Elder Abuse and Nursing Homes Continued….
THE SENTOSA STORY:
Lost Messiah comments, June 15, 2016
What follows is an article written by a contributor to Lost Messiah whose research on nursing and rehabilitation facilities and the malefactors who own them, profit from them and appear to care little about those entrusted in their care, has been impeccable.
On the anonymous contributor’s behalf we have accepted responsibility for bringing to light the ills of the Nursing and Rehabilitation homes and their owners, a profitable industry which effectively destroys the lives of many of this country’s elderly and their families.
We believe that the elderly, those who are in the sunset years of their lives, are entitled to respect, dignity and humanity. From the articles our contributor finds and researches, we believe that they are denied even the most basic of human comforts and we believe it a travesty.
We thank this contributor for his or her insights, passion and caring. We hope to one day be able to deserve some credit, if not just a small bit, for helping to better the quality of lives for our elderly. It will never happen until in our view the extremely wealthy minion that owns these homes, Shlomo Rechnitz, Braunstein and son, Ben Landa, Haysha Deutsch and so many others grow a conscience, right their skewed collective moral compass or one day in the not so distant future lie in the beds they have made for the patients in their care.
OUR ELDERLY DESERVE BETTER – THE ELDER ABUSE WITHIN THESE HOMES MUST STOP!
In yesterday’s Lost Messiah someone commented: “One may be aware that Chabad is plagued with scandal. Despite their efforts to appear religious and righteous, those willing to do their research on Chabad will find story after story about child sexual abuse cover-ups, financial crimes, building their infrastructure with donations of illegally obtained money, etc. So it’s no surprise that Chabad of Port Washington, NY named the mafia figure in the WaPo [Washington Post] story “Man of the Year” in 2014.”
This serves as no surprise.
This organization is ground zero for malefactors feigning a moral imperative under the auspices of their misappropriated Judaism…the harm done to patients in the nursing homes owned by some of their members is de facto criminal negligence.
If one goes to that organization’s website one will find the disreputable Nursing Home Machiavelli Attorney Howard Fensterman on its Board of Directors:
Howard Fensterman’s Curriculum Vitae [Fensterman Bio] includes a myriad of fund raisers for the organization and government’s pay-to-play puppets who aid and abet Chabad. Our corrupt elected officials have been sponsoring harm to the disabled elderly for years.
And these members dare to pontificate about phony morality while doing harm to the most vulnerable within our society, the most deserving of our attention, our kindness and our compassion. What is most unbelievable is that the harm and abuse to the elderly is committed and then spun by “Philantrhopists” with straight face.
One of the Chabad’s listed “Supporters” is Ben Landa, who has been mentioned in our posts as part of Sentosa Nursing Home infamy. He who was the founder of Chabad of Port Washington. Landa’s Sentosa partner is Bent Philipson.
Sentosa Care facilities have been subject of numerous reports of poor care. Based on a 2014 listing of Sentosa facilities, with 142 appeals they are in line to receive a piece of the multi-million dollar handout.
TROUBLED NY NURSING HOMES WITH RATE APPEALS
“The state has negotiated a “Universal Settlement” with the nursing home industry which, according to the industry’s lobbyists, will provide an $850 million pay-off to settle the appeals. Not only are the validity of those appeals unknown, many of the facilities which will likely receive a portion of the purported $850 million payoff have a history of poor care and abuse. These nursing homes are known to have failed to meet the minimum standards which they were paid to achieve. Now, in addition to their initial payment for providing substandard services, these facilities are likely to share in the $850 million payoff.”
More on Sentosa from the ProPublica story – Oct 2015:
The state’s “character-and-competence” reviews are supposed to weed out operators with histories of violations and fines— but regulators don’t always act on the full story.
The nursing home is one of several in a group of for-profit homes affiliated with SentosaCare, LLC, that have a record of repeat fines, violations and complaints for deficient care in recent years.
Despite that record, SentosaCare founder Benjamin Landa, partner Bent Philipson and family members have been able to expand their nursing home ownerships in New York, easily clearing regulatory reviews meant to be a check on repeat offenders. SentosaCare is now the state’s largest nursing home network, with at least 25 facilities and nearly 5,400 beds.
That unhindered expansion highlights the continued weakness of nursing home oversight in New York, an investigation by ProPublica found, and exposes gaps in the state’s system for vetting parties who apply to buy shares in homes.
State law requires a “character-and-competence” review of buyers before a change in ownership can go through. To pass muster, other health care facilities associated with the buyers must have a record of high-quality care.
The decision maker in these deals is the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, a body of appointed officials, many from inside the health care industry. The council has substantial leverage to press nursing home applicants to improve quality, but an examination of dozens of transactions in recent years show that power is seldom used.
Moreover, records show that the council hasn’t always had complete information about all the violations and fines at nursing homes owned by or affiliated with applicants it reviewed. That’s because the Department of Health, which prepares character-and-competence recommendations for the council, doesn’t report them all.
Thirteen of SentosaCare’s homes (though not Avalon Gardens) have Medicare’s bottom score for nurse staffing. Inspection reports also show that at least seven residents have wandered away from the SentosaCare affiliated facilities in recent years — including one who froze to death in 2011. Inspectors and prosecutors have found that staff falsified records in some cases. Dozens of patients at SentosaCare homes have experienced long delays before receiving necessary care; some ended up in hospitals.
The Stewarts said the staff at Avalon Gardens showed “no sense of urgency” when they complained about missed meals, soiled sheets and unanswered call bells. Even though nurses dressed the wound on Charlie’s leg daily, and a doctor checked it each week, no one warned them about its worsening condition, the Stewarts said.
Dr. Kris Alman, a retired endocrinologist who reviewed Stewart’s medical records and photographs at ProPublica’s request, said that the two quarter-sized lesions on his foot when he was admitted to Avalon Gardens could not have “become what it did overnight.” That the condition “progressed as far as it did, with him coming in septic and needing an above-the-knee amputation, was inexcusable,” Alman said.
Landa’s attorney and business partner, Howard Fensterman, declined to comment on Stewart’s case for reasons of patient privacy. Fensterman defended Avalon Gardens and other SentosaCare facilities, however, saying that when inspectors have found problems, the homes quickly addressed them and secured state approval of correction plans.
Fensterman also said that SentosaCare does not have “ownership or control” over the facilities in its network and only contracts with them to provide administrative and rehabilitation consulting, regulatory advice and purchasing services. Records show, however, that Landa and Philipson, or family members, have ownership stakes or directorships in nearly all of SentosaCare’s facilities. Fensterman also co-owns 14 nursing homes with Landa in several states, including one SentosaCare home.
Fensterman is a former member of the state health council, as is Landa, who entered the nursing home business in the late 1980s and emerged as one of the sector’s biggest players over the next decade. Landa, Philipson or family members now hold stakes in at least 33 nursing homes in New York and an equal number in nine other states.
In 2013, the latest year for which state data is available, homes under the SentosaCare umbrella paid the company more than $11.5 million for financial, staffing and other services, and spent nearly $630,000 with Fensterman’s law firm.
SentosaCare’s New York Nursing Homes
Medicare rates nursing homes on a scale of 1 (bottom performers) to 5 stars (best). Here are ratings for the homes
The most critical nursing home deficiencies are known as “immediate jeopardy”violations — incidents or conditions that have caused or are likely to cause the “serious injury, harm, impairment, or death” of patients. Less than 6 percent of all New York homes were cited for four or more immediate-jeopardy violations in recent years.
By comparison, Avalon Gardens was cited for 10 immediate-jeopardy violations in the three years ending in August, the third-highest number in the state for that period. Two other SentosaCare homes — Woodmere Rehabilitation & Health Care Center and South Point Plaza Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — each have been cited for four.
Elopements — where residents leave the premises without the knowledge of a home’s operators — have been a repeat problem for Avalon and Woodmere, where SentosaCare co-owner Philipson has been listed as longtime managing partner.
Two days before Thanksgiving in 2011, a group of Woodmere residents walked to a nearby school for a holiday lunch. When aides took a head count, one of the 19 residents, a 55-year-old with dementia named Dennis Buckham, was missing.
Buckham wasn’t found until four days later, face down on a Brooklyn sidewalk, frozen and without a pulse. He died of cardiac arrest and hypothermia, according to the chief medical examiner’s report cited in the Department of Health investigation.
Fensterman said Woodmere overhauled its policies and procedures, and that the state signed off on an official plan of correction. Two years later, however, a 64-year-old Woodmere resident with schizophrenia left a secure unit 10 times over three months. Staffers found her in the basement and at the front door, but according to the state’s report, the home did not investigate, change her care plan or conduct a doctor-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
About a month later, the woman walked past a security guard and was found in the road. Fensterman said no harm resulted, the home fired the security guard who let the resident slip out, and the state again approved a correction plan.
Residents also wandered from Avalon Gardens in 2011 and 2013, state inspection reportsshow. In all, at least seven residents wandered away from SentosaCare facilities between 2011 and 2014, according to state inspection reports.
The reports also document dozens of cases of delayed treatment at SentosaCare homes. At Woodmere in 2012, staffers failed to promptly send four patients to the hospital, two of whom died. Two years later, a resident at Parkview Care and Rehabilitation Center in Nassau County suffered from a collapsed lung for four days while staff failed to check results from a chest X-ray or assess his breathing or vital signs.
Fensterman said that each SentosaCare home is distinct. “There is no pattern of delayed treatment among facilities,” he said, “as each facility cited had separate issues, which in no way relate to each other.” He said the Health Department found the incidents to be isolated and that all were corrected.
On multiple occasions, state inspectors discovered that staff at SentosaCare facilities tried to cover up lapses in care — allegedly lying about elopements or the failure to spot bedsores, for example. After a 2012 investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the administrator of The Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, a SentosaCare home in Suffolk County, pled guilty to falsifying records after a resident wandered away and was found walking on the highway five hours later. The administrator was sentenced to a $2,500 fine and probation.
In June, after another investigation by Schneiderman’s office, four Woodmere nurses were arrested for falsely signing off on forms saying they had checked on a resident who fell three times in a week and ended up hospitalized. Three pleaded guilty to misdemeanors; the fourth case is pending.
The criminally charged nurses within the Sentosa 27 stood firm and united during their last criminal court appearance Dec. 17 at a state supreme courthouse in Suffolk County on Long Island, N.Y., when the assistant district attorney advised that they take on separate legal counsels.
The Avalon 10 and their lawyer, Felix Vinluan, have been leading a popular campaign to appeal to New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer to appoint a special prosecutor independent of the Suffolk County district attorney’s office on Long Island.
The Sentosa 27 nurses, with the assistance of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or NAFCON, have been waging a justice campaign since 2006, in a clear case of human trafficking, illegal recruiting and indentured servitude at the hands of SentosaCare LLC. Sentosa is a major health-care management agency managing over 12 nursing homes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Sentosa is owned and managed by Bent Philipson, a major political contributor to Sen. Charles Schumer as well as former Philippine Executive Secretary Mike Defensor. The nurses claim political interference on Sentosa’s part has been a major obstruction to justice in their campaign thus far, and has enabled the fraudulent Sentosa Recruitment Agency in Manila to continue to operate.
“We are very concerned that anyone affiliated with District Attorney Thomas Spota will not afford us a fair and objective trial,” said Vinluan. “This has been an uphill battle wherein all signs point to the reality that the Sentosa camp is working in collusion with Sen. Charles Schumer and other local government officials. These political ties yield power and influence to the multi-million-dollar Sentosa camp and disenfranchise us of our rights as immigrants.”
The nurses say that a Spota trial would establish a strong anti-immigrant and pro-Sentosa bias was further substantiated by the fact that before the indictment, Spota had a series of private meetings with the principals of Avalon Gardens, the Riverhead nursing home owned and managed by SentosaCare LLC.
Despite standing firm that all nurses were satisfied being represented by one legal counsel for the course of their criminal trial, attorney James Druker, it was evident that Judge Robert Doyle felt compelled to advise them to seek more than one attorney for the case.
“These are divide-and-rule tactics,” stated Rico Foz, executive vice president of the NAFCON. “It is not beyond the Sentosa camp and the Suffolk district attorney to seek to weaken the unity of the Avalon 10 by dividing them up by legal counsels and giving them uneven advise. We admire the example of the nurses’ unity at this critical time.”
Vinluan had advised that the nurses had the right to resign after working for more than a year under violated employment contracts and after suffering intolerable work place abuse. SentosaCare LLC owner Bent Philipson retaliated by filing criminal charges against the 10 nurses for patient endangerment, while Vinluan was charged with tortuous interference.
“This is not just about the rights of immigrant nurses, but the rights of lawyers to offer their clients sound legal advice are also being called to question,” Vinluan defended.
The Avalon 10 maintain that none of their patients faced endangerment and that they fully resigned only after completing their shifts and making sure the incoming nurses were already in. Since then, the Sentosa 27, along with NAFCON, have launched an international campaign for justice and to shut down the fraudulent and illegal operations of SentosaCare LLC and the Sentosa Recruitment Agency in Manila.
The nurses and Vinluan maintain that the immediate battlefront at this point, before the Jan. 28 start date of the criminal trial, is to convince Spitzer to appoint a special prosecutor before then. A letter-writing campaign to Spitzer has already been launched by NAFCON, the New York Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, the Philippine Nurses Association, Region 1 of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations, as well as the California Nurses Association.