The Buffalo News Reporting On The Deplorable Treatment of Nursing Home Patients –

The Philanthropists that Own These Nursing Homes.. When Nursing Care Becomes More about Care than about Profit, Perhaps the Moshiach Will Come..

AS OUT-OF-TOWN INVESTORS BUY WNY NURSING HOMES, RESIDENTS PAY THE PRICE

Since 2007, one-third of the 47 nursing homes in Erie and Niagara have been bought by out-of-towners. For thousands of vulnerable nursing home residents, that hasn’t been good.

The son of Frank L. Williams stared at bedsores his 82-year-old father developed at a nursing home in the Town of Tonawanda. He thought his father had contracted “the Black Plague.”

Doctors cut away Williams’ rotting flesh, but the infection had spread too far. Williams died.

At a Buffalo nursing home, workers failed to disinfect a glucose meter as they drew blood from one resident after another, including two with bloodborne diseases.

That put up to 30 residents’ health at risk and resulted in an $85,925 fine, one of the biggest penalties imposed on a nursing home in the state.

The Tonawanda and Buffalo nursing homes aren’t owned locally. They’re operated by companies owned by Judy Landa and partners. A Long Island resident, Landa has never worked in the health care industry and has no day-to-day involvement in the four nursing homes her companies own in Erie County, a spokesman said. Records and interviews show some of these nursing homes have cut staff to save money, while taking on high-need patients that bring in bigger reimbursements.

Out-of-town investors are buying up nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties, and for thousands of vulnerable nursing home residents, that hasn’t been good. Since 2007, one-third of the 47 nursing homes in Erie and Niagara have been bought by out-of-towners. The government gives most of those 16 nursing homes low marks.

Out-of-town, for-profit owners operate eight of the 10 local nursing homes rated “much below average,” the federal government’s lowest rating. Many of the facilities owned by out-of-towners have a high rate of complaints that led to citations. Most have low scores for the amount of time nurses spend with residents. As a group, they have received a disproportionate share of state and federal fines in the last decade.

At least half of the 16 nursing homes were poorly ranked before they were bought by out-of-town investors. But the ratings of six of the 16 homes dropped after they were sold, according to a Buffalo News analysis of a decade of ratings. Only one saw its ratings improve.

Few families are safe from the threat of poor nursing home care. A Rand Corp. study estimates more than half of older Americans will end up spending time in nursing homes. Across the country, more than 1.3 million people are in nursing homes, with more than 100,000 in New York State and approximately 7,000 in Erie and Niagara.

Taxpayers have a huge stake, too. Just in Erie and Niagara counties, more than half a billion dollars was paid by taxpayers to nursing homes in 2016, according to the most recent figures for the state’s Medicaid program and estimates on federal Medicare spending.

The history of nursing homes linked to Judy Landa, where one resident was beaten to death and another died falling from a third-floor window, is a case study on what can go wrong as out-of-town investors take over facilities in Western New York.

“Operating a high-quality nursing home is not easy, but many owners can get that done,” said Tony Szczygiel, a retired University at Buffalo Law School professor who specialized in elder law. “What is hard to understand is why well-financed, experienced out-of-town owners can’t do that after buying local nursing homes.”

Added Szczygiel: “Is this the best they can do? Provide care that repeatedly fails to meet minimum standards?”

Husband and wife team

Judy Landa, 65, is a passive investor in the four Erie County nursing homes, according to Mark Weiss, a spokesman for her husband, Benjamin Landa. He said Landa is a great-grandmother who spends her days praying at the Queens grave of a revered rabbi, shopping for her eight children and 18 grandchildren, and running her home in Lawrence, N.Y., which public records say is worth $2.1 million.

Benjamin Landa, 62, has ownership interest in more than 120 nursing homes across the country and runs SentosaCare, New York’s largest for-profit nursing home chain. He served from 1996 to 2005 on the state Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, which votes on nursing home sales.

Landa isn’t involved in running the Erie County nursing homes that his wife has an ownership interest in, his spokesman said.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Benjamin Landa is a devout Orthodox Jew with a passion for educating young people about the Holocaust. He donates millions of dollars to charities, Jewish schools and others, Weiss said. He doesn’t wear jewelry, doesn’t have a driver, doesn’t belong to country clubs or go to spas, his spokesman said.

In July 2012, the state Health Department appointed a Benjamin Landa company as receiver of Hawthorne Health and Harbour Health nursing homes, two Buffalo facilities that had been losing money under the ownership of a nonprofit, Presbyterian Senior Care of Western New York Inc. As receiver for about a year, his company ran the two homes on Delaware Avenue – which were renamed Emerald South Rehabilitation and Care Center and Emerald North Rehabilitation and Care Center.

At one of the homes, Landa’s company cut staff and other expenses to save about $1 million, according to Health Department records. The company also increased revenues by admitting “difficult to discharge” patients from Erie County Medical Center. Their need for increased care resulted in higher Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements to the nursing homes, the records show.

Seventeen months later, a company owned by Judy Landa and a New York City area partner bought the operations of the two nursing homes from Presbyterian Senior Care for $2.6 million.

The real estate – the land and the buildings – was bought separately by a Benjamin Landa company for $1.6 million, according to Erie County property records. As part of the deal, his wife’s company agreed to pay $260,000 a year in rent to her husband’s company, according to state records.

In 2016 financial reports to the state, the two nursing homes indicated that the rent obligation had nearly doubled in three years, to almost a half million dollars a year.

Benjamin Landa’s spokesman acknowledged that the rent may have increased but said Landa has not collected it. Landa has not received any rental payments from his wife’s companies for Emerald South and Emerald North, Weiss said.

The same financial reports indicated both nursing homes were losing money. Emerald South had a net loss of $988,367 in 2016, it said. Emerald North had a net loss of $628,374.

‘Not drawn a penny’

Benjamin Landa said in a statement to The News that he and his wife have not collected a dime from the two nursing homes.

He denied he has profited from Buffalo-area nursing homes while reducing services to the residents.

“I resent being linked to this practice,” he said.

“I have not drawn a penny since I purchased the properties. In fact, I have spent millions of dollars subsidizing the facilities which my wife, Judy, owns in order to keep them from closing. Needless to say, Judy Landa has not drawn any money from these facilities either. Combined, we have invested millions of dollars since the purchase.”

He blamed the government for the troubles at Emerald South and Emerald Northsaying it does not adequately compensate nursing homes for the care they provide.

“The community must recognize that Emerald North and South are running at a loss due to the state’s grossly unfair Medicaid reimbursement schedule for area facilities. As such, there are simply no profits to be had,” Benjamin Landa said. “The not-for-profits got rid of them because they could not keep these facilities running against the backdrop of a tough regulatory environment and this unrealistic level of state reimbursement. All cost-cutting steps have been taken to keep the doors open in order to serve the critical needs of the community.

“Because of our many years of experience in the nursing home industry, we had every reason to believe that over time we could re-establish these facilities as viable and valued resources within their respective neighborhoods. At each turn, though, we have been met with unreasonable lawsuits on the part of an overly aggressive local law firm and what some refer to euphemistically as an  anti-downstate, anti-New York City prejudice which has been the cause of great frustration for me and the members of my family,” he said.

Judy Landa did not respond to phone calls from The News.

In 2014, the Landas and business partners formed companies that bought two other nursing homes, Sheridan Manor in the Town of Tonawanda and Ridgeview Manor in Buffalo. The homes were renamed Safire Rehabilitation of Northtowns and Safire Rehabilitation of Southtowns.

Deadly incidents

Among the four nursing homes linked to the Landas in Erie County, the 122-bed Emerald South stands out.

On June 4, William Strasner, 87, a patient in the Emerald South dementia unit, fell to his death while trying to escape out his third-floor window.

Strasner used a rope fashioned from bed sheets and clothing in an attempt to lower himself about 34 feet into the facility’s parking lot at 1175 Delaware Ave. Buffalo police detectives determined his death was accidental.

The state Health Department, which is also investigating the death, recommended the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services fine the facility. The federal agency is also considering denying Emerald South taxpayer payments for new admissions.

Strasner’s death occurred about two years after Ruth Murray, 82, was beaten to death while she was a patient in Emerald South’s dementia unit.

An 84-year-old man also in the unit attacked Murray after she mistakenly wandered into his room on Aug. 26, 2016. Murray died three days later.

Her attacker was ruled mentally incompetent and not criminally charged. The Health Department fined Emerald South $10,000, in part, for failing to provide adequate supervision.

Following Strasner’s death, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services designated Emerald South a “special focus facility.” This rarely applied designation identifies nursing homes that demonstrate a consistent inability to adhere to quality of care standards and have a history of “practices that have resulted in harm to residents,” according to the Health Department. Special focus facilities are subject to extra Health Department inspections.

Strasner’s death, and subsequent protests about conditions at Emerald South by workers, prompted Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Aug. 23 to call on the state to appoint a receiver to operate the home.

“The current situation at Emerald South is unacceptable and is obviously placing residents in danger,” he said.

Emerald South isn’t the only nursing home in Erie and Niagara counties that has been fined. More than two-thirds – 71 percent – of the state fines given in the past decade went to homes run by out-of-region owners.

Absentee owners 

The month before Benjamin Landa’s company took over the two Buffalo nursing homes as receiver in 2012, Emerald South was rated a four-star, or “above average,” home by the federal government. Emerald North was rated “average,” or three stars.

Today, Emerald South and Emerald North are rated as two- and one-star facilities – “below average” and “much below average.”

When companies owned by Judy Landa and her partners took over as operators of Safire Southtowns and Safire Northtowns in 2014, the homes were both rated as two stars. Today, the federal government rates Safire Southtowns as a two-star home and Safire Northtowns as a one-star.

Szczygiel, the elder law specialist who visits area nursing homes, says residents in low-rated nursing homes deserve better.

“When a facility allows its practices to fall below acceptable levels, the residents have nowhere to go to get away from the problems that result,” he said. “This means personal needs cannot be met, personal dignity is lost and occasionally tragedies result.”

Virginia Holt, who worked 42 years at Emerald South washing clothes and linens, said she doesn’t remember either of the Landas visiting Emerald South since shortly after their purchase five years ago.

“When they first bought the place I saw Ben Landa, but I haven’t seen him since. I never saw Judy Landa,” said Holt, who retired in April.

“I understand that they are out of town, but at least show up every three or four months. Walk around, talk to the staff and the residents,” Holt said.

Benjamin Landa spokesman Weiss said Benjamin Landa has never visited Emerald South. He said he couldn’t say if Judy Landa has.

Risky business model

State records show that when companies run by the Landas bought their first two Buffalo nursing homes, they had a playbook. They would save hundreds of thousands of dollars by cutting staffing at Emerald South and Emerald North and boost taxpayer reimbursements by accepting residents who needed more health care.

That business model is cause for concern, Szczygiel said.

“You have a smaller staff but residents with higher needs. The staff time required by the higher-need residents reduces the amount of staff time for all the other residents, and studies have shown that the amount of staff time per resident is highly correlated with quality of care,” he said.

The strategy was spelled out in applications for state approval filed by companies Judy Landa co-owned.

As the receiver for Emerald South, Benjamin Landa’s company cut staffing levels for a savings of $677,667, according to the application. Another $300,000 was saved by trimming other expenses.

In the Emerald North application, $401,993 in savings were projected by reducing staff and spending less on supplies.

Applications for both Emerald facilities also detailed how revenues had increased because of an “exclusive contract” with Erie County Medical Center to accept the hospital’s patients who are considered difficult to discharge. Those patients, who require greater levels of care, brought in higher reimbursements paid by Medicaid and Medicare.

At Safire Northtowns and Safire Southtowns, Judy Landa and her partners did not propose cutting staff or admitting higher-need residents in their applications to New York.

But some common business strategies emerged.

The business was split from the property: Companies formed by Judy Landa and four New York City area partners became the Safire operators; companies formed by Benjamin Landa and the same four partners bought the land and buildings. They paid $9.3 million for the real estate, public records show.

The Safire companies were to pay $58,008 a year in rent, according to the applications to the state.

But in 2016, the rents had increased to $1.2 million a year for the two Safire homes, according to financial statements filed with the state.

Meanwhile, the Safire homes were cutting staff, according to workers and union officials.

Tanya Goffe, a certified nursing aide and 1199SEIU union delegate at the 100-bed Safire Northtowns, said that there has been a steady reduction in nursing staff since the Landas and partners bought the nursing home.

The number of licensed practical nurses and certified nursing aides at Safire Northtowns dropped from 80 to 38, according to Theresa Lyman, administrative organizer for the union.

Goffe said she once had to care for 40 Safire Northtowns residents by herself during a seven-hour shift.

The current average amount of time a certified nursing aide spends with each patient per day at Safire Northtowns is 89 minutes. The state average is 133 minutes, according to the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare website.

The shortage of nursing staff is not a problem just at Safire Northtowns. It is common at other nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties that are owned by out-of-region investors.

In the two counties, for-profit, out-of-town owners run 12 of the 15 homes where nurses spend the fewest minutes per day with residents.

DA investigating

The problems at Emerald South and Emerald North extend beyond patient care.

“Paychecks have bounced and insurance benefits have been canceled, despite the fact that employees have had pay deducted from their salaries for these benefits,” said Todd Hobler, vice president of 1199SEIU.

Weiss, the spokesman for Benjamin Landa, said the two Emerald nursing homes switched health insurers and a gap in coverage occurred. He said no deductions for the insurance were made from workers’ pay stubs during the gap.

The union disputes that.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn told The News his office is investigating what happened to the payroll deductions and has sought assistance from the state Attorney General’s Office.

Hobler, the union official, says the way management at Emerald South and Emerald North treats workers affects nursing home residents.

“It results in turnover with people leaving the jobs at the Emeralds for positions that are more secure. Ultimately you can’t staff a facility when you are mistreating the people providing the care,” Hobler said.

Daniel Tracy, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses a wheelchair, resides in Emerald South. Tracy cannot feed himself and is barely able to speak. In recent months, he sent Facebook messages twice to one friend begging her to visit and feed him because, he says, the staff forgot.

He blames both the owners and the staff at Emerald South for his poor care.

“Emerald South is not only understaffed, it’s run by people who don’t really care about the residents …” he wrote in an email to The News. “The staff see how the administration is running this place and they do the exact same thing – do as little as possible for an eight-hour day and will hide in a room to make sure they don’t have to do anything.”

Please view the article in its original format by clicking here.

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Landa, Sentosa and a Suit Because Someone (smart) Refused to Sell

THE DECISION TO NOT SELL… THE MCGUIRE GROUP

Some of the most vulnerable patients in world are those who are placed in nursing homes, often unable to speak for themselves, defend themselves, care for themselves or prevent others from neglecting them. 

One of the most lucrative businesses is the ownership of nursing homes and nursing care facilities. Money comes in from patients, Medicare, Medicaid, other Federal and State programs, private donors, private money, contracts, kickbacks and the list goes on.

Like Brius care in California, we fear that some of the largest conglomerates of nursing homes in New York and surrounding areas are owned not by those out to care for the elderly, but those out to profit from each bed filled.

The following is an article about a suit filed by Benjamin Landa and a group of downstate partners who came only too close to purchasing a group of Western New York nursing home.

We do not believe that the decision to “not sell” a nursing home can be deemed anti-Semitism and we certainly hope that the Courts see what is happening here. Unjust enrichment? Likely not.

 

Long Island man sues McGuire Group for refusing to sell 5 Buffalo nursing homes

Three years ago, Long Island resident Benjamin Landa and a group of downstate partners came close to buying seven nursing homes, including five of the Buffalo area’s top-rated facilities.

But the deal fell apart, and Landa is now suing the McGuire Group, the suburban Buffalo company that refused to sell him the homes.

Landa alleged in his 2016 lawsuit that F. James McGuire, chief executive officer of the family-owned facilities, backed out of the $45 million deal that year, in part because Landa is “an orthodox Jew from New York.”

The McGuire Group, which operates five nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties, succeeded in having the allegation of anti-Semitism removed from the pending lawsuit. But a State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn allowed Landa to continue his allegation of  “unjust enrichment” against McGuire and the company.

[RELATED: As out-of-town investors buy Western New York nursing homes, residents pay the price]

The lawsuit says the McGuire Group backed out of a deal to sell Autumn View Health Care in Hamburg; Garden Gate Health Care in Cheektowaga; Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Lancaster; North Gate Health Care in Wheatfield; Seneca Health Care in West Seneca; Brookhaven Health Care in East Patchogue; and Autumn Woods Residential Health in Warren, Mich.

Five of the six nursing homes in New York state are rated as five-star facilities, or “far above average,” the best designation given by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The lawsuit was filed in 2016 during a time when out-of-region investors have been buying up Buffalo-area nursing homes. In the past 11 years, downstate residents have purchased 16 of the 47 nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties.

Benjamin Landa’s wife, Judy, has an ownership interest in four of those nursing homes. Two of the facilities rated  “far below average,” the lowest designation awarded by the federal centers, and two are rated “below average.”

In his suit, Benjamin Landa alleges McGuire misled him into believing he would be able to buy the nursing homes if Landa found a buyer for the McGuire Group’s pharmacy, which supplied medications to its nursing homes. The pharmacy was sold, Landa said, but McGuire backed out of selling the nursing homes.

In an interview, McGuire cited “unresolved issues after tiring months of negotiations” for the decision not to sell to Landa.

McGuire did not explain in legal papers why he did not sell the nursing homes to Landa and his partners. But in a counter-claim, he alleged Landa breached a confidentiality clause during the negotiations and caused some key McGuire employees to resign.

Instead of selling to Landa’s group, the McGuire Group in 2016 sold a 19.8 percent ownership stake in its nursing homes to VestraCare, a New York City area firm.

Why did McGuire consider selling the nursing homes in the first place?

“We have as many as 14 partners among our group of nursing homes, many of whom are of retirement age. Some of my older siblings are in their sixties and some of our partners were interested in liquidity and diversification,” McGuire said. “It is an incredibly challenging business and not all partners have the same tolerance for the challenges.”

Story topics: 

Please view the original article in and its contents by clicking here.

 

Freedom of Press – Journalists Without Borders

To Our LM Audience:

We are asking you to kindly support organizations that support journalists and free press worldwide.

Since our inception in 2016, we have a significant worldwide readership. We thank you for that. We are eternally grateful for your concern when the site went dark for periods along the way, many were concerned for our physical safety. Others were concerned that we would sell out. 

WE WILL NOT SELL OUT. 

By way of explanation, at times we went dark because the undertaking involved in keeping this blog active is immense. There is simply so much information. We are well aware that we may have let some of you down, those who were counting on us to do something or say something in an area of interest. 

We must express our apologies. We continuously endeavor to rectify that. There really is so much information and the necessity for help from our readers is unquantifiable. 

While we had not really focused on the issue of “Chofesh Ha’Bitui” before now, we have been placed in a position wherein this is now first and foremost in our thinking. Free Speech and Free Press should not be available to only those persons who can afford to defend against false claims and allegations that somehow we have committed some violation. The ability to scrutinize a community and its members (whether ultra-Orthodox or otherwise) should not be stymied by those with the money to afford to use the judicial system as a weapon.

The state of Free Speech throughout the world is at risk. In many parts of the world it is threatened by violence to journalists. In the US it is threatened by the wealth of those who can either hire firms to begin scrubbing the internet or who can hire lawyers to drag people through costly litigation.

The following link is to is a post from Journalists Without Borders. We ask that you please pay close attention. In the meantime, please send along information. Please speak up. Please alert us to what is happening in the world. We are committed to this endeavor. findinglostmessiah@gmail.com

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-8mWBSOShPKdUEzT795R83BAVfxtjR2F/view

To donate to Journalists Without Borders click here. https://rsf.org/en/rsf-usa-membership

Chofesh H’Betui – The Right to Convey Free Thinking – at Stake PART II

The Word “Philanthropist” and the Services Money Can Buy –

Taking Aim at Free Speech

We have stated many times that we really do not like the word “Philanthropist.” Those self-proclaimed philanthropists, in our view, who riddle these pages have not given freely. They have not given anonymously to a beneficiary and taken no credit for the gifts, one of the highest forms of giving in the Jewish faith. Instead they have boasted philanthropy as a badge of alleged honor. Philanthropy, as such, is not a gift but a justification or a remediation of whatever sins have been committed.

And at this the holiest season on the Jewish calendar, we are taught that giving money to repent for our sins is simply not enough.

We are not philanthropists. We are supporters of a cause-accountability. We take on issues involving children, education, the treatment  of our elderly, honest business practices, human decency, mutual respect for our neighbors, integrity and most importantly, the right to free speech.

Nearly each page we have published contains the name of someone, whose ‘Wikipedia” page would call a philanthropist, as self-described. These alleged “Philanthropists” have learned to game a system, whether by greasing the palms of politicians, sending police officers to Israel, making friends with the appropriate corrupt officials in the Congo, purchasing a nursing home by manipulating zoning laws and then treating the patients reprehensibly or altering the zoning laws to suit their fancy. And, all of this under the guise of “Philanthropy.”

To our valued readers, these same self-proclaimed “Philanthropists” filed a lawsuit against a blogger, served on a Saturday which will require a response of one form or another in the middle of the holiday season. It will require funding and time. And in the greatest of ironies, the Plaintiffs refer to themselves as “Philanthropists.”

This lawsuit is an effort to silence the blogger and presumably silence this blog. The stakes are high. We have a readership of well over 1.5M views in the last few years and if we are forced to shut the doors to this site, it will send a message to each of our readers that it is too risky to speak up, something which runs counter to our very system of beliefs. A victory by these Plaintiffs would be the destruction of society’s ability to hold bad actors accountable for their actions, a horrifying result.

The law firm handling the suit is well connected in Kings County and is well known for its political connections and for its support of so many of the members of the community that grace our pages. The law firm has as great an interest in this case as its clients.

We will be asking for your support in the coming weeks. We have never asked for financial assistance to keep these pages running but a crowdfunding site is being established by friends of this page.

In the meantime, the findinglostmessiah@gmail.com address is up and running after some maneuvering. We are happy to answer questions and we could use any help you may have.

Finally, insofar as WordPress has a set of standards they follow, we encourage posting and participation. We remain faithful to the trust placed in us by you, our readers.

With many thanks. With kindness and immeasurable gratitude.

L’Shana Tova – LM and all of those who make this endeavor possible.

 

 

The Use of Litigation to Chill Speech – LostMessiah, Fensterman and the SandosaCare Example – PART I

936754_10200089158137358_142753902_nDear Reader:

Last week one anonymous blogger, allegedly associated with the LostMessiah site, was served with a defamation suit for two articles written in 2016. It appears that to obtain a blogger’s information, WordPress was handed a Court Order to uncover the identity of LostMessiah’s associated individuals, the basis of that Order remains open to numerous questions.

The relief being sought is the removal of the articles, which had already been facilitated, a blanket ban on the appearance of any story written on LostMessiah (or anywhere else by this blogger), as such story might relate to Plaintiff family and its related companies. This last relief is known in the legal world as a prior restraint. The suit also requests damages and punitive damages.  

The objective of the complaint can be nothing other than to chill speech, something we find unpalatable, at best, reprehensible at worst.

It is most certainly inconsistent with this country’s notion of Freedom of Speech. If every activist, speaker, author, writer, painter, blogger and celebrity who tries to speak out against the wrongs in our society gets slapped with a lawsuit, free speech gets trampled and wrongful actors get to act with impunity. In this particular case, the implications, are broad ranging since so many subjects of our articles have endless sums of money, as does the Plaintiff family. This is from our perspective, totally unacceptable.

To you our readers, you should be incensed. 

Without going into all of the specifics, the articles had been published on LostMessiah in 2016 and remained continuously on the site until the anonymous blogger was contacted to remove them, the removal of which said blogger facilitated in an act of good faith.  

Consistent with our mission of integrity and substantiated reporting, we had sources to back up our stories. Ironically, in what appears to be a concerted effort at scrubbing the internet, the backup stories were cleansed as well, including the stories’ underlying lawsuit which had been available on the University of Virginia site. That underlying lawsuit and its information, largely substantiating the facts and circumstances of the articles in question, are still publicly available, but far harder to find.

Since getting served on a Saturday afternoon, an irony not lost on us (the blogger did not ask the process server if he was Jewish), a group of people has been researching every inch of the web, submitting Freedom of Information Act requests and searching publicly available information to determine exactly why this issue is of such great importance to this family. The stories had been on the internet for well over 2 years.

As to the law firm representing the plaintiff, we can only say that they are no strangers to using the court system as a tool for quelling free speech.

The Sentosa Care Story is one example. It should be noted that the Courts dismissed that case against the ProPublica freelancers as a “fair and true report”.

 See here.  

See: TheDailyBeast: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-brooklyn-machine-vs-the-first-amendment

The Brooklyn Machine vs. the First Amendment

A nursing home operator who says he was defamed in ProPublica is ignoring the publisher with deep pockets and instead taking aim at two freelance investigative reporters.

Continue reading

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.

State Sanctioned Harm To Our Most Vulnerable, Landa, Fensterman, the DOH and Schneiderman, Accountability?

Maybe US District Court Judge Will at Long Last Hold the DOH, AG Schneiderman and Owners Like the Sentosa Consortium Accountable for the Deplorable Treatment of The People in Their Facilities

In 2002 the New York Times reported on accusations against the State of New York for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by allegedly “warehousing” adults with disabilities and placing them in homes that were not meeting their needs.

In 2009, the New York Times again reported on violations in an article entitled: State Discriminated Against Mentally Ill, Judge Rules

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/nyregion/09mental.html?_r=0

According to the allegations, not only is the State allowing nursing homes and other facilities to continue to operate substandard facilities that do not adequately protect the most vulnerable in our population, including the elderly and mentally ill; but there are backdoor dealings and conflicts of interest by the State, lawyers representing the State, attorneys representing the nursing homes and the Department of Health (DOH).

In an online radio interview on WNYC (link below) one of the sites referenced is Ocean View Manor in Brooklyn—which is run by the Ben Landa (under an LLC). It happens (fortuitously) that Ben Landa is the business partner of Attorney Howard Fensterman who is also the principal in the sketchy SentosaCare consortia. This incestuous relationship between an attorney, his political connections and a for-profit nursing consortium was further revealed in an investigative story in ProPublica in Oct 2015.

As a reminder, Fensterman has been a campaign fund raiser for Governor Cuomo, Mayor deBlasio and Senator Schumer all of whom are named throughout the allegations, lawsuits and even by the attorney in the referenced lawsuit.

US District Court Judge Garaufis’ words implied that there is appears to be collusion by the DOH and AG Schneiderman and the attorneys for the Nursing Home Industry. He commented that AG Schneiderman should spend less time writing press releases and more time looking into the issues at hand. AG Schneiderman has been defending the DOH and the implication is that the Nursing Home’s attorney was back-door dealing with the health department. This would be consistent with the ProPublica article and the New York Times reports.

WNYC Radio Report: https://www.wnyc.org/story/federal-judge-admonishes-new-york-state-warehousing-mentally-ill/

Mar 23, 2017 · by Cindy Rodriguez

A federal judge is demanding to know whether the state colluded with adult home operators to undermine a legal settlement that took more than a decade to come to fruition.

Under the settlement, which protects 5,000 seriously mentally ill adults, the state agreed to prohibit psychiatric hospitals from discharging people into what are called adult homes, which have come under scrutiny in the past.

But when a man who wanted to live in an adult home challenged the regulation in state court, the state agreed to temporarily halt it — a move that could potentially dissolve the larger agreement.

The man was represented by an attorney for the adult home industry. Jota Borgmann, an attorney for the mentally ill, say emails show the attorney for adult homes potentially colluding with health department lawyers on the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis says if that’s case, he would consider it “a fraud” on the court.

The state attorney general was representing the Department of Health in the federal court legal settlement. Lawyers for the Attorney General have accused the state of going behind their back to halt the regulation. They’ve asked to withdraw as counsel.

Adult homes are like large group homes — many of them have more than 200 beds — that are for the frail, elderly and disabled.

The state says it can’t comment on pending litigation and any allegations of collusion are patently false.

Listen to the interview above to hear more.