The Brius Jet Watch – 40,000 Feet

 

http://briuswatch.org/jet-paper/

The Jet Papers

In February of 2017, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) published a report (“Misplaced Priorities at 40,000 Feet”) about a luxury jet operated by a Brius-related company for the benefit of Brius’ owner and CEO, Shlomo Rechnitz.

The following are links to many of the source documents used to prepare the report. All of the documents are public records obtained from state and federal government agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration, the California Secretary of State, and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Brius LLC Gulfstream G-IV Documentation

(1) Aircraft Bill of Sale (AC Form 8050-2) memorializing the purchase of the Gulfstream G-IV jet by SR Administrative Services, LLC. Dated September 20, 2013. Source: Federal Aviation Administration.

(2) Aircraft Registration Application (AC Form 8050-1) submitted by SR Administrative Services, LLC and signed by Shlomo Rechnitz. Dated September 20, 2013. Source: Federal Aviation Administration.

(3) Aircraft Registration Renewal Application (AC Form 8050-1B) submitted by SR Administrative Services, LLC. Dated July 12, 2016. Source: Federal Aviation Administration.

(4) Flight Data covering the period from September 2013 through July 2016, which the FAA provided in electronic “.xls” format. The hyperlinked spreadsheet contains two tabs: (1) “Sheet 1 – modified” and (2) “Sheet 2 – original”. Source: Federal Aviation Administration.

(5) Loan and Security Agreement by and between Compass Bank and SR Administrative Services, LLC signed by Shlomo Rechnitz and detailing a $3.628 million loan for the purchase of the jet. This document also describes the agreement by which SR Administrative Services, LLC leased the jet to SR Capital, LLC. See page 6 and various pages following the initial signature page, including an attachment entitled “Acknowledgment, Grant of Security Interest and Subordination Agreement by SR Capital, LLC.” Dated September 17, 2013. Source: Federal Aviation Administration.

(6) Limited Liability Company Articles of Organization” (Form LLC-1) for “SR Administrative Services, LLC.” Dated June 3, 2013. Source: California Secretary of State.

(7) Limited Liability Company Articles of Organization”(Form LLC-1) for “SR Capital, LLC.” Dated December 28, 2009. Source: California Secretary of State.

(8) Statements of Information” (Form LLC-12) for “SR Administrative Services, LLC. Dated November 9, 2015 and July 12, 2013. Source: California Secretary of State.

(9) Statements of Information” (Form LLC-12) for “SR Capital, LLC. Dated January 28, 2015 and October 6, 2015. Source: California Secretary of State.

(10) Certificate of Status” for “SR Administrative Services, LLC. Dated September 14, 2016. Source: California Secretary of State.

(11) Certificate of Status” for “SR Capital, LLC. Dated September 14, 2016. Source: California Secretary of State.

(12) Certificate of Merger” (Form OBE Merger-1) for“SR Capital, LLC,” signed by Shlomo Rechnitz. Dated December 20, 2012. Source: California Secretary of State.

(13) Excerpt from Medi-Cal Cost Report Describing a Brius Nursing Home’s Transactions with SR Capital, LLC. This two-page excerpt is taken from a recent Medi-Cal Cost Report submitted by one of Brius’ nursing homes, Monterey Healthcare & Wellness Center (Rosemead, CA), to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). This excerpt offers an example of the kinds of financial transactions between “SR Capital, LLC” (the corporation that operates the jet) and individual Brius nursing homes. On the second page of the document, Monterey Healthcare & Wellness Center reports it paid $530,382 to SR Capital/YTR Capital during the 12-month period ended December 31, 2015. In addition, it shows that Monterey Healthcare & Wellness Center owed $4,327,952 to “SR Capital, LLC” at the end of 2015. Source: California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

(14) Shlomo Rechnitz, SR Capital, LLC and SR Administrative Services, LLC. This notarized document is excerpted from the 54-page “Loan and Security Agreement by and between Compass Bank and SR Administrative Services, LLC,” which is available in its entirety on this page. It is excerpted here in order to document Rechnitz’ role atop SR Capital, LLC and SR Administrative Services, LLC, the corporations that operate and own the jet. For example, Rechnitz signed this notarized document which identifies him as the “CEO” and “Managing Member” of “SR capital, LLC, a California limited liability company, as the sole member and manager of SR ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, LLC, a California limited liability company…” Multiple additional public records confirm Rechnitz’ positions.

SentosaCare – Filipino Nurses – October 2015 – Accountability (or the lack thereof) and Politics

Ben Landa – a Comment to Our Previous PostSentosaCare and Google

LostMessiah – 20.04.17

After reading one of the “glowing endorsements” of Ben Landa we received in the comments to our previous posting, and in an effort to stay true to investigating the voracity of our commenter’s claims that the staff at SentosaCare is happy in their positions, we decided to do as the commenter asked, “Google.”

Much to our chagrin, there were numerous glowing articles about SentosaCare and Ben Landa all of which, unsurprisingly, were posted on SentosaCare’s websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages or those of SentosaCare’s affiliates and partners. We also found glowing reviews of Ben Landa, also on his own website, LinkedIn pages and Twitter feeds.  Unsurprising, there were no flowery reports about Ben Landa being a “great guy.”

In fact, among the many things we found on our Google search (completed at the request of the commenter) were a string of lawsuits against SentosaCare, the most chilling of which related to the company’s treatment of its Filipino staff. We were surprised to find a string of repeated accusations dating back to 2004 and elder care issues at Fensterman’s nursing home in 2003 and earlier.  But Fensterman was not the subject of our commenter’s words of praise. We were thus shamed into realizing that not enough has been said about SentosaCare, Ben Landa, Howard Fensterman and the political gamesmanship that has facilitated, if not out rightly endorsed these facilities.

We discovered, thanks to our commenter, that the most interesting and unsettling explanation for the success of these facilities can be found at least as early as 2005. There are certainly numerous articles supporting our repeated contentions that politics and the political generosity of the owners of these homes are like binary stars, functioning because they feed off each other like parasites. Political clout knows no bounds and moral bankruptcy can likely not be crammed down.

The reality of today could not be better described than it was in an article from  2007 by Michael Amon and Ridgely Ochs entitled:

“How a Long Island Nursing Home Empire Got Its Way”

/01/05/how-a-long-island-nursing-home-empire-got-its-way/

Instead of posting that article, which only serves to outline the history of behavior found in our previous post, we decided to post the text of an article found on the website of a South Carolina law firm. While we know nothing at all about this firm, their words speaks volumes.

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT:

In the interest of full disclosure, this posting is not an endorsement of the law firm quoted nor is it an advertisement on behalf of the law firm. We know nothing about the law firm or their services but are simply posting information we found in a Google search. We felt it important to show that we indulged the request of one of our commenters and the results of that request led us here. – LM

 

SENTOSACARE: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE AREN’T PUT FIRST?

POSTED BY CHRISTIAN & DAVIS LLC || 29-OCT-2015

With more than 5000 beds in 25 facilities, SentosaCare, LLC is now the largest nursing home network in the state of New York. However, a quick look into the record of complaints, fines, and violations is enough to make one wonder how SentosaCare is allowed to run one facility, let alone acquire dozens more.

In one particularly harrowing story, a 60 year old patient was placed into a SentosaCare facility to recover from a diabetic emergency. He entered the facility with minor wounds on his foot, and expected them to heal over the six weeks he planned to stay at the home. However, his “recovery” soon led to an emergency hospital visit, as negligence by caretakers led to a severe infection which required amputating his foot.

Why is SentosaCare Being Allowed to Expand?

In New York, prospective buyers of nursing home facilities must pass a “character-and-competence” review before the transaction will be allowed. The Public Health and Health Planning Council is supposed to deny these deals when they find that the facilities have repeat violations which could potentially put the residents at risk. The Council works primarily off of reports and records compiled by the Department of Health.

However, the Department of Health has regularly excluded or failed to report major violations, including more than 20 federal fines which SentosaCare facilities have been ordered to pay. Inspections reports have indicated numerous instances of residents wandering away, and in one case, freezing to death. Prosecutors and inspectors alike have found that staff members have falsified records. Despite this, the Department of Health found that SentosaCare homes provide a “substantially consistent high level of care.”

We Fight for Those Who Can’t

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of instances of improper patient care in SentosaCare facilities. While this group appears to be particularly troubled, similar abuse and neglect unfortunately occurs in facilities around the country. The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general has even stated that one-third of all Medicare patients suffered preventable harm in a nursing home within one month of being admitted for short-term rehab. For more information, read this recent ProPublica article.

At Christian & Davis, LLC, our Greenville nursing home abuse attorneys are proud to stand up for the rights of the elderly. We believe that when you put your loved one into a nursing home, they deserve to receive a high standard of care – and the law is on our side. If someone you love has suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff, contact our firm immediately to pursue justice.

Hold negligent or abusive nursing homes accountable for their actions. Call (864) 408-8890 today for experienced, compassionate counsel.

Lawrence Feigen and Shlomo Rechnitz -buying an ally “in the medical profession”

 

How does a 28-year-old raise more than $1 million for a congressional bid?

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-justin-fareed-lawrence-feigen-shlomo-rechnitz-ca24-20160602-snap-story.html

In his first run for Congress two years ago, Justin Fareed, a relative newcomer to politics, relied mostly on his own money. He didn’t make it past the primary.

This year, the 28-year-old Republican, a former UCLA Bruins running back, has significantly more money to work with — $1 million.

Most of it — 80% — came from people living outside his Santa Barbara district. And nearly $200,000 has come from donors with ties to two of the state’s largest nursing home operators.

The businessmen, Lawrence Feigen and Shlomo Rechnitz, of L.A.’s Westside, have given the maximum allowed contributions, as have members of their families and their friends and employees.

Operators of skilled nursing facilities have a big stake in congressional decisions on healthcare funding and policy. Those businesses depend on funding from Medicaid and Medicare — and, in California, Medi-Cal – and they are under constant scrutiny by government regulators and inspectors.

Fareed himself is in the medical business; he is vice president of his family’s company, ProBand Sports Industries, which makes devices to treat tennis elbow and other repetitive stress injuries. In his candidate statement on the ballot, he also describes himself as a “third-generation cattle rancher” who understands “the burdensome taxes and regulations coming out of Washington, and the implications it has on small businesses and the agricultural community along the Central Coast.”

The congressional race in Santa Barbara, where Democratic Rep. Lois Capps is retiring, pits Fareed against Democratic Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who has raised $1.8 million. The field of five others includes Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, also a Democrat, and Republican Assemblyman K.H. “Katcho” Achadjian. The top two finishers in June will face off in November.

Feigen’s company SnF Management owns more than 35 long-term nursing facilities in California and Arizona under the name Windsor Healthcare.

Rechnitz owns more than 70 facilities and has been described as the state’s largest nursing home operator. In recent years, state and federal authorities have investigated his companies on charges including elder abuse and involuntary manslaughter.

Feigen and at least 30 of his employees, business associates, friends and family members have together contributed at least $108,000 to Fareed’s congressional campaign. Rechnitz, employees of his businesses and their family members have given at least $74,000.

Federal law caps direct donations to candidates at $2,700 for the primary and $2,700 for the general election.

Feigen donated the maximum amount to Fareed’s campaign. Rechnitz contributed $2,700. Three Feigen family members listed as students in finance disclosures each donated $2,700.

In addition, Feigen, his family’s trust and his company donated $25,000 to New Generation, a pro-Fareed political action committee that has since disbanded. Ramat Medical, where Rechnitz is chief financial officer, donated $10,000. Feigen and his wife also donated $10,000 to another PAC set up to support Fareed.

When asked about his donations, Feigen said he and his family “like people who are honest” and not part of the political establishment. He said he knew Fareed through business connections in the medical sector. Rechnitz, through a representative, declined to speak about his contributions to Fareed’s campaign beyond an emailed statement.

“Mr. Rechnitz is a major, non-denominational, non-partisan donor who last year alone contributed to more than 1,100 institutions,” Rechnitz’s spokesperson Stefan Friedman said in the statement.

At the recent opening of his campaign’s Santa Barbara headquarters, Fareed described Feigen as “a supporter like all of our other supporters for the campaign.”

Fundraising success

Fareed, a onetime Capitol Hill aide to a Kentucky congressman, ran for the Santa Barbara congressional seat in 2014, coming up a few hundred votes short of making it past the top-two primary to challenge Capps, the incumbent. That year, he raised about $190,000 and loaned his campaign $197,000.

Voter registration in the district, which stretches across San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, is almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. President Obama won the district by 11 points in 2012, and tea party favorite Chris Mitchum, son of the late actor Robert Mitchum, came close to ousting Capps in 2014.

Around 56% of Fareed contributors this year live outside the district, and they contributed $875,000 of his $1.08 million in donations.

About 77% of the $1.5 million that Fareed’s opponent Carbajal has raised from individual donors comes from inside the Central Coast district.

At least 90 of Fareed’s 490 donors live in West Los Angeles, in the Hancock Park, Fairfax and Mid-Wilshire neighborhoods. Supporters in the 90036 ZIP Code contributed a combined $235,000 to the candidate — nearly 25% of the money Fareed brought in since the campaign began.

Many of those Westside donors have ties to the medical industry, according to donation records filed with the FEC.

Feigen is the co-founder of privately owned SnF Management, which manages a chain of nursing facilities. He is also the chief executive of a medical device company that sells orthotic insoles, according to his company website and LinkedIn page.

Rechnitz’s facilities brought in $62 million in profits in 2013, according to a Sacramento Bee report, citing state figures.

In August, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris filed involuntary manslaughter charges against one of Rechnitz’s nursing homes, and two of its employees were also charged with dependent adult abuse. Charges against one defendant were dismissed at a hearing last month after she agreed to testify in this case. The charges against the head of nursing and the nursing home remain, and the case is pending. At another Rechnitz-owned facility in Orange County, two former employees were charged with three counts each of elder abuse and failure to report abuse. Their trial is scheduled for July.


For the Record

5:50 p.m., June 2: An earlier version of this article said charges of dependent adult abuse against one defendant were dismissed at a hearing this month. The hearing was in May.


In addition, three Rechnitz-owned facilities repeatedly failed inspections and were eventually decertified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency spokesman said. Regulatory violations at facilities owned by Rechnitz have led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Rechnitz’s spokesman declined to comment on those cases but said the executive brought “59 nursing homes out of insolvency and currently provides life-saving care to thousands of Californians.”

‘A good guy’

West Hollywood resident Viktor Kogan and his wife each gave $2,700 to Fareed’s campaign in late October.

Asked recently about the contributions, Kogan said he could not recall donating to Fareed, adding that he had never heard of the candidate.

When shown a copy of a federal record noting his contribution, Kogan, 75, said his daughter, Ksenya Kogan, arranged the donation. She also contributed, and listed one of Feigen’s companies, SnF Management, as her employer.

Ksenya Kogan, an attorney, declined to comment about the donations except to say she had met Fareed through friends.

In nearby Hancock Park, Freda Stock gave a total of $5,400 to Fareed, but said she didn’t know anything about the candidate or his campaign. Stock said Feigen has done business with her husband and has been a family friend for “many, many years.”

Fareed’s campaign also has received donations from outside the state, including a $2,700 contribution from Chaim Feigen, a recent graduate of New York University who works for SnF Management and is registered to vote at Lawrence Feigen’s Los Angeles home. Asked about his contribution, he declined to comment.

Other donors interviewed by The Times said they had given money to Fareed’s campaign based on the advice of friends or business associates.

One of those is Denise Wilson, an executive at Ramat Medical, the West Los Angeles medical supply company where Rechnitz is chief executive. Wilson, who gave $2,700, said a group of people that she works with introduced her to Fareed’s campaign.

“They said that he was a good guy,” she said. “I couldn’t give you a definitive answer of his issues or what he stands for. They just said that he was a good, up-and-coming person to support our industry.”

Lawrence Feigen’s brother, Alan, who also works at Ramat Medical and gave $2,700, said he did not know Fareed personally. He said that a client, whom he declined to identify, had asked Ramat Medical employees to support the candidate.

Among other donors, Ken Zelden, a vice president at Harris Office Products in Van Nuys, said he gave Fareed’s campaign $2,700 because he’d “been told he is a good guy.” “I’m looking forward to meeting him,” he said.

At a recent campaign event in Santa Barbara, Fareed said donors from the healthcare industry comprise “a very prominent base of support that we are developing all over the place.”

Please read the article in its original format: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-justin-fareed

Shlomo Rechnitz, Sing, While the Elderly in Your Care Live in Deplorable Conditions…

timthumb

 

http://comptonherald.com/chronic-abuse-inglewood-centinela-nursing-home/

 

Centinela Skilled Nursing &Wellness Centre in Inglewood under fire again for negligent care of woman who ended up in ICU; numerous others in California owned by Brius Healthcare violated health codes

INGLEWOOD (MNS) — Reva McKissick was admitted into the Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre in Inglewood for recuperation and rehabilitation following discharge from Centinela Hospital Medical Center, where she was treated six weeks for a severe body infection.

McKissick (not her real name) was progressing steadily, according to family members (who requested anonymity) until the evening of July 25, when something went terribly wrong.

Continue reading

“Shame on Shlomo” – Are Rechnitz’s Nursing Homes Safe?

Life and Death in Health Care’s Trenches

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/06/life-and-death-in-health-cares-trenches/

Is a nursing home a safe place? The question is not, is a nursing home a nice place? Not much room for argument there. Nursing home are not popular places. The question here, though, is it is a safe place?

It seems not, certainly not if the home is operated by Brius Healthcare, the largest chain of nursing homes in California, with 81 facilities statewide, and a handful in Nevada and Texas. This chain – increasingly the typical organizational form in the for profit nursing home industry – is owned by the southern California tycoon, Shomo Rechnitz; Brius controls 1 in 14 nursing home beds in California, an empire with facilities from San Diego to Eureka.

Rechnitz, who purchased his first nursing home in 2006, is called an entrepreneur and philanthropist by admirers; he is a supporter of Jewish and Israeli enterprises, but considers himself nondenominational; he also bankrolls right-wing California politicians. His business depends on funding from the government – Medicaid and Medicare. Rechnitz, a success story for many, a rising star in the ranks of West Coast billionaires, is now in trouble, as is his industry. Shlomo Rechnitz and Brius face charges from the media, the state Attorney General, the police, nursing home reformers, patient advocates and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

The important new report, “California Nursing Home Chains By Ownership Type: Facility and Residential Characteristics, Staffing and Quality Outcomes in 2015,” written Leslie Ross and Charlene Harrington, UC San Francisco professors, while not focused on Brius, spells out the issues in great detail. More new information is also available from the California Association for Nursing Home Reform (CANHRA). The Sacramento Bee has an investigative report on nursing homes available on line and now NUHW has put up its own website, documenting Brius’ misdeeds and supporting its members own fight for decent contracts – BriusWatch.org.

The nursing home industry was transformed in the 1950s and 60’s, as small, non-profit providers were increasingly replaced by for-profit companies and these flourished through to the end of the century, fueled by revenues from Medicare and Medicaid. Since then, however, the industry has been in slow decline, despite the continuing aging of the population; still in 2015 there were 15,640 nursing homes in the US with 1.5 million residents. California has 1200 nursing homes located in 56 of its counties.

The shift to for-profit chains has taken place in this context; private owners now increasingly rely on consolidation – increasing market share – in place of actual growth; aggressive chain managements, Brius excels here, acquire failing facilities at bargain-basement prices often through bankruptcy proceedings. These facilities most often already have quality problems – problems which persist and often worsen under Brius.

Today, the deepening crises in mental health and homelessness present possible new clients, as well as, of course, new problems. The number of mentally ill and young residents living in California nursing homes has risen over the past number of years, creating a volatile population mix that produces safety and patient care challenges for traditional elderly nursing home residents and nursing home staff. According to the Sacramento Bee report, California for-profit nursing home owners admit acute-care and non-traditional residents which can yield as much as $800 per day for those with Medicare. Thus the chains have targeted services to post-acute care and rehabilitation – services that receive the highest Medicare reimbursement at the expense of long-stay residents.

Seventy-five percent of California nursing homes are now owned by chains. These chains have cut nursing levels and reduced support staff, and overseen an unmistakable decline in quality of care and life for clients, as well as the working conditions, wages and benefits of its employees.

Of all the areas with “serious quality problems” examined by Ross and Harrington, staffing is singled out; and the fact that California’s “Medicaid reimbursement rate methodology has only weak incentives to increase staffing and has very limited financial accountability standards and reporting requirements.” The result – “dangerously low staffing levels” are endemic in the industry.

They also note that all the evidence suggests that “high staffing levels, especially RN staff, have been associated with higher quality of care…”

Studies, including these, show, not surprisingly, that “facilities with the highest profit margins have been found to have the poorest quality” and, again not surprisingly, that “government and business interests have been supporting the for-profit nursing home industry that controls the long-term care field to the disadvantage of non-profit organizations and home-and community based services.”

Back to Brius. “What we’re seeing at the Brius locations is quite concerning,” says Molly Davies, administrator for Los Angeles’ Long-term Care Ombudsman Programs, the programs that investigate nursing home complaints. “We have seen patterns of poor care, patterns of substandard care in some of these facilities.

“The dangerously low staffing levels in many California nursing homes have resulted in many serious quality problems.” The result? Davies says that in far too many cases her staff has witnessed what can only be seen as a “flagrant disregard for human life.”

***

BriusWatch.org has gathered the evidence for us, the details in human lives. Here are examples, all shocking, all inexcusable:

In 2009, Rechnitz purchased an abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium in Fresno County, then converted it into a nursing home. In 2011, a state investigation found numerous health hazards at the aging facility. Surveyors cited bathrooms with standing water and toilets brimming with fecal matter; the poorly maintained sewage treatment system downhill from the home resulted in workers having to manually dispose of feces in garbage bags.

Inspectors also detailed a gastrointestinal illness that swept through the facility in September and October, sickening numerous residents and staff. One 75-year-old resident, who contracted salmonella during the outbreak while recuperating from a mastectomy, died in late September following a wound infection.

Inspectors found that staff lacked the training to properly change her dressing, and she was admitted to an acute care hospital with sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection, state documents show. Doctors discovered that a foam sponge used in the dressing had been left behind by staff and was growing into her skin; she died within a week. (Sacramento Bee, June 13, 2015)

***

In Montrose, CA, a 30-year-old paraplegic man living at the Brius’ Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre died three months into his stay. In July of 2010, Armando Reagan had begun bleeding profusely and cried out to nursing home staff for help. Fifteen minutes later his sheets were soaked and a pool of blood had collected on the floor.

By the time paramedics arrived and transported him to a nearby hospital emergency room his breathing was labored and heartbeat rapid. He died there within an hour. The Los Angeles County coroner reported Reagan died from hemorrhagic shock due to chronic infections stemming from an old wound and from neglect by the nursing home.   (Kaiser Health News. October 27, 2014)

***

In Roseville, CA in 2012, 82-year-old Genine Zizzo entered Brius’ Roseville Point Health and Wellness Center in good health and only needing physical therapy after a fall at home. Ten days later, she was transferred to an acute-care hospital in a coma and later died of multiple organ failures. Her family alleges that the nursing home used anti-psychotic medicines as a form of chemical restraint, which led to her death.   (ABC Local News Sacramento, June 17, 2015.)

***

In November 2015, Courtney Cargill signed herself out of a suburban Los Angeles nursing home. and took off on foot.

Cargill scribbled her initials on the sign-out sheet at Brius’ South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital and declared her destination: “Library etc.”

Instead, Cargill – a 57-year-old resident known by nursing home staff to be suicidal and delusional – walked unsupervised to a nearby service station and bought a plastic jug and gallon of gas. She walked a quarter-mile to a second service station where, at 8:05 a.m., a surveillance camera recorded her heading to the back, stripping off her clothes, dousing her body with gasoline and lighting herself on fire.

She walked away, down the sidewalk and into a neighbor’s driveway. Cargill died at a Los Angeles hospital less than 24 hours later, with second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body.

Prior to this, staff observed Courtney Cargill “having hallucinations, hearing voices and talking to herself;” nevertheless she requested and obtained an unsupervised pass to leave the nursing home for up to four hours a day.

“There is no evidence,” according to the family’s attorney, “that Courtney’s physician made a determination that Courtney was capable of safely being on an independent, unsupervised pass, as required by the facility’s policy…Instead of providing mental health services, defendants took money from Courtney to house her in a ‘room and board’ fashion, content to let her smoke cigarettes and watch TV all day.” (Pasadena Star, October, 8, 2015).

***

Five weeks after Geneva Hilton, 68, was admitted to Brius’ Centinela Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre, West (Inglewood, CA), she was dead. According to CBS News in Los Angeles, Geneva Hilton entered the nursing home with clear lungs and in good health. Five weeks later, she was suffering from pneumonia, dehydration and a body temperature lower than 80 degrees.

During the investigation, a CBS reporter went undercover into the facility where he heard patients moaning aloud and his producer noticed the smell of human waste. Czersale Hilton, Geneva Hilton’s daughter, is suing the nursing home, alleging elder abuse and negligence. She joins a growing list of others suing Rechnitz and/or Brius over patient abuse and neglect. (CBS Local, Los Angeles CA, May 17, 2016.)

***

A Brius nursing home in South Pasadena ran afoul of the state partly because it recruited convicted felons, probationers, rapists and robbers as patients.

Instead of a median age of about 75 years old, residents at the former South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital had an average age of 37, Police Chief Arthur Miller said. He accused the former nursing home of sending recruiting teams to Los Angeles to get new patients.

“In that lower age population, there were convicted felons, probationers, drug users, rapists, robbers,” Miller said. “Traditionally police officers do not go to convalescent hospitals on a routine basis, especially to handle the crimes that I just described. … The staff at the time were not equipped for it. The hospital was not equipped for it, and it wasn’t licensed to do that type of rehabilitation.” The facility was closed. (Pasadena Star, October 20, 2015)

***

Between October 2015 and January 2015, three of Rechnitz’s facilities, including South Pasadena, were decertified by the federal government, an economic kiss of death that is extremely rare.

This punishment strips a nursing home of its crucial Medicare funding until it can demonstrate improvement, or is closed or sold. Since 2010, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has decertified only six out of more than 1,200 nursing homes in California.

Rechnitz controls his California nursing homes through a web of 130 companies. He has an ownership stake in many other companies, including a pharmaceutical company, two medical supply corporations, and a management services business.

This complex structure serves to conceal the nursing homes’ ownership and shield Brius, its owner, and its assets from lawsuits. Rechnitz’ 81 nursing homes and assisted living facilities operate under as many different names, and each is managed and owned by parent companies that also have different names.  This allows Brius to operate below the radar. The name Brius does not appear in the Department of Public Health’s database of licensed nursing homes. It also potentially allows Brius’ owner, Shlomo Rechnitz, to profit at multiple stages of his corporation’s convoluted healthcare delivery system.

***

I spoke with two Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) who work at Brius’ Novato Health Care Center in Marin County, a large facility with 180 beds.

Sue Journette, is a CNA; she’s worked for Brius for nine years. Ida Bantilan, also a CNA, has worked there for ten years. They both make the long commute to (very) upscale Novato from Vallejo, a North Bay city still recovering from the long recession of 2008. “There’s no question of living anywhere near here,” says Journette. As with many co-workers, they were born elsewhere, Journette in Thailand and Bantilan in the Philippines.

They both belong to the National Union of Healthcare Workers; both were active in NUHW’s recent successful organizing campaign at the Novato site.

They each explained economic issues in bargaining now underway. There had been no raises since 2011, though management had come up with 30 cents an hour, a bribe they thought. CNA’s started at about $14 an hour, they were making more, $16 and $17 an hour. It was “not nearly enough,” many co-workers work two jobs, often in two separate nursing homes.

“The housekeepers make less,” according to Bantilan. ‘and so do the janitors,” adds Journette, “and the laundry workers and kitchen staff, their work is hard”

The real issue for them, however, was staffing. Management reduced employees’ work shifts from eight hours to 7.5 hours with no reduction in the workload. This meant they each had responsibility for nine or ten, sometimes as many as twelve people. Bantilan explained: “I start their day. I get them up, shower them and clean them up, dress them, try to make them look nice and get them to breakfast. Many of these people are long term, many have dementia. They can be difficult.”

The new shift schedules also made the work harder, according to Journette. “When we come on, the last worker has already gone. We get no report, no sharing information, no explanation of what’s going on with the resident. No continuity.

“This work is not easy because so many of our people are sick, they are old, they are in bad moods, they are not feeling good, they miss their homes, their families. Many cannot walk…some have HIV…yes, the work is also dangerous, many injuries” I asked if they agreed with reports that this work was amongst the most dangerous of US occupations. They did, “It’s the lifting moving, pushing, pulling. Back stress.”

They came back to pay. Bantilan: “It is important. When you work two jobs, you’re tired. You’re in a bad mood before you begin. Then, no one wants these jobs, they can’t get replacements, so when someone doesn’t come in, you can be forced to do another shift.

“Sometimes when they do find replacements, it doesn’t work. They don’t offer training. Or maybe a day, or two days. We’ve all met someone new in the morning, only to learn later that they left in tears before lunch.”

Journette and Bantilan learned of the NUHW when they were told of the strike last year at the San Rafael facility. That’s also when they learned that they were all employed by Brius.

***

The National Union of Heathcare Workers is a new California union, born in the wreckage of SEIU’s trusteeship of its California local United Healthcare workers in 2009. It has grown dramatically since then, now to 12,000 members, mostly hospital workers. This includes 1,000 new members in the last six months alone, the result of victories including at Kindred’s Bay Area Hospital, the Oakland Children’s Hospital and Tenet’s Fountain Valley Hospital & Medical Center, Orange County’s largest for-profit hospital.

NUHW prides itself in being worker-led, democratic and militant – and in not being afraid to take on employers, whatever the size, in California several of the country’s largest hospital corporations (Kaiser, Tenet, Dignity, Kaiser, Sutter). NUHW sees its origins in the long history of trade unions; its own roots are in the drive for industrial unionism in San Francisco in the 1930s.

It also prides itself as being not just for its members but also an advocate of patients and the public. It has from its beginning supported free, universal healthcare. It’s less than a year now since NUHW therapists and social workers won their hallmark victory at Kaiser, winning a contract that featured fundamental advances in mental health care, above all in staffing.

Sal Rosselli, the President of NUHW, sees its long-term goal as an industrial union of healthcare workers, all healthcare workers in one union, even as its priority now is hospitals.

NUHW staff readily admit that organizing nursing homes is difficult: the work units tend to be small, turnover is high, employers are for the most part fiercely hostile to unions. Still workers want unions, all investigations report this. “So what can we do.” asks Rosselli, “when workers come to us? We can’t turn them down.”

It’s informative here to recall that nursing home and home care workers were important in the 2008/9 dispute that wrecked United Healthcare Workers (UHW-SEIU), then 150,000 strong. Today, SEIU-UHW is half its former size, it is factionalized and scandal-ridden: long-term workers have been shifted out to another local and nursing home workers have been abandoned altogether.

Until, trusteeship, UHW policy had been “Stronger Together,” a strategy based on uniting healthcare workers and using the power of the best organized to support the interests of the least.

In 2008, however, the national SEIU leadership wanted long term care workers organized separately, isolated from the unions far more powerful hospital workers. At the same time, they proposed an “organizing strategy” they called “The Alliance.” This would ally the union with nursing home management (yes, people like Rechnitz) – the purpose to lobby Sacramento for increased Medicaid funding for the industry. In return, the employers would give SEIU “neutrality,” that is, a “free” hand in organizing – but (the catch) only when and where the employers agreed. The Alliance would also sanction secret negotiations, long term contracts (one contemporary SEIU contract in Washington State was for ten years), no right to picket, no right to strike.

There was another component, worth mentioning. The agreement would oblige the union to press for tort reform that would limit the patient’s rights to sue nursing homes, even in cases of neglect, abuse and death, an issue of the greatest importance to nursing home management, as we have here seen.

One last point: The Alliance mandated the union to oppose patient advocates’ demands for staffing minimums (and any legislation relating to the nursing homes without industry approval).

The Alliance meant, in no uncertain terms, willfully disregarding the crisis in staffing that existed then and continues, all the worse, to this day. It also meant no free speech for caregivers, the “gag rule” and specifically it meant nursing home workers could not advocate for patients – patients who often had literally no one else in their lives.

The recent Sanders campaign revealed for all the massive support that exists today for “real” health care reform – for universal coverage based on need, not on ability to pay and not for profit. The American nursing home industry is, perhaps, the extreme example of our healthcare system in crisis, and of everything that’s wrong with it.

These “homes” are 21st century sweatshops for the millions who staff them, they are “homes” which are not homes; it is an industry that warehouses and isolates our most vulnerable and removes them from sight– and for a profit.

“We love our patients, we would not do this work if we didn’t,” Journette and Bantilan agree, emphatically. “We need the union because we need rights to do our work right; so the residents, they rely on us, they so often have no one else. They need the union, too.”

***

And on it goes…now Humboldt County.

On September 8, the residents of the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Facility… [were told] why that facility and two others locally may be shutting down, forcing almost 200 patients into an uncertain future, and possibly into care hundreds of miles away.

The potential closure of the facilities — Eureka, Seaview and Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness — would cut the number of local skilled nursing beds by more than half and came as a surprise to many patients and caregivers. The management company for all five of Humboldt’s major facilities — Rockport Healthcare Company [Bris] – did not notify patients before the information leaked to local media in late July. (North Coast Journal, Sept. 15, 2016)

NUMW members at St Joseph’s Health have joined the movement to keep these facilities open.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Rechnitz Nursing Home Caregivers launch website – BriusWatch.org

 

brius-nursing-homes-shlomo-rechnitz-san-rafael-novato-picktet-02-WEB

Brius caregivers protest company’s profit-driven care, launch BriusWatch.org

http://briuswatch.org/brius/brius-caregivers-protest-companys-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.

If You Want A Safe Home for the Elderly, leave NY, California, Texas, Florida and Illinois

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Re: The Fensterman Mafia Nursing Homes…

We are writing to you as a follow-up to your post on the nursing home empire represented by or partially owned by Attorney Fensterman and his ilk…

You may want to know that they are now the very proud owners of the following nursing homes in the great State of California. Yes. We believe Rechnitz and them are close. How close is unknown but draw your own conclusions.

The nursing homes are being run by Dov Jacobs.  (Son-in-law of Rabbi Abraham C. Fruchthandler, President of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn–

These are the same ones that currently have or have had money with the Platinum scoundrels…

ARE WE DIZZY YET?!?!?!)

The following nursing homes have been acquired by this prestigious group with state and federal license applications in process. We believe only one or two have been given. The rest not yet. We are writing in the hope that the great State of California will take a very careful look at the people involved and their history in the nursing home empires.

There are a few more we believe and will provide when uncovered.

The list is…

1. Maclay Healthcare-141 beds – US News (1 Star)
2. Serrano Healthcare-99 beds 
3. Serrano Post Acute-99 beds
4. Legacy Healthcare-54 beds
5. Royal Gardens-43 beds
6. Vista Del Sol-50 beds
7. Vista Post Acute-186 beds
8. Rose Gardens Sub Acute-95 beds
9. Royal Palms Post Acute-140 beds
10. Rialto Post Acute-177 beds
11. Monrovia Post Acute-82 beds
12. Royal Terrace-58 beds

Bottom line, if you want your loved ones taken care of in their twilight years… get the hell out of California… and New York… and Florida… and Illinois… and Texas… for starters.Folks… you cannot make this stuff up even if you tried!

Yours sincerely,

Anonymous

Edited in part by Lost Messiah, August 2, 2016

Updated at 5:58pm. The opinion regarding Mr. Jacobs’ character, while an opinion, we felt better left unsaid.