state to state. The length of the hearing process also varies. Some states take away almost all of a disabled person’s rights while others allow them to retain some of them. Florida, for example, has Guardianship Advocacy which is similar to Guardianship but doesn’t require a capacity hearing.

Most states have passed a law called the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA). Florida, Kansas, Texas and Michigan prove the exception. This law makes it easier for the state to transfer guardianship from one state to another if the person moves.

A Power of Attorney is an alternative to Guardianship that allows a disabled person to choose a person to make critical decisions concerning finances or health care for them. Unlike guardianships, Power of Attorney can be canceled at any time.

There is also the Representative or Protective Payee who is appointed to manage benefits such as Social Security.

Financial options also exist to assist your disabled child through life as well:

ABLE Account – If your child became disabled before they turned 26, an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account can be setup. An ABLE account allows for up to $15,000 per year to be deposited into a tax-free savings account without affecting eligibility for government awarded benefits. While it can be easy to setup, the account can’t hold more than $100,000 and there are other hidden pitfalls that should be carefully considered before selecting this as an option.

Special Needs Trusts – A Special Needs Trust also called a supplemental needs trust allows for your special needs child (before or after they turn 18) to receive gifts, an inheritance, or other funds to provide supplemental care, life-enhancing services and equipment beyond that what the government provides. The Trust directs the funds so that the funds are not considered to belong to your child when they apply for government programs, such as Medicaid and Social Security Income (SSI). The 3 main types of Special Needs Trusts include first-party special needs trust, third-party special needs trust, and pooled trust. For more information click here.

Life Insurance – If you don’t have funds to put into an ABLE Account or a Special Needs Trust, life insurance is an option to consider. If you do establish a Special Needs Trust for your child, the life insurance policy can be directed to payout to the Trust without being subject to estate taxes or probate. It is important to make sure you choose a life insurance plan that provides your child the same quality of care for the remainder of his or her life.

* * *

Guardianship is an emotionally charged issue that requires soul searching. Parents want what’s best for their adult ASD child. They want them to be protected, yet given space to grow and become more self sufficient.

But issues arise. The special needs individual may not want a guardian. An individual facing a guardianship petition has the right to an attorney and under some state laws, that attorney must advocate for their “best interests” as determined by a court-appointed guardian ad litem or GAL (A GAL is an individual appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child or incapacitated person involved in a case in superior court). If the client of the GAL disagrees, their legal representative is essentially fighting for them to lose their case.

ASAN or the Autistic Self Advocacy Network strongly believes it is wrong to “subject guardianship” upon a special needs individual. They believe everyone should have the ability to make their own decisions. They point out that neurotypical people rely upon the input and feedback of others when making decisions in their lives, and they should be able to as well. A movement called Supportive Decision-Making is gathering force across the nation.

It began in 2013 with a young woman with Down’s Syndrome named Jenny Hatch. Jenny was a high school graduate, worked at a thrift store she loved and volunteered in political campaigns. At her parents’ request, a court put her in temporary guardianship, placing her in a group home where they took away her cell phone and laptop and wouldn’t let her return to work or socialize with friends. Her parents filed for permanent guardianship, wanting her to remain in the group home that they felt was the safest environment for her.

After a year of litigation she won the right to make her own decisions through Supported Decision-Making, a process in which a team of allies help the disabled person to make key decisions about their life. She became a national and international hero for the rights of the disabled and speaks publicly of her experiences. A growing number of states now have Supported Decision-Making laws to give the disabled maximum freedom while retaining a network of support for them throughout their lives.

You can find the states that have Supported Decision-making laws at:

There’s a wealth of information to consider and assimilate as a parent facing the prospect of your ASD child becoming an adult. You’ll want to review the laws of your state, weigh your options and seek legal advice. Each ASD person has their own constellation of strengths and challenges and it is understood that every parent wants the best for their child. None of us has a crystal ball into the future, but if we did, we would want to see our adult child living their best life possible. In this spirit, we take the hard steps to blaze a trail forward for them.

Full Article & Source: 
Guardianship and Autism: A Crossroads in Life

Woman accused of bilking elderly couple she was hired to care for

by Lynn LaRowe
Patricia Ellen Richardson
TEXARKANA, Texas —A woman allegedly hired to care for a couple of elderly and disabled Texarkana women is accused of stealing more than $47,000 from them through fraudulent charges and unauthorized cash withdrawals.

Patricia Ellen Richardson, 48, was hired by a relative of the women in 2018 to perform housekeeping chores and provide rides to doctor appointments, according to a probable cause affidavit. Richardson's duties were later amended to include daytime caregiving.

The proceeds, $44,332.73, of the sale of an Atlanta, Texas, house were deposited into an account the alleged victims jointly held in March by a relative. Richardson was allegedly given a debit card to make necessary purchases at the grocery store and pharmacy and she was allowed to drive a Nissan Pathfinder owned by one of the women.

Richardson allegedly reported supposedly fraudulent charges as "daughter/granddaughter" of the women to Texarkana, Texas, police in May. Richardson allegedly claimed she didn't know who made purchases at businesses such as Target, Albertson's, Custom Car Care, Hobby Lobby, Harbor Freight, Family Dollar and online charges for games and gift cards.

Using video surveillance, investigators identified a suspect who reportedly told police she used the debit card with Richardson's permission. That suspect allegedly claimed Richardson allowed her to use the elderly women's debit card but that Richardson required her to "work the charges off" by performing the duties the elderly women's family was paying Richardson to perform.

"She said Richardson paid her $35 to $69 a day to clean and sit with the victims (11 hours a day) but said she was always 'working off charges.'"

The suspect denied making all of the fraudulent purchases and allegedly told investigators that Richardson was to blame. The family member who hired Richardson told investigators he was unaware that Richardson was having someone else stay with the elderly women.

Cash withdrawals were allegedly made by Richardson as well.

When confronted, Richardson allegedly claimed the debit card was stolen in March but allegedly admitted to knowing about some of the later purchases, making her claim about a stolen card appear dubious.

The woman who claimed Richardson gave her permission to use the debit card in exchange for sitting with the elderly women allegedly told investigators she met Richardson in prison. Richardson has a history of criminal convictions for theft.

In all, the allegedly fraudulent purchases and cash withdrawals total $47,703.22.

Richardson was arrested July 17 for exploitation of an elderly person. Richardson is currently being held in the Bowie County jail with bail set at $75,000.

Full Article & Source:
Woman accused of bilking elderly couple she was hired to care for

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

2020 Whistleblower Summit: Marti Oakley's Guardianship Panel Presentation

Note:  Because of COVID-19, Whistleblowers from across the country were unable to gather in person at the annual Whistleblower Summit in Washington DC.    However, rather than skip the year entirely, the Summit decided to go forward with the Summit online.
Marti Oakley's panel on guardianship abuse is always a highlight of the Whistleblower Summit.

Marti Oakley’s discussion panel consists of Coz Skaife, Marsha Joiner, and Mary Whitten.

The first half of the discussion gives an overview of guardianship abuse through real court records from Montgomery County, PA, including how victims are ensnared in the courthouse, the use of court appointed doctors to deem citizens incapacitated (whether they are or not), flimflam financial paperwork submitted by professional financial guardians, the ignoring of power of attorney paperwork, and the revoking of citizens trusts and handing them over to “professional” guardians.

The second half of the discussion covers hospice abuse, including how they profit, inappropriate drugs prescribed and their side effects, the alarming criteria for who qualifies for hospice, as well as useful books and internet sides for reference.

Click to sign up to watch Marti Oakley's Guardianship Panel Presentation --- it's free!

Hospice care company accused of pressuring employees to make in-person sales calls amid pandemic

Click to Watch Video
4:48 A proposed class action lawsuit against the nation's largest hospice care provider is raising questions about who exactly is considered "essential" during the pandemic. The suit claims sales employees at VITAS Healthcare were encouraged to make in-person sales calls to medical facilities, even with strict no-visitor policies. It also claims the sales employees were not an "essential" part of the company's services, and that they were encouraged to practice behavior that put lives at risk in search of boosting profits during the pandemic. Anna Werner reports. Air Date: Jul 28, 2020

Hospice care company accused of pressuring employees to make in-person sales calls amid pandemic

Federal charges filed for Waterloo woman accused of bilking elderly relative

Jul. 28--WATERLOO -- A Waterloo woman who ran a disabilities nonprofit now faces federal charges for allegedly bilking her husband's elderly aunt out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Iowa Northern District last week charged Kimberly Ann Henny, 52, with one count of wire fraud.

Henny ran a company named Healing Harvest Ministries, a religious-based charity that operated Special Needs Services and Perspectives Behavioral Health, which worked with people with disabilities.

Healing Harvest's clients collected benefits through the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise, and the charity relied on those Medicaid funds to keep its program going, according to court records.

Around 2013, Iowa Medicaid Enterprise ordered the charity to repay more than $200,000, records state. Henny agreed to pay back $169,775 with monthly payments of $14,408, but by March 2016 Henny and Healing Harvest were suspended from participating in the Medicaid program, records state.

As the financial troubles were building, Henny and her husband were tapped to help his elderly aunt, who lived in an assisted living facility in Waterloo and had amassed a $300,000 bank account and $280,000 in deferred annuities.

The aunt's son and daughter who lived out of state were given powers of attorney for her medical and other decisions, and Henny and her husband were successors if the children weren't able or willing to serve, records state.

The aunt's health began to suffer in 2015 following a fall that resulted in a serious head injury, and she was later diagnosed with dementia, records state.

Prosecutors allege that between 2014 and 2016, while the aunt was legally blind, had difficulty hearing and suffered from diminished cognitive abilities, Henny caused her to sign at least $358,258 in checks to Henny, her Special Needs Services and others.

Henny also allegedly revoked the powers of attorney without the knowledge of the children in 2015 and replaced them with ones that designated her and her husband for the victim's financial decisions, court records state. After that, she made $23,986 worth of purchases on the aunt's debit card and withdrew $4,915 in cash, records state.

Henny also prepared surrender forms to request the withdrawal of all the annuity funds -- $259,678 -- a move that cost $23,800 in lost interest, records state. She moved $250,000 into a new account under the aunt's name where Henny had sole power of attorney.

Investigators said the money was used to pay rent on Henny's home and buy furniture, and about $560,000 was given to family members, court records state.

Henny had been charged in state court in 2018 and was awaiting trial when the federal charges were filed.

Full Article & Source:
Federal charges filed for Waterloo woman accused of bilking elderly relative

Couple charged with elderly exploitation

The North Port Police Department is seeking other potential victims.

NORTH PORT — A Port Charlotte couple is facing charges of felony exploitation of the elderly, and the North Port Police Department is trying to find out if anyone else may have been victimized.

Rozana and Joaquin Venegas of Port Charlotte are charged with felony exploitation of the elderly for over $100,000, with possible additional charges forthcoming.

The victim, an 80-year-old North Port resident, had been cared for by the husband and wife, as most of his family lives on the east coast of Florida.

He is extremely hard of hearing which makes it difficult at times to communicate.

In January, the victim was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment of numerous sores on his body due to not being cared for properly.

His family had not been notified of this.

The family spoke with hospital employees, who explained that Rozana Venegas had completed an “Enhanced General Durable Power of Attorney” without contacting the victim’s family.

On the same day, nearly $250,000 was withdrawn from the elderly man’s bank account and put into the Venegases’ accounts.

Upon further investigation, there were additional checks made out to Rozana Venegas for things that were never purchased, such as hearing aids and upgrades for the house.

The couple later admitted the checks were used to help pay off their personal bills.

When the victim was interviewed about this, he stated he didn’t know what his caretakers were trying to say to him, so he just agreed, not knowing they were taking money from him.

North Port Police want to know if anyone else has worked with Rozana and Joaquin Venegas for caretaking services.

If you recognize the couple or have more information, call or email Detective Chris Clark at or 941-429-7349.

Full Article & Source:
Couple charged with elderly exploitation

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

COVID-19 may be deadlier for group-home residents

by Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky

Intellectually or developmentally disabled New Yorkers living in group homes may be more likely to contract and die of COVID-19 than those in the general population, according to a new study of more than 20,000 group-home residents1.

The study captures only a subset of New York’s group-home residents and doesn’t account for demographic differences, such as race and age, that may be driving the disparity. Like many coronavirus studies, it also likely excludes many asymptomatic individuals and those who were never tested.

“It’s imperfect data,” says co-investigator Margaret Turk, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. “And yet it is important information because whether or not you like the numbers, it does tell a story.”

Previous research suggests that intellectually or developmentally disabled people may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. According to an analysis of National Center for Health Statistics data in April, adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities are more likely than those without to die from pneumonia, a frequent complication of COVID-19. Another survey found higher rates of comorbidities linked to more severe COVID-19 cases, including respiratory diseases, among intellectually or developmentally disabled people2. It also found that intellectually or developmentally disabled individuals younger than 75 with COVID-19 are more likely to die than their nondisabled peers with the virus.

“There’s obviously something going on here that’s very different from the general population and very disconcerting,” says Scott Landes, associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University and co-investigator of the two studies, published in May and June in Disability and Health Journal.
Many intellectually or developmentally disabled adults live in congregate settings such as group homes and residential facilities, which feature shared common spaces, rotating staff and little room to isolate infected residents.

“They may not be able to practice physical distancing, they may not have access to appropriate PPE [personal protective equipment], and they may have the need for personal assistance,” says Coleen Boyle, adjunct professor at the Center for Leadership on Disability at Georgia State University in Atlanta, who was not involved with the research. “That really makes them vulnerable.”

Capturing cases:

To gauge the toll of the virus on intellectually and developmentally disabled group-home residents, Turk, Landes and their colleagues studied COVID-19 diagnosis and death data from New York Disability Advocates, a group of service providers that run group homes for intellectually and developmentally disabled New Yorkers. The researchers compared the proportions of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents of the participating homes — about half of all New York state group-home residents — with data on the general population from the New York State Department of Health.

They found a coronavirus case rate of 7,841 per 100,000 group-home residents — four times the rate for New York state overall. Of the group-home residents who tested positive for the virus, 15 percent died, compared with 8 percent of all New Yorkers with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. The team found a mortality rate of 1,175 per 100,000 group-home residents, which dwarfs the state’s COVID-19 mortality rate of 151 deaths per 100,000 people.
These differences were more pronounced for group-home residents in and around New York City, where COVID-19 hit hardest.

But it’s difficult to determine whether the group-home residents’ increased coronavirus risk is due to their living situation or their disability, says Lisa Croen, senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

“These two populations are really apples and oranges, so it’s very hard to compare,” says Croen, who was not involved in the research.

Residents at risk:

The findings are not surprising to advocates, group-home residents and administrators.

Because they live with housemates and work with staff they haven’t chosen, group-home residents aren’t able to protect themselves from the coronavirus as well as people living in their own homes or apartments can, says Zoe Gross, Director of Operations at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

“We were told to self-isolate, not congregate in large groups,” she says. “A lot of the people in these group homes have been denied the opportunity to do any of those things.”

When COVID-19 swept through a Long Island, New York, group home for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults, there was only one option for resident Teresa Lowther: The 52-year-old self-isolated in her bedroom for two weeks. But that did not keep her from contracting the virus. For her, it meant a week of fever and splitting headaches; other housemates dealt with more severe complications, including breathing problems. Staff helped as much as they could from a distance, she says, bringing in meals and doing residents’ laundry.

“That was nice, but it was a real pain being stuck in your room,” Lowther says.

At AABR, a New York disability services provider that operates 23 group homes, about 70 of the 165 residents have tested positive for the virus, says executive director Libby Traynor. A page on the services provider’s website commemorates the residents and staff who have died from the virus. Some had lived at AABR homes since the 1970s.

“It’s an empty bed, literally. An empty place at the table,” says Traynor of the losses. “It’s really like losing a family member.”

Turk and Landes say they’re planning further analyses of the New York Disability Advocates data, including a look at how age, race, pre-existing conditions and living arrangements may have affected residents’ experiences with the virus. They’re also calling on the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities to release COVID-19 case and death data for all the state’s group homes — information they say will be essential for planning for this fall and beyond.

“States, you’ve got to show your data,” Landes says. “We need to know what’s going on.”

  1. Landes S.D. et al. Disabil. Health J. Epub ahead of print (2020) PubMed
  2. Turk M.A. et al. Disabil. Health J. Epub ahead of print (2020) PubMed

Full Article & Source:
COVID-19 may be deadlier for group-home residents

State releases detailed Indiana nursing home COVID-19 data for the first time

Following pressure from AARP, state lawmakers, 13News and other media outlets, the Indiana State Department of Health has now released the information.

by Bob Segall

INDIANAPOLIS — For months, as nursing homes across Indiana struggled to control the spread of COVID-19, the real toll of the pandemic was kept secret. State leaders refused to release data showing the number of cases and deaths inside each facility.

Following pressure from AARP, state lawmakers, 13News and other media outlets, the Indiana State Department of Health has now released the information.

“Of the 756 facilities who we asked to submit data, 630 or 83 percent have done so,” said Dr. Daniel Rusyniak, chief medical officer for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “This is a mandate and as such they are required to do so or will face potential penalties.”

The data, submitted by long-term care facilities directly to the ISDH, confirmed which nursing homes across the state have been hit hardest by COVID-19. Several of those nursing homes are in central Indiana:
  • Greenwood Healthcare Center -192 COVID cases and 31 deaths
  • Wildwood Healthcare Center, Indianapolis - 173 COVID cases and 19 deaths
  • Greenwood Meadows - 113 COVID cases and 35 deaths
  • Bethany Pointe, Anderson – 83 COVID cases and 33 deaths
  • Harrison Terrace, Indianapolis – 71 COVID cases and 38 deaths

The state's newly released data not only reports cases among nursing home residents but also details the number of positive cases among staff members. Northwest Manor in Indianapolis, for example, reported 41 workers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Credit: WTHR
Northwest Manor in Indianapolis reported 41 workers who tested positive for COVID-19.
The overall data shows 5867 long-term care residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 1, and 1,390 of those residents died. That represents 53 percent of the state’s total deaths from the coronavirus. Nursing homes have reported 2,521 coronavirus infections and 12 total deaths among staff. ISDH has decided not to report actual numbers for facilities reporting five or fewer infections.

While the aggregate data is useful – statewide nursing home COVID-19 totals have reported weekly by ISDH for several months – it is the facility-specific data that health care advocates and families have been eager to see since the pandemic began. In addition to learning which nursing homes have reported a high numbers of cases (132 Indiana facilities report at least 10 residents who tested positive for COVID-19), families also want to know which nursing homes have no reported cases. According to the ISDH data, there are many of those, too.

“For families it's important because we have folks who are making very important decisions about where to put a loved one, and this will help inform them and help them make a better decision,” said Sara Waddle, who serves as the Indiana state director of AARP. “I know we would have preferred to have the info sooner, but we're glad that it's out there now.”

She believes the data will serve a crucial role in helping determine COVID-19 policy moving forward.

“This is a good thing that we are taking a deeper dive into this information and making sure we have the most accurate picture, and let's see what kind of story this tells us and what we can learn from it,” she said. “I hope the data is really looked at to see what we can learn in terms of what are facilities doing right and what can we learn from those, and it will be interesting to see if the outbreak in the nursing homes correlates with what’s going on in the bigger picture so we are able to tell if the nursing homes can be an indicator of what is happening in the community.”

The state health department said it will update the data weekly, and it plans to present the data in a more user-friendly format within the next three weeks. In the meantime, 13News has organized the nursing home information in a searchable database so it can be searched by specific nursing home.

Full Article & Source:
State releases detailed Indiana nursing home COVID-19 data for the first time

7 Ways to Curb Coronavirus Deaths at Nursing Homes

Start with changes to staffing policies, these experts say

Francisco Seco/Associated Press
by Deborah Schoch, AARP

En espaƱol | Nursing homes continue to be hot spots for COVID-19, especially as cases increase in the South and West.

Both residents and staff are at high risk for infection and death. Even now, 44 percent of all virus-caused deaths, or more than 56,000 deaths in all, have occurred in long-term care facilities, according to a July 13 report from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. And that doesn't account for four states — Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and South Dakota — that haven't reported nursing home deaths.

But a full-scale “second wave” could arrive as early as mid-September, a specter that is troubling to experts and advocates. They urge that steps be taken now to curb the number of future deaths, and in interviews they recommend seven staffing policies that they say could protect residents and staff.

"There are certain things that would cost more to do, but the real cost is loss of life for the failure to do things,” says Elaine Ryan, AARP vice president for state advocacy and strategy integration. AARP is urging Congress to require COVID-19 testing of staff and residents, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff and have enough staff to meet residents’ needs.

Several sources mentioned the story of a small assisted living facility in Bristol, Connecticut. In mid-March, Tyson Belanger, owner of Shady Oaks Assisted Living, brought 22 staff members to live on-site full time to prevent them from carrying in the virus as they went about their lives in the community between Hartford and Waterbury.

The last live-in staff members left after 70 days, and the home had no coronavirus cases, he said in a telephone interview. As of July 7, the facility continued to have no cases, according to a report from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

This won't work for most places — Belanger spent about $250,000 of his own money on payroll and supplies — but Belanger's experience shows how employees play a key role in the health of residents in long-term care. To date, 1,071 cases and 371 deaths have been reported among Connecticut assisted living residents; 8,850 cases and 2,755 deaths among the state's nursing home patients.

"Research shows the prevalence of COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities is correlated to the COVID-19 rate in the community, the size of the facility, and proximity to an urban area, but not staffing ratios or other quality metrics,” officials at the American Health Care Association, the largest nursing home trade group, wrote in response to staffing questions from AARP. “So the more a surrounding community has COVID-19 in the general population, especially in densely populated communities, the more it is likely to end up in a nursing home."

Here are seven practical changes that can protect staff members and improve their working conditions.

1. Increase pay

Workers should be paid more so they need to work only one job to make ends meet, say several experts, including Sal Rosselli, president of the California-based National Union of Healthcare Workers. The need to work at two or three places to equal full-time pay potentially spreads the virus.
Nonunion nursing home workers often make only minimum wage, and union workers $18 an hour, Rosselli says. Nursing assistants make a median wage of $12.84 an hour, one report found.

2. Start paying for sick leave

Many nursing homes do not give staffers a paid day off when they're sick. So ailing employees may feel financial pressure to work.

This year's Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain employers to provide workers with up to 80 hours of sick leave at their regular pay rate and up to 80 more hours at two-thirds pay related to COVID-19, allows “health care providers,” including nursing homes, to opt out. Also part of the law that exempts health care providers: up to 10 weeks of family and medical leave at two-thirds pay.

New York enacted a more expansive state law in March that includes health care workers. Colorado officials also adopted an emergency rule the same month that includes nursing home staffers. Those provisions are in addition to laws in 12 states and the District of Columbia that offer paid sick leave to many employee groups, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Although those recovering from COVID-19 are supposed to stay home until they're free of symptoms — no fever, no cough — for 72 hours, they may decide to return early when it's unclear whether they're still contagious. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., has proposed a bill requiring at least two weeks of paid sick leave for nursing home workers.

3. Improve staffing ratios

A federal law enacted in 1990 requires facilities to have a registered nurse working eight consecutive hours daily, and licensed nurses on hand 24 hours a day. Stricter rules are needed, Charlene Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, said via email.

She recommends at least one registered nurse on duty during the day for every 28 residents during the day shift, for every 30 residents in the evening and for 40 residents at night. And a June study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that among homes with at least one confirmed virus case, every 20-minute increase in registered nurse staffing was tied to 22 percent fewer confirmed cases.

4. Store more personal protective equipment (PPE)

Nursing homes need to keep more face shields, gloves, gowns and masks on hand, experts say. Union president Rosselli says he has received reports of workers using garbage bags to cover themselves in facilities lacking gowns.

"Without PPE, you lose the battle,” says Michael Wasserman, M.D., president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine. He thinks nursing home staff should be given N95 masks. “Here we are 31/2 months into it. Why aren't we ramped up?"

Some nursing home representatives fault the federal government for favoring hospitals over seniors in distributing equipment in the spring, and they fear a repeat is looming. News reports indicate that protective gear is again in short supply.

"Months into the crisis, it is pitiful that aging services providers are still scrounging for PPE,” Katie Smith Sloan, president of the trade group Leading Age, said in a statement that criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency for “scattershot delivery with varying amounts of ragtag supplies."

5. Test frequently

The methodology of nursing home testing can be hit-or-miss, with testing frequency varying among facilities. States have widely different approaches, with Arizona and Kentucky testing residents and staffs at all homes, while other states simply promote testing or provide guidelines, according to a June report from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Testing all residents and staff just once at all U.S. nursing homes would cost $440 million, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center of Assisted Living (AHCA/NCALO).

The group is praising CMS for its July 14 announcement that it will provide rapid testing devices for residents and staff in nursing homes in COVID-19 hot spots nationwide. However, such rapid tests can have a higher rate of false negatives than the more common, slower tests.

Ideally, residents and staff should be tested frequently. In-Detroit, repeated blanket testing of all staffers and residents — even those without symptoms — in 12 nursing homes found a drop in positive cases from 35 percent to 18 percent, according to a July 10 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

6. Hire an infection specialist

Such specialists in nursing homes are often registered nurses with additional training. Among their many tasks are making sure workers wash their hands and that rooms are kept clean.

Every home needs such a specialist on-site Richard Mollot, executive director of the New York City-based Long Term Care Community Coalition, wrote in an email. But federal officials have proposed weakening the mandate for such a position.

7. Improve staff training and certification

Many nursing home workers do not have the time or money to improve their skills. In New Jersey, a consultant's report endorsed by the governor's office calls for strengthening staff training rules and opportunities.

It urges seeking state and federal money to create a career development program for recruiting and training workers. In New Jersey, as of July 15, 6,754 residents and 119 employees at long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19.

"When we get through this, we need to have a national discussion about a lot of aspects of our public health care system and how we support providers and patients alike,” American Health Care Association officials said. “We suspect there will be many changes and lessons learned throughout the entire health care system, not just long-term care."

Full Article & Source:
7 Ways to Curb Coronavirus Deaths at Nursing Homes

Monday, July 27, 2020

Walt Disney Grandson Bradford Lund Files Complaint with California Judicial Council Against California Judge David J. Cowan Seeking Monetary Damages for Alleged Illegal Discrimination Under the U.S. Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts

The complaint filed by internationally-renowned law firm, Akin Gump, alleges Judge David Cowan made provably false assertions in open court about Lund having a mental disability - yet when presented with DNA test evidence proving the falsity of his claim, he refused counsel's request to take down the false assertion

"In California, even judges are not above the law," said Lund counsel Lanny J. Davis

News provided by
Lanny Davis
Jul 24, 2020, 12:00 ET

SAN FRANCISCO, July 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Bradford Lund, grandson of the late Walt Disney, today announced the filing of an anti-disabilities discrimination complaint against LA Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan and the entire LA Superior Court system. Lund filed the complaint under California law with the Chief Justice of California Supreme Court, who is also Chair of the state Judicial Council.

Under state law, such a complaint of disabilities discrimination by a sitting judge and a county Superior Court System must be forwarded to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") for investigation and determination. Dario J. Frommer, a partner at the international and renowned law firm Akin Gump, writes in the written complaint to the Chief Justice that if the DFEH finds that Judge Cowan and the Superior Court system engaged in such disabilities discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts, even based on a false perception, then that the judge and the court system should be found liable for monetary damages and other sanctions.

Lund's complaint, filed by Frommer on his behalf on July 7 with the California Judicial Council, specifically quotes Judge Cowan's false comments from the bench, in open court, that Lund "may" have Down Syndrome. It was in part based upon that utterly false and discriminatory statement and other baseless findings made by Judge Cowan regarding Lund's lack of mental capacity, that Cowan appointed a "guardian ad litem" – a temporary new lawyer for the probate court proceeding – denying Brad's request for a trial and due process. That resulted, Frommer alleged, in discriminatory action based on a false perception of a disability. 

During a June 25, 2019 hearing transcript (p.19, ll. 10-13), Judge Cowan stated from the bench, in open court, without a trial or any evidence:

"Do I want to give 200 million dollars, effectively, to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down Syndrome? The answer is no." 

According to the June transcript of the court hearing, Lund's attorney, Sandra Slaton, demanded a public retraction, reminding Judge Cowan that a DNA test precluded the possibility that Lund had Down Syndrome. "It's been proven not true, and even the [trustees] don't allege that anymore," Slaton said. When again asked to withdraw his false statement in light of the dispositive DNA evidence, Judge Cowan responded with one word: "Denied." (June 25, 2019 transcript, p. 21, l. 4).

"Judge Cowan's [false] comment [from the bench] and actions appear to be based on nothing other than pure animus for Mr. Lund on the basis of a perceived disability," Akin Gump's Frommer, former majority leader of the California State Assembly, wrote to the Hon. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California and Chair of the Judicial Council, based in San Francisco, California. "Judge Cowan was also aware that the Arizona courts had determined that Mr. Lund is competent. Yet, Judge Cowan disregarded this evidence and let his implicit biases lead him to unlawfully strip Mr. Lund of his civil rights and his right to control his own affairs."

Last March, Lund brought a case in U.S. federal court, central district of California, alleging violations of his constitutional rights to due process after Judge Cowan, based on this and other false conclusions that Lund lacked sufficient mental capacity, denied Lund's request for a hearing and due process of law.

"Brad Lund will continue to fight against unjust disabilities discrimination with the Chief Justice and in federal court and prove to the federal court that his due process rights were violated," said Lanny J. Davis, a former White House Special Counsel and co-counsel in the Lund U.S. Civil Rights Act case filed against Judge Cowan and the LA County Superior Court system in federal court last March.

"Mr. Lund recognizes that far too many victims of discrimination, including discrimination based on a false perception, often do not have the resources to file their own cases," Dario Frommer said. "And Mr. Lund is fighting on their behalf as well."

"Mr. Lund believes that not even judges are above laws prohibiting discrimination or can violate the U.S. Constitution, and he is right," Davis added.

Contact: Alex Lange
(202) 480-4309

SOURCE Lanny Davis

Full Article & Source:
Walt Disney Grandson Bradford Lund Files Complaint with California Judicial Council Against California Judge David J. Cowan Seeking Monetary Damages for Alleged Illegal Discrimination Under the U.S. Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts

See Also:
Lanny Davis, Attorney to Bradford Lund, Grandson of Walt Disney, Joins Arizona Litigation Against Lund's Former Attorney, Jeffrey Shumway Who Is Alleged To Have Charged Lund Over One Million Dollars Only To Secretly Betray Him

Bradford Lund, Walt Disney's Grandson Wants To Have His Day In Court, After California Supreme Court Denies His Petition To Review

Walt Disney’s Grandson Faces Harsh Roadblock In Fight for His $200 Million Inheritance