Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a nursing home negligence case brought by the estate of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. The main issue presented for the court was whether the arbitration agreement signed by the resident’s daughter could bind the resident’s estate to arbitrate any claims it had against the nursing home. Ultimately, the court determined that the arbitration agreement was not binding against the estate, and it allowed the case to proceed through the court system.

Signing a ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case was the executor of the estate of a woman who had died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. When the resident was admitted to the facility, she was not competent to make her own medical decisions, so her daughter was there to assist her. Once the daughter identified the nursing home facility that she thought would be best for her mother, she signed a “Voluntary Arbitration Agreement and Acknowledgement,” stating that any claims that arose from the facility’s care of the resident would be settled through arbitration rather than through the court system.

At the time the daughter signed the form, the daughter did not have power of attorney for her mother. In fact, it was undisputed that she was merely acting as a health care proxy for her mother. However, the daughter signed the agreement, indicating she was her mother’s legal representative, but she listed her relationship as “proxy” later in the form.

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978951_55500582.jpgState investigators in Florida are taking a close look at a brain injury treatment center in Wauchula. Current and former patients at the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation (FINR) have come forward with allegations of abuse at the hands of staffers. The state investigated the center last year after a patient died, although state regulators halted their investigation over jurisdictional concerns. The center now faces civil claims and administrative proceedings, and several staffers face criminal charges.

Founded as a for-profit facility in 1992, FINR is located in Wauchula, about fifty miles southeast of Tampa in Hardee County. It is one of the largest centers dedicated to the treatment of brain injuries in the country, with 196 beds, and it takes in patients from all over the country. According to an investigative report by David Armstrong in Bloomberg, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has received 477 reports alleging neglect or abuse at the center since 2005. Its investigations have reportedly “verified” thirty-six of them. DCF says it refers verified matters to law enforcement.

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The headline of this blog says it all “Exploitation of the Elderly”. This is a serious crime that is rampant in South Florida and goes unnoticed by all. Taking advantage of elderly should not be allowed as these ‘old folks’ cannot fend for themselves and depend on their immediate caretakers and family for everything. In the upcoming blogs I will find more articles of elder abuse for you to see the different scenarios that there are and it will also serve as a wake up call to us all when we see our elderly being taken advantage of by their own family and their caretakers. Read this article of a woman that was stealing from an elderly Cuban native.

MIAMI (WSVN) — Police have arrested a woman after exploiting an elderly woman’s savings account.

Seventy-seven-year-old Nelsa Delgado came to South Florida 40 years ago from Cuba.

Delgado and her husband saved money hoping to have a peaceful retirement, but she is now left with only heartache. “A lifelong family friend stepped in to help my mother, and during that time she ended up helping herself,” said Delgaso’s son Pedro Delgado.

According to police, her caretaker Olga Hidalgo-Gato took her entire savings out. “She wanted to know how much money was in her account, and then I came to find out she was overdrawn about $700,” said Pedro. “At that point, I said ‘There had to be a mistake,’ because I thought that my mother had more money than that or much more money than that in the bank.”

Pedro said his family trusted Gato because she was a long time family friend.

Police said over the course of a year, the suspect wrote herself checks from Delgado’s account and took out cash from ATM’s totaling more than $35,000.

Surveillance video showed Gato withdrawing Delgado’s money at various locations without her present.

Casinos are one of the places Delgado’s money had been withdrawn. Pedro said his mother hasn’t been to a casino since before the revolution in Cuba. “At some point, there was $500 take out on a daily basses and also visits to casinos, and the last time my mother went to the casino was in Cuba before the revolution,” he said.

Pedro said his mother is in very poor health, and is completely heartbroken.

This is a sad case of elderly abuse as the person that was stealing from Mrs. Delgado was a family friend and her caretaker Olga Hidalgo-Gato. Luckily in Mrs. Delgado’s case she is still lucid and was able to bring the attention to her savings account by asking her son to find out what her account balance was, which is where he realized that the balance was incorrect. After enquiries were made by the family the police was called in and further investigations showed Ms. Gato withdrawing money without Mrs. Delgado being present, and checks withdrawn also against her account without her permission.

A heart breaking story for the Delgado family, as it was her life savings that Ms. Gato was pilfering daily and as the report stated in amounts of $500, along with casino visits. Should you or a loved be a victim of this type of abuse, contact an Attorney experienced in elderly abuse law to ensure that you know your loved one’s rights. Contact us for your FREE consultation via telephone 954 431 8100 or 305 624 9186 or online.

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As a Pompano Beach nursing home abuse lawyer, I was dismayed to see a recent article about a nursing home fined for lax oversight of its patients. According to a Nov. 15 article in the Palm Beach Post, Homewood Residence was fined $7,500 by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration after a patient there died from drinking dishwashing detergent. Michael Gruen, the patient, was 93 and suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease when he got into the kitchen of the dementia unit and drank the solution, which was made of lye, a caustic chemical that causes burns on contact with skin. The facility admitted no responsibility when it reached the fine agreement with the state, but a spokesperson had previously said the facility could not have anticipated Gruen’s actions. It faced a fine of up to $10,000.

According to the article, Gruen got into the kitchen unsupervised late in December of 2009, while staff members were busy with another patient. The spokesperson said Gruen must have gotten into a cupboard and detached the dishwashing solution from the machine. A staff member found him standing over the container and asked if he had swallowed any, but he didn’t answer. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died 18 hours later of severe burns to his esophagus. Gruen’s case was the third leading to a fine for Homewood within two years. In 2009, the facility had paid a $3,000 fine for allowing a virus outbreak affecting 10 patients and a $1,500 fine for questionable treatment of bedsores. State records from 2008 show that inspectors had already warned Homewood about unsafe conditions in the dementia unit, where residents had access to dangerous objects like hot coffee pots, curling irons and chemicals.

I am extremely disappointed at the article’s suggestion that unsafe conditions have been allowed at this nursing home. But as a Tamarac nursing home abuse attorney, I’m also disappointed that the state hasn’t fined Homewood more harshly for Gruen’s death and its other safety violations. The average cost of nursing home care is $50,000 and rising, according to the AARP. If that’s true at Homewood, the $12,000 it’s paid in fines over two years is just under one-quarter of one resident’s yearly payment. Fines are intended to give shoddy nursing homes an incentive to change their ways, but fines this low are unlikely to make bad homes change their ways — and they’re little comfort to victims. Nursing home patients and their families may be forced to seek justice and meaningful penalties against unsafe nursing homes by filing their own lawsuits in civil court, regardless of any professional or civil consequences the home faces.

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