With the arrival of the New Year, there are many pledges or resolutions being made. Some pledges include the promises by nursing homes to give better quality care to its residents. While made with good intentions, these promises may actually be prompted as a result of the “Special Focus Facility Initiative” program conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

This program reviews nursing homes on a regular basis to determine if the homes are providing quality care. Medicare personnel identify the homes that require corrections or improvements. If serious problems are not corrected then the nursing home’s participation in billing Medicare and Medicaid may be terminated.

As a result, many nursing homes are pledging and resolving to provide better service and improve the care to their residents. The New Year, however, may be too little too late for some, as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services have already made a list of Nursing Homes that are either in need of improvement or have improved since making the list.

If you are considering placing your loved one in a nursing home, please be sure to consider the information in the Special Focus Facility (“SFF”) Initiative report.

Stark & Stark has developed a Pennsylvania Nursing Home Practice in conjunction with our New Jersey Nursing Home Practice. We represent families of loved ones who have been mistreated and neglected in nursing homes. Please contact Stark & Stark’s Nursing Home Litigation Group if you would like to discuss the improper care your loved one has received in Pennsylvania.

As an attorney who represents families whose loved ones are neglected, killed and abused in nursing homes, I personally see the care, or should I say lack thereof, provided to our elders. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who’s taken notice. Recently, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, has taken an interest in this subpar care.

A complaint was filed in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Courts against Golden Gate National Senior Care Center LLC (“Golden Gate”), a company that operates dozens of “Golden Living” nursing home facilities around Pennsylvania. In the complaint, it is alleged that Golden Gate left residents hungry and unkempt, and also participated in unfair trade practices. Specific allegations include a general lack of supervision, which led to incidents of residents being left unchanged and sitting in their own excrement, as well as falsifying records to indicate that services were performed when they had not been.

Jeffery Johnson, a spokesperson for AG Kathleen Kane, has stated that Golden Gate mislead consumers with their advertising, by giving the impression that they offered a certain level of care that, in fact, was not provided. Additionally, when investigations were performed by the Department of Health, Golden Gate would increase their staffing the day of for the purpose of misleading the inspections, according to Johnson. A representative from Golden Gate has denied the allegations and has alleged that Kathleen Kane is pursuing this lawsuit as retaliation and to obtain fees for a connected law firm.

While the outcome of this litigation remains to be seen, there is no doubt that it will draw attention to subpar care that may be present in more nursing home facilities. As an advocate for the elderly, I hope that through litigation, awareness is raised and the conditions that our elders may face in a nursing home improve.

If your family member has been killed, neglected or abused in a nursing home, we recommend that you consult with experienced legal counsel immediately.