The Allure of a 2015 Guardianship and a Burial in the Wrong Cemetery, Excuses and Covid-19

Comedian Elayne Boosler visited her cousin Dorothea Buschell in Brooklyn’s Hamilton Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in August 2018.
Comedian Elayne Boosler visited her cousin Dorothea Buschell in Brooklyn’s Hamilton Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in August 2018.
Photo: Courtesy of Elayne Boosler

Dear Reader:

The following story, one partially told on Facebook and to The City by comedian Elayne Boosler, is a developing story and one we will cover in depth. When we started this blog in 2016 one of our goals was to draw attention to the deplorable treatment of the elderly and most vulnerable at the hands of nursing home owners and managers. Our intent was to uncover the depth of the depravity of some owners and managers of many of the world’s nursing homes, particularly those in New York and New Jersey, who choose profit over care, bottom lines over human life and lined pockets over dignity.

There can be no greater example of that choice than the story of Elayne Boosler’s elderly Jewish cousin who died in the care of an Allure nursing home, which had in 2015 obtained custodianship over Boosler’s cousin, despite the existence of a living relative. Ms. Boosler’s story is shocking insofar as her cousin was not only denied a dignified death but a dignified burial. While Covid-19 may have played a role in the absurdity of the story that follows, it does not tell the whole story and cannot be used to mitigate the responsibility of the owners/managers of the nursing home that not only deprived Ms. Boosler’s cousin of her family, but of a Jewish burial.

There can really be no greater indignity and no more astonishing tragedy.

When Ms. Boosler’s cousin died (allegedly) of Covid-19, instead of being buried in a Jewish cemetery with all of the Jewish rites and customs which had been provided to the nursing home, she was interred in a Christian cemetery at an astronomical fee.

Boosler’s story is not surprising to those of us who have been following nursing homes in general and Allure in particular. What is surprising, however, is the ease with which nursing homes can obtain guardianship over the elderly in their care.  As legal guardians, these nursing homes and long-term care/rehabilitation facilities have access to finances, decisions, medical choices and ultimately the life and death of those in their care. And most do not do the due diligence required before obtaining guardianship. Or, they simply falsify statements and records. Moreover, it is not even clear that such due diligence is ever required or if there is any oversight, particularly in New York where the systems in place have run amok.

Once guardianship is obtained whether legitimately or otherwise, as this story suggests, decision-making authority on burials and interment among all of the other life-shattering decisions, rests in the hands of the court-appointed guardians. They are free to throw caution and care to the wind.

The Boosler story, raises questions about New York’s Guardianship Services, which in the Boosler case, remains something of a mystery. We are hoping that some law enforcement agency will take the bull by the horns and look into this case as it is neither unique nor surprising. We are hoping that Boosler’s status as a entertainer will light a fire under those who should be investigating the treatment of the elderly in nursing care and long-term facilities.

There is money to be made in human life and in death and apparently once guardianship of a family member is “signed-over” to a nursing home moral and ethical compasses can shift. The elderly deserve better. 

 

Comedian’s Kin Sent to Wrong Cemetery After Brooklyn Nursing Home Death

Comedian Elayne Boosler says her elderly Jewish cousin, who died last month, inexplicably got saddled with a pricey Christian burial package while in a Brooklyn nursing home.

“Now my beautiful Jewish cousin is clutching rosary beads after a fake funeral that never — couldn’t have — happened because of coronavirus,” Boosler, who grew up in Sheepshead Bay, told THE CITY from her California home.

She noted that her first instinct was to “go for the funny and try not to bleed on my audience, if you will. Also, going for the joke is how I distance myself and my emotions.”

But she confessed she hasn’t slept in days.

“I am horrified at how she must have died,” she said, “at how she was swindled and at how she is now far from her family in a strange grave.”

‘Are You Sitting Down?’

The ordeal began, Boosler recalled, when her cousin Harriet Saltzman phoned her from Florida on April 14 and said, “Are you sitting down? Pull the chair closer to the table in case you fall over.”

Saltzman told her that she had been trying to reach their mutual first cousin Dorothea Buschell at the Hamilton Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to wish her a happy 83rd birthday.

When no one answered in Buschell’s room, Saltzman said she began leaving voicemails at the main number, but no one returned her calls for weeks.

Finally, on April 14, a frazzled staffer who happened to pick up the phone said, “Oh, no one called you yesterday? Uh, she died this morning.”

“And then Harriet said, ‘Why would someone have called yesterday if she died this morning?’,” Boosler said.

Buschell died April 13.

The Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was blocking visitors during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

By the time Saltzman called, Buschell’s body had already been transferred to Forest Green Park cemetery in Morganville, N.J. — not her intended, already-paid-for, family plot in New Montefiore Cemetery in Farmingdale, L.I. She was buried on April 15.

“Because they figured it was the virus that she died from, there was no autopsy,” Saltzman wrote Boosler in an email. “She was double bagged, put into the coffin, doubled bagged again and shipped.”

Saltzman noted that Forest Green “will not be able to dis-inter her for a while because of the pandemic, and they will call me when they are ready to do it.”

The Plot Thickens

In a phone interview with THE CITY, Boosler added, “But wait. There’s more. Much more.”

The saga began in either late 2016 or early 2017, Boosler recounted, after Buschell, an artist who had taught English on U.S. Army bases in Italy for a quarter century, landed in Hamilton Park after a series of mini-strokes.

On April 28, 2017, she was sold an irrevocable $15,000 pre-need funeral plan which she never signed — and which Boosler stressed Buschell never would have consciously agreed to since she already had a family plot.

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California Nursing Homes and Raging Covid-19 Infections – Hiding the Truth, no Oversight

Residents of Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center are evacuated in April.
Residents of Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center are evacuated in April after staff refused to show for work amid a COVID-19 outbreak. A day earlier, state health inspectors found no problems at the facility in Riverside.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

As coronavirus raged through nursing homes, inspectors found nothing wrong

In early April, state inspectors completed a survey of Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside as part of a federal effort to make sure nursing homes were protecting elderly residents from the coronavirus.

Their one-page report concluded: “No deficiencies.”

The next day, April 8, a fleet of ambulances lined up outside Magnolia to evacuate all 83 residents after the staff refused to show up for work, terrified of the deadly infection already spreading within the facility.

Similar scenarios played out across California this spring, survey records show. Time and again, inspectors sent to assess nursing homes’ ability to contain the new virus found no deficiencies at facilities that were in the midst of deadly outbreaks or about to endure one.

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PE or Publicly Traded Equity Owned Nursing Facilities, Covid-19 And the Profit in Negligence – No Oversight

Granite Creek Health and Rehabilitation would never require a worker to come to work sick. But they might ask.
Granite Creek Health and Rehabilitation would never require a worker to come to work sick. But they might ask.
Google Maps

Dear Readers:

We will say it once. We can say it 1000 times.

Nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and elder care institutions are not burdened by appropriate oversight. In reality, they largely report to no one. And, with combined ownership on the real estate side and on the management/operations side in the hands of private equity firms and publicly traded companies, the flow of money is endless and nearly untraceable. 

These homes churn owners, in some cases so they can change oversight records, wiping the slate clean when abuse and neglect results in patient death. They collect money from the government in the form of payments, reimbursements and for some even PPP loans or SBA loans, which should trigger government oversight. But sadly oversight is simply in short supply. 

And alas, with front-facing ownership changes, history gets scrubbed. It is all a shell game; and one that traffics in human life. With Covid-19, these homes can profit from death. 

In many states, the owners of these facilities are largely exempt from liability, even in the case of gross negligence – a highly profitable exemption. And the politicians who have collected donations can look the other way as the owners profit and those most vulnerable die. Humanity be damned.  

State Investigating a Nursing Home That Allegedly Kept COVID-Positive Workers on the Job

A nursing assistant at a Prescott nursing home says she was told to continue to work with patients after informing her supervisor that she was symptomatic for COVID-19 — and also after she later tested positive for the disease.

Now, the state is investigating.

The facility, Granite Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center in Prescott, a skilled-nursing facility with more than 100 long-term residents and rehab patients from the local hospital, had been spared until early June from the pandemic. But as certified nursing assistant at the facility told Phoenix New Times, things spiraled out of control quickly after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus on June 9.

New Times is not disclosing the name of the worker based on her request for anonymity. Sick with COVID-19 and still trying to beat back the virus in home quarantine, she doesn’t want to return to Granite Creek and doesn’t want publicity.

“The state surveyor told me that they’re keeping my identity secret and calling me by the code name ‘Hero Worker’ LOL,” she wrote in an email on Tuesday. “I am still concerned that it being known that I reported this could affect my ability to find another job once I’m recovered.”

Mike Rasmussen, the facility’s administrator, confirmed on Tuesday that 16 staff members and 25 residents at Granite Creek have tested positive. He acknowledged in an email that the company would allow a COVID-positive staff member to come to work, and might ask but would not require that a sick staff member come to work.

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Even if Playground Wrongfully Locked, Politicians Should not Be Cutting Gates – Covid-19

Dear Reader:

Given the freedom of protesters to march in NYC, many without masks and without deference to Covid-19 and social distancing, we cannot really understand the decision to weld Brooklyn parks closed. Parents and children within those neighborhoods should be afforded a place to go out and children, a place to play.

Having said that, breaking into them and trespassing on the part of politicians is nothing short of illegal, should not be tolerated and those who had the audacity to cut the chains should be arrested and charged. This is no way to set an example from New York’s respected lawmakers. This is not a form of social peaceful disobedience, it is simply breaking the law.

Worse still, there are many more videos showing a veritable form of F-U to the decision-makers who welded those gates shut, something that also should not be tolerated.

At a time where this entire country is preciously long on lawlessness and defiance, it might be time for our Jewish lawmakers to be setting a good example. This is apparently not such a time.

We do not believe that the gates should have been closed. Instead, rules of social distancing and mask wearing should have been enforced. We recognize the paradigm: if it is not enforced at protests, why should it be enforced in parks? It should be enforced equally.

But, more to the point, perhaps the enforcement of social distancing should come to to someone stepping up and doing the right thing. Only one man in the picture is wearing a mask (beside the paid fence-cutter) which is also unacceptable.

This was a poor example of defiance and one that sets the stage for the entire neighborhood to break the law. It is sad, unfortunate, and those who cut the gate open should be prosecuted as lawbreakers.

Councilman Kalman Yeger, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, Senator Simcha Felder and an unidentified worker cut the lock at a Brooklyn playground.
Councilman Kalman Yeger, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, Senator Simcha Felder and an unidentified worker break the lock at a Brooklyn playground. NY Assembly

A group of Brooklyn politicians representing orthodox Jewish neighborhoods have defied Mayor Bill de Blasio’s coronavirus closure of playgrounds and staged a series of protests this week in which they broke the locks and attempted to open various playgrounds.

That group, which includes State Senator Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, and Councilman Kalman Yeger gathered at Dome Playground in Borough Park and Kolbert Playground in Midwood this morning to break the chains at both places. They were joined by radio host Heshy Tischler, who declared at Kolbert, “Welcome to our park everybody. Come on in. We’re going to open up every single park in the entire city, no matter if you’re Jewish or not.” (City parks have remained open during the coronavirus PAUSE, but playgrounds were closed.)

“The only way you’re getting these chains back Mr. Mayor, is if you’re coming to get me,” Tischler said after they opened up Dome Playground.

“The only way you’re getting these chains back Mr. Mayor, is if you’re coming to get me,” Tischler said after they opened up Dome Playground.
…….

Asked about the playground protests at a press conference Tuesday morning, de Blasio said, “We’re not going to allow people to take the law into their own hands, it just doesn’t work. So people are not allowed to open up a playground that is not yet available to the public. It’s for a reason.”

While the mayor said he was sympathetic to parents dealing with kids who have been cooped up for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, he said there would be no changes in policy with playgrounds until phase two begins. Phase two could start as early as next week (June 22nd), although he cautioned that he thought it would take longer than that.

One reporter pointed out that many children are already playing together out in the streets, so wouldn’t it be safer if they were able to do so in playgrounds? De Blasio stressed that kids should not be playing with other kids who aren’t in their households, and reiterated that the playgrounds would be figured out in phase two. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to open things up, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “The minute you say okay, let’s open the playgrounds, then a lot of kids come in contact with a lot of other kids, and adults come in contact with other adults, then the disease starts spreading, and that’s what we don’t want, this is the thing that’ll take us backwards.”

Felder, Eichenstein and Yeger released a joint statement attacking the mayor for not opening playgrounds despite their pleas, and vowed to continue cutting locks as long as they had to.

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Civil Immunity to Nursing Homes- A Blank Check for Abuse and Neglect, Covid-19

The following is an OPINION from Patricia Barnes at Forbes. We could not agree with the opinion more.

The Folly Of Granting Civil Immunity From Lawsuits To Nursing Homes

Granting broad immunity to nursing homes that failed to put in place reasonable protections for vulnerable residents during the pandemic represents an appalling abuse of the rule of law.

About 20 states already have granted nursing homes immunity from civil lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and now the U.S. Congress is poised to do so. What’s the rush?

There has been no serious investigation into how nursing homes performed in the pandemic and there is plenty of reason for concern.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported Friday that 31,782 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 as of May 31, which is about 33% of the nation’s known coronavirus deaths. The highest number of deaths occurred in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which were among the first to grant civil immunity to nursing homes.

A grant of immunity effectively eliminates civil legal redress for and on behalf of nursing home residents who died due of COVID-19 due to negligence and abuse.

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The Abuse of Nursing Home Patients from the Bottom to the Top – No Oversight, Covid-19

Nursing homes receive defective equipment as part of Trump administration supply initiative

Nursing homes with urgent needs for personal protective equipment say they’re getting gowns that look more like large tarps — with no holes for hands — and surgical masks that are paper-thin as part of the administration’s initiative to bolster supplies for vulnerable populations amid the pandemic.

“It would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high,” a Washington state official told CNN.

In late April, President Donald Trump announced an effort to shore up supplies to nursing homes, whose residents and staff have been among those most at risk of Covid-19. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was at the helm of the effort to send additional shipments to nursing homes.

For weeks, nursing home associations have tried to call attention to the elderly population and the lack of supplies to properly care for them.

“Too often, the only signs of FEMA’s much-hyped promise of PPE shipments—an allotment of gowns, gloves, masks and goggles based on staffing size of the provider—are scattershot delivery with varying amounts of rag-tag supplies,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit providers of aging services, in a statement.

“As FEMA’s own deadline for shipment approaches, many nursing homes still don’t know if and when they’re going to receive anything,” she added. Sloan was among the attendees at the event where Trump initially announced the FEMA shipments.

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