Saturday, November 14, 2020

Nursing home with history of alleged neglect catches attention of state lawmakers

By: Chris Nakamoto

Click to Watch Video

NEW ROADS - Cases of neglect at a nursing home in the heart of New Roads caused state lawmakers to meet with the families of residents there Monday.

Andre Monceret pulled his mother out of the home last week after documenting repeated incidents of problems. Monceret said his mother who has dementia was not properly cared for. He said he has evidence of the following: his mom sitting in a soiled diaper for more than six hours, fingernails filled with grime, toenails that have not been trimmed in months, and teeth that have not been brushed for weeks.

"I pulled her out of this home the other day, her fingernails were nasty like she was digging in the dirt with grime and feces," Monceret said.

He said his mom has always been well kept and to see her like that was beyond devastating.

His frustration caught the attention of parish leaders who have helped facilitate meetings with state lawmakers.

"From a change perspective, being in the legislature formally, I've invited our legislators that represent this area to sit with some of the families and learn what standards are in place but what are opportunities to change some things," Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut said.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit found the facility has a history of problems. According to inspection reports available for public viewing, Pointe Coupee Healthcare was cited 13 times over the past three years. The facility was fined in August 2019, $36,000 for failing to timely report suspected abuse and neglect. In 2018, the home was also cited for violating federal standards protecting residents from the spread of infections.

In May there were multiple deaths reported and skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19.

Thibaut said with the recent cases of neglect and the lack of family members being able to routinely check in on their loved ones, he reached out to the facility which promised that changes were coming.

"We're going to make changes and are investigating when that was and when it took place. And we will put procedures in place to make sure we stay current on everything," Thibaut recalled the administrators telling him.

We reached out to Pointe Coupee Healthcare for a comment on this story. A public relations firm out of New Orleans released the following statement:

“We are grateful to the family members of the residents involved for bringing these issues to light. We share your concerns and are conducting an internal investigation to determine what occurred and how it can be addressed.

Rest assured that we will work diligently to correct these issues and determine the best path forward. 

Our top priority is making sure that our residents are receiving the treatment and care they deserve. This includes a customized care plan for each resident, protocol for communicating any issues to families and education for our staff on how to properly maintain residents’ hygiene. 

While we are constantly working to ensure that all of these policies are enforced, we encourage residents and resident families to reach out to us with any issues they might have so they can be researched and handled properly.”

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Wife sues for daily access to care for sick husband at nursing home

By Priscilla DeGregory and Bernadette Hogan

Marcella Goheen
A Manhattan woman is demanding to visit her disabled husband in a nursing home — despite coronavirus restrictions, new court papers show.

Robert “Bobby” Viteri has been at Manhattan facility Isabella Geriatric Center for four years as he has a rare neurological degenerative disorder called leukodystrophy that prevents him from eating, talking or even moving on his own.

And prior to the coronavirus pandemic, wife Marcella Goheen had visited Viteri for 4–7 hours every day to take care of him and help with therapies to slow his degeneration, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit from Monday.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, Goheen hasn’t been allowed to resume these activities and has only been allowed to make video calls, have window visits or outdoor visits from 6 feet apart, the suit says.

“Every day I’m on the video chat and I say to him ‘Bobby I’m going to get in soon.’ He starts crying,” said Goheen — who’s been a vocal activist pushing for nursing home visitations during the pandemic.

“The traumatization of the separation is very real,” Goheen told The Post.

Marcella Goheen and her husband Robert.
The 66-year-old man actually contracted and recovered from coronavirus in May, the court papers say.

Meanwhile, Goheen has been getting tested twice a week for the virus and has never tested positive for it.

Viteri’s “wife poses no threat of COVID-19 to him or to anyone else in defendants’ facility,” the court papers claim.

“In the absence of this wife, no other person has provided the kind of essential care and attention to his disabilities which his wife has and can,” the suit continues.

Doctors have even explained to the facility how important Goheen’s visits are “in attempting to mitigate the impact of his neuro-motor disease,” the court documents say.

Because of the isolation caused by the lack of contact with Goheen, Viteri has become depressed, despondent and has lost weight, the suit says.

“My husband is deteriorating and that’s unacceptable,” Goheen said.

Viteri’s lawyer Michael Sussman told The Post that the facility has “shut her out even though they know she is of critical importance to his well being.”

“It’s really a tragic situation,” Sussman said.

The suit, filed in Viteri’s name, is seeking an order allowing Goheen to visit daily. Viteri is also seeking unspecified damages from the home.

“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” said Isabella Geriatric Center spokesperson Audrey Waters said.

Coronavirus has led to upwards of 6,500 deaths tied to the virus in both nursing homes and adult care facilities.

Families have sought reentry into the homes to visits loved ones for the past several months.

Federal and state guidance allow for limited visitation based on strict safety protocols.

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Disability Doesn’t Need to Be Seen to Be Real

by LaVonne Roberts
On a cold evening in 2018, a truck rear-ended me while I was driving on a small country freeway in upstate New York. I tell people the impact was so hard, it shattered the car’s glass and broke not only the axle but my back. Overnight, diagnosed with herniated and bulging discs, I joined the largest minority in America—people with disabilities.

Since my accident, I’ve fought not to be angry or afraid. I’m not alone. About 36 million women in the U.S. have a disability. According to a survey conducted by the American College, women are most at risk financially and physically when it comes to disability. An invisible disability, as defined by the Invisible Disabilities Association, refers to “symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences, and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.”

Some people’s disabilities are apparent. Others, like me, whose impairment isn’t always apparent, feel invisible. When I’m not using a cane or bed-ridden, you might not recognize that I’m disabled. On a good day, I present able-bodied. Yet, excruciating back spasms often make it impossible for me to stand or walk for long stretches and sometimes they put me out of commission altogether. So, in a black-and-white world of disabled or not, what’s not seen is marginalized. Since my accident, I’ve had three MRIs, four epidurals, numerous steroid injections, and radiofrequency ablation. I’ve had physical therapy and chiropractic care because I want to avoid opioid drug therapy and back surgery for as long as possible.

Given that our current system distrusts people applying for disability, many disabled people with non-apparent disabilities feel penalized and stigmatized. There seems to be a chasm of misunderstanding when it comes to human discussions of pain. Over 100 million Americans grapple with chronic pain alone. Fibromyalgia is now understood to be the most common cause of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Sources estimate between 3 and 26 million Americans suffer from this hidden condition. People with non-evident medical challenges may be viewed as circumspect or ridiculed for antisocial behavior.

Women often have a hard time being heard, especially when they present illness complaints that defy objective modalities. Historically, women experiencing health challenges had their pain contested, minimized, and dismissed. A 2001 study from the University of Maryland explored why men are more likely than women to be given medication when they report pain to their doctors. That’s how pervasive stigma is—pushing women to internalize their suffering. Worse yet, a 2016 study published in the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings reported that Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans. Caroline Criado-Perez, author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, says there’s a data gap when it comes to women. “The specific issues that affect Black women are lost in larger groups like ‘Black people.’ Part of the problem with the male default is that women are viewed as a minority; they think we’re all the same and just throw us into one big category.”

“It’s the invisible nature of an illness that people don’t understand,” Wayne Connell says. He founded the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) in 1996 after his wife was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis and late-stage chronic Lyme disease. He was frustrated by the outside perception that she didn’t have a real disability.

“It’s startling,” Wayne said. “Our primary demographic at IDA—chronically ill women between the ages of 35 and 55—feel like orphans. Disregarded, isolated, and often abandoned by their partners, families, friends, and society at large—most of them who spent their adult lives raising children, excelling in their careers, and supporting their partners—are now all alone.”

What became surprising to me was that managing my pain was as hard as finding a doctor to develop a treatment plan that didn’t entail taking addictive opioids. I felt I wasn’t taken seriously when my back wasn’t spasming or when I didn’t need a cane. I kept thinking, What part of my describing what it feels like to have an ice pick stabbing my lower back didn’t register?

Social pressure to appear nondisabled permeates our culture. People with chronic illnesses are encouraged to “work through” their pain, so transparency remains elusive. One of the worst problems living with chronic pain is feeling like you’re living in a stranger’s unreliable and unpredictable body. You can’t plan ahead, which often results in isolation and resentment.

Curious whether other people felt like me, I posted a question on Facebook: “Do you have a health condition that makes you feel invisible? Eighty comments popped up within the hour. Fibromyalgia, MS, autism, diabetes, and a plethora of mental illnesses populated my feed. Many commenters felt discriminated against by a society that minimizes their suffering. People who didn’t know each other began posting supportive comments on each other’s posts. A community was born.

Sawyer, a former college classmate suffering from chronic pain, wrote, “Over the years, I would go to doctors, but it was expensive, and they never believed me, so I would usually give up and suffer through. It wasn’t until a female doctor saw me that anyone took me seriously.”

After endless searching, I found a pain-management specialist who thoughtfully considers my questions and approaches my treatment as a partnership. Wanting to make sure I understood all my options, my doctor sent me to a top spine surgeon, who informed me that an invasive procedure’s risks might not be worth the potential benefits based on my case. What if surgery didn’t alleviate my pain, caused nerve damage, or worse, paralysis?

Today, 30 years after the landmark passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and many other disability rights, many still ask: How much do we accommodate society by constraining ourselves, rather than asking society to see us? So many have it much worse than me, but this isn’t a competition—it’s about trying to live our best life possible.

In searching for supportive communities, I discovered that many were inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Carol Sveilich, M.A., frustrated by her own chronic illness’s challenges, wrote JUST FINE: Unmasking Concealed Chronic Illness and Pain because no instruction book existed to guide people living with easily concealed but often challenging illnesses and conditions. “Even after years of living with an invisible chronic disability, the person who looks healthy, even to themselves, may not want to be perceived as weak or sickly and then begins to doubt or belittle their own legitimate illness or pain,” she said.

How we see ourselves and how others perceive us is very closely linked. People with chronic health challenges often try to hide their symptoms from those around them, but they also hide the reality of their illness from themselves. Non-visible disabilities are a double-edged sword. I’ve been yelled at when sitting in a seat reserved for disabled people, and I’ve remained silent when meeting someone new.

In a TED Talk, author and clinical psychologist Andrew Solomon said that identity politics works on two fronts: “to give pride to people who have a given condition or characteristic and to cause the outside world to treat such people more gently and more kindly.” He added that “identity politics should expand our idea of what it is to be human.” I think most of us with hidden disabilities want to forge our pain into a narrative of triumph. Yet, the stigma of being “lesser than” is debilitating.

When asked what to do when your disability is challenged or misunderstood, Bruce Darling, the CEO of the Center for Disability Rights (CDR), advises the people he represents to find a way to manage their frustration when dealing with people and not to internalize their disability. Find someone who can support you and learn as much as you can about your disability,” he says. “Information not only allows you to give a better explanation to people who need to be educated, but it also gives you tools to develop your own accommodations that you’re entitled to by law.”

Perhaps, leading a more transparent life begins with finding community because inclusion leads to representation, which drives change. Handicapped by stigma and chronic illness, this group remains silent all too often, rather than asking for the help and support that they need and have a right to expect. Finding others suffering from similar conditions allows us to feel less alone and know that our conditions are valid.

In response to my Facebook post, Sawyer, one of my old college classmates, said, “When someone asks, what does it feel like to have pain like that?” It allows me control over a situation and body I often feel I have no control over. Describing it makes me feel seen like I’m making the invisible thing real for the people around me too.”

Stigma is harmful on many levels, including exacerbating symptoms, creating barriers to success in relationships and vocation, and impacting one’s identity and self-worth. It’s essential to change the way we talk and think about invisible disabilities. Patients, providers, and policymakers need to come together to examine biases.

I don’t know what my future holds—surgery, therapies, or a lifetime of pain. However, I’ve learned the best response to my impairment was educating myself so that I could find the right doctor. I’ve also come to understand that silence is what weakens us. After a Facebook friend wrote, “Thanks for creating a platform to speak on silent disabilities. My hearing loss is the ultimate silence,” I realized how important it is to have community.

For women who live with an impairment that makes them feel less than in a society that values nondisabled—the stakes are much higher. During his advocacy for CDR, Darling has observed that women are disproportionately impacted because men tend to be the policymakers.” Which, to me, sounds like a battle cry. Now it’s time to make some noise.

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Friday, November 13, 2020

Autism resulted in his rights being stripped away. He just won them back

By Carli Teproff

At 22 years-old, Tyler Borjas had a job, a bank account but he couldn’t legally vote, buy a house or even make travel plans. That’s because a Miami-Dade court deemed Borjas, who has autism, “incapacitated,” and placed him under guardianship. By Pedro Portal

Tyler Borjas will now be able to vote, buy a house or travel when he wants.

That’s because a judge agreed Tuesday that Borjas, 25, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, is capable of making his own decisions.

“Is was amazing,” Borjas said Tuesday of the virtual hearing. “It’s all about me getting my rights back.”

On Tuesday, a judge terminated guardianship — which essentially stripped Borjas of his rights by deeming him incapacitated — and allowed him to use a less restrictive alternative known as Supported Decision Making. He is believed to be only the second person in the state to get guardianship terminated through this manner.

Supported Decision Making allows adults with disabilities to make important decisions with assistance. In his case, his mother, Kelly Bain-Borjas, and two sisters, Hayley and Jade, will be his support team.

In August, Viviana Bonilla López, an attorney working with Disability Rights Florida, an advocacy group, turned to the court to ask a judge to give Borjas his rights back.

“We are so excited for Tyler’s big win,” she said. “This case is so important in demonstrating that Supported Decision Making is a viable alternative to guardianship,” she said Tuesday.

Borjas’ mom said a few years ago she was forced to put her son in guardianship, the result of a personal injury lawsuit filed on his behalf. She said she always encouraged her son to be independent and the guardianship did the exact opposite. In fact, when he was placed under guardianship, he had a job, his own bank account and got around by himself using Uber and Metrorail.

Borjas said now that he has his rights back he wants to get a driver’s license, get married, travel and buy a house.

Bonilla López, an Equal Justice Works Fellow working with Disability Rights Florida, took on Borjas’ case as part of her project sponsored by the Florida Bar Foundation, which is focused on expanding the use of Supported Decision Making as an alternative to guardianship.

She is now on a mission to educate people about Supported Decision Making as a substitute for guardianship. She is even working on legislation that could require Supported Decision Making to be considered.

“We plan to continue to bring cases like Tyler’s to the courts,” Bonilla López said. “We are hoping Tyler’s will be the first of many like this — not only in Miami-Dade, but in Florida.”

d more here:

Read more here:
Full Article & Source:

See Also:
Autism, Florida, Guardianship, NASGA, National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, reclaiming rights, Supported Decision Making

Hernando Woman Credits Long-Term Rare Reopening With Saving Mother's Life

By Cait McVey
Kelly Dunn said she and her mother, Dorothy Whiting, are very close. Which is why she noticed right away something seemed off when she visited the 76-year-old at her assisted living facility.

A Hernando County woman is expressing gratitude after a visit to her mother’s assisted living facility revealed a potentially deadly medical condition just in time.

Kelly Dunn said she and her mother, Dorothy Whiting, are very close.  Which is why she noticed right away something seemed off when she visited the 76-year-old at her assisted living facility.

Dunn said Whiting is normally a social butterfly and very chatty.  She even has a column in the facility’s weekly newsletter and is full of light hearted jokes.

Dunn said her mother stayed positive throughout the lockdown and even after being hospitalized for COVID-19.  After about a month, Whiting was cleared to return to her facility.

But weeks later Dunn said noticed something was still wrong.

“Something in my gut told me there was no more waiting,” Dunn said.  “I couldn’t sleep the night before and there was no way I was going to sleep that night leaving her like that.”

Dunn called 911 and her mother was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with lactic acidosis.  Dunn said the doctors blame the medication Whiting was on to counter the side effects of steroids used to treat COVID-19.

“They said that she wouldn’t have made it through the night,” Dunn said. “They said she would’ve been in a coma shortly.”

Now Whiting is in recovering in rehab.  Dunn said she wanted to share her story, not out of anger or frustration, but because she is thankful she was allowed in to visit her mother.

Dunn said devoted family members can pick up on things staff might miss and advocate for their loved ones.

“I thank our governor. I know it was a tough decision for him and not everyone was for it,” Dunn said.  “But thank goodness he made those changes.” ​

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on the latest long-term care visitation order last month.  Families still receiving pushback from a facility are asked to contact AHCA and file a complaint.

Full Article & Source:

See 23-Year-Old Help Scared Elderly Man Down Escalator

See 23-Year-Old Help Scared Elderly Man Down Escalator

Boy helps elderly man cross the street during hailstorm in act of kindness

Boy helps elderly man cross the street during hailstorm in act of kindness

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Jackson County long-term care facility reports 54 cases, 1 fatality after birthday party

by Megan Willgoos

Click to Watch Video
Jackson County Public Health (JCPH) has reported an ongoing investigation at long-term care facility Avamere Three Fountains after a 54 COVID-19 case outbreak and one fatality on Nov. 9.

Jackson County Health Officer Dr. Jim Shames said the outbreak can be traced back to one or multiple large gatherings, including a birthday party. The investigation started on Nov. 3 and involves 8 staff members and 46 residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

"We had a multi-generational birthday party. A great time was had by all and I am sure they were happy to hug each other," Shames said. "And then, some people went off to work in a daycare center - they had an outbreak. Some people went off to work in a nursing home - they had an outbreak. That's how this happens." 

Avamere is one of the nine long-term care facilities in Jackson County that has played a significant role in the increase of COVID-19 outbreaks. The nine facilities have three or more staff and/or residents that have tested positive for COVID-19. JCPH said the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age especially for people in their 60s or 70s like most in long-term care facilities.

"These are fragile people, they have chronic underlying diseases, they're older, they don't have the same immune protection by in large as younger individuals," Dr. Shames said. "When there is a case in a nursing home residence, things can happen very quickly, which is exactly what we're seeing."

JCPH said Avamere has been a collaborative partner with them, along with the other eight facilities. Shames said they have been testing everyone twice a week for COVID as well as wearing masks, gowns, gloves and social distancing.

"There's certainly a lot of diligence and the issue is really what's happening at the community at large," Shames said. "I mean, I can't stress enough that when people sort of fragrantly don't follow the guidelines, this is what happens."

Shames said the COVID-19 case outbreak is an issue larger than in just long term care facilities. Jackson County reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Nov. 9 bringing the total reported COVID-19 cases in the county to 2,382. JCPH said they are seeing a trend statewide due to social gatherings of various sizes, which is increasing case counts. 

"It's a community responsibility issue and I think what we're seeing at this nursing home (Avamere) as well as other nursing homes, is kind of the consequences of that," Shames said.

Shames said if people want to see students back in school buildings, they must start following COVID-19 guidelines.

"You've got to take the restrictions more seriously. People are tired of the separation and the masks and I get that," Shames said. "But, sometimes you have to do things you don't really want to do in order to get the things that you really want."

Full Article & Source:

Nursing Home Patients Saved From Covid-19 Are Dying of Loneliness

By Peter Coy

Five-star nursing homes have lower death rates from Covid-19 but higher death rates from other causes, apparently because some patients who are isolated for their own good are dying from loneliness, says a study by two economists from the University of Notre Dame.

“These homes exposed their residents to severe isolation in an attempt to prevent infection, subsequently leading to premature death by other causes,” says the study, a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper (PDF) by Christopher J. Cronin and William N. Evans. 

In parts of the country where the rate of Covid-19 infection in the community is low, five-star nursing homes “have significantly more deaths than their low-quality counterparts,” the study says.

“No way around it—these numbers are incredibly sad,” Cronin says in a video presentation of the paper on the NBER website.

The excess deaths from causes other than Covid-19 are concentrated in places where the rate of infection in the community is low. It’s possible that in places where the community infection rate is high, “the most fragile patients” die of Covid-19 before loneliness and despair can take them away, the authors write.

One hopeful sign for lonely, isolated nursing home residents is that in September the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services changed their guidance to permit more visitors. In fact, if a facility has had no COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks and the local infection rate isn’t high, a nursing home “must” facilitate visits, the government says. Its memo (PDF) is blunt:

While CMS guidance has focused on protecting nursing home residents from COVID-19, we recognize that physical separation from family and other loved ones has taken a physical and emotional toll on residents. Residents may feel socially isolated, leading to increased risk for depression, anxiety, and other expressions of distress. Residents living with cognitive impairment or other disabilities may find visitor restrictions and other ongoing changes related to COVID-19 confusing or upsetting. CMS understands that nursing home residents derive value from the physical, emotional, and spiritual support they receive through visitation from family and friends.

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Family of elder abuse survivor warns of financial exploitation during the pandemic

By: Mallory Sofastaii

BALTIMORE — Families wanting to protect elderly relatives have kept their distance during the pandemic, but a Maryland man is urging everyone to regularly check-up on older and vulnerable adults.

Daniel Ferebee’s mom, Lottie Jones, lived 200 miles away in Virginia Beach.

He called her frequently, and she had her other son, whom she lived with, however, Ferebee started to worry.

“I had been asking my oldest brother to get her to a hospital, or doctor, or some kind of medical facility because mom had a traumatic head injury,” said Ferebee. “I kept asking repeatedly, and I kept getting excuses so I said I’m going down, I’m going down unannounced.”

Ferebee wasn’t there long when the phone rang. It was the bank calling because her credit card hadn’t been paid in almost 90 days.

“I was like wait a minute that can’t be right because my brother is taking care of that and she said, ‘No, it’s been almost 90 days and it’s x amount of dollars.’ And I said, ‘Well, can you look at the card and let me know what types of transactions are on there?’ And none of it had anything to do with the household, like utilities or groceries or anything like that,” Ferebee said.

He then began digging into her other account statements.

“As I started going through the list, it was hundreds and then it started being thousands of dollars that were taken out over time and I was like woah,” said Ferebee.

He moved Jones to his home in Waldorf, Md. while he assessed the damage. Then another financial blow. After having her mail forwarded, more bills started to arrive.

“A loan agency that my brother had actually taken a loan out in my mom’s name and had fraudulently signed her name on that,” said Ferebee. “And then I started thinking if this was done without us being aware, because my sister and I are in another state, what other transactions are there that I don’t know about?”

Ferebee said the only thing worse than his mom losing her financial independence has been the deterioration of her emotional and mental state.

“Her heart is so broken and she is so shattered that I don’t even know where she’s finding the strength to keep going,” said Ferebee.

Ferebee confronted his brother.

"In one of his replies when I asked the basic how, why, how could you blah blah, he said, 'Well, I’m trying to get the money to pay mom back,'" said Ferebee.

He also filed a police report. WMAR-2 News reached out to the Norfolk Police Department and is waiting for their response.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, perpetrators are often family members, or people who are close to and trusted by the victim. And abuse may go unreported because the person relies on their abuser for everyday functioning or they’re afraid or ashamed.

Ferebee reached out to WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii wanting to share his mom's story because now especially, when the pandemic has kept families from being together in-person, he says it's critical to stay in constant contact with those who are elderly or vulnerable.

“Check on their finances, check on their health, even if you can’t physically go into their property, go outside the property. If you have a cellphone, call them from outside so you can hear their voice, you can know they’re doing alright,” said Ferebee.

Even though Ferebee has reached out to the banks to report fraud and identity theft, he's had a challenging time recovering his mom's money. He’s set up a GoFundMe page to try and get her back on her feet. If you’d like to contribute, click here.

What to do if you suspect elder abuse
Project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) created a guide for anyone who suspects financial exploitation. 

You're also encouraged to contact the Maryland Attorney General Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6575 or You may also contact Maryland Adult Protective Services if you suspect abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation of adults who are unable to protect their own interests and are at risk of immediate harm to their own person or to others.

Click here for more on the types of elder abuse, warning signs, and how to report abuse from the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Full Article & Source:

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Please Thank a Veteran Today and Remember Them Every Day


The Unforgivable Truth

Imagine our soldiers on the front lines during the "great wars."  Think about their spouses at home worrying and working hard to keep the family fed and clothed until the war was over and life would return to "normal" again.

How could they have imagined - those on foreign soil and those left behind on American soil - that when they would become old, their country would not fight for them as they had sacrificed and fought for their country?  How could they image their country would not love them when they aged and could no longer serve?

Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation is increasing.  It must stop and we must stop it.  

Join The EARN Project and Join NASGA

The Unforgivable Truth from The EARN Project on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Coronavirus-laden nursing home loses federal Medicare funding

By Kayla Rivas

A Kansas nursing home has lost its federal Medicare funding after an investigation revealed faulty practices led to widespread coronavirus infection and 10 deaths.

An onsite investigation at Andbe Home, Inc. in Norton, Kansas, revealed noncompliance with federal requirements for long-term care facilities, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) documents obtained by Fox News. 

The survey investigation by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services cited “widespread immediate jeopardy” to resident health and safety, according to the documents. The facility was also slammed with a $14,860 federal civil money penalty while it worked to correct noncompliance back in May.

A Kansas nursing home has lost its federal Medicare funding after a state investigation revealed faulty practices led to widespread coronavirus infection and 10 deaths. 

A Kansas nursing home has lost its federal Medicare funding after a state investigation revealed faulty practices led to widespread coronavirus infection and 10 deaths.  (iStock)

tephen Crystal, director of the Center for Health Services Research at the Rutgers Institute for Health, told Fox News that the move marks CMS’ “ultimate penalty; decertifying a facility.”

“Most of the time, they try very hard do other things before they go to that step [like civil monetary penalties],” he said, adding “CMS actually doesn’t do this very often, and one could argue that they haven't moved quickly enough on other facilities that had out of control spread,” referencing New Jersey and New York as examples.

In the case of the Kansas facility, staff identified two symptomatic patients on Oct. 5 and confirmed positive test results two days later but failed to separate them from the rest of the residents.

“During this time, COVID-19 positive residents cohorted with COVID-19 negative residents, with only a curtain between them, against [Centers for Disease and Prevention Control] guidelines and best practice to prevent the spread of highly contagious COVID-19,” said the documents obtained by Fox News. The facility also allowed communal dining for two days after they discovered the symptomatic patients.

These failures, among others described in the report, ultimately exposed all 61 residents to the virus, every single one testing positive, which led to one hospitalization and 10 deaths. By Oct. 19, 37 staff members tested positive.

Crystal wasn’t privy to all the details but upon a brief account said, "It sounds pretty egregious.” 

The facility’s administrator, Megan Mapes, received a notice of a 23-day involuntary termination of the Medicare provider agreement: “We have determined that Andbe Home, Inc. no longer meets the requirements for participation as a skilled nursing facility in the Medicare program under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act.”

These failures, among others described in the report, ultimately exposed all 61 residents to the virus. 

These failures, among others described in the report, ultimately exposed all 61 residents to the virus.  (iStock)

The termination will go into effect Nov. 18, 2020.

CMS informed Mapes that the Medicare program won’t pay for covered services to patients admitted to the facility on or after Oct. 27, 2020. Medicare will cover patients admitted before that date for up to 30 days “to ensure residents are successfully relocated.”

The facility was also notified that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services would assign management to Mission Health Communities to temporarily manage staff, funds and facility procedures, among other tasks, which went into effect Oct. 28.

If the facility decides to re-enter the Medicare program, it has to assure its capabilities to comply with certification, due to the “serious nature and circumstances of the involuntary termination.”

Further review of the documents revealed the facility actually had a detailed plan for potential coronavirus infection, but failed to follow it.

“My sense is that too much has been left up to the operators. The states need to go in, CMS needs to go in,” Crystal said.

Peter Pitts, former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner and president and co-founder of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, said to Fox News: “At best, it’s an oversight in recognizing where sources need to be directed. At worst, it’s negligence.” 

While nursing homes operate on different sources of revenue, federal funding is clearly a large one, Pitts explained.

“Any facility that loses federal funding is going to be seriously impacted on the care that it can provide," Pitts said. 

“The issue is that federal funding hasn’t trickled down to support staff in nursing facilities and senior centers more broadly,” Pitts said. “When you don’t properly compensate aides, versus physicians and nurses and pharmacists, it’s not surprising that that’s where the problems begin to arise.

"Hopefully these types of things can be corrected before they result in massive wildfire of COVID-19 infection in senior centers, as we had in New York early in the pandemic...Shame on us if we wait for people to die before we address the problem."

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Lee County District Attorney arrested, charged with ethics violation, perjury, conspiracy

In this Dec. 2, 2019, file photo, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes speaks at a press conference. /

by Alex Hosey
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes turned himself in to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Sunday on multiple charges including using office as personal gain, one count of conspiracy and one count of first-degree perjury.

“He was booked into the Lee County Jail at approximately 5 p.m. this evening,” Sheriff Jay Jones said Sunday. “He posted bond and was released.”

Jones said the indictments were issued by the state attorney general’s office, and Hughes turned himself in to the Lee County Detention Facility before being released on a $31,000 bond.

“It’s not [the Lee County Sheriff’s Office] case,” Jones said. “They sent us the indictment as a result of a grand jury that met at some point in the recent past.”

Hughes, who was elected as district attorney in 2016, self-reported a possible ethics violation to the Alabama Ethics Commission earlier this year, though it is unknown if the recent charges are related.

Hughes told the Opelika-Auburn News he will release a statement regarding the charges on Monday.

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For seniors in some care centers, loosened Covid-19 rules mean actual hugs and a respite from isolation

By Rosa Flores and Denise Royal

Click to Watch Video

Miami (CNN)Victoria Cerrone remembers the moment her parents tried to kiss through the glass window of a memory care center in South Florida.

"That broke my heart," Cerrone said.
It was three months into the Covid-19 pandemic, and senior care centers were closed to visitors.
Standing inside, beyond the pane of glass, her 85-year-old father, Vittorio Cerrone, wore two or three layers of clothing because he felt cold. His hands were shaking from the effects of his new dementia medication, his daughter remembered. And his eyes peered through the glass with sadness.
Cerrone's 82-year-old mother, Elisabeth Cerrone, had walked between some hedges and was standing as close as she could to the window that separated her from the love of her life. The temperature that day, her daughter recalled, was 95 degrees. A painful silence filled the humid air.
Elisabeth Cerrone waits outside her husband's memory care facility for a chance to visit through a window.
"I think my mom was just happy to see him and be able to get her eyes on him," Cerrone said.
Millions of families across the country have experienced unfathomable pain from the forced separation from their elderly loved ones due to Covid-19 lockdowns at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care centers. Some families, desperate to connect, made posters and signs and displayed them outside nursing home windows.
More than six months into the pandemic, a handful of states still don't allow visitors. Most states, including Florida, however, have recently eased restrictions to allow limited visitations.
The rule change has made for heartwarming reunions, like the one between Mark Lebenthal and his 89-year-old stepmother, Arlene Lebenthal, at Grand Villa of Delray Beach West in Palm Beach County, Florida. 
The visitation rules are strict. Lebenthal had to make an appointment, pass a health screening with a temperature check and dress in full personal protection equipment, or PPE -- all before a staff member escorted him to Arlene's room. 
"I love you," Mark said as he hugged her for the first time in months. "You look great."
Mark Lebenthal visits with his stepmother, Arlene Lebenthal, in person for the first time in months.
Arlene was sitting in her wheelchair watching TV when Mark walked in. A smile filled her face. Her silver hair was freshly styled, her make-up was done and she fashioned red reading glasses.
"Give me a kiss," Arlene said as she grabbed Mark's face with one hand and kissed his cheek over his face shield. She shared that while she had played bingo and participated in other activities, not being allowed to have visitors had been "tough."
The conversation quickly turned to Mark's father, Michael Lebenthal, who died in April. His dying wish was that his son find Arlene a comfortable senior living facility, Mark said.
"Make sure she is not alone," Mark remembered his father telling him before passing away. At the time, Arlene was hospitalized, recovering from a severe back injury. She never got to say goodbye to her husband of 45 years. Mark knew she couldn't go back home. 
"It was horrible. For a while I didn't feel anything. I felt pain but couldn't feel any emotion," Arlene said.
"He loved you," Mark said.
Until that face-to-face visit with Arlene, the Covid-19 pandemic had made it impossible for Mark to personally confirm that he had delivered on his promise. Senior care facilities in Florida shut their doors to visitors in March. 
"It's been challenging," said Sophia Rich, executive director of Grand Villa of Delray Beach West. "Everyone knows that Florida was hit hard by the pandemic." 
In Florida, more than 5,500 staff members or residents of long-term care facilities have died since the pandemic began, according to the Florida Department of Health. Nationwide, confirmed Covid-19 cases in nursing home residents has surpassed 231,000, federal data show. Of those, more than 55,800 have died.
In July and August, on average, "more than one nursing home resident was infected every minute, and 11 residents died every hour," a US Senate report released this month found. And despite calls for help from communities across the country, some nursing homes still lacked adequate testing capacity and suffered staff and PPE shortages, the report found.
"It's a real tragedy," said Dionne Polite, AARP's director for state operations for Florida. "We are not supposed to treat our older adults the way that they are being treated right now."
Victoria Cerrone had to wait six months to visit her father, Vittorio Cerrone, inside a memory care facility. This photo captures the lasting memory.
For Victoria Cerrone, the window visits with her father eventually grew too painful, she said. As she stood there, beyond the hedges, she began to see how the image of the successful businessman and world traveler that she remembered was fading away. He was losing weight, becoming agitated, depressed and confused.
"The lack of being able to reassure my father was the hardest thing to go through," Cerrone said. "And he definitely declined as a result of that."
FaceTime visits were also too confusing. "Dementia patients can't understand FaceTime. They need touch. They have to have human touch," Cerrone said.
Desperate to help her father, Cerrone contacted politicians at the local, state and federal levels to advocate for visitations so she and her mother could visit Vittorio in person.
With every month that passed, the heartbreak intensified. Vittorio and Elisabeth Cerrone didn't get to celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary, Father's Day and his birthday.
It would take six months for Florida to ease the visitation rules.
"I gave him a giant hug. I didn't let him go," Cerrone recalled of their in-person reunion. "I just told him I loved him."
Vittorio Cerrone closed his eyes, his daughter remembered, and cried in silence.
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Monday, November 9, 2020

Suspended Lincoln attorney gets probation for financially exploiting vulnerable woman

A Lincoln attorney whose law license was suspended after her arrest on allegations that she financially exploited a woman with developmental disabilities for whom she was a court-appointed guardian has been sentenced to five years of probation.

Christine Vanderford, 48, also was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and serve 90 days in county jail starting May 10, unless it's later waived by the court.

Christine Vanderford
Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte found her guilty of abuse of a vulnerable adult and not guilty of felony theft at a bench trial this summer.

At a hearing Wednesday afternoon, her attorney, Bob Creager, argued for a new trial, saying there were unresolved issues at trial, including whether a trust could be a victim or qualify as a "vulnerable adult," as the state had alleged in the case, and whether Vanderford had criminal intent. 

"This is a strange statute. You exploit someone by exploiting them," Creager said.

He argued that when Vanderford wrote checks from the trust to herself, paying herself for the work she was doing for the woman, the conduct wasn't wrongful or unauthorized. She contended that the woman's father had OK'd it. 

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jeremy Lavene pointed out that the woman's father denied it at trial.

"She was wrongfully taking money for her own benefit and not the benefit of (the victim)," he said. "Clearly there's intent here."

Lavene said Vanderford was having financial difficulties and paid herself more than $60,000 between 2014 and 2016 to keep her law firm afloat when she got behind on payments and maxed out her line of credit. 

The Lincoln police investigation started with a tip from Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in June 2017 alleging that Vanderford, who had been appointed by the court to serve as a 33-year-old woman’s guardian, had been writing herself checks on a trust set up for the woman's benefit.

Creager said Vanderford was doing what she was asked to do, including taking the woman to medical appointments and helping her with the things her mother did for her before she died.

In the end, the judge gave her probation. 

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Coronavirus infections rising in New Jersey nursing homes: report

By Kayla Rivas
Coronavirus infections among nursing home residents are ticking higher in New Jersey as the second wave has taken effect, per a report.

State health records show cases at the Dellridge Health & Rehabilitation Center in North Jersey spiked from two infections in October to seven this week, a local outlet,, reported. 

The incidence of cases among nursing homes in the Garden State represent just one example of the scene across the country, with one virus-laden nursing home in Kansas even recently losing its federal Medicare funding.

Coronavirus infections among nursing home residents are ticking higher in New Jersey as the second wave has taken effect, per a report. (iStock)
Coronavirus infections among nursing home residents are ticking higher in New Jersey as the second wave has taken effect, per a report. (iStock)

In late September, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told Gov. Phil Murphy the state was well-positioned for the colder months ahead given its low baseline of community spread. Figures from the state health department show new daily cases have gradually been on the rise since then, but are nowhere near the surge seen in April when nearly 4,400 cases were reported on several occasions. 

By Nov. 2, the state had a positivity rate of 6%, which is just above the World Health Organization's threshold of a 5% positivity rate for two weeks as a guide for reopening.

The outlet reported that facilities in northern New Jersey counties are reporting some of the largest spikes in cases statewide, citing state records. As of Thursday, there were reportedly ongoing outbreaks across 191 nursing facilities, which is a jump from 156 on Oct. 19.

“We remain hyper-vigilant in our efforts to eradicate COVID-19,” said Family of Care, the health system owning Dellridge, per the outlet. “We have increased our staff testing to twice weekly based on the county positivity rate. We are in daily contact with our Local and State Departments of Health.”

However, there was a mistake: Dellridge officials were reportedly removing case numbers off of totals as residents recovered, though a state spokeswoman reportedly said the facility would correct the issue. So far, New Jersey has reported a total of 249,380 coronavirus cases and 14,616 related deaths.

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Van Nuys Man Gets 2 Years for Sexually Assaulting Incapacitated Young Woman on International Flight

VAN NUYS, CA– A 43-year-old Van Nuys, California, man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in prison for two federal felonies for his sexual assault of a young woman on a flight from London to Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  BABAK REZAPOUR was convicted on January 22, 2020, of abusive sexual contact in a special aircraft jurisdiction and abusive sexual contact with an incapacitated victim.  The jury deliberated about two and a half hours following a five-day jury trial.  At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said the crime was “an evil act…. An awful, horrible,  nightmare situation.”

“This defendant not only assaulted this young woman on the plane, his history shows escalating assaults on women even before this incident,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.  “I commend this brave victim who has endured the pain of describing this crime to first responders, investigators, and ultimately to the jury.”

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, REZAPOUR sexually assaulted the 20-year-old victim while she was incapacitated from medication and alcohol on a Norwegian Air flight from London to Seattle on January 10, 2018.  The victim had taken prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medication and drank a glass of wine.  The victim then accepted a second glass of wine purchased for her by REZAPOUR.  After drinking the second glass, the victim became unusually sleepy.  She awoke to find REZAPOUR sexually assaulting her.  REZAPOUR used his jacket to shield the activity from other passengers.  The victim fled to the back of the plane and reported the assault to flight attendants.

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Sunday, November 8, 2020

LaFayette Nursing home employee charged with aggravated sodomy after sexual assaulting patient

LaFayette Police Chief says three more residents of the PruittHealth Shepherd Hills facility have come forward with reports of sexual assault against Henrii Hosue Reynoso. The Police Chief also expects more employees of the Shepherd Hills facility to face charges for failure to report elderly abuse as required by law. Chief Clift says state investigators were inside the nursing home interviewing residents Friday. LaFayette Police Detectives say Reynoso is in the country legally as a DACA recipient, but is not a US citizen. Detectives also said that Reynoso was not certified to be working as a CNA inside the facility. Due to an exemption issued by the state of Georgia and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to keep nursing homes from becoming understaffed during COVID-19, Reynoso was able to work in a CNA position when the sexual assault occurred. According a LaFayette Police Department incident report, a Detective Owens interviewed Peggy Bohannon the head sure and Stacy Jackson a social worker after the alleged assault. According to the report Bohannon who was the head nurse the night of the incident was notified by a CNA of the assault, and that Bohannon advised social worker Stacy Jackson about it. Detective Owens reported, "Mrs. Bohannon stated that she moved Mr. Reynoso to the north wing to work so he would not be around the victim and advised me that she and Mr. Jackson had agreed that they would go speak with the victim a later time when it wasn't so busy." "Mrs. Bohannon stated that she never went and spoke to the victim and never reported the incident her supervisors or law enforcement authorities." Bohannon she was off a few days and was reminded of the incident when she returned to work on October 20th, when the victim questioned her about it. Even then no law enforcement officials weren't contacted. Bohannon and Jackson were each charged with Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a Disabled Adult or Elder Person.

Previous press release:

On October 20th, The LaFayette Police Department was notified of a reported sexual assault that occurred between an employee and a patient at Pruitt Health Care Shepherd Hills located at 800 Patterson Road LaFayette Georgia.

The LaFayette Police Department conducted an investigation, and it was discovered that the patient reported the sexual assault to staff of Pruitt Health Care Shepherd Hills on October 16th. The staff of Pruitt Health Care Shepherd Hills failed to report the Incident to Law Enforcement as required by O.C.G.A 30-5-8. The Incident was reported to Law Enforcement by a concerned family member of the victim on the evening of October 20th. As a result of the investigation, Henrii Hosue Reynoso was charged with Aggravated Sodomy and is currently wanted on this charge. The investigation also led to charges being filed against Stacy Jackson and Peggy Bohannon, employees of Pruitt Health Care Shepherd Hills, for Failure to Report Abuse of Elder Person.

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Tucker Carlson - High Dementia Death Toll This Summer Amid Lock-down - 9-17-20


Federal agents search nursing home with many virus deaths

Federal agents search nursing home with many virus deaths (WJAC)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Federal agents searched a nursing home near Pittsburgh that had the worst coronavirus outbreak of any in Pennsylvania and was already being investigated by the state on suspicion of criminal neglect.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a written statement that agents were at the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County, as well as at the Mount Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Allegheny County. 

Meanwhile, Temple University announced Thursday that the majority of classes will shift online through the end of the fall semester amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases among students.

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