The attorney general in Pennsylvania has filed legal action against a large, corporate nursing home provider with 36 locations in that state. Of those 36, Attorney General Kathleen Kain alleges 14 have engaged in deceptive and unlawful business practices, while making a substantial profit off the state.
The chain, which is based in California and has centers in Florida as well as in numerous other states throughout the country, is accused of failing to meet the most basic care needs of residents, despite accepting state dollars (primarily through Medicare) to do so.
In court documents, the attorney general cites dozens of confidential witnesses who allege they were misled to believe their elderly, frail, vulnerable loved ones were receiving excellent, quality care, when in fact facilities were understaffed and patients were at grave risk of harm.
An injunction filed by Kane seeks a minimum $1,000 per violation of law, or a maximum of $3,000 for every violation involving a person over the age of 60. Additionally, the demand calls for consumer restitution and coverage of litigation costs.
It is alleged these 14 nursing home facilities broke state and federal laws – specifically, the Unfair Trade Practices and Protection Law, which protects consumers from being duped by inaccurate marketing.
In promotional materials and commercials, the company promised residents would always be comfortable, clean and have immediate access to food and water at all times. But that wasn’t actually the case, the attorney general alleges. She said that because these facilities were so poorly staffed, residents often were hungry, thirsty, dirty and unkempt. They were often unable to get help to perform even the most basic of tasks, such as going to the restroom.
Among the specific allegations made by those confidential witnesses:
- Residents were often left in soiled diapers, sometimes for hours at a time.
- Even residents who were physically able to use the bathroom were diapered because there was not enough staffers available to assist those residents in making it to the restroom.
- Residents were not turned every two hours, as required in order to prevent painful and dangerous bed sores.
- Residents were not receiving their “range of motion” exercises.
- Showers and other basic hygiene needs were going unmet.
- Those who were washed and dressed were sometimes awoken at 5 a.m. to do so.
- In many cases, residents weren’t dressed in a manner timely enough to attend meals.
- Some residents were never escorted to the dining area, and as a result, many missed entire meals.
- When residents sought assistance, the response times were lengthy – if someone even showed up at all.
- Records were routinely falsified, indicating residents received services when in fact they did not.
- When inspections were about to take place, staffing numbers were boosted to make it look as if the facility was in better shape than it actually was.
Essentially, these facilities were raking in profits at the expense of vulnerable adults. They promised to care for residents, but failed to meet the basic standards, thereby committing a form of nursing home negligence.
This is the second time in recent months a state attorney general has taken on a large nursing home chain for staffing shortages and care that falls short. The New Mexico attorney general also has a similar case pending against another large elder care provider chain.
Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Attorney General announces action against Golden Gate nursing homes, July 1, 2015, By Paul Smith, Fox 43
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