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nursing home legionnaires disease

Medical Documents Show “Questionable” Record-Keeping Related to Legionnaires’ Disease Victim’s Care and Family’s Concerns Prior To Death

The family of Dolores French, one of the 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home who died from the horrific Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2015, recently spoke out to WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney after “newly obtained health documents related to her case demonstrated a litany of questionable procedural and record-keeping practices at Illinois’ largest state-run veterans’ home….”

French had only been a resident of the Quincy Veterans Home for six weeks when Adams County Coroner James Keller examined her already decomposing body, possibly of two days, on the floor in her room. Although state officials deny the claim, her family was told her body was not in a condition to be embalmed and an open-casket funeral would not be an option.

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A Texas hospice operations director has admitted to following instructions from her boss that resulted in $60 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare and Medicaid. The executive, Melanie Murphey, was employed by Novus Health Services in Frisco, one of the largest hospice providers in North Texas. Murphey reported directly to Bradley J. Harris, the company’s CEO and owner. According to Murphey, Harris quickly put hospice patients on Continuous Care (CC), a designation that requires around the clock care and is covered at a higher rate than standard hospice services. More often than not, this care was not required.  If a patient was on Continuous Care for several days and they still were alive, he would tell Novus nurses to administer lethal drug doses to cause their death in order to prevent Medicare from digging into why a patient was classified as needing CC when it was not medically necessary.

Harris was not alone in his scheme. He worked with at least 5 doctors and 5 nurses who knowingly gave unnecessary medication doses and falsified records in exchange for kickbacks. NBC5 Dallas-Ft. Worth reports that patient records falsely read that one physician conducted appointments, but the time and dates overlap with vacations she took out of the country.

Melanie Murphey took a plea deal with the government in exchange for her testimony in the case, while Brad Harris, his wife, 5 doctors, 5 nurses, and 3 others have been indicted and are awaiting trial.

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finding the right nursing home care

Online Reviews Provide Easy-to-Read Critiques of Nursing Home Care but Families Must Research and Visit Facilities Prior to Choosing a Facility

On any given day, hundreds of Illinois families are helping choose support for their loved ones from the nearly 1,200 long-term care facilities in the state. While some individuals are in the need of a nursing home for just a few days to rehabilitate from a hospital stay or injury, many will live out their remaining years requiring constant long-term care. With national reviews indicating an abuse rate of 44 percent and a neglect rate of 95 percent of these residents, selecting a nursing home for yourself or a family member must include an in-depth site visit, preferably more than one at different times, and as much time possible discussing and reviewing credible sources. Additionally, as online opportunities to review nursing home care have emerged more frequently, the additional readings of anecdotal stories and experiences shared by residents and their family members, and staff via websites and social platforms can help provide a full scope of the pros and cons of each facility – within reason.

How the Federal Government’s ‘Nursing Home Compare’ Tool Evaluates Care Standards

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A major proposition has passed the New Jersey Assembly Human Services Committee and will soon be handed to the New Jersey House for a vote. The bill would specify the ratio of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to patients in New Jersey nursing homes.  According to a spokesperson for 1199SEIU, the major New Jersey union that represents healthcare workers, the state ranks 44th in CNA to patient ratios.


No Federal Laws Regarding Nursing Home Staffing

The Federal government recommends nursing homes employ enough staff to meet the needs of the residents, but it does not specify a ratio of CNAs, LPNs, or RNs to residents.  The government also advises nursing homes to devote at least 4.1 hours of direct care per resident each day, with at least 1.2 of those hours with an LPN and 1.2 hours with an RN.  However, there are no federal laws mandating staffing ratios or the number of required hours of direct care for nursing home residents.

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The Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed last Friday that the number of elderly adults dying after a fall has increased 31% since 2007. In 2016, 29,668 adults age 65 and older suffered a fatal fall, up from just 18,000 in 2007.

After reviewing death certificates, the CDC discovered that the number of fatal falls was the highest in the 85 and older age group, with 247.9 deaths per 100,000 seniors in 2016. That same year, there were 15.6 fatal falls per 100,000 seniors age 65-74. The CDC also reports that 1 in 4 adults age 65 and older say they’ve fallen in the past year.

U.S Census Bureau totals show that Americans age 85 and older are the fastest growing age group in this country. Thanks to advances in medicine and greater knowledge about healthy living, Americans are living longer than ever. As the baby boomer generation advances in age, the 85+ age group is expected to swell to 8.9 million by 2030. With falls increasing, particularly in those 85 and older and with more Americans soon entering that group, the CDC is concerned with how to protect elderly Americans from falls.

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nursing home veteran care

Illinois Veterans Release Capital Report Requesting $200+ Million for New Veterans Home

In 2015, the misdiagnoses and poorly managed care of residents with Legionnaires’ disease claimed the lives of 13 residents of a state-run veterans home in Quincy. One in 10 people will die from acquiring Legionnaires’ disease under normal circumstances, but if the disease is contracted from a health care facility, the odds of death jump to one in 4. Since the incident, the Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force has been working endlessly to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again and is now demanding the state of Illinois build a $200+ million state-of-the-art skilled nursing care facility to address safe water supply needs. The recommendations come from the Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force Report released on May 1, 2018 and includes:

  • Building a new, state-of-the art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
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nursing home evictions

Nearly 37,000 Medicaid Recipients Receive Discharge Notices in Louisiana

A chaotic and stressful situation is consuming Louisiana’s Medicaid program. The issue is targeting nursing homes and long-term care facilities as more than 35,000 recipients could lose their benefits and be forced to evict due to proposed state cuts and a lack of state funding.

Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto said the agency has notified about 37,000 Medicaid recipients that they may face eviction or discharge if eligibility to receive the benefit ends on July 1. Many of these patients have dementia and memory loss diseases, and developmental disabilities which require consistent, routine care. The proposed cuts could also force nursing homes to close or create even more shortages of trained care staff and cuts to an already overburdened and underpaid workforce. This reality is the result of the Federal government’s February 2018 budget proposal aimed to implement cuts to Medicaid and subsidies in favor or cost savings and will force states officials to make hard choices that are sure to impact the delivery of Medicaid programs across the country.

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An LPN in Philadelphia was arrested today over the death of H.R. McMaster Sr., an Army veteran and the father of former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

McMaster Sr. was staying at Cathedral Village, a senior living community, to recover and receive rehabilitation following a stroke. He arrived at the facility on April 9th and by April 13th he was gone, dead from blunt force trauma suffered from a fall. He was 84 years old.

Nurse Charged with Manslaughter

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superhero caregiver

Overburdened Nursing Home Staff Can Be Heroes to Abused or Neglected Residents

Attorney Steven M. Levin, a partner at Levin & Perconti, was recently featured in Chicago Lawyer Magazine’s feature on whether the heroes of the new Avengers movie could be held liable in a court of law (you can read the interview here). While Steve had fun and the story was lighthearted, it reminded us about some of the everyday heroes we get to work with at Levin & Perconti. They are the staff responsible for one of our nation’s most vulnerable groups of citizens. The nursing assistants, janitors, nurses, therapists, administrators, practitioners and staff who serve nursing home residents and long-term care patients. Because the truth is, not all heroes wear capes.

At Levin & Perconti, we recognize the frustrated, overworked and underpaid care workers who ultimately save lives by speaking up and reporting violations of the law, rules, or regulations regarding the care and treatment of nursing home residents in their charge. The act of reporting can feel extremely uncomfortable and create fear and anxiety for most individuals who chose to get involved in reporting, but when national reviews of care residents indicate an abuse rate of 44 percent and a neglect rate of 95 percent, the need for staff who speak up and report wrongdoings has become a sad requirement to protect nursing home residents who cannot advocate for themselves. When these brave staff report issues their actions will continue to save lives and improve care standards while holding the right people accountable for any wrongdoings.

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A caregiver of any type is considered one of the most physically and emotionally demanding jobs there is. To be responsible for the day-to-day survival of another is exhausting and grueling work. For those whose job it is to provide direct care to non-family members, turnover can be high, particularly when wages are low, insurance benefits are weak or non-existent, and when the workplace culture does not value these employees.

Wisconsin’s long term care industry is feeling the impact of these conditions. With an average pay of just $10.75 an hour for direct care long term care workers, they are falling on hard times trying to fill positions. The state’s current average hourly wage of $12 for other entry-level employees is a tough pill to swallow for those who care for our loved ones day in and day out. But this isn’t just Wisconsin’s problem. States all over the country are having trouble filling LPN and CNA positions and are using things such as double shifts and overtime to attempt to compensate employees. While extra hours might mean more pay, the wages are still appallingly low and employees in these positions often find themselves burnt out, angry, and exhausted. Even worse, many are taking these jobs as a last resort, knowing that nursing homes are notorious for high patient loads, long hours, and no downtime.

Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Will Only Get Worse