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Families Sue Nursing Home Over Loved Ones’ COVID Deaths

Oct 14, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

The families and estates of 14 individuals who died of COVID-19 while residents at a nursing home in Northern California have sued the home, the owner, and several of his business entities, alleging that the facility was not licensed for operation and that the extremely inadequate care residents received amounted to elder neglect and abuse.

With the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reporting more than 137,000 COVID deaths among nursing-home residents and more than 2,000 COVID deaths among nursing-home staff nationwide, it is highly likely that many similar lawsuits will continue to be filed across the country.

Filed in Shasta County state court, the lawsuit claims that, despite receiving multiple citations from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Windsor Redding Care Center “continued its custom and practice of ignoring regulatory requirements and infection control procedures.”

As a result, plaintiffs allege, the Windsor suffered a massive COVID outbreak, with 60 of the facility’s 83 residents ultimately testing positive for the virus and roughly two dozen dying from complications due to the disease.

An inspection conducted by the CDPH on September 25, 2020 documented a number of serious violations, including multiple instances of nursing-home staff reporting COVID-19 symptoms yet being ordered to report to work regardless.

“Both [of the employees who had reported symptoms but were forced to work] later tested positive for COVID-19 but only after exposing countless residents to the virus,” the lawsuit says. “The inspector noted that one of the reasons the employees may have felt compelled to work was that Windsor had adopted a punitive sick leave policy in violation of California law.”

The CDPH inspection also revealed chronic understaffing and a profound lack of training, including training on basic elements of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) use. According to the lawsuit, “[W]hen the inspector asked one nurse who was wearing a mask on her chin whether the mask should be covering her nose and mouth she responded by stating ‘I don’t know.’”

Originally filed August 26, the lawsuit includes six causes of action, including: abuse/neglect of an elder, wrongful death, fraud, and negligence. The two other claims involve alleged violation of California’s Patient Bill of Rights and of the state’s unfair business practices act.

An Unlicensed Facility, An Owner with a Track Record of Violation

Inexplicably, the Windsor Redding Care Center had continued to house residents despite its owner being denied a license to operate the facility years before the pandemic struck. In July 2016, the CDPH issued a notice of denial for the “River Valley Healthcare & Wellness Center” at 2490 Court Street, Redding, CA. The website for the defendant Windsor Redding Care Center (www.windsorreddingcc.com) lists an identical address for its facility.

“After careful review and consideration of your application and all of the supporting information, CDPH denies your application for a license to operate the above-reference [sic] facility,” states the CDPH denial letter, which is addressed to notorious nursing-home owner-operator Shlomo Rechnitz. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21069830-denial-river-valley-healthcare-wellnes-centre-lp

According to the CDPH letter, the denial was based in large part on Rechnitz’s past record as a nursing home owner-operator, with the agency’s review having found that facilities “owned, managed, or operated” by Rechnitz “directly or indirectly” had been cited with 265 different federal violations during the three years from June 2013 to June 2016.

These violations include numerous documented incidents of failure to provide a safe environment; failure to adequately monitor residents’ medication regimens; failure to maintain sufficient food supplies to meet dietary standards; failure to ensure compliance with infection-control procedures; and many, many more.

For years, Rechnitz has been accused of enriching himself by severely cutting costs at his nursing-home facilities, reducing staffing, services, and training to the point where he has been accused on multiple occasions of putting the health and safety of residents and staff at serious risk.

An April 2021 investigation by the nonprofit news outlet CalMatters into the state’s failing nursing-home licensing system revealed that Rechnitz, via his numerous companies, is California’s largest nursing home owner, controlling upwards of 80 different facilities with a combined total capacity of over 9,000 residents.

Rechnitz has been able to amass his empire despite his facilities repeatedly being cited for serious violations. In 2014, he was able to purchase 18 additional nursing homes through a bankruptcy auction, over the objections of then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

With the already-poor conditions at nursing homes across the country having exacerbated the horrific toll of COVID-19, it is likely we have only seen the beginning elder abuse lawsuits related to the ongoing pandemic.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a nursing home that has failed to meet its required standard of care, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (Last Updated 7 October 2021). COVID-19 Nursing Home Data

California Department of Public Health. (8 July 2016). RE: NOTICE OF DENIAL OF APPLICATION

Superior Court of the State of California County of Shasta. (26 August 2021). Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial. Hearden et al. v. Windsor Redding Care Center, LLC, et al

Wiener, Jocelyn. (6 April 2021). California oversight of nursing homes called ‘befuddling,’ ‘broken’. CalMatters

Nursing Home Wrongful Death Due To Corona Virus (Covid-19)

May 11, 2020
Author: Jeremy Fietz

Did your loved one contract the novel CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) at a nursing home?    

Our investigations have revealed that some nursing homes may be either too late or too sloppy in their implementation of infectious disease protocols issued by the Department of Health & Human Services, Center for Disease Control.   

See - Nursing Homes Preparedness Checklist  

Very early in the spread of the novel corona virus (Covid-19) in the United States, it was identified that the elderly were at particular risk due to the nature of the virus.  A nursing home in Washington State was the first cluster of contagion in America in February 2020.  The risk to elderly residents of nursing homes was well known from the very beginning and yet some nursing homes did the bare minimum (or less) to protect our loved ones from this deadly virus.   

Actions to protect the nursing home residents should include strict infection controls, disinfection of all equipment between use by residents, disinfection of caregivers between contacts with different residents, strict food preparation and service protocols, limiting unnecessary contact between residents and staff, eliminating unnecessary contacts between residents, eliminating contacts between residents and outsiders, establishing strict disinfection procedures when anyone from outside the facility (including workers) enters the facility.  These are simple common sense practices that, if implemented, may prevent the death of many of our nation’s elderly.   

If your loved one is at a nursing home currently, please help protect them from viruses by asking about the facility’s adherence to the CDC’s guidelines and infection controls.   

If you lost a loved one, please accept our deepest sympathies for your loss.   Losing a loved one is always sad.  When it is preventable it becomes a tragedy.   

We have handled nursing home wrongful death claims for over 20 years.  Call now for a free evaluation of your potential claim. 

Call now to speak with a nursing home neglect attorney for a free consultation:
1-855-464-0808

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