Brius caregivers protest company’s profit-driven care, launch BriusWatch.org
Caregivers in Marin County, Calif., picketed a Brius-owned nursing home August 1 and announced the launch of BriusWatch.org, a watchdog website that tracks the alarming record of California’s largest and most notorious nursing home operator.
“Brius, which is owned by Los Angeles entrepreneur Shlomo Rechnitz, has acquired 81 nursing homes in California since 2006, accounting for one in every 14 nursing home beds in the state,” wrote the Marin Independent Journal in its coverage of the event.
The healthcare workers, who provide care for elderly and disabled residents at San Rafael Healthcare and Wellness Center and Novato Healthcare Center, picketed the San Rafael facility to protest what the Los Angeles Long-Term Care Ombudsman calls Brius’ “flagrant disregard for human life”:
- profit-driven systemic understaffing of its nursing homes
- reduction in its residents’ basic necessities like food, clean linens, and daily hygiene
- a statewide track record of patient-care violations — triple the average for California nursing homes
- lawsuits alleging neglect, elder abuse, wrongful deaths due to “maximizing profits … by underfunding, understaffing, and undertraining the staff”
- resident suicides — an unsupervised patient checked herself out of a Brius facility and lit herself on fire at a nearby gas station
- state and federal investigations into Brius facilities, including an FBI raid and an emergency motion by the California Attorney General to block Brius from acquiring nineteen more nursing homes
The caregivers plan to picket the facility every other week for the foreseeable future.
Most caregivers at the two Marin County nursing homes report that understaffing and a reduction in hours limits their ability to fulfill their responsibilities to residents and provide quality care.
“Residents often do not get ambulated or even receive basic hygiene because there’s just not enough staff to take care of them,” said Maria Martinez, a Certified Nursing Assistant at San Rafael.
Caregivers also report that understaffing, overwork, and low wages — many caregivers do not even earn a living wage and most haven’t had a raise in four years — cause experienced caregivers to leave for better jobs.
“Our residents’ health and well-being depends on familiar relationships with reliable staff who know their needs and daily routines,” said Sukawadee Journette, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Novato.
“We’re trying to fight to increase the quality of care for our residents and also to make a living,” Maria Martinez, a certified nursing assistant at San Rafael Healthcare and Wellness Center, told the Marin Independent Journal. “It’s been almost four years now that we’ve had no raise or contract.”
From the Marin I-J:
In June 2015, the Sacramento Bee reported that between October 2014 and January 2015, three of Brius’ facilities were decertified by the federal government, preventing them from receiving Medicare and Medi-Cal funding. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have decertified only three other California nursing homes since 2010.
Brius, which is owned by Los Angeles entrepreneur Shlomo Rechnitz, has acquired 81 nursing homes in California since 2006, accounting for one in every 14 nursing home beds in the state.
In the Bee story, Rechnitz said his business model is to acquire failing nursing homes and turn them around. The Bee reported that the nursing homes that Rechnitz owned in 2013 made a profit of $62 million — five times what the same homes earned in 2006.
Medicare gives San Rafael Healthcare a below average overall rating, two out of a possible five stars, while it gives Novato Healthcare Center an average overall rating, three out of five stars.