According to media reports with the Sacramento Bee, the entrepreneur who launched the facility is facing not only civil lawsuits, but criminal charges in connection with the treatment of elderly and disabled patients in Southern California.
Just days after the family of one resident, now deceased, announced they were filing a lawsuit against the facility and the owner, the California attorney general announced she was filing criminal charges against the facility and two nurses in connection with a resident’s death.
The charge of involuntary manslaughter stems from the care given to a man who had burns over 90 percent of his body due to an arson fire decades before. The AG office doesn’t make mention of another case – of a mentally ill patient who committed suicide by lighting herself on fire – though the woman’s family have since filed a formal wrongful death lawsuit.
Further, when it came to state inspections, this facility failed four of them consecutively in 2014. The local police department reports it’s been overwhelmed with calls for service both in and around the nursing home, commonly arising from criminal conduct of residents.
In fact, this facility was one of just three statewide to be stripped of access to Medicare and Medi-Cal funding.
The 44-year-old owner reportedly owns 1 of every 14 skilled nursing home beds in the state. In total, he oversees more than 80 facilities in Southern California, but he has even more – about 25 – in the northern part of the state.
One of his centers in Pasadena was fined nearly 200,oo0 by the state health department after inspectors reportedly pinpointed numerous problems. Several of those centered on the incident involving the mentally ill woman who committed self-immolation.
According to news reports of that incident, decedent was known by staff to be suicidal. She had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, anxiety and had involuntary psychiatric holds. According to the lawsuit, her mental illness was not being treated. Instead, she was allowed to watch television and smoke cigarettes all day. She was even granted daily “passes” which allowed her to venture out unsupervised.This is what happened the day she lit herself on fire. She returned to the facility with major burns. She was rushed to the hospital, but died the following day.
In another case, the one in which the California attorney general’s office is focusing, an arson victim with extensive burns did not see a doctor as often as he needed to, given the fragility of his condition. The state further alleges patient suffered a huge weight loss, pneumonia and sepsis. He did of infections throughout his body.
Although a spokeswoman for the company insists there was no wrongdoing, the facilities have promised to increase the level of oversight and training of staff.
If convicted on the criminal charges, the staffers face a possible maximum prison sentence of 7 and 9 years, respectively, and the facility could face a fine of up to $10,000, plus exclusion from state and federally-funded health care programs, such as Medicaid or Med-Cal.
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Charges filed in south state nursing home death, Aug. 28, 2015, By Marjie Lundstrom, The Sacramento Bee
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Police: Nursing Home Abuse Recorded by Staff on Social Media, Aug. 30, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog