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.

Sentosa, Lawsuits, ProPublica, Filipino Servitude, Elder Abuse, ENOUGH?!

fILIPINO.case.108934

WHEN IS ENOUGH- ENOUGH?

SENTOSACARE’S ALLEGED ABUSES CONTINUE AS ALLEGED!

In a March 14, 2017 McKnight’s story on the class action complaint filed against SentosaCare for allegedly keeping 350 Filipino nurses in ‘indentured servitude,’ the author adds another example of the abuse of a system intended to protect our frail and vulnerable elderly.

http://www.mcknights.com/news/new-yorks-largest-for-profit-snf-operator-kept-nurses-in-indentured-servitude-lawsuit-claims/article/643845/

Notwithstanding the detailed ProPublica Oct 2015 revelations about PHHPC and SentosaCare’s malfeasance, the Cuomo appointed agency has nonetheless facilitated the licensure of one of the stakeholders of SentosaCare-Benjamin Landa to purchase Briarcliff Manor. Operators of the largest skilled nursing facility consortia in New York State, with repeated articles regarding their treatment of both staff and patients are being permitted to expand.

Benjamin Landa and his gang of merry elder “caregivers” (using the terms loosely and with sarcasm) are suing propublica for reporting:

https://www.propublica.org/article/new-york-for-profit-nursing-home-group-flourishes-despite-patient-harm

In spite of mounting evidence that this group should not be permitted to expand, we have the Public Health and Health Planning Council’s buy with no character/competency issues identified…Page 96

https://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/public_health_and_health_planning_council/meetings/2017-03-22/docs/exhibits.pdf

            Program Summary

            No negative information has been received concerning the character and competence of the above applicants. The proposed operators intend to enter into a contract for accounting services with Sapphire HC Management Care, LLC, which is a related party.

What does it take to be deemed “negative information”? If ending the continuation of the licensure of alleged criminal owner/operators is not a moral imperative question, what is?

Are we not obliged to ask whether it is no mere coincidence that Landa’s partner in SentosaCare, Howard Fensterman, (formerly of the PHHPC), contributed heavily to de Blasio’s first mayoral campaign?

Is it such a small world that he headed up the recruitment of Schumer’s Long Island campaign donations? Is it happenstance that $10,000 was given to Cuomo for his 2018 Campaign?

How many more vulnerable and disabled elderly will our Department of Health allow to be victimized by these same people?

How much money is enough to buy the silence of the very people we elect and hire to protect the most frail and fragile in our rapidly aging community?

How many aides must be subjected to abuse in the workplace, as these Filipino nurses were; or laid off by the thousands, as facilities are churned for real estate profiteering? 

WHEN IS ENOUGH-ENOUGH?

READ ALSO:

 

Who Would have Thought Ageing Could be So Lucrative?

 

What Happens When you Mix a Law firm, Politics and a Multimillion Dollar “Ageing” Industry?

Contributor Opinion, Lost Messiah, August 1, 2016

We are posting the following as a sort of related story to the picketing by Shlomo Rechnitz’s own nursing home employees, who seem to have more decency and care for their charges than Rechnitz. What follows is the East Coast’s version of the nursing home mafia, or at least one of them. We are fairly certain there is far more to follow.  

The AG has gone after Allure for ‘misrepresentations’ having to do with the churning of the Rivington House & CABs Bed-Stuy properties. Both of which were transitioned into luxury housing. The idea that ‘misrepresentation’ of bricks & cement are the priority for those in charge of justice shows you how ass-backward are the ethics of our elected officials.

Instead of preventing these unscrupulous amoral owner/operators from doing more harm to the frail and weak, to the disabled who cannot speak for themselves, and preventing these dangerous owners who lie about their intentions to care for their patients; it takes financial transactions to have the AG step up.  

Is it better than nothing? Yes…but not much.

Assertions of ‘supply and demand’ excuses and the parsing of deed restrictions in the lawsuit are the sole prioritized subject matter for the courts!? Killing off the disabled in sub-par nursing homes is not of any interest. The Department of Health “approves” the applications of these same owner/operators who have already been guilty of blatant disregard for the lives of those entrusted in their care.

Unless someone is maimed or dies…and a malpractice lawyer is hired (sorry, Mr. Fensterman, you would be conflicted) -these Nursing Home owners have unfettered access to more facilities, more fluid deed restrictions and more money.

Re the AG trying to stop Allure:

Context means so much…

The firm of Abrams Fensterman & Fensterman are Allure’s counselors in contesting the AG’s challenge for their effort to acquire the Greater Harlem Nursing Rehab facility and another nursing home. This case is currently being heard in Manhattan Supreme Court (Index 155305/2016). Fensterman, as already reported in Lost Messiah, has a long sketchy history and tentacles not only to Albany-and to Schumer in D.C. but also to deBlasio in NYC. We are posting prior forwarded links below as a matter of convenient reference.

Fensterman, dear Fensterman, is the Consigliere of the Nursing Home ultra-Orthodox mafia… The Rubin(s)/Landau -were the state’s DOH appointed Receivers in 2014 & were given the opportunity by a complicit NYS Public Health and  Health Planning Council (appointees of (corrupt) Cuomo) to get their foothold in this Harlem Rehab-in order to buy and inevitably (as they did with the churning of the Rivington Nursing Home and the Bed-Stuy CABS facilities) leverage it for sale. 

We also believe that they may have played financial “Twister” with Medicaid, Medicare and Workers Compensation in the process. They have employed the Fensterman attorneys as their defense team. In fact, Fensterman seems to have made defending the questionable business tactics of nursing home owners, and fighting for additional nursing homes for his clients a lucrative legal industry.

The coup d’grace is that Long Island’s Fensterman recently opened a branch of his office in Brooklyn with County Dem Boss and ‘appointer’ of  judges, Frank Seddio and his partner Frank Carone. Ready to make sure that all of the ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn owners of nursing homes and long term care facilities know who to hire as the lawsuits come rolling in. Hard to know which judges have Seddio to thank for their seats…

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/nyregion/reinventing-long-term-care-and-endorsing-firms-accused-of-fraud.html

Excerpt from above:

Mr. Fensterman is past chairman of fund-raising for Mr. Cuomo on Long Island, and his Lake Success law firm has donated more than a half-million dollars to candidates of both parties over the past decade, records show, including more than $17,700 to Mr. Cuomo and $43,291.25 to Senator Skelos, the Senate Republican leader. Excellent and the Fenstermans’ separate contributions include another $13,500 to Governor Cuomo.

https://michaelamon.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/how-a-long-island-nursing-home-empire-got-its-way/

Excerpt from above:

“Howard Fensterman, SentosaCare’s chief attorney, is Schumer’s Long Island finance chairman and a top fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, chaired by Schumer. Fensterman, along with the SentosaCare executives he represents, said they had supported Schumer for years, well before he acted on their behalf.”

The Sick Looting of Home Health Care

Excerpt from above:

More problems surfaced when the media got wind that Fensterman, Landa’s attorney, was lining up contributions for Cuomo’s campaigns. Both the Voice and Newsday reported that Cuomo had received donations from partners in a company under investigation. The campaign quickly returned $6,000 from Landa. Fensterman said his own donations were fine, since he was no longer seeking to become a partner. Actually, he simply had his wife, Lori, replace him as a would-be shareholder.

http://www.howardfensterman.com/in-the-news/bill-de-blasio

In October, 2013, Mr. Fensterman hosted a fundraiser for NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio at his Long Island residence, where over ninety Long Island community leaders gathered to show their support for the Democratic nominee.

So while the optics would seem to be promising-this case MUST be followed closely. Perhaps in his own evaluation, the political gains for Schneiderman from newsworthy attention of the public will be considered worth the ‘sturm und drang’ from the Hasidic community-Schneiderman’s former  ‘sponsors’ and patrons?

 

 

SentosaCare LLC Has the Gall to Sue ProPublica’s Authors

 

ProPublica.4

USING THE COURTS TO COVER-UP ABUSES BY SILENCING THE OUTSPOKEN CRITICS – SENTOSACARE LLC  vs. LEHMAN, JENNIFER

Lost Messiah and contributors, July 7, 2016

On March 24, 2016 SentosaCare LLC, Landa and Philipson filed a lawsuit against the two reporters who researched and meticulously compiled, chapter and verse, the failures by the New York State Public Health and Heath Planning Commission to appropriately monitor SentosaCare LLC/Landa/Philipson related nursing homes, and in our opinion, their mafia-like consortium of businesses run without care for their patients.

The Plaintiffs are being represented by Howard Fensterman and his firm. That Landa and Philipson are indignant and deny violations to their frail and vulnerable patients – as noted in their lawsuit- not only impugns any professed moral integrity, but in our opinion illustrates the perpetual cavalier lack of care by Senosa’s shared principals. It further, in our view, exemplifies their greed, financial quantification of their patients and utter disdain for a system that should be monitoring their facilities and is equally as responsible for their arguably criminally negligent treatment of their patients.

In Plaintiffs’ motion, ostensibly to silence the reporters’ factual accounts of the failings of the system that allows this mafia-style consortium to not only prosper but grow, they do not deny the factual accounts. They only dispute the lack of praise for their de minimus 5-stars accounting for what little they seem to get right in their various facilities. Their defamation suit and supporting claims seem not only to defy logic and justice, but as the authors of the ProPublica rightfully point out, they illustrate the failings in Albany. They shed light on the state sponsorship of harm to the disabled elderly which is…well…business as usual.

The Department of Health as well as the legislators AND the governor who suckle at the mother’s milk of Nursing Home lobbying groups such as Leading Age, NYSHFA, NYSCAL, AHCA, HANYS and lust after the Hasidic/ultra-Orthodox bloc votes- pander to what we view as amoral, if not outright criminal owner/operator/developers such as Sentosa, Haysha Deitsch and others.  We maintain that those who sit complacently and allow these abuses to continue, who gain from the suffering of society’s most vulnerable – the elderly – are in total complicity with the most predatorial of nursing facility conglomerates.

As the ProPublica article illustrates and as the Defamation suit further establishes, Medicaid abets the schemes; and the growing elder population is not given a fighting chance. The very fact that SentosaCare LLC, Landa and Philipson had the gall to file a defamation suit, ostensibly based upon the editorial decision to reduce the praise in favor of highlighting the most egregious aspects of elder abuse, we suggest speaks louder than the ProPublica article itself.

SentosaCare LLC, et. al’s defense of their so-called ‘deficiencies’ as opposed to ‘violations’ evades the realities of their many failures to be honorable stewards of those under their care. Their neglect to understand that the subject of the ProPublica article was a scathing criticism of the system that allows these deficiencies and violations to continue, is in our view a tacit admission that the violations and deficiencies represent nothing more than the cost of doing business-as-usual. In other words the Plaintiffs should not be called-out for an honest account of the failings a system because such attention to the subject is slanderous and defamatory. We beg to differ.

To add insult to injury quite literally is SentosaCare LLC et. al’s demand for compensatory damages!

We have included a link to the lawsuit and all of its many attachments and exhibits. https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivil/FCASeFiledDocsDetail?county_code=t0f8D8icaWzjB2Cvlvg5NA%3D%3D&txtIndex

Court: Kings Civil Supreme
Index Number:   504407/2016
Case Name: SENTOSACARE LLC vs. LEHMAN, JENNIFER
Case Type: E-Filed Other
Track: Standard

We would like to thank Plaintiffs for their failure to deny the allegations they claim are implicit in the ProPublica article and we would like to thank Defendant’s attorney for her eloquence in pointing out what so many need to remember: focusing on the failings of a system absent a measure of praise is not defamation or slander but editorial freedom. As the ProPublica article, based upon publicly available information pointed out, the system of review of healthcare and rehabilitation facilities is failing the elderly miserably.

The attached PDF Exhibit4 is the letter, in its entirety, written by the authors of the ProPublica article to Mr. Fensterman prior to the publication of the ProPublica article. It is dated March 18, 2016 and requested Fensterman’s response regarding information the authors had acquired. The litigation indicates that there may have been an effort made to keep this letter from public view. It is listed as Exhibit 4 in the Plaintiffs’ Motion.

We note that page 9 includes all of the “Nursing homes examined by ProPublica and affiliated with SentosaCare and/or Landa, Philipson or their family members in 2012 through 2014, per Medicaid cost reports.” We are publishing that publicly available page here because some of them have been the subject of our blogs and opinions.

It is our opinion that the lawsuit should be, as a matter of law, dismissed with prejudice and the Defendants should be awarded attorneys’ fees and any other damages legally available. We hope the court holds our position. 

11. Nursing homes examined by ProPublica and affiliated with SentosaCare and/or Landa, Philipson or their family members in 2012 through 2014, per Medicaid cost reports:

Avalon Gardens Rehab & Health Care Center

Bay Park Center for Nursing & Rehab

Brookhaven Rehab & Health Care Center

Crown Center for Nursing & Rehab

Diamond Hill Nursing & Rehab

Eastchester Rehab & Health Care Center

Forest Hills Care Center

Garden Care Center

Golden Gate Rehab & Health Care Center

Grace Plaza Nursing & Rehab Center

Little Neck Care Center

Meadow Park Rehab & Health Care Center

Nassau Extended Care Center

New Surfside Nursing Home

Park Avenue Extended Care

Parkview Care & Rehab Center

Pathways Nursing & Rehab Center

Rockville Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center

Rosewood Rehab & Nursing Center (2012-2013 only)

South Point Plaza Nursing & Rehab Center

Spring Creek Rehab & Nursing Care Center

The Hamptons Center for Rehab & Nursing

Throgs Neck Extended Care Facility

Townhouse Center for Rehab & Nursing

West Lawrence Care Center

White Plains Center for Nursing Care

Woodmere Rehab & Health Care Center