Archive for the ‘Dept of Public Health’ Category

California sued over lagging nursing home inspections

November 10, 2013

A Sacramento advocate for the elderly is suing the state for allegedly endangering vulnerable residents by failing to promptly investigate nursing home complaints, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco.

The suit, brought by the Sacramento-based Foundation Aiding the Elderly, accuses state regulators of “taking months and sometimes years” to complete investigations of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the lawsuit names the California Department of Public Health and two top administrators.

“This is jeopardizing all patients,” said Carole Herman, president of FATE. “The industry is not afraid of the regulators, they are so lax in their responsibilities.”

Corey Egel, spokesman for the Department of Public Health, said the department could not comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit, filed by the Lexington Law Group, a San Francisco public interest law firm, seeks a court order requiring the state to “complete complaint investigations and the complaint appeal process in a timely manner.” The lawsuit asks the court to impose deadlines or enforce existing ones on the complaint process. And, it asks that the court compel the department to prepare an annual report detailing the timeliness of its complaint investigations.

Herman said she pursued legal action because “it’s the only way the state is going to pay attention.”

The lawsuit cites Herman’s personal experiences with the department in filing complaints on behalf of nursing-home clients. One case filed by Herman in October 2011, which involves “serious allegations of negligent medical treatment,” remains unresolved, the lawsuit states. Two other investigations involving “serious allegations of sexual and/or physical abuse against an elder” have been pending since February 2012, according to the suit.

According to the lawsuit, the delays endanger residents and make it less likely a facility’s underlying problems will be addressed. The issues raised often need to be resolved quickly, before more harm can occur, witnesses’ memories fade – or witnesses die, the suit states.

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California sued over lagging nursing home inspections

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Quick Dismissal of Caregiver Abuse Cases Puts California Patients at Risk

October 26, 2013

California regulators routinely have conducted cursory and indifferent investigations into suspected violence and misconduct committed by hundreds of nursing assistants and in-home health aides – putting the elderly, sick and disabled at risk over the past decade.

In 2009, the state Department of Public Health quietly ordered its investigators to dismiss nearly 1,000 pending cases of abuse and theft – often with a single phone call from Sacramento headquarters. The closing of cases en masse came after officials determined their swelling backlog had become a crisis.

Four years later, state investigators are opening and closing investigations into suspected abuse without ever leaving their desks, The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED have found. In some instances, caregivers who have sexually assaulted or abused patients have retained their licenses and moved to other facilities.

An estimated 160,000 nursing assistants and in-home health aides are employed throughout California. These workers – all regulated by the Department of Public Health – are certified to work in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, developmental centers and private homes.

Since the mass dismissal of cases in 2009, the overwhelming majority of allegations of abuse and misconduct have been closed without action. The state also has dramatically reduced the number of license revocations for aides suspected of abuse and misconduct.

“I would tell anybody, do not count on the government taking care of you,” said Brian Woods, former director of the Department of Public Health’s West Covina office.  

Credit: Adithya Sambamurthy/The Center for Investigative Reporting

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Quick Dismissal of Caregiver Abuse Cases Puts Calif. Patients at Risk

CANHR Lawsuit Targets Nursing Home Management and Fees

December 21, 2012

A lawsuit filed by CANHR against the Department of Public Health and Country Villa Service Corp, challenges the state-approved practice of allowing Country Villa nursing homes to contract out their operations to another entity owned by Country Villa.

The “management’ company then receives a percentage of revenues (often 5%) from the facilities they operate. Besides CANHR, the plaintiffs include Gail Dawson, an individual. CANHR and Ms. Dawson are represented by Russell Balisok and Silvo Nardoni of Glendale. The lawsuit asks for declaratory relief invalidating state statutes as in conflict with federal law; for an order requiring disgorgement of all management fees paid; and for a permanent injunction.

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CANHR Lawsuit Targets Nursing Home Management and Fees

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Read CANHR’s Lawsuit

Improvement of Illinois Nursing Facility

November 19, 2012

Responding to published reports of substandard care this summer, state regulators and law-enforcement authorities visited the former Maple Ridge Care Centre on Tuesday, but found no major deficiencies and concluded that care at the 126-bed nursing home may have improved.

“We found a completely different facility than was portrayed in the articles,” Cara Smith, deputy chief of staff for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, told The State Journal-Register.”

Officials from Madigan’s office, the Illinois Department of Public Health and state and local police were among 16 people who spent two to three hours at the nursing home as part of Madigan’s statewide Operation Guardian nursing-home compliance initiative.

“The facility itself appeared to be very clean and orderly,” Smith said. “There were a lot of staff attending to residents. It appeared to be an entirely different environment, which is fantastic.”

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Officials Approve of Care During Visit to Lincoln Nursing Home

DuPage judge orders state health chief to appear in court

July 9, 2012

State director hasn’t turned over records

A DuPage County judge has ordered the state’s highest-ranking public health official to appear in court to explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for failing to turn over investigative records related to potential elder abuse.

Prosecutors asked Judge Kathryn Creswell on Tuesday to make the finding after representatives from the Illinois Department of Public Health failed to appear in court. Assistant State’s Attorney Ken Tatarelis said the department has been essentially unresponsive to subpoenas issued as part of grand jury investigations into undisclosed allegations of abuse at three DuPage nursing homes.

“They responded, but their responses were, in a sense, nonresponsive to the information sought in the subpoenas,” he said.

Creswell ordered Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck to appear in court July 26 and either provide the records or explain why his office has not complied with the subpoenas. If Hasbrouck is found to be in contempt of court, he could face a variety of penalties, from a fine to jail time.

Tatarelis said the records involve complaints about potential elder abuse at three unnamed nursing facilities. He said the state initially investigates any such reports, and prosecutors want records of those investigations.

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DuPage judge orders state health chief to appear in court