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Family of Westchester Nursing Home COVID-19 Victim Files Suit
Rita Saunders Is One of 12 Dead at Facility With History of Neglect

CHICAGO, June 2, 2020 – Attorneys today filed suit on behalf of the family of 64-year-old Rita Saunders, who died in March following exposure to the novel coronavirus at the Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center.

The Westchester center was the site of an early and sustained outbreak, with 47 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported at the 120-bed facility, including 12 deaths.

new jersey nursing home outbreak

New Jersey Nursing Home Evacuated After All Residents Assumed to Have Coronavirus

Several national news sources, including NBC, reported on Wednesday, March 25, that as many as 94 people, including residents and staff, at a New Jersey nursing home, are believed to test positive for coronavirus.

Already, 24 residents at St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge have tested positive. Another 70 have been tested, and all are presumed to be infected with COVID-19. A spokesman for the City of Woodbridge released a statement that the possible outbreak began earlier this month when the first positive on March 17 triggered the additional confirmed cases each day since. The health emergency prompted an evacuation of all residents who are now in the process of being transferred to several nearby CareOne facilities with open beds. That includes 30 residents to Morristown, 20 to Parsippany, 7 to Livingston. At this time, one resident has been hospitalized. CareOne is a chain of assisted living and nursing homes in New Jersey.

As the country is wrapped in a global pandemic never witnessed before by many, it’s important to make predictions about which groups of people will be most affected by coronavirus, or COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that older adults carry the characteristics that put them at greater risk of illness and death related to the virus. These adults may have limitations which impair their ability to respond to an infectious disease or emergency, such as:

  • Disabilities that have impaired their mobility

Steve Levin

A message from Attorney Steven Levin

I have a loved one in a nursing home and I’m concerned about COVID-19 exposure. What should I do?

The first step is to call the director of nursing at your family member’s facility and ask about the steps they are taking to protect residents and staff. By this point, all facilities should have a written policy and action plan available for distribution. If your facility does not, request that they create it as soon as possible, and follow up until they do. Facilities should already be following longstanding CDC guidelines for infection prevention. Here are some questions that can guide your inquiry into whether they currently comply with the rules: https://www.cdc.gov/longtermcare/pdfs/factsheet-core-elements-10-infection-prevention-questions.pdf

Although nursing homes are equipped with infection control recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and required to follow them by state and local health agencies – they simply are not. USA TODAY is reporting that “75% of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for failing to properly monitor and control infections in the last three years — a higher proportion than previously known.” These failures, often controlled by understaffed shifts, overworked caregivers, and less than 10% of facilities with infection-control specialty trained staff, all provide proof to predict that nursing homes are going to have even a tougher time preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Steven Levin, founding partner and attorney at Levin & Perconti, recently spoke to USA TODAY on the dangerous yet stagnant issue of the spread of infectious disease in nursing homes, remarking that, “The nursing homes that we deal with have extreme difficulty in handling everyday infections, and it’s an infection-rich environment.”

Steve Levin

A message from Attorney Steven Levin

By now it seems self-evident that the nursing homes and assisted living centers housing many of our elderly and most vulnerable citizens are uniquely susceptible to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

We know that the disease is particularly dangerous for older people. We understand intuitively that a site where older people — some of whom cycle in and out of hospitals, bringing germs back and forth — live in close quarters, with shared spaces and resources, faces heightened risk for infection and contagion.

nursing home security failure

Nursing Home Resident Was Smothered to Death by Signed-In Visitor

Police in Florida have arrested William Hawkins, 47, after being charged with breaking into the Tiffany Hall Nursing & Rehab Center in Port St. Lucie and smothering a 95-year-old resident to death with a pillow. The man matched the description provided by staff members and was also listed as a visitor for the victim. The murder happened in January 2020.

The man reportedly confessed to the crime while speaking to his estranged sister in jail and explained that the nursing home resident had written a book about him that upset him. According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Hawkins answered “yes” when asked if he smothered the victim and confessed to planning the killing for years.

huge hospital fine

Aperion Care Racked Up $367,000 in Fines For 2019 Nursing Home Violations

In 2019, one Illinois nursing home chain, branded under the Aperion Care name, was fined nearly $367,000 by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in response to failing to correct serious deficiencies in care and safety of its residents. Aperion Care has 35 Illinois facilities, the majority of which have only one-of-five-star ratings by Medicare.

Most recently, Aperion made a $6 million offer to take over Rock Island’s Hope Creek Care Center. But Aperion’s reputation and questionable level of care residents may receive has alarmed both community and county board members. With a quick review through the quarterly violation reports for Illinois nursing facilities, courtesy of IDPH, it easy to identify why these Aperion Care facilities are fined so often, and also validate the concerns of the Rock Island community.

Nationally Respected Attorneys

Three Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases That Gained National Attention in 2019

Levin & Perconti is a nationally renowned law firm concentrating in all types of nursing home abuse and neglect claims as well as personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death lawsuits. The firm’s founding partners, Steve Levin and John Perconti were among the first nursing home lawyers in Illinois and are highly regarded among their peers and adversaries for their outstanding work on behalf of victims of abuse and neglect.

Today, the Chicago based firm stands behind three decades of winning experience in defending residents who have had their rights violated and become injured while under the care of others. This is a brief review of three nursing home abuse and neglect cases represented by Levin & Perconti lawyers that made national and local news headlines in 2019.

Elderly Woman Attacked

Convict Walked Into Nursing Home and Sexually Assaulted Elderly Woman

A $50 million claim has been made against a California nursing home after a convict snuck in and sexually abused an 88-year-old woman, according to San Diego news source, NBC7. Lawyers for the victim’s family say shortly after 49-year-old Lusean Arline was released on parole, he welcomed himself through a Hillcrest nursing home’s unlocked back door and then proceeded to the second floor and sexually attack an elderly resident in her room. The report further explained that the woman was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for the rape, a broken arm, and emotional stress.

Nursing Home Negligence ‘Opened the Door’ to Violent Crime

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