Articles Posted in Hot Button Issues

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The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC), an organization dedicated to the protection and well being of the elderly, has released its first monthly issue alert. The first issue is dedicated to understanding, preventing, recognizing, and treating pressure ulcers. It also deals with how to find out if the facility that cares for your loved one has a history of allowing these painful, yet often preventable, sores to develop in their residents.

The alert is a useful tool in understanding what a pressure ulcer is and how to know for yourself how advanced the bed sore is and if its occurrence was preventable based on your or your loved ones health and risk factors. LTCCC’s monthly alert on pressure ulcers can be found here.

Pressure Ulcers: Why You Need an Experienced Attorney Advocating for You

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An Orland Park widow is suing Spring Creek Nursing and Rehab Center in Joliet over their alleged negligence that led to the death of her husband in April of this year. Dianne Casper, the widow of Edward Casper, said he was just 75 when he entered the facility after having hip surgery. According to the lawsuit, Edward Casper’s record at Spring Creek documented that he was suffering from dementia, ‘increased cognitive impairment,’ as well as at risk for falls.

Excessive Number of Falls Within Two Months

The lawsuit alleges that from his admission date on January 31, 2017 to his death in April, he fell 28 times at the facility. His final fall in early March caused him to fracture his other hip, which resulted in an immediate hospital transfer and surgery. He died one month after that fall.

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A nursing home in Westborough, Massachusetts is facing two separate lawsuits for falls that ended the lives of two its residents within a 7 week span in 2015.  The lawsuit alleges that staff at for-profit Beaumont Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center ignored and purposely defied physicians’ orders that mandated the use of fall prevention devices, resulting in the tragic falls that caused blunt force head trauma and the death of two elderly residents.

Properly Used Safety Devices Can Aid in Fall Prevention

Per doctors’ orders, both fall victims, 89 year old Betsy Crane and 85 year old Vincent Walsh, were to wear wrist or ankle bracelets that function as tracking devices, referred to as a wander management system.  Devices such as these alert staff to the whereabouts of each resident, including leaving protected areas (such as the resident’s room or designated safe zone) or even making the smallest of movements. When combined with adequate supervision, wander management systems can be a valuable tool in ensuring the safety of nursing home residents who are at risk for wandering, as well as those at risk for falls.

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Michael Morris was just 43 years old when he died from complications that arose from infected tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes, as well as multiple pressure ulcers. He was a resident of Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Joliet, Illinois for just over a year at the time of his death last September.

In a lawsuit filed in Will County, the administrator of his estate alleges that the facility is directly responsible for his death by failing to provide the adequate care required for a resident in Mr. Morris’ condition.

How do Pressure Ulcers Develop?

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Last year, several nurses at Lake Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina walked in on nurse’s aide Douglas Steven Little sexually assaulting an elderly resident suffering from dementia. Little, a 10 year employee of Lake Park Nursing & Rehab, admitted to the assault and is now serving a 19 year prison sentence. After the news of Little’s crime broke, other Lake Park families began coming forward with similar allegations of rape and assault of their loved ones.

Repeat Offender

An affidavit by a former Lake Park Nursing & Rehab nurse states that in 2012, the facility was made aware of sexual assaults committed by Douglas Steven Little and covered them up from victim’s families. The affidavit was included as part of a lawsuit filed by the daughter of another alleged victim of Little’s. The woman’s daughter, Annette Foster, says her mother was a dementia resident who spent two years at Lake Park Nursing & Rehabilitation before her death. She says that after the news of Little broke, she began examining her mother’s medical records and coupled with the behaviors she observed in her mother before her death, she is certain that she was assaulted on multiple occasions and strongly believes it was by Douglas Steven Little. While her mother was still a patient, Foster knew something was amiss after her mother reported being raped on two separate occasions. She requested that only female staff members treat and visit with her mother and despite the request, she still saw Little wandering around the dementia unit.

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It is a growing concern as the population of elderly prison inmates continues to rise: What happens to inmates who require more care than an infirmary at a standard correctional facility can give? The cost of treating inmates in prison, at specialized psychiatric facilities and at local hospitals is making the cost of long term care an expense that states are having a hard time managing. Federal funding is not given to prison inmates treated at any of these locations.

Enter facilities like 60 West, a combined nursing home and correctional facility in Rocky Hill, Connecticut that has become the first nursing home of its kind to be granted funding from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Several states hoping to receive federal funds for similar facilities are clearly pleased with the news and experts hope that the success of 60 West will spur other nursing homes to adopt the mentality that the elderly all deserve compassionate and federally-covered care, regardless of a prison record. Receiving federal funding for state-owned nursing homes would significantly ease the burden of covering long term care costs for prison inmates.

Previous Denial Due to Health and Safety Issues

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“We can no longer choose between caring for your family and our own, and so, we have decided to stand together as part of what will be the largest strike of nursing home workers in the history of our country.” 

            -Services Employees International Union (SEIU) statement on nursing home employee strike

In a move to influence contract negotiations between SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities (who represents 53 Chicago-area nursing homes that use SEIU members for staffing), 5,000 SEIU members are planning to strike. The two main issues at hand are low pay and low staffing numbers, creating an industry of underpaid and over-utilized nursing home employees who feel they must work excessive amounts of overtime in order to maintain a living wage.

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We’d like to share insightful information from an April newsletter from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) regarding 5 major reasons to oppose the Protecting Access to Care Act, better known as H.R. 1215. The bill, due to be voted on at any moment by the House, has a sweet-sounding name that overrides the detrimental aftermath that will result if the policy becomes law.

ITLA’s newsletter contains information shared by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and perfectly sums up why we as Americans should oppose the passage of a bill that will take away our civil rights.

Below are the top 5 reasons to oppose The Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215):

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The daughters of a now deceased 95 year old woman filed a lawsuit against the state of Iowa and the nursing home of which she was a resident during a sexual assault committed by a fellow resident, a violent sex offender. A lower state court ruled that the state was not liable and the Iowa Supreme Court upheld that decision earlier this month. Despite the court’s ruling, the daughters of the victim are still pursuing the lawsuit with the nursing home now named as the sole defendant.

What is the State’s Duty to Society After Inmates are Released?

William Cubbage was convicted of four violent sex crimes against children between 1989 and 2000. He served time for his offenses and upon his release in 2002 was sent to a state-run institution that focused on rehabilitation of sex offenders. After 8 years he was released from state custody and admitted to Pomeroy Care Center, a private nursing home in Iowa. In less than a year at the center, a child visiting a family member saw Cubbage assaulting the woman. The victim’s daughters sued the nursing home and named the state of Iowa as a defendant, arguing that the state should not have allowed Mr. Cubbage, a man with an extremely violent past, to be admitted into a nursing home amongst vulnerable elderly residents. Attorneys for the state argued that once Cubbage’s prison sentence and court ordered rehabilitation was completed, they had no responsibility for him.

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A law firm in Eureka, California, is representing the families of two men who died from complications from pressure ulcers within 8 months of each other. The men were unknown to each other, but both received negligent care at facilities owned by the same company and run by the same nursing home administrator.

The lawsuits allege that understaffing was an intentional business decision and that the lack of available staff plus negligence on the part of nursing and medical staff caused both men’s deaths. Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center and Seaview Rehabilitation & Wellness Center are both owned by Brius Healthcare and day-to-day operations of both facilities are overseen by Rockport Healthcare Services.

Avoidable Deaths