In a new lawsuit, New York Attorney-General Letitia J. James said that the owners, operators, and landlords of New York’s four nursing homes have been misusing taxpayer funds for years. They left elderly people near dead, neglected, or humiliated, sitting in their own urine, feces, and other bodily fluids.
The lawsuit accuses executives and corporations that own nursing homes in Bronx and Queens as well as Westchester and Buffalo of enriching themselves through the diversion of Medicare and Medicaid money away from residential care.
Centers Health Care operates nursing homes in Queens and Westchester County, including Beth Abraham Center, Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, and Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. The lawsuit claimed that residents at these facilities suffered severe dehydration and malnutrition. They also developed infections and sepsis due to untreated bed sores, inconsistent wound care, and life-changing injuries caused by falls.
In a statement issued in response to the filing filed on Wednesday, Centers Health Care spokeswoman Jeff Jacomowitz stated that they would contest the allegations.
“Centers Health Care is proud of its commitment to the patient’s care. Centers has denied the allegations of the New York Attorney-General and tried to settle this matter outside of court. We will defend these false claims by using the facts to our advantage. Centers Health Care won’t comment on any ongoing litigation beyond that”.
The Attorney General’s Office has taken four enforcement actions in the last few months to combat fraud in nursing homes. This is their largest one. Nursing home issues first came up during the COVID-19 Pandemic, though the lawsuit claims that the horrors were present before the pandemic.
Within two months of the outbreak, COVID-19 had killed 70 residents at Holliswood Centre – almost a quarter. In 2020, more than 400 patients died in all four nursing homes.
Nursing homes should be safe places where vulnerable members of the community can receive the dignity and care they deserve. The owners of Centers Health Care, however, allegedly exploited these nursing homes and the vulnerable New Yorkers that lived there to obtain millions of dollars to use for themselves, causing elderly residents, those with disabilities, and even the dead to suffer unconscionable suffering, neglect, degradation and death”, James said in an announcement announcing his lawsuit.
The suit claims that due to inadequate staffing, employees were often unable to assist residents in basic daily activities, including help with the bathroom, getting into and out of bed, and eating. The suit claims that call bells are routinely ignored, or not answered, and meals are not delivered on time. Personal belongings such as hearing aids and dentures, clothing, and even an electronic keyboard were also lost or stolen. Residents, staff, and family members reported a number of unsanitary conditions including vermin, flies, and food trays that were neglected.