Archive for the ‘Vermont’ Category

Not guilty verdict for nursing home employee

September 29, 2013

A not guilty verdict for a nursing home employee accused of killing a patient in Windham County.
Jodi LaClaire of Bennington, N.H.,worked at the Thompson House in Brattleboro.

She was accused of killing 83-year-old Nita Lowery.

Prosecutors say, LaClaire injected Lowery with insulin, which caused Lowery’s death.

Investigators also found evidence that LaClaire tried to take out money from Lowery’s bank account.
The Brattleboro Reformer reports that the jury convicted LaClaire on those theft charges, but not the second-degree murder charge.

Full Article and Source:
Not guilty verdict for nursing home employee

Nursing assistant to go on trial for murder

September 9, 2013

BRATTLEBORO — A judge has rejected an 11th-hour move by a former Brattleboro nursing assistant, charged with murdering one of her nursing home patients, to dismiss most of the charges.

Judge David Suntag rejected the motion from Jodi LaClaire’s attorney, Daniel Sedon, who was seeking to have related financial exploitation charges dismissed.

Suntag’s decision sets the stage for LaClaire’s murder trial to begin Monday in Brattleboro criminal court.

LaClaire, 39, formerly of Bennington, N.H., faces charges of second-degree murder, elder abuse and seven counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She is accused of injecting 85-year-old Nita Lowery of Brattleboro with a fatal dose of insulin on March 23, 2009 — medicine Lowery had never taken in her life.

According to pre-trial information from medical experts, the insulin injection left Lowery brain dead.

Lowery’s cause of death on April 1, 2009, was hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar.

Court records say that in the early morning hours of March 23, LaClaire tried to use Lowery’s credit card as Lowery lay dying in her nursing home room.

LaClaire is also charged with accessing Lowery’s financial accounts in the weeks following Lowery’s death, pocketing about $4,000.

Sedon, in a motion filed last week, had asked that all of the financial charges against his client be dismissed. He argued that two necessary legal elements were missing from many of the charges against LaClaire.

But Assistant Attorney General Ultan Doyle criticized Sedon’s reasoning in his response to the motion. He said that by Sedon’s reading of the elderly exploitation statute, there was no crime involved by LaClaire using a dead woman’s credit card.

“He argues that if a person willfully uses funds of a vulnerable adult, without legal authority, for wrongful profit, no crime has been committed, and that, similarly, if a person willfully acquires possession of an interest in funds of a vulnerable adult through the use of undue influence, no crime has been committed,” Doyle wrote.

Sedon had argued that the language of the state law was flawed, and that the state’s charges “do not contain a plain, concise and definite written statement” of an alleged crime.

Sedon argued that in order for a crime to have been committed, the state had to allege that not only had funds been used by an unauthorized person, but that the acquisition of the funds was by ‘‘wrongful means.”

LaClaire was the only nursing assistant on Lowery’s floor that night, court records stated.

According to court records, LaClaire had financial problems, mostly medical bills from Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, N.H. There were also records of LaClaire selling pieces of jewelry at a pawn shop in Massachusetts.

In late August, the state dropped nine of the financial exploitation and attempted financial exploitation counts against LaClaire, leaving seven in place.

Doyle noted that he would not present evidence about another patient at Thompson House, the Brattleboro nursing home where LaClaire worked. That patient also ended up in the emergency room with extremely low blood sugar, a sign of an insulin overdose.

Like Lowery, “T.I.” did not take insulin and was not a diabetic. “T.I.” was hospitalized and recovered from her severely low blood sugar, but died 10 months later from natural causes, court records stated.

According to court records, LaClaire herself is a diabetic and used injectable insulin.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing assistant to go on trial for murder

Groups say development in abuse suit against Vt.

August 31, 2013

MONTPELIER – Vermont Legal Aid and Disability Rights Vermont are planning to announce the details of a settlement with the state Adult Protective Services Division.

The two groups will hold a press conference today in Montpelier.

The groups filed the lawsuit last December, saying Adult Protective Services routinely violates the law that requires it to begin investigating reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults within 48 hours of receiving them.

The state had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Full Article and Source:
Groups say development in abuse suit against Vt.

Assisted Suicide and the Affordable Care Act

July 23, 2013

The controversy over federally endorsed abortion and its hidden surcharges has been well documented in conservative media. But there hasn’t been much coverage of late about the legislation’s  support for physician-assisted suicide.

Currently, only four states in the country legally allow assisted suicide. Vermont, Washington, and Oregon have unrestricted laws, meaning that the administration of life ending drugs is up to the discretion of the patient and his doctor (also it’s covered by insurance). In Montana, assisted suicide is legal through a court order. In the other 46 states, the practice is illegal and has been for most of the last century.

Section 1553

The piece of legislation in question is Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act, which reads as follows:

(a) In General – The Federal Government, and any State or local government or health care provider that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act) or any health plan created under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act), may not subject an individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the entity does not provide any health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or for the purpose of assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.

To break it down, if a terminally ill patient requests that his doctor help him end his life, and the doctor refuses for moral reasons or whatever the case may be, that doctor is protected by federal law against discrimination. This can be a saving grace for doctors who may subsequently be targeted by insurance companies because of their refusal to help patients end their lives.

Full Article and Source:
Obamacare’s covert support of assisted suicide

VT Governor Peter Shumlin Expected to Sign Watered-Down Elder Abuse Bill

May 29, 2013

Gov. Peter Shumlin vetoed one bill last year. It was an innocuous-sounding piece of legislation that would have required the Agency of Human Services (AHS) to send monthly updates to the Legislature on how it screens and responds to reports of elder abuse.

Lawmakers gave it another go this session — both the House and Senate passed a similar bill — and this time around, Shumlin is unlikely to strike it down. That’s because lawmakers stripped a number of the more onerous reporting requirements in order to secure the administration’s support.

The bill deals with the Adult Protective Services (APS) division of the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL). APS, which investigates reports of elder abuse, has been plagued with problems in recent years. Although DAIL dutifully chipped away at a backlog of hundreds of unaddressed cases,  advocates aren’t confident that the department has gotten its act together.

Full Article and Source:
Shumlin Explected to Sign Watered-Down Elder Abuse Bill

Physician Assisted Suicide

May 23, 2013

Vermont is now the fourth state in the country that allows physician assisted suicide.

The law, allowing physicians to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients, took effect Monday when it was signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin. But it could be some time before the first person is able to take advantage of the law. Dick Walters, of the group End of Life Choices, says he doesn’t think many people will take advantage of the law to end their lives, but it will improve end-of-life options for Vermonters.

Now it’s up to the Vermont Health Department to implement the rules.  For the first three years, the Vermont law will require patients to state three times they wish to die. One of those statements must be in writing.

Full Article and Source:
Physician Assisted Suicide in Michigan?

Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital Aims To Shorten Hospital Stays For Patients Needing Guardians

May 1, 2013

What happens when a patient is medically ready to leave a hospital, but is not mentally capable of making decisions?

Ideally, they have designated a proxy or guardian to help guide the way. But if they haven’t, finding a legal guardian can take weeks or months, while the patient is taking up bed space needed by others.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is trying to streamline that process.

Jasper Chen is a resident psychiatrist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and also part of an allied residency program to improve health care delivery.

When he got to Dartmouth, he noticed that a handful of patients were lingering in the hospital long after their medical procedures were finished.

Some have brain injuries, or Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Others have psychiatric conditions that make living alone unsafe—but lack family members able to care for them after they leave the hospital.

“They have actually completed their acute medical care and they are waiting for the next disposition to happen, waiting for the court to appoint a guardian so they can move onto the rehabilitation facility or the skilled nursing facility,” Chen explained.

But that legal red tape can take time to cut. So Chen and others are trying to speed up the guardian search—and free up beds.

[H]ospital’s risk manager, Jim Gregoire, reported that New Hampshire probate judges are starting to streamline the guardianship process.

“They allow us to have either telephone testimony or live video testimony so we don’t have to have the doctors often traveling an hour each way to court,” Gregoire said.

Dartmouth Hitchcock Aims To Shorten Hospital Stays For Patients Needing Guardians

Assisted suicide reaches State House

March 16, 2013

Recently the Vermont legislature has been considering a bill (S.77) that would legalize the practice of “death with dignity,” or “patient-directed dying,” or some other misleading euphemism conjured up by evidently abashed legislators.

Make no mistake: the bill would make killing another person legal, under the name of “compassion.”
The aforementioned bill states that a patient afflicted with a “terminal” illness, that is, an illness that affords its host less than six months to live, may be legally killed by a doctor, if they request medication to “hasten death.”
You probably hear appeals for state-approved suicide similar to this one all the time. But whatever the case, the amount of time a patient is told he has to live is irrelevant.
Medical experts admit that it is nearly impossible to predict when a patient will die of an illness. Moreover, some people diagnosed with a “terminal condition” do not die for years, and sometimes not at all (at least not of that particular condition).
The fact of the matter is that nobody can accurately predict when one’s life becomes meaningless.
Euthanasia ideologues say legalizing assisted suicide would lower healthcare costs, as the drugs used to end a patient’s life are much cheaper than the drugs used to preserve it. This is not an ethically based argument. It argues that there is money to be saved by killing a patient, rather than actually helping one.
Advocates of euthanasia are naive if they do not believe that health-care providers won’t urge—or pay—doctors to, in turn, urge their patients to choose suicide over treatment.
Doctors might exaggerate the severity or dreadfulness of the ailment, as it would be in their financial interest to do so. Patients would be mindlessly receptive of a doctor’s deceptive advice, for people are unlikely to disagree with an expert.
Oregon, which has already legalized assisted suicide, has similarly witnessed this “profits over people” mentality.
Not long after the passage of the euthanasia bill, Oregon announced that it would make severe cuts to its state version of Medicaid. Oregon didn’t use the money they saved to increase the quality of their healthcare; rather, the state pocketed the money.
The next fallacy in the argument of euthanasia advocates: that the choice to die would be strictly voluntary. It is foolish to deny the pressures that would exist to encourage a patient to choose death.
Poorer patients would be especially encouraged to choose death, lest they perceive themselves financial burdens to family members.
See Full Article & Source:

Data Gaps Hamper Elderly-Abuse Review in VT

January 29, 2013

Vermont has made big progress in clearing up a backlog of investigations into reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of the elderly and other vulnerable adults, according to both critics and defenders of the state’s Adult Protective Services system.

But there’s concern among some lawmakers and advocates that the division of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living may be clearing the backlog, in part, by being too selective in taking new cases.

And the department’s commissioner acknowledged in an interview and in testimony to the House Human Services Committee that there are big gaps in the data used by lawmakers trying to measure the division’s performance.

The House Human Services Committee heard testimony Thursday that APS failed to intervene in a Bennington County case of an 89-year-old woman whose daughter was threatening to kill her.

Sandy Conrad, executive director of the Southwestern Vermont Area Agency on Aging, said repeated calls from her office to APS beginning at 1:13 p.m. on a Friday in November drew no response until the following Monday. After a cursory review, APS sent a letter to Conrad’s agency saying, “The available evidence indicated that abuse, neglect or exploitation did not occur,” she told the committee.

Despite appeals to more senior APS staff, there’s been “nothing to date that changes this decision,” Conrad said. “And that perpetrator still lives in that household and is still a threat to that situation.”

Full Article and Source:
Data Gaps Hamper Elderly-Abuse Review in VT

Vermont Governonr ‘Confident’ Assisted Suicide Will Pass Next Year

December 9, 2012

Despite strong opposition from pro-life forces and a recent high-profile defeat in neighboring Massachusetts, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said last week he is confident the state legislature will pass a bill legalizing assisted suicide during the next session.

Referring to assisted suicide as “death with dignity,” Shumlin laid out his agenda for 2013 in a press conference last week.

“I’m confident that regardless of who leads the various bodies in the legislature, that we can pass decriminalization of marijuana, death with dignity, and the [unionization] bill for childcare workers,” the governor said. “We’re going to get them done.”

But the Democratic governor will face strong resistance, even from within his own party.

Senate president John Campbell, also a Democrat, has consistently opposed so-called “death with dignity” legislation. He said last week that he has not changed his position on the issue and doubts whether it has enough support to pass the state legislature.

Full Article and Source:
Vermont Governor Confident Assisted Suicide Will Pass Next Year