Media Stories

brius-nursing-homes-schlomo-rechnitz-headlinesShlomo Rechnitz and his Brius company reportedly own and/or operate as many as 81 nursing homes throughout California, making it the largest nursing home company in the state. Controlling nearly one out of every 14 nursing home beds in California, Brius’ empire of nursing homes stretches from San Diego, to Roseville, to Eureka.

A Sacramento Bee article, “California’s largest nursing home owner under fire from government regulators,” which is part of the Sacramento Bee’s investigative series on California nursing homes, offers a sweeping account of Rechnitz and his Brius company. The article chronicles the tragic deaths of multiple residents at various Brius nursing homes; details the results of its analysis of government records and its own independent quality measures; and describes some of the fines, sanctions, and penalties that local, state, and federal agencies have imposed on Brius for various violations. The stiffest sanction imposed on Brius nursing homes has been decertification, a rare measure taken by the federal government that denies approval of Medicare participation. Decertification is such an extreme measure that some refer to it as an “economic kiss of death.” According to the article, federal officials have decertified six of California’s more than 1,200 nursing homes since 2010. Of these six, Brius operated three:

  • Gridley Healthcare and Wellness Centre (Gridley, CA);
  • Wish-I-Ah Healthcare and Wellness Center (Auberry, CA), and;
  • South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital (later renamed Mission Grove Healthcare and Wellness Centre) (South Pasadena, CA).

Below are media stories describing Brius’ resident care failures and legal violations, its shadowy corporate structure, the business practices of its owner Shlomo Rechnitz, and other related subjects. Click here for more articles.


Sacramento Bee Investigative Series (2014)

sacramento-bee-brius-nursing-homes-investigative-series-on-California-nursing-homesCalifornia’s nursing home industry is a murky one. Owners of these facilities are known to insulate themselves behind multiple corporate entities, hoping to escape the reach of government regulatory agencies and potential litigation. This makes it difficult for consumers to identify who is actually running nursing homes and who should be held responsible when things go wrong. In a 2014 three-part investigative series, The Sacramento Bee uncovered the largest nursing home owners in California, how their nursing homes perform on resident care standards, and what government regulators are doing to ensure consumers make informed decisions about nursing home facilities.

Patient Care Issues

Five weeks after Geneva Hilton, 68, was admitted to Brius’ Centinela Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre, West (Inglewood, CA), she was dead. According to CBS News in Los Angeles, Geneva Hilton entered the nursing home with clear lungs and in good health. Five weeks later, she was suffering from pneumonia, dehydration and a body temperature lower than 80 degrees. During the investigation, a CBS reporter went undercover into the facility where he heard patients moaning aloud and his producer noticed the smell of human waste. Czersale Hilton, Geneva Hilton’s daughter, is suing the nursing home, alleging elder abuse and negligence. She joins a growing list of others suing Rechnitz and/or Brius over patient abuse and neglect.
CBS Local, Los Angeles (CA). “Owner of biggest nursing home comes under fire.” May 17, 2016.

sacramento-bee-brius-nursing-homes-population-mix-produces-dangerous-mixThe number of mentally ill and young residents living in California nursing homes has risen over the past number of years, creating a volatile population mix that produces safety and patient care challenges for traditional elderly nursing home residents and nursing home staff (Sacramento Bee, 2016). According to a Sacramento Bee report, California for-profit nursing home owners admitting these non-traditional residents get Medi-Cal and Medicare funding, which can net a nursing home an average reimbursement rate of $195 per day for those with Medi-Cal and as much as $800 per day for those with Medicare. Maria Martinez, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Brius’ San Rafael Healthcare and Wellness Center (San Rafael, CA), notes that staff at her facility feels ill-equipped to deal with the changing resident mix. “When you have homeless people coming in who are also alcoholics you never know how they’re going to react.” (Sacramento Bee, 2016).
Sacramento Bee. “Shifting population in California nursing homes creates ‘dangerous mix’.” April 2, 2016.

kaiser-health-news-reports-how-la-county-officials-allegedly-lightened-penalties-in-three-nursing-home-deaths-including-a-Brius-nursing-home-Verdugo-Valley-Skilled-Nursing-and-Wellness-CentreA 30-year-old paraplegic man who had been living at Brius’ Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre (Montrose, CA) died three months into his stay. In July of 2010, Armando Reagan began bleeding profusely and cried out to nursing home staff for help. Fifteen minutes later his sheets were soaked and a pool of blood had collected on the floor. By the time paramedics arrived and transported him to a nearby hospital emergency room his breathing was labored and heartbeat rapid. He died there within an hour. According to a Los Angeles County coroner’s report, Reagan died from hemorrhagic shock due to chronic infections stemming from an old wound and from neglect by the nursing home.
Kaiser Health News. L.A. County officials allegedly reduced penalties in 3 nursing home deaths.” October 27, 2014.

ABC-local-Los-Angeles-KXTV-investigates-use-ofchemical-restraints-anti-psychotic-meds-given-to-elderly-despite-warnings-at-Brius-nursing-homeIn 2012, 82-year-old Genine Zizzo entered Brius’ Roseville Point Health and Wellness Center (Roseville, CA) in good health and only needing physical therapy after a fall at home. Ten days later, she was transferred to an acute-care hospital in a coma and later died of multiple organ failures. Her family alleges that the nursing home used anti-psychotic medicines as a form of chemical restraint, which led to her death.
ABC Local, Sacramento (CA). “Chemical Restraints: Anti-psychotic meds given to elderly despite warnings. June 17, 2015. 

Criminal/Legal Issues

sacramento-bee-riverside-press-enterprise-brius-nursing-homes-schlomo-rechnitzOn October 22, 2015, the FBI raided Alta Vista Healthcare & Wellness Center (Riverside, CA), seizing documents at the facility. No official comment was released by the FBI due to its ongoing investigation. The incident at this Brius nursing home is the latest in a series of serious actions at other Brius facilities. In August 2015, California’s Attorney General charged the former Administrator and the former Director of Nursing at Mesa Verde Post Acute Care Center (Costa Mesa, CA) on counts of inflicting injury on an elder and failing to report elder abuse. Also in August, the California Attorney General’s office filed involuntary manslaughter charges against Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre (Montrose, CA) as well as felony charges of dependent-adult abuse against the nursing home’s Director of Nursing and a supervising nurse in connection with the death of a burn victim who allegedly was neglected while a resident at the nursing home.
The Press Enterprise. Riverside: Nursing homes’ troubles mount.” October 27, 2015. 
Sacramento Bee. “FBI raids Riverside nursing home.” October 26, 2015.

california-attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-announces-indictment-Brius-skilled-nursing-facility-in-los-angeles-countyCalifornia’s Attorney General announced the indictments of Brius’ Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre (Montrose, CA) and its former Administrator on charges of felony abuse and neglect after a nursing home patient took his life by pulling the pin on hand-held fire extinguisher and then firing its contents down his throat. The suicide victim, who had an established history of psychiatric illness, was accepted into the facility despite the facility’s staff having neither the requisite training, education, nor ability to handle individuals with mental illness.
California’s Office of the Attorney General (Press Release). “Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announces indictment of skilled care facility in Los Angeles.” July 11, 2011.

fbi-search-nursing-home-as-part-of-a-criminal-investigation-at-Brius-nursing-home-South-Pasadena-convalescent-hospital-Brius-is-owned-by-Shlomo-Rechnitz Agents from the FBI, IRS, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the California Department of Justice carried out a criminal investigation at Brius’ South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital. According to a statement from the South Pasadena Police Chief, Art Miller, from 2010-2012, local police handled 65 calls at the nursing home, ranging from alleged disorderly conduct, to drug use and sale, to physical and sexual assault. In 2011, South Pasadena police received information that the nursing facility was admitting sex offender registrants in violation of the Megan’s Law prohibitions of living within 2,000 feet of a school, day care facility, or park.
Pasadena News Now. “Re FBI search and criminal investigation at 904 Mission St., South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital.” June 7, 2012.

north-coast-journal-brius-nursing-homes-schlomo-rechnitzAccording to Humboldt County’s North Coast Journal, Shlomo Rechnitz and his Brius corporation controls 449 of the county’s 457 Medi-Cal nursing home beds. In 2015, Brius used its position of market dominance to deny local residents admission to its nursing homes until a more beneficial agreement on Medi-Cal reimbursement rates was reached between itself and Partnership California, the organization responsible for administering Medi-Cal across 14 Northern California counties. This move forced residents in need of long-term care to look outside the county for nursing home facilities. Suzi Fregeau, the program manager for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in Humboldt County, alleges to have received “at least a dozen calls from concerned family members who didn’t want to send their loved ones far away,” according to the article. On June 25, 2015, following several days of discussions with Brius’ management services company, Rockport, Partnership California announced it had increased its reimbursement rate for long-term care providers across 14 Northern California Counties. Suzi Fregeau believes Brius “leveraged its monopoly into a higher rate of reimbursement from Partnership.”
North Coast Journal. “The Shut Out: Why have Humboldt County’s skilled nursing facilities stopped accepting patients?” July 9, 2015.

sacramento-bee-brius-nursing-homesCalifornia’s Attorney General filed involuntary manslaughter charges against Brius’ Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre (Montrose, CA) for its allegedly grossly negligent care of James Populus, a nursing home resident who suffered from burns and badly compromised lungs from an arson fire decades earlier. Separate criminal charges of dependent-adult abuse causing death were also filed against the nursing home’s Director of Nursing, who was responsible for Populus’ care while at the nursing facility, and a Nurse Supervisor, who delayed calling 911.
Sacramento Bee. Charges filed in south state nursing home death.” August 28, 2015.
Sacramento Bee. “Death of a patient: State blames nursing home.” September 19, 2015.

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