Articles Posted in Ventura Nursing Home

ian-schneider-95541-300x200How much decision-making power does a Chula Vista nursing home resident get when it comes to his or her quality of care? According to a recent article from Kaiser Health News, seniors in Southern California and across the country may be able to have more autonomy through shifts in federal regulations. As the article explains, around 1.4 million seniors living in nursing homes “now can be more involved in their care under the most wide-ranging revision of federal rules for such facilities in 25 years.”

What does it mean for older adults in nursing homes to have more autonomy over their schedules and care? Could such shifts in care perhaps reduce the rate of nursing home abuse in Southern California and throughout the country?

Shift in Federal Rules Focuses on “Person-Centered Care”

Very Old LadyIs the quality of life improving for Southern California residents in assisted-living facilities? And if so, how much attention do we need to pay to the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect in these communities if a majority of seniors say they are content? According to a recent article in McKnight’s Senior Living, “residents of assisted living communities in California are very satisfied with their living situations” on the whole. While this is good news for many elder justice advocates in the state, we should not let it obscure the fact that there remain a number of seniors who are not satisfied with their living situations and who become victims of elder abuse.

Although the recent article presents promising data on elderly assisted living in the state, we still need to consider the risks to California seniors who do not fall into this depicted majority.

Many Seniors in California are Indeed Happy, Survey Says

Over the last six years, complaints against Ventura County nursing homes are up almost twentyfold despite a California law that pumped nearly $900 million of Medi-Cal money into nursing homes throughout California. Remarkably, just prior to receiving the additional funds, Ventura County ombudsmen filed only 10 complaints against local nursing facilities, yet over a the period of July 2009 to May 2010 the same ombudsmen filed 194 complaints.

“The numbers show that (the law) did not do what it was supposed to do: increase the quality of care for residents in nursing homes,” Sylvia Taylor Stein, executive director of the Long Term Care Services of Ventura County ombudsman program, told the Ventura County Star. “They were given a checkbook with no oversight.”

By way of example, Oxnard’s Shoreline Care Center received $877,356.00 in additional Medi-Cal funding from 2004 to 2008, but records show that the facility actually provided less nursing hours per patient per day than it did prior to the funding increase. It’s not surprising that the nursing home took in $4.1 million in profits after the law was passed.

It took jurors only five hours to convict 21-year-old Cesar Ulloa of criminal elder abuse for his brutal treatment of residents at the Calabasas nursing home where he worked. According to prosecutors, Ulloa would laugh as he attacked his victims, many of whom were to demented to be able to call for help. He faces life in prison.

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In one of the assaults, a fellow employee witnessed Ulloa jump on the chest of a non-verbal 78-year-old woman’s chest, and throwing her on the bed as she struggled. To another elderly male resident, Ulloa jumped off a dresser and landed with both knees on the man’s abdomen, seriously injuring the man. He apparently would laugh with delight while brutalizing the patients.

Suspicion over Ulloa actions was raised after the wife of a resident received an anonymous phone call the day after her husband’s funeral. The call said that her husband had been abused, and that his death may have been related to the abuse, something the family suspected. The police were notified, and the victim’s body exhumed for an autopsy that revealed more than 24 fractures. The man’s death was determined to be caused by blunt force trauma.

We blogged earlier about the $7.75 million dollar verdict a 71-year-old stroke victim was awarded after she proved to a civil jury that she was abused by caregivers in her nursing home. The lady’s family decided to place a hidden camera near the bed of Maria Arellano, and caught some ghastly footage of an attendant pulling the elderly woman’s hair, bending her fingers and neck, and treating her violently in the shower. Now, as expected, the defendant, Fillmore Convalescent Center, plans on appealing the verdict.

It’s attorney Thomas Beach told the Ventura County Star, “We strongly disagree with the decision and will be taking all appropriate legal steps to set aside the verdict.” Strongly disagree? Of course he disagrees; he told the jury to give her nothing.

What makes this case most interesting is that the plaintiff attorney Greg Johnson made a settlement demand of $500,000 long before the trial. He had compelling video, and a great story, and not only did the nursing home ignore his demand, they never offered him a penny.

A Ventura nursing home called Fillmore Convalescent Center, its owner, and one of its employees were hit with a $7.75 million verdict yesterday after a jury found them liable for elder abuse. It has to be one of the largest verdicts in California in a case involving nursing home abuse or neglect.

The facts are egregious. In 2006, the family of 71-year-old Maria Arellano, a stroke victim who was also non-verbal, began to notice suspicious bruising. They complained to the nursing home administration, but it failed to look into it. The family then placed a hidden camera in Ms. Arellano’s room, which caught caregiver Monica Garcia slapping Arellano, pulling her hair, bending her fingers, and treating her violently. When the tape was revealed, Garcia was charged with criminal acts, and the family brought an elder abuse lawsuit against the nursing home.

The lawyer for Arellano, Greg Johnson, must have done an excellent job. He told the Ventura County Star that he offered to settle the case for $500,000, but was rebuffed. The nursing home, through its attorney Tom Beach, never offered a dime to resolve the case. “There was a lot of arrogance,” said Johnson.