Bill Donohue and Deborah Woolard share the story of their choice to not seek guardianship for their son, Jeremy Woolard Donahue, who has Down Syndrome.Source:
Rethinking Guardianship: Bill and Deborah
Bill Donohue and Deborah Woolard share the story of their choice to not seek guardianship for their son, Jeremy Woolard Donahue, who has Down Syndrome.Source:
South Florida pastor accused of scamming elderly man, others faces judge
By Coleen Heild
The process of taking away someone’s liberties in New Mexico, at least temporarily, sometimes has been as simple as alleging they weren’t capable of making their own decisions and were in danger or being exploited.
A temporary guardian could be appointed by a judge without the alleged incapacitated person or their family being notified; they could be forced out of their homes, their bank accounts transferred and their property liquidated. And all this could occur before they ever appear before the judge, who would eventually evaluate the evidence and decide if, in fact, they needed a guardian.
State Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, is seeking to establish specialty probate courts in Iowa.Jacobsen, an attorney, vice president and senior trust officer, told The Center Square in a phone interview Tuesday that if the bill, House File 2268, passes, the Iowa Supreme Court would create two more probate courts in the state: one in an eastern county and one in a western county.
Qualified full-time associate probate judges would be dedicated to hearing trust law and probate law cases. That area of law, which most judges don’t have much experience in, has “a steep learning curve,” Jacobsen said.
Iowa would be among the first states in the Midwest to adopt specialty probate courts, he said.
Jacobsen said Iowa’s courts that singularly hear certain types of law have provided quicker, more accurate decisions.
“It brings in judges with a real degree of expertise having worked in these fields for so long who really understand the law both as it’s been codified and in common law to render some really excellent decisions that are best for Iowans,” he said.
Full Article and Source:
Jacobsen Calls for the Creation of Specialty Probate Courts in Iowa
by Patti Weaver
13Investigates reviewed state and federal documents which showed Homestead Healthcare Center received multiple citations and several fines before the latest incident.
On Feb. 2, 80-year-old Patricia Newnum was found dead in her room. Police arrested 60-year-old Dwayne Freeman. On Wednesday, he entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
The group sent a statement, which said, “We take the allegations very seriously. The health and safety of our residents is of utmost concern to us and we are cooperating fully with investigators. Given that this is an active investigation, it is our policy not to comment further at this time.”
State documents show Homestead Healthcare Center is owned by Adams County Memorial Hospital. New leadership was put in place in the last six months. A new administrator and director of nursing were put in place in the fall.
Medicare.org shows the center received one out of five stars for its overall nursing home rating. Its quality measures rating was average, with three stars. It also received one star and was deemed “much below average” in the health inspections and staffing categories.
The federal site also shows the nursing home received 25 health citations recently. Compare that to the national average, which is 8.1 citations. The average for Indiana is 9.3 citations.
Homestead Healthcare Center racked up $117,334 in federal fines in 2021. One report showed a patient died after a catheter wasn’t properly monitored.
Turnover for staff was higher than national and state averages. It was the worst for registered nurses with 91.7% turnover.
13Investigates is still researching and trying to determine if the
facility could be held negligent in connection to the rape and murder.
When I turned 43, my mother forgot my birthday for the first time.
The moment I had dreaded for years, ever since she was diagnosed with dementia four years earlier, had somehow caught me by surprise. Her decline had been so gradual ― so imperceptible that even the battery of exams performed by her psychologist barely registered a change year to year ― that I thought I’d be able to hold onto her somehow.
Then, suddenly, I lost her. Or, perhaps more accurately, she lost me.
Normally, a few days before my birthday, she’d send a card ― always something funny, never anything sappy ― that she’d signed from my father and herself. Then, on my actual birthday, she’d call shortly before 6 in the evening and tell me: “Right about now, on this day in 1970, a beautiful boy was born ― just in time for dinner.” I was a very large baby: 10 pounds, 8 ounces, exactly the kind of baby who’d show up just before dinnertime.
On my 43rd birthday, the card and the call never came. The stories about my birth that she repeated every year went untold. I was starting to fade from her mind.
I should have remembered who loses whom when it comes to dementia. As a teenager, I watched my paternal grandmother’s long decline from Alzheimer’s disease. The woman who once made sure to keep orange Tic Tacs ― my favorite ― in her pockets when she came to spend a few days with us began to look at me with confusion and, eventually, complete blankness; there were no more treats bought just for her grandson.
Instead of candy, she started keeping a slip of paper in her pocket to remind her of her grandchildren’s names. It seemed insignificant at the time, but looking back now, I realize what that note indicated: that my grandmother lost all of us years before we lost her.
My mother ― whose broadly diagnosed dementia was now quite clearly Alzheimer’s disease ― was now following a similar path, where people and timelines were starting to blur.
A few months after my 43rd birthday, as we stood in her kitchen, she asked me when I was going to finish high school. I wasn’t sure if she was slipping back in time to the 1980s ― the last time I lived in that house, when I was in high school ― or if she was confusing me with her youngest grandson, who was indeed about to graduate. Perhaps in her mind, I was both me, then, and him, now. Or neither.
The increasingly confusing conversation got cut short a few minutes later when it was time to go see a movie. Before we walked out the front door, she asked, “What are we going to do with the baby?”
“What baby?” I asked.
“Our baby,” she clarified. She had now realized I wasn’t a teenager, but a middle-aged man with a gray beard ― and she now thought I was my father, who is 30 years my senior, and we’d slipped back to the 1970s.
“I’m your baby,” I said.
She narrowed her eyes and looked at me sideways, as if she was trying to figure out if this was some kind of joke ― and if so, what the punchline was.
In the words of the Alzheimer’s Association website: “Alzheimer’s gradually takes away the person you know and love.” That’s true. It took away the woman I used to speak with on my way to work every morning. It took away the person who always supported me emotionally, and was interested in hearing about my life ― my job, my husband, my travels. It took away the person who made me laugh more than anyone else I’ve ever known.
But it took me away from her, too, and I wasn’t prepared for how that would make me feel. When she couldn’t remember what she’d eaten for dinner the previous night, I knew that it didn’t ultimately matter. When she forgot the trip we’d taken together the previous year, it was disappointing, but not devastating. When she forgot where I’d worked for the past 10 years, or lived for the past 20, it was frustrating ― but it didn’t shake me to the core. But eventually, the clock would rewind far enough to remove me from her mind completely.
Her memory didn’t disappear in a consistent and irrevocable reverse-chronological manner. It retreated like waves at low tide. It would recede, and then return, but not quite to the same point it had been before. And again, and again, each time pulling out farther and coming back just a little less.
People and timelines go hand in hand, since each provides context for the other. As my mother’s long-term memory ebbed, receding ever further into the past, she began to forget the people involved in now-forgotten events that had happened in more recent years. She held on to me for years after her diagnosis, but eventually the tide pulled back too far ― before 1970, before I was born. And I vanished.
Finally, she moved into a group home for people with dementia. When I visit now, much of her has already disappeared, but if I look closely, really concentrate on her face, I can still see glimpses of her old self in a gesture, an expression.
increasingly rare occasions, she mutters a word or two and I recognize
her voice. She is fading, ever fainter, but I haven’t completely lost
her. But the harder truth is evident in her eyes, when they scan past me
without recognition: I’m the one, it turns out, who’s gone.
Today, he's fighting for other people with disabilities to have the same opportunity, and is winning awards and inspiring others along the way.
Michael was put into the guardianship system when he aged out of foster care. While he has a developmental disability, he is hardly incapacitated. He knew when a judge told him that he lost all of his rights, that it was wrong.
A guardian put him in a group home in Port St. Lucie and closely monitored him -- taking away his ability to use the internet, have a phone, or use his own money freely.
But Michael was able to hatch a plan: he convinced his guardian that he needed money to buy a book, and instead bought a cheap cell phone. He hid in his closet and called Disability Rights Florida, an advocacy group that got him a new lawyer and a new court evaluation.
A judge ended the guardianship and instead recommended Supported Decision Making -- meaning a team of trusted adults are in Michael's life to help him make certain decisions.
Today, he is living an independent, free, and full life with a new girlfriend, apartment on his own, and promotion at work as a security site supervisor.
He also has a busy calendar as an advocate, serving on a statewide task force to reform Florida's guardianship system.
He also works with a coalition called "I Decide Florida," which lobbies for Supported Decision Making bills.
"Every person with a disability deserves to live their own life," he said.
This year, State Representative Allison Tant introduced a bill that would require judges to consider Supported Decision Making first for people with developmental disabilities, before resorting to a restrictive guardianship.
When the bill had its first hearing in Tallahassee, Michael's name came up a lot -- held up as an example for what SDM is all about.
"Supported Decision Making has made a huge difference in Michael's life and I'm sure that with favorable votes today it will move through committees and better lives will be had," said Rep. Dana Trabulsy, who represents Michael's community in Port St. Lucie.
While he continues to reach out to lawmakers and advocates to fight for guardianship reform, Michael is getting statewide recognition, recently winning the Idelio Valdes Leadership Advocacy Award from the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council.
award] goes to a person who really advocates and puts their boots to the
ground to make sure people are being treated fairly and right," he
said. "It shows how much I can actually grow and accomplish things. And
it shows how other people with disabilities can also do the same thing."
by David McAfee
Allen R. Stout was accused of behaving inappropriately in a deposition and hearing towards the wife of a man he represented in a marital dissolution case. He was separately accused of using a deposition to threaten to expose intimate photos of a woman who was seeking a protective order to prevent alleged harassment by another of Stout’s clients.
As to Stout’s behavior toward the husband of the woman he represented, a hearing officer found that the conduct was unprofessional but didn’t violate any rules.
But related to the photos, the hearing officer concluded Stout violated Indiana Professional Conduct rules by knowingly making a false statement of material fact in the the course of representing a client, engaging in dishonest conduct, and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed those findings on Thursday, saying it found “sufficient support” for the hearing officer’s conclusions. The court also accepted the hearing officer’s recommendation for a 90-day suspension.
Court documents don’t list counsel for Stout. Representatives for Stout’s law firm didn’t immediately return Bloomberg Law’s request for comments on Friday.
The case is In re Stout, Ind., No. 20S-DI-719, 2/3/22.
A Las Vegas woman was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison Friday in the death of a 74-year-old man she shoved out the door of a bus in 2019.
Last month, Cadesha Bishop, 28, pleaded guilty to abuse of an older vulnerable person resulting in substantial bodily harm or death. She had originally been charged with murder, FOX 5 of Las Vegas reported.
"I’m sorry for my behavior," Bishop told the judge Friday while complaining about her portrayal in the media.
"I’m sorry for the way that I was portrayed in my lowest and weakest moment of my life," she said. "The way that I’ve been portrayed, it’s just not fair for somebody who’s never been in trouble before."
Authorities say Bishop pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off a public bus on March 21, 2019, causing him to hit his head on the sidewalk about eight feet from the door. Before she pushed him, Fournier had reportedly asked Bishop to be "nice to the passengers." Witnesses said she had been swearing and yelling at other riders, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
She pushed him with both hands "with enough force that he never touched any of the steps," an arrest report said, according to FOX 5. He died a month later.
Bishop had posted $100,000 bail on the murder
charge but had it revoked last July when she was charged with grand
larceny of a vehicle, embezzlement and theft for allegedly failing to
return a rental car, according to the Review-Journal.
The charges will be dismissed as part of her plea deal in the Fournier case, the newspaper reported.
Earlier this year, the Guardianship Improvement Task Force issued its final report, and recommendations to the legislature for reform.
Citing some of the CBS12 News I-Team's stories about guardianship abuse, the task force recommended several measures to increase transparency and accountability in the system.
Their top priority is establishing a statewide database to track guardianship cases. Right now, there is no way to know how many guardians are in the state of Florida, and no way to track how many wards and assets they are managing.
State Representative Linda Chaney, R-St. Petersburg, took that recommendation and filed a bill this session to establish a state guardianship database.
"It's past time that we get this statewide database and I think this is one of those things that sounds so obvious, that people think how can this be?" Rep. Chaney told CBS12 News.
Last month, a house committee held a first hearing for the database bill, and lawmakers brought up the case of Rebecca Fierle. She was a professional guardian who was able to amass hundreds of wards, spread out over several counties.
Lawmakers said if there was a central database for guardianship cases, judges may have had warnings that she was growing an enterprise and handling a significant amount of wealth.
Fierle has been arrested and charged with abuse and neglect, after one of her wards died.
The database would contain information about a guardian's history, so judges can spot red flags before assigning them wards.
"We could probably head off a lot of these abuses that we're reading about and hearing about on the news [with a database]," Chaney said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed support for the database bill, and it unanimously passed in its first committee.
Another guardianship bill received unanimous support in its first committee hearing: this one would require judges to consider Supported Decision Making for people with developmental disabilities, instead of putting them in a restrictive guardianship.
Representative Allison Tant, D-Tallahassee, sponsored the bill with her son in mind.
I can testify to with my own son, we all learn and grow," she told
CBS12 News. "And my son with developmental disabilities -- I am hopeful
he will be able to live his life without a guardian. So making sure we
are flexible and have options is important."
A Treasure Coast advocate named Michael Lincoln-McCreight has been pushing for this Supported Decision Making bill.
When he aged out of foster care, a judge put him into a guardianship. He has a disability, but is hardly incapacitated.
A lawyer with Disability Rights Florida was able to get Michael a re-evaluation, and he was the first person in Florida to end his guardianship using the Supported Decision Making model.
Now, a team of trusted adults helps Michael make certain decisions -- but he's living an independent, free, and full life. He wants other people with disabilities to have the same opportunities.
It's not clear if the guardianship database bill or the Supported Decision Making bill will make it to the full house for a vote. Both are still in the committee phase.
On the federal level, Florida Congressman Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, is working on several guardianship reform bills. Inspired by calls from constituents and the #FreeBritney movement, Rep. Crist has introduced bills to make it easier to petition to end a guardianship, require states to collect guardianship data, and clarify that guardians and conservators can be subject to criminal charges if they commit fraud or abuse.
While his legislation hasn't become law -- he said it's encouraging to have a long list of co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle."In these times politically we are so divided," Crist told CBS12 News. "To be able to cut through what's going on politics today and work on something in a bipartisan way that helps people and saves them -- it's a real pleasure to do so."
MAHONING COUNTY, Ohio (WKBN) – A Mahoning County attorney has been suspended and is in jail after allegations of misconduct.
The Mahoning County Bar Association filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court for an interim remedial suspension of Ohio attorney Krishna James. On February 14, the Ohio Supreme Court granted the suspension with conditions for his return.
This was done after James had several run-ins with law enforcement and was eventually arrested in New Castle with serious charges, according to court documents.
James was arrested on January 1 and is currently in the Lawrence County Jail.
A motion filed with the Ohio Supreme Court alleges that James possesses “a substantial threat of serious harm to the public.” Some of it has been attributed to an “altered mental state” at the time of the incidents.
According to a memorandum, A New Castle Police report states that on January 1, James entered the New Castle main fire station at around 7 a.m. He walked around the station picking up different tools and damaged an already damaged door with a hammer and an ax and severed the cable that raises and lowers the door.
The report says he woke up firefighters who were sleeping in the station’s living quarters and
told them he was ready for the “coming siege.” When a firefighter asked him why he had a screwdriver, he showed a pistol and said, “So I don’t have to use this.”
Firefighters were able to escort him out, but James left before police arrived. Shortly after, New Castle police were called to the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership building for an alarm call. When officers got there, they found an open door, two spent shell casings, and two bullet holes in the ceiling near a siren speaker, reports said.
A video showed two flashes which appeared to be James firing two shots at the alarm system. Not long after, the 911 call center received a call about a suspect, later determined to be James, attempting to get into the McGonagle Ambulance Station on the corner of Jefferson and Falls Street.
New Castle police put out a countywide alert for James’ vehicle and later found him in the vehicle at another location. The report states when police confronted him he got out of his car, refused to comply and identified himself as an Ohio attorney.
James was shot twice with “less-lethal sponge rounds” and taken into custody, according to the report. He was treated at UPMC Jamison Medical Center for minor injuries from the sponge bullets. Officers recovered a loaded 9mm handgun from his vehicle, the memorandum says.
He was taken to the Lawrence County Jail and given a $100,000.00 bond.
During his arrest, officers found he also had two felony charges pending in Ohio, both for separate incidents in 2021 for possession of drugs.
Both incidents happened in Trumbull County on July 27, 2021, when the Girard City police department responded to a call of a male suspect in the woods behind a cemetery. When police arrived, they found James near a vehicle that appeared to be stuck on a log. James was seen “bending small trees into the ground and interlocking them,” according to the report.
James was arrested for criminal trespassing and police say they found two small bags of suspected methamphetamine in his vehicle, as well as a buprenorphine/naloxone strip. According to the report, he failed to appear for arraignment on the charge, and a bench warrant was issued.
The second incident happened on September 4, 2021, in Liberty Township. Police responded to a Dollar General for a suspect, later identified as James, who was in an altered mental state.
When they got there, police discovered the active bench warrant and took James in custody. That’s when they found two clear plastic baggies containing a white powdery substance, cut plastic straws with white residue, and two rolls of burnt tinfoil with burnt residue in James’ car, according to the report.
A felony possession charge, and a misdemeanor paraphernalia charge, were filed in Girard Municipal Court on January 11, 2022, and another bench warrant was issued.
The memorandum states over the past six months, police have been called various times to find James trespassing in an altered mental state. It also states it’s unknown whether this altered mental state is a result of a mental disorder, a substance-abuse disorder, some other disorder or a combination of all.
A competency evaluation is pending in the Pennsylvania case. The Lawrence County case is on hold awaiting completion of the pending competency evaluation, and the two Ohio cases are on hold until the Pennsylvania case is completed.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health issues, or drug addiction there are resources that can help. You can reach the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services 24/7 care line at 1-800-720-9616 or the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services here.
These findings have been brought to light by Page Six and as part of the decision, all relevant documents and future decisions will remain hidden from public records and will require court-ordered approvals when met with requests for access.
This news comes shortly after Wells Fargo’s lawyer David H. Pikus penned a statement on behalf of the financial institution and admitted, “We are concerned about [Williams’] situation.”
He also voiced concerns about expediting the request of a guardian for Williams and added, “It is our hope that the Guardianship Part [of the court] will imminently appoint a temporary guardian or evaluator to review the situation and ensure that [Williams’] affairs are being properly handled.”
Williams on the other hand has been vocal about her anger of the current situation, and per her lawyer, “Wendy wants the world to know that she strenuously denies all allegations about her mental health and well-being.”
“[She is] disappointed about falsely circulated
statements from an industry she has devoted her life to. Wendy is
grateful for the love and the outpouring of support she has received
from her fans, and she can’t wait to get back.”
Omar and Ruthelyn Rojas during a recent visit (Rojas)
PLANT CITY, Fla. (CBS12) — While many stories about guardianship involve senior citizens, this one shows that young people can be placed into the system, too.
Omar Rojas was removed from his mother's home, placed into a group home, and put under the control of a court-appointed, professional guardian after he turned 18.
Now his mother, Rutheyln Rojas, is fighting to end the guardianship and get him back.
guardianship system is designed to care for people who are
incapacitated and cannot manage their own affairs. It is often reserved
for people without family members who are willing and able to care for
their loved ones.
"We are able to take care of him and we want Omar back," Ruthelyn told the I-Team from her home in Plant City. "We ask God day and night to bring Omar back home."
A MOTHER'S MIRACLE
Ruthelyn didn't think she could have children, so when she found out she was pregnant with Omar it felt like a miracle.
Childbirth came with challenges. During delivery, Omar lost oxygen and suffered brain damage, leaving him severely disabled with cerebral palsy.
Doctors weren't sure he would live more than a few months -- so for Omar to be approaching his 22nd birthday feels like a miracle to Ruthelyn, too.
"If he's alive, it's because I took care of him for 20 years with extreme perfection," she said. "I was with him day and night, every single appointment, school activities, everywhere."
The family won a large settlement from the hospital due to Omar's birth-related injuries. They used that money to provide constant, in-home care for him.
Around the time Omar turned 18, his parents were going through a contentious divorce.
Both mother and father petitioned the court to be his guardian. Instead of choosing between them, a judge appointed a professional guardian named Susan Whitney to oversee Omar's care and finances.
At first, Ruthelyn thought a guardian would be a good thing -- but she, and Omar's care manager, started to become alarmed by the guardian's actions.
In a letter sent to the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, the state agency that oversees guardianship in Florida, Omar's care manager describes concerns about Whitney, calling her "inappropriate, unethical" and even "threatening" to Ruthelyn.
The care manager writes that she was concerned about certain medical decisions the guardian made, like reducing the food in Omar's feeding tube.
She told the OPPG it would be a mistake to remove Omar from his "loving, caring" home to put him in a group facility.
And she quoted the guardian as saying, "I'm the mom now. I make the decisions" when it came to Omar's living situation.
Ruthelyn remembers the day Omar didn't come home from school. She was waiting for him to get off the bus, as usual, but he wasn't there.
She frantically called the school, her ex-husband, and guardian Whitney to try to find out if something happened to her son.
She says it took hours but she eventually heard back: the guardian took Omar from school and to a group home, without notifying his parents.
Later, she moved Omar to a new facility, even further away. Ruthelyn says she has to drive two hours one way to see her son, and can only make the trip about once a week due to her work schedule.
Initially visits were limited and supervised.
"It’s horrible," she said. "It’s taking something from you. It’s my son. My son. And every time we say bye Omar, he knows that word."
Ruthelyn's new focus is getting Omar out of the guardianship and back home where he has family, friends, and a church community.
She's praying for another miracle in her son's life: for a judge to reverse his decision and end the guardianship before it's too late.
"We don’t know how long Omar will live, but we want to be together," Ruthelyn said. "We want Omar with us. I want to have the privilege, the mother privilege, to take care of my son day and night."
The OPPG investigated complaints against guardian Whitney, but found the evidence against her was "insufficient" and declined to take action or recommend discipline.
The report states that Ruthelyn and her ex-husband have "set aside their differences" and asked the judge to end the guardianship so Omar can come home - but to this day, he is living in a care facility, under the control of a guardian.
Through her assistant, Susan Whitney declined to be interviewed for this story. She said she cannot comment on active cases.
The OPPG report contains a summary of their interview with her and her lawyer. They deny that she was ever verbally abusive to Omar's family and they claim Omar's family became dependent on the hospital settlement money, even suggesting that the funds were mismanaged.
says she is hoping a lawyer will hear her son's story and take on the
case, so she can continue to petition the court for custody.
|Lancaster District Judge Andrew LeFever.|
The court issued its order Monday but did not impose sanctions or indicate when it will do so. Sanctions can range from unspecified discipline to suspension or removal from office.
LeFever and the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, which filed the charges in November 2020, have until Feb. 24 to respond to the court’s order. After any objections are resolved, the court will schedule a sanction hearing and sanctions will be issued later, but there’s not a timeframe, a Judicial Conduct Board attorney said.
LeFever’s attorney, Robert A. Graci, former chief counsel of the Judicial Conduct Board and a retired state Superior Court judge, said he and his client were reviewing the order.
LeFever, a former county prosecutor, was elected in November 2019 and took office in January 2020. His district covers the city’s northeast. District judges are elected to six-year terms and are paid $93,338.
Though LeFever had also been accused of violating the rules by also voting to endorse school board and city council candidates, the court cleared him of that charge.
LeFever testified at a hearing in September that although he previously said he voted in February 2019 to endorse the candidates, he could not recall doing so, according to the order. His campaign manager said he did not.
Still, the court found, LeFever violated the rules by endorsing himself when he was a committee person.
LeFever maintained he became a candidate when he filed nominating petitions on March 12, 2019. He resigned from the committee the day before.
But the court said the rules were clear that “an individual becomes a judicial candidate when he or she makes a public announcement of candidacy or when he or she solicits or accepts support for his or her campaign.”
That happened when LeFever announced on Facebook on Jan. 27, 2019, that he was running for district judge, the court ruled.
The case began with a confidential request for an investigation to the Judicial Conduct Board. Both of LeFever’s opponents previously told LNP | LancasterOnline that they did not make a complaint.
The board wanted LeFever suspended while the charges were litigated, but that didn’t happen.
judges handle summary criminal cases and traffic and non-traffic
citations, try civil cases not exceeding $12,000, and preside over
preliminary hearings for criminal charges.
A recent report from New Jersey’s Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) sheds light on the poor conditions at some of the state’s worst long-term care facilities—and the surprising amount of taxpayer funding that continues to support these organizations.
In this new report published on February 2, 2022, the OSC examined the fifteen lowest-rated nursing homes in the state and concluded that many of these facilities are unlikely to improve as long as they continue to receive state Medicaid funds.
Here’s a quick summary of the report and its key findings.
Every year, long-term care providers (LTCs) in New Jersey are inspected by state and federal inspectors who report their findings to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Using this data, the OSC was able to conduct a comparison of New Jersey LTCs’ performance across multiple years.
The scores awarded to state nursing homes by the CMS are based on three elements:
A health inspection score based on a thorough evaluation of practices and policies including quality of life, medication management, nursing home administration, food services, resident rights, and more
A quality measure score based on both short- and long-term outcomes for residents
A staffing measure score based on available daily staff and Registered Nurse (RN) staffing hours
These three measurements are used to rate each facility on a scale of one to five stars. As part of their report, the OSC conducted an analysis of the long-term care facilities that had consistently received the lowest rankings between 2013 and 2021.
Although LTC facilities across New Jersey scored an average of 3.6 stars, the OSC found that one in fourteen LTCs in the state had recently received the lowest possible rating (one star) and that many of those facilities had experienced low ratings for an extended period of time.
In fact, the OSC found that the following fifteen facilities had received a one-star rating for at least six of their last eight quarterly inspections:
Care One at Evesham in Burlington County
Cedar Grove Respiratory and Nursing Center in Gloucester County
Complete Care at Fair Lawn Edge in Passaic County
Cranford Park Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Union County
Forest Manor HCC in Warren County
Lakeview Rehabilitation and Care Center in Passaic County
New Grove Manor in Essex County
Oceana Rehabilitation and NC in Cape May County
Palace Rehabilitation and Care Center in Burlington County
Riverview Estates in Burlington County
Silver Healthcare Center in Camden County
South Jersey Extended Care in Cumberland County
Sterling Manor in Burlington County
Wardell Gardens at Tinton Falls in Monmouth County
Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in Sussex County
Of these fifteen lowest-rated care facilities, fourteen were found to be for-profit businesses, and all were found to have had periods of consistently low ratings across several years.
These consistently low ratings are especially concerning because LTCs scoring a one-star rating are significantly more likely to receive citations for “immediate jeopardy,” defined by the Department of Health as “a situation in which . . . the facility’s noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to a resident receiving care in a facility.”
This problem is further compounded by the fact that many of these facilities continue to receive high rates of taxpayer funding through Medicaid, despite providing consistently poor treatment quality for residents. In fact, these fifteen lowest-rated facilities collect an average of $103 million dollars a year in Medicaid payments.
As long as underperforming LTCs enjoy unrestricted access to Medicaid funding, it’s unlikely that many of these facilities will strive for a higher standard of care.
For this reason, the OSC advises that the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) should deny Medicaid funds to LTCs that continually receive low CMS scores over an extended period of time.
Hopefully, these findings will encourage
substantive change and lead to better standards of care at New Jersey’s
long-term care facilities. In the meantime, however, the results of this
report are both sobering and clear: Far too many NJ nursing homes still
fail to provide adequate care for their residents.