Mayor Cuomo and the Nursing Home Execs who Get Immunity – Campaign Contributions and Covid-19

Andrew Cuomo gave immunity to nursing home execs after big campaign donations

 

EXCERPTED BELOW:

As Governor Andrew Cuomo faced a spirited challenge in his bid to win New York’s 2018 Democratic primary, his political apparatus got a last-minute boost: a powerful healthcare industry group suddenly poured more than $1m into a Democratic committee backing his campaign.

Less than two years after that flood of cash from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), Cuomo signed legislation last month quietly shielding hospital and nursing home executives from the threat of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. The provision, inserted into an annual budget bill by Cuomo’s aides, created one of the nation’s most explicit immunity protections for healthcare industry officials, according to legal experts.

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GNYHA – a lobbying group for hospital systems, including some that own nursing homes – said it “drafted and aggressively advocated for” the immunity provision. The new law declares that top officials at hospital and nursing home companies “shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing healthcare services” to address the Covid-19 outbreak.

Prior to the budget language, Cuomo had already temporarily granted limited legal immunity to doctors and nurses serving on the medical frontlines. But the carefully sculpted passage buried in the state’s annual spending bill expanded that by offering extensive immunity to any “healthcare facility administrator, executive, supervisor, board member, trustee or other person responsible for directing, supervising or managing a healthcare facility and its personnel or other individual in a comparable role”.

New York is now one of just two states to shield those corporate officials from both civil lawsuits and some forms of criminal prosecution by the government, according to an analysis by Syracuse University law professor Nina Kohn and the University of Houston’s Jessica L Roberts.

“New York is an outlier and has the most explicit and sweeping immunity language,” Kohn said.

Cuomo’s administration said the new immunity provision – which is a narrow version of a broader proposal championed by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell – is necessary.

Nursing Home Warning Sounded in 2016, In 2020 the Body Count is Getting Attention – “The Family Biz” – Covid-19

Scott Morrow visits his mother, Claudette Stasik, at the Bria of Geneva nursing home in the western suburbs of Chicago. Since mid-April, 75 of the nursing home’s 91 residents and 37 of its 120 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. (Anjali Pinto for ProPublica)

THE FOLLOWING STORY REALLY TELLS ITSELF. IT’S SIMPLY DOLLARS OVER DECENCY, PROFIT OVER PROPRIETY AND MORAL BANKRUPTCY OVER HUMANITY

This story could be told in two separate parallel lines – one is the side of money, profit and a system of ownership devoid of morality. It is the tale of a family empire that owns nursing homes in numerous states, collects government funds for much of the care they allegedly provide, earns private money or insurance/long-term care funding for each body (live or dead) in its care. But, that would not necessarily be the right story to tell here as this family is not alone.

This story is not the exception within the business of nursing home ownership. Sadly, just another tale…. We send our condolences to the families. We plead with governmental entities, attorneys general and those in political power to pay attention. The Shofar is sounding but no redemption to be had. Generally speaking, few nursing home magnates can escape the lure of incorruptibility. 

The other story is the telling of a failing governmental system of Nursing Home oversight. If an ownership conglomerate has a few poorly run nursing homes in one or two states, they will likely be consistently horrendous places in every state in which that conglomerate has an interest. This is with the exceedingly rare exception, though to be clear there are exceptions.

Generally speaking though, why favor reduced bottom lines and humanity when it is not as financially lucrative, particularly if the government is not paying attention; and if the beds are getting filled? We are not here to do good deeds, are we?  

For our comments, we will leave the family ties to anyone who wants to look, no judgement, no opinions… well….  

To the oversight, we need to say very little. People are dying. Bodies are piling up. It was to be expected, whether by Covid-19 or something simpler. It was not implausible.  

In 2016 the Chicago Tribune laid out the problem with the Esformes nursing homes. Like yesterday’s story about the Nursing Home in Riverdale, NY, the Esformes family empire’s failings got largely ignored.

Those of us who have been sounding alarms since 2016 could provide anyone listening with the names of the most dangerous and reckless nursing home conglomerates in the United States. We could tell you who owns what, the number of violations of these homes, horror stories told by the nurses and healthcare workers, the way in which the slate gets swept clean, all of it. It is savage.

We, who have been looking for the last 4 or 5 years are a collective treasure trove of information. All someone needs to do is ask or pay attention. 

Read on.

From 2016 story in Chicago Tribune:

“Ex-employees allege nursing home tried to mislead inspectors on abuse”

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-bria-river-oaks-nursing-home-met-story.html

excerpted:

Records show that some of those federal health-care dollars went to Weinfeld’s uncle, nursing home magnate Morris Esformes, whose son and close business partner, Philip Esformes, is being held without bond in a Miami federal detention cell on charges that he orchestrated a $1 billion Medicaid kickback scheme in Florida.

Morris and Philip Esformes in 2012 sold the Burnham home and three other Chicago-area facilities to companies run by Weinfeld and Weinfeld’s brother-in-law, Daniel Weiss, but those homes continued to pay consulting and real estate fees to companies managed by Morris Esformes, state records show.

FASTFORWARD TO 2020, PROPUBLICA REPORTS…

A Quarter of the Residents at This Nursing Home Died From COVID-19. Families Want Answers.

Within three weeks, the Bria of Geneva nursing home went from one case of COVID-19 to two dozen residents dead and at least 75 infected. Delayed testing and gaps in nursing home data obscures the true toll of the crisis.

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While other Illinois nursing homes may have seen larger overall numbers of cases and deaths, almost none have experienced an outbreak on the scale of the one here, with more than two-thirds of the residents infected with the virus and one-fourth killed by it. The situation at Bria of Geneva illustrates the price of insufficient and delayed testing and how a lag in public reporting of cases and deaths in nursing homes obscured the breadth of a crisis that has disproportionately hit the state’s vulnerable elderly population.

The first resident at Bria of Geneva tested positive April 17. At the time, Illinois public health officials had instructed nursing homes that they did not need to test everyone when there were positive cases. That guidance changed soon after, when state officials acknowledged that more testing was needed in nursing homes to identify asymptomatic residents and staff members and prevent large outbreaks. Still, it took another week for Bria to obtain enough supplies to do widespread testing.

State public health officials first released coronavirus case data on nursing homes April 19. It showed no cases at Bria of Geneva, even though the outbreak was underway. In some of the Public Health Department’s weekly updates since, the number of deaths has been undercounted or becomes outdated almost as soon as it’s released, according to a comparison of state data with a tally from the Kane County coroner’s office.

note Efriam Weinfeld:

Efriam Weinfeld – Business Profile | Bria Health Services L.L.C | ZoomInfo.com

The Nursing Home Fatality Report – Covid-19

fatalities_nursing_home_acf.5_Page_1

THE COVID-19 NURSING HOME FATALITY REPORT 5.13.20 – SOME THOUGHTS, DOLLARS FOR LIFE…

To every child, brother sister, mother father, aunt, uncle, daughter, son who lost someone at one of these homes, our condolences go out to you. We know quite well the pain  you feel and the anguish. It is for this very reason that we would like to see something change in the nursing care and rehabilitation industry, dramatic changes, that put life before bottom lines and profit.

We commend the nursing facilities and homes with very few deaths. The numbers on the chart and the photo shots below speak for themselves.

To the ones with the highest fatality rates, we have a few comments, just some thoughts and opinions.

We would be willing to bet, with very few exceptions, that the Nursing facilities with the highest Covid-19 deaths or deaths not confirmed but attributed to Covid-19 share some or all of the following characteristics: 1) Ownership, 2) Management, 3) Historical Implications (previous history of neglect), 4) Number of High Level Political Donations and 5) Profitability.

What is certainly true as of the date of this printing, Governor Cuomo has given nursing homes a pass, also with very few exceptions, for the deaths from Covid-19.

Common sense would have dictated moving healthy non-infected residents to a single location or a location by coordinating between nursing facilities in close proximity. It would have been an effort to keep people alive.

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Hebrew Home in Riverdale, What was Known in 2016 and Ignored, What we Know Now in 2020 – Covid-19

The Deaths at the Hebrew Home and Nursing Homes Like It Were and Have Been Preventable. But, Money, Political Clout, and Other Factors Have Allowed Problems to go Ignored. 

The story of neglect, poor oversight, non-responsive administrators and multiple lawsuits at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale was originally written in 2016 in a Three-Part investigation by Frank G. Runyeon. The story received only minimal attention and was largely ignored at that time, despite many years of shameful status quo in New York State Nursing Homes in general,  and Hebrew Home related specifically. All information was and has been publicly available.

With respect to the Hebrew Home, four years later, 2020, will be ascribed to Coronavirus emergencies coupled with of the abject failures of the New York State governing authorities, the Department of Health the other entities responsible for keeping our elderly safe.

Many of the New York State’s nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities are highly profitable churning mills for filling beds and neglecting elderly. And because of a complete lack of oversight and accountability, there is blame to go around but Governor Cuomo has reduced the need to think twice. Money in, bodies out, little concern.  

In New York, the legislators, the institutions and the Attorney General can all shoulder some of the blame for allowing Governor Cuomo to cater to his big-money donors and their long-term care/rehabilitation facility campaign donations, enabling understaffing and subpar oversight and enforcement.

You all have blood on your hands. Is it not about time to do something?

Staffers say NYC nursing home is covering up coronavirus deaths

More than 110 people have died at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale in just two months — many with suspected COVID-19 symptoms but not appearing in official state tallies — and whistleblowers at the facility claim it’s a cover-up.

While the nursing home said 25 residents died at the home, or in hospitals, from confirmed and suspected COVID-19 in March and April, two insiders told The Post that 119 residents have died in the home alone in those two months.

The state Department of Health, meanwhile, lists only 18 deaths at the home as of May 8. The state does not include nursing-home residents who die in hospitals in its official count.

The staff was also ravaged — with at least 71 workers confirmed to have the virus, documents reviewed by The Post show.

There were 11 resident deaths on two days alone in April, according to internal records seen by The Post which did not list the cause of death. That two-day total was higher than the nine residents who died in all of January, two insiders said.

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Private Equity and Hospitals, ER’s and Nursing Homes – A Disaster in the Making and Covid-19

PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Wash.
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Wash.Google Maps

Private equity firms now control many hospitals, ERs and nursing homes. Is it good for health care?

In March, as the coronavirus gripped the nation, veteran emergency room doctor Ming Lin was growing concerned. Lin felt his facility, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington, was unprepared for the pandemic, so he went to his superiors for help.

Frustrated by their response, Lin took to social media, criticizing the hospital’s operations in a series of posts.

Days later, the hospital removed Lin from the rotation in the emergency department. He had worked at PeaceHealth for 17 years.

Under typical medical industry practice, Lin’s case would have been subject to peer review, experts said. But Lin’s employer wasn’t PeaceHealth. It was TeamHealth, a physician practice and staffing company that provides the hospital with emergency room services. TeamHealth is owned by Blackstone Group, a finance giant.

When a private staffing firm teams up with a hospital, the right to due process can disappear. Lin’s case was never heard.

“One of the objectives is to point out any deficiencies in the system that may harm the patient,” Lin told NBC News. “Because private equity has taken over health care, it has made that difficult.”

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We All Know that Nursing Homes are Killing our Elderly and Yet… Pa. Official and her Mom… Covid-19

Pennsylvania health official moved mother from nursing home as deaths skyrocketed

The health official responsible for overseeing nursing homes in Pennsylvania — where nearly 70 percent of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths have occurred — moved her elderly mother out of one of the facilities as deaths skyrocketed, a report said.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday that her 95-year-old mother requested to be moved out of a personal care home, a local ABC affiliate reported.

“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Levine said, according to ABC27.

“My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions,” she added.

After criticism from some state lawmakers for the move, Levine argued she’s working to ensure the health and safety of all state residents, according to the report.

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Nursing Care in NY – Lax Oversight, Fraud, Depleted PPE – the Body Count by the Numbers and Some Thoughts

THE PHOTOS (ABOVE AND BELOW) REVEAL WHAT A STATE WITH DEPLORABLE OVERSIGHT, POLITICALLY CONNECTED NURSING HOME OWNERS, AND MONEY-OVER-LIFE MORAL BANKRUPTCY LOOKS LIKE

The following link is from the State Website: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/diseases/covid-19/fatalities_nursing_home_acf.pdf

Forgive us if we do not trust that these numbers will remain “undoctored” tomorrow, so we have attached the PDF in photograph format. Please take a look. We maintain that it is not accurate. A few of those homes have a greater than reported body-count. 

We maintain that some of the homes on the list may have simply had a perfect storm of lousy circumstances. They may, indeed, be owned by some really and truly decent and caring people who find themselves in untenable circumstances. Covid-19 is not nursing home user-friendly. It is messy. It is expensive. It requires the owner to have a conscience. Some do. Some do not.

The vast majority of the worst hit homes have historically been plagued by health violations, abuse, lacking medical care, charging for services not performed, financial improprieties which include not only Medicare and Medicaid fraud but Worker’s Compensation fraud and human trafficking scandals. Some of it we have researched and some we have not. We are working on it.

We have been told by hospital social workers that the social workers and other hospital officials are often paid under-the-table to place certain nursing homes on the top of their lists of recommendations for patients. Since the government application for licensing requires that nursing homes prove that they can keep their beds full, it should come as no surprise that payoffs to the keep the beds full are commonplace, a cost of doing business. Personal experience supports that premise.

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