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Concerned Granddaughter Uses Nanny Cam at Nursing Home

Diana Valetin put a new twist on the idea of a nanny cam, when she decided to plant a hidden camera in the room where her grandmother,  Ana Luisa Medina, 89, stayed at Gold Crest Care Center in New York.

I read about this sad story of elder abuse in the NY Daily News. Diana kept finding strange bruises on her grandmother’s forehead and arms.

 “They were telling me she had gotten the bruising on her hands by banging on the bed railing.”

Each time Diana went to the Care Center’s management with her concerns, the response was that they were aware of her concerns and that they would investigate it.

Ms. Valetin used a hidden camera to learn why her grandmother was getting bruises.

Ms. Valetin used a hidden camera to learn why her grandmother was getting bruises.

Frustrated with inaction despite the constant bruises, Ms. Valetin decided to investigate the issue herself. She hid a small video camera in a potted plant, capturing over 600 hours of video. “The first video that I saw, [the aide] grabbed my grandmother’s arm, twisted it back, lifted her off the bed and slammed her into the bed,” Valentin said.

Sandra Kerr, the 55-year old nurse, was apparently twisting Ana Luisa Medina’s frail arms and slamming her into the bed. Kerr has since been arrested, and she has been charged with endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person.

Attorney General Schneiderman stated, “My office has zero tolerance for nursing home aides who abuse, neglect or harm the people in their care. Medical professionals have a responsibility to properly care for their patients and must be held accountable when they fail to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

At this time, Gold Crest Care Center had not commented on Ms. Valetin’s claim. Unfortunately, this story is the tip of the iceberg regarding the epidemic of elder abuse in this country.

Alzheimers Numbers to Almost Triple by 2050

A recent Reuters article relays the findings of an alarming article published in Neorology. The number of those with Alzheimer’s disease will virtually triple by 2050. Around 13.8 million in this country will have this affliction, and roughly 7

Over 13.5 million U.S. citizens will have some form of Alzheimers by 2050. Over half will be 65 years or older.

Over 13.5 million U.S. citizens will have some form of Alzheimers by 2050. Over half will be 65 years or older.

million of those with Alzheimers will be 65 years or older. To give you some context, about 5 million are estimated to have this form of dementia in the U.S. at present.

Organizations such as the National Institute on Aging are concerned about this looming epidemic, given that very few treatments are available for Alzheimers patients. Reuters quotes the study co-author, Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL:: “Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic.”

The article points to underwhelming results of pharmaceutical companies, such as Eli Lilly and Co. Lilly had release solanezumab, which had failed in mid 2012 to meet the primary goals of two studies in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Solanezub only showed a slight benefit when the studies were pooled to look at the effect on those with the mildest form of the disease. According to reports, Lilly plans to start a new trial in patients with mild Alzheimer’s this year.

The rapidly growing number of Alzheimers patients will burden the healthcare system, facilities designed for the elderly, as well as families of those caring and supporting loved ones with this disease. The team at Rush Medical Center hopes that the staggering statistics will compel U.S. policymakers to plan accordingly.

 

Roughly 2 million senior citizens abused, neglected, or exploited each year

According to an AP article that I read on Huffington Post, the number of senior citizens in this country will practically double. The number of those over 85 years old is growing even more rapidly. Sharon Merriman-Nai, project director of the Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly based at the Univ. of Delaware suggests that at least 2 million seniors are abused, neglected, or exploited each year, according to the article.

That’s  1 out of every 10 elders suffering some form of exploitation and abuse.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo, caregiver Kim Bauer, right, pauses as the elderly woman she is helping looks at a decorative fireplace at Cedar Village retirement community, in Mason, Ohio. The woman she is helping has suffered abuse by a relative. The Shalom Center that is a part of the community helps the woman by offering shelter, along with medical, psychological and legal help, to elderly abuse victims in this northern Cincinnati suburb. The center asked that her identity be protected for this story because the close relatives who allegedly abused her don't know where she is. Photo: Al Behrman

 In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo, caregiver Kim Bauer, right, pauses as the elderly woman she is helping looks at a decorative fireplace at Cedar Village retirement community, in Mason, Ohio. The woman she is helping has suffered abuse by a relative.  Photo: Al Behrman

The Shalom Center is a part of the community in Cedar Village Retirement Home in Mason, Ohio. The center helps elder abuse victims by offering shelter, along with medical, psychological and legal help, to elderly abuse victims in this northern Cincinnati suburb. The center asked that the identity of the lady in the wheelchair photographed on the right be protected for this story because the close relatives who allegedly abused her don’t know where she is.

President Obama Signs Bipartisan Medicare Law

Just a few days ago, President Obama signed H.R. 1845 (112th), the bipartisan Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, which was introduced by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) in the House and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in the Senate.

The legislation was a bipartisan solution to streamline the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) system, to ensure that seniors and persons with disabilities get timely assistance and taxpayers are repaid millions of dollars every year.

The SMART Act is seen as a victory for senior advocates.

We will see how effective SMART is, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must still work to eliminate confusion and uncertainty by providing clear, efficient and definitive information to seniors.

Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP):

– The MSP process ensures Medicare is reimbursed for medical bills that are the responsibility of another party – such as an insurer or negligent party.

– A senior or person with disabilities who has been injured, and later obtains recourse through the legal system, often cannot access their settlement until Medicare is reimbursed for all medical cost

– The current MSP system is inefficient and slow to return dollars to the Medicare Trust Fund, which is funded by tax payer money

– It can take years for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to report reimbursement amounts to beneficiaries and CMS can seek multiple reimbursement amounts over time, providing further delay and uncertainty

The SMART Act will:

  • Require CMS to maintain a secure web portal to access claims and reimbursement amounts in a timely fashion.

CMS must upload care payments they disperse within 15 days with the required information about the payment.

  • Streamline the process of obtaining reimbursement amounts.
  • Medicare beneficiaries must notify CMS they are anticipating a settlement no more than 120 days beforehand.
  • CMS then has 65 days to ensure the web portal is up-to-date, but may request an additional 30 days, if needed
  • Reimbursement amounts are reliable if downloaded from the web portal within three days of settlement.
  • Provide a process and timeline for discrepancies and appeals.

Medicare beneficiaries can provide documentation for discrepancies on the web portal to CMS. CMS has 11 days to respond to discrepancies.

– If CMS does not respond in 11 days, the amount calculated by the beneficiary is the correct amount.

– An additional appeal process must be established by CMS for reimbursements it attempts to collect from insurance plans.

– Create a threshold for collecting any payment amounts by CMS that are below the cost it incurs to collect an average claim.

– Readjust the penalty for reporting errors by insurers based on the violation.

– Ensure greater privacy for beneficiaries by no longer requiring use of full social security or health id claim numbers.

– Create a three year limit for CMS to seek any repayments beginning from when they were informed of an anticipated settlement.

!assisted-suicideAttorneys such as Margaret Dore in Seattle assert that Washington and Oregon laws that allow assisted suicide is a factor for increasing elder abuse. Ms. Dore explains that the Oregon and Washington assisted suicide acts have a formal application process. The acts allow an heir, who will benefit from the patient’s death, to play a large role in this process.

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, no mechanism for oversight exists. That means that no one needs to witness the death. Without disinterested witnesses, Ms. Dore asserts, “[T]he opportunity is created for an heir, or for another person who will benefit from the patient’s death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. One method would be by injection when the patient is sleeping. The drugs used in Oregon and Washington are water soluble and therefore injectable. If the patient woke up and struggled, who would know?”

In Washington and Oregon, the state health departments are required to collect some basic information for its annual reports. According to these reports, users of assisted-suicide are for the vast majority white and well-educated. Many have private insurance. Most are age 65 and older. People that fall into this demographic are seniors with money, which we have seen are commonly targeted and at a higher risk of financial abuse.

The forms used to collect the statistical information do not ask about abuse. Moreover, not even law enforcement is allowed to access information about a particular case. Alicia Parkman a mortality research analyst at the Center for Health Statistics, Oregon Health Authority, wrote to Ms. Dore: “We have been contacted by law enforcement and legal representatives in the past, but have not provided identifying information of any type.“

Consumer Reports warns about financial elder abuse

KOMO News reported on the growing trend of financial elder abuse with focus on Consumer Reports recent investigations.

The message to the elderly: Even those you might trust the most–your family and friends–are the ones who are in the best position to drain bank accounts and take over real estate of vulnerable senior citizens.

Sadly, these are the types of crimes most difficult to spot, as it seems from most distant observers that someone’s family or caregiver is working in the best interest of the vulnerable elder.

Financial elder abuse is on the rise per Consumer Reports’ investigation..

Nevertheless, senior citizens are the most vulnerable for scams. From forging to pleas for a loan to abuses of power of attorney.  When someone has power of attorney, they have unfettered access to your accounts. Someone who misuses those powers can decimate financial accounts, leaving them with virtually nothing.

To help prevent elder abuse:

  • Have bank and investment statements sent to a person you trust to monitor accounts.
  • Arrange for direct deposit and automatic bill pay.
  • Consult a reputable elder law attorney for advice on wills and limiting power of attorney.

Consumer Reports says there are good places to get help if you or an elderly relative is concerned about financial abuse, including the National Center on Elder Abuse, which has links to help and hotlines.

You can also get help for elders dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease or other memory loss issues, from the local Alzheimer’s Association.

West Seattle brothers allow father to rot to death

Every once in a while, I come across a story that is almost impossible for me to read because of the horrific details. This is one of those stories. which I came across in the Seattle P-I.

Sadly, the story is about a pair of local men, both in their 50’s, who lived rent-free in their father’s Alki/West Seattle home. All the while, Keith and Kenneth Shaw allowed their 86 year old father, Kyle Shaw, Jr. to waste away malnourished, dehydrated, and caked in filth.

King County prosecutors allege that the Shaw brothers refused to provide proper care to their father, so that they could inherit all of their parents savings.

Back in November 2010, another relative had called the paramedics to the Shaw house. The paramedics found Kyle Shaw in only a T-shirt and socks. The sock had grown into his feet, according to charging documents, as the elderly Shaw had been wearing the bloodied, feces-covered socks for at least a year.  At Swedish Medical Center, a doctor found  Mr. Shaw’s feet were rotting, along with suffering an array of life-threatening ailments.

A social service worker visited the Shaws, responding to a troublesome report from the Nov. 2010 hospital visit. Despite the fact that Kyle Shaw and his wife had large savings, enough to pay for Kyle’s care, the Shaw brothers balked at the idea. One of them said that doing so would force the other brother (who didn’t have a job) to “… end up homeless, living under the viaduct.”

Both men have been charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment. Neither has entered a plea yet.

State Run Group Homes Skate On Thin Ice

Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has given notice to King County SOLA (State Operated Living Alternatives). At present, the SOLA homes are now operating under what is called a “provisional certification.” In other words, administrators must prove that they are able to keep 50 vulnerable adults in these SOLAs healthy and safe. Otherwise, the program may shutdown.

An investigation that Susannah Frame of KING5 conducted (see below clip. “Repeat violations threaten shutdown of 13 state-run group homes”) reveal some cringe worthy details about a number of state run group homes in the Puget Sound and beyond.
                          
According to KING5, 38 SOLA homes in Washington care for about 130 clients. These homes are in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima, and Bremerton. The provisional certification was imposed in late July 2012, as the result of homes repeated violations and for citations of “serious deficiencies determined to jeopardize client’s health, safety and/or welfare.”  These serious deficiencies included instances of assault, neglect, and sexual assault.

There are 38 SOLA homes in the state which care for 130 clients. The homes are located in Tacoma, Bremerton, Yakima, Spokane and Seattle. They are unique in that they aren’t simply licensed by the state to operate as a group home; they are managed and run by state employees. The provisional certification only applies to the King County program.

County’s Worst Case of Theft: Caregiver Steals $1 Million

John Friedlund was a Washington State caregiver, who received a 10-year prison sentence earlier this month for stealing $1 million from a 107 year old woman, Frances Swan, 107. She was found living in feces and utter squalor, as her supposed caregiver had spent her funds to purchase tractors, horse trailers and over 300 guns.

John Herbert Friedlund gets 10 yr prison sentence for elder abuse/theft.

Stevens County Deputy Prosecutor Leah Radzimski described John Herbert Friedlund’s acts as “…the worst instance of theft and abuse we’ve had in the county. Six officers said the home was the worst they’d ever seen.”

Friedlund, 79, was sentenced by Stevens County Superior Court Judge Al Nielson, a day after jurors convicted him of first-degree theft.

He had resided at a ranch near Kettle Falls, roughly 210 miles northeast of Seattle. For four years, he was given the responsibility as caregiver to Ms. Swan. During those four years, he stole money from her retirement account, according to Radzimski.He spent the $1 million on 300 to 400 guns and other items such as tractors and horse trailers, Radzimski said.

Ms. Swan was bedridden in a back room of her feces strewn Kettle Falls home. Deputies discovered her in May 2011. She begged them for food.  The only food found at her place was rotten, and the garbage had stacked so high with filth that it reached the ceiling.

She now lives in a nursing home.

In early October 2012, a jury convicted Friedlund of theft with two aggravating circumstances – violation of the victim because of her vulnerability and his position of fiduciary responsibility over her.

As unbelievable as stories like these are, we are finding them more common. If you believe that someone you love is the victim of elder abuse, contact an attorney. Kevin Coluccio has represented numerous elder abuse victims and their family members, finding justice against those negligent in their care of some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Resident’s Death Shuts Down Northwest Nursing Home

Doris Dorsey, a resident of John Day Nursing Home (near Portland, OR) died in October 2011. Family of Ms. Dorsey believe that the death is the result of two caregiver’s abuse and neglect, claiming that Tom Houpt and Vanessa Holmstrom withheld food from Doris and tortured her.

Two Caregivers at Portland Nursing Home Charged with Manslaughter & Criminal Treatment

These two caregivers of Ms. Dorsey now face charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment. In the meantime, Oregon’s Department of Human Services is shutting down John Day, helping relocate its residents.

Apparently, the State had received other complaints about John Day.

According to the State, the facility failed to comply with state requirements that called for the facility registered nurse to attend training, to have at least two caregivers on duty for each shift and to meet other standards. Their failure to comply “placed residents at harm and risk for serious harm,” the Aug. 30 letter states.

 

About Kevin

Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.