“They get into trouble, they fix things up just enough to get back into compliance and then they let things slip again. This cycle just goes on for years. Meanwhile, there are people living in these places.”
-Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy to the Lexington Herald-Leader
A tragic story out of a northern Kentucky nursing and rehabilitation center has reignited a topic that we know causes a great deal of confusion and frustration for the loved ones of nursing home residents. How does one find out who the owners of a nursing home actually are and what their history of patient care is? The details of the wrongful death case of 45-year-old Bobby Crail help highlight the ability of nursing homes to repeatedly get away with maltreatment and even skirt financial and legal responsibility. It also highlights why if your loved one has been mistreated, abused, or neglected in a nursing home, you need an attorney who has both the experience and tenacity to successfully stand up to major corporations capable of these horrific behaviors.
Kentucky Man with Muscular Dystrophy Crushed by His Wheelchair
In 2016, Bobby Crail was a 45-year-old man living with muscular dystrophy. As a 9 year resident of Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation in Elsmere, Kentucky, he enjoyed time with his family, including his parents and two children. One Sunday morning, Bobby left his room to wheel to a nearby window. Those who knew Bobby said he liked to sit and watch things happening outside. Somehow Bobby went through an emergency exit door and hurled head first down a set of stairs, landing at the bottom. Bobby’s nearly 200 pound wheelchair landed on top of him, suffocating him to death.
In a series of inexplicable oversights, multiple staff members assumed Bobby had left to visit with family and hadn’t been signed out. When he didn’t return hours later, a staff member realized he had forgotten his cell phone, something he apparently never left Woodcrest without. It was only then that nurses and nurse aides at Woodcrest realized Bobby might be in trouble. Nine hours after falling down the stairs, Bobby’s dead body was found. Investigators realized that the emergency exit door Bobby had gone through wasn’t locked or fitted with a functioning alarm, two safety measures which staff later used as an excuse to have no reason to assume Bobby would be in a hallway.
163 Lawsuits and Still Able to Operate Nursing Homes
What happened to Bobby Crail is nursing home neglect, plain and simple. Sometimes nursing homes attempt to excuse tragedies such as these as an unfortunate, rare mistake. But what about when it’s not so rare? Nursing homes still use this excuse, assuming that families won’t dig any further into citations and fines, press staff harder for the truth, or retain a lawyer.
The privately-held company that owned Woodcrest at the time, Plano, TX-based Preferred Care Partners Management Group, owned 107 facilities, with twenty one of them in the state of Kentucky. At the time of Bobby Crail’s death, they were already plotting their escape from Kentucky and New Mexico by filing for bankruptcy, a process that would protect them from having to pay out on lawsuits. The company had been hit hard by a $28.5 million dollar verdict against one of their KY facilities, McCracken Nursing and Rehab, after allowing a stroke victim and amputee to become so dehydrated that he was admitted to the hospital and given nearly 30 units of fluid. Once he returned back to the nursing home, he was dropped and shattered his hip. Preferred Care’s nursing home had failed this man twice.
In all, Preferred Care had 97 lawsuits in Kentucky and 27 in New Mexico. Attorneys for the company said the lawsuits were ruining their ability to take care of residents, while also blaming the legal system for not preventing victims from coming forward and being fairly compensated when their own staff had been negligent. The company officially filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2017 and in July of this year, Sapphire Group, a New York-based nursing home group, bought out the 21 Kentucky nursing homes, vowing to keep 70% of the facilities’ current staff.
Transfer of Ownership, Transfer of Problems?
New ownership likely means a shakeup, better care, and more vigilant staff, right? Not so fast. Nursing home ownership transfer is not necessarily an answer to fixing troubled facilities. Neither are fines and improvement plans imposed by health inspection agencies or the federal government. Time and time again we’ve seen facilities like those owned by Preferred Care be fined, put on a list of facilities requiring more frequent inspections, successfully sued, and change owners and still be responsible for future injuries and deaths. A new owner, some new staff, or a new, peaceful-sounding name do not automatically equal improvement.
Earlier this year, a Goshen, NY nursing home recently sold to Sapphire Care Group was picketed by its own nurses and staff members after the new owners cut staffing levels in half. Funding for other services was also cut, including money for resident meals. In February, lawmakers asked the New York Department of Health to investigate 3 other Sapphire-owned nursing homes in the Buffalo-area, saying what they witnessed at the Goshen nursing home gave them reason to inspect other Sapphire-owned facilities.
It’s nearly impossible to find any information on either Preferred Care Partners Management Group or Sapphire Care Group. Both are privately-held, for-profit corporations who do not maintain a website. In fact, the only information for Preferred Care is found through a Bloomberg webpage that says the company was founded in 1993 in Plano, TX and that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2017. The only information to be found on Sapphire Care Group is an old LinkedIn page that says the company consists of 5 nursing homes in the Buffalo, NY area.
This is what a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney with experience in navigating nursing home ownership does. If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, many times a nursing home will claim to not have the money to pay. Nursing homes have been known to say they don’t have professional liability insurance and do not have assets or cash available to pay. However, after nearly 30 years investigating nursing homes and their owners, the attorneys of Levin & Perconti realize that behind many facilities is a wealthy private equity group, shell companies, or other sheltered assets and cash.
Let Levin & Perconti Navigate the Nursing Home Ownership Maze for You
For nearly 3 decades, we have been committed to bringing attention to nursing homes that deny our most vulnerable citizens of the care they deserve, exposing the greed that lies behind decisions to understaff and cut corners within nursing homes. We’ve successfully recovered over half a billion dollars for our clients, including several record-setting verdicts and settlements.
Do not allow yourself to grieve while also wondering what happened to your loved one and what could be done to stop a tragedy from happening to someone else. Call the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti now for a FREE consultation. We can be reached toll free 1-877-374-1417, in Chicago (312) 332-2872, or by completing our online case evaluation form. We are not paid unless we recover money for you.