Family sues Brius over recent nursing home death

Brius is facing more allegations of understaffing and substandard care in a California courtroom.

On November 7, 2017, a resident’s family sued Brius for elder abuse in Los Angeles Superior Court following the resident’s death last month at Imperial Heights Healthcare & Wellness Center in Brawley, California. See below for a PDF copy of the lawsuit.

The case centers on Guillermo Espinosa, an 83-year-old man admitted to the nursing home in December 2016 for rehabilitation following a hospital stay.

As a result of “chronic understaffing” and substandard care at the Brius facility, the suit alleges, Mr. Espinosa suffered multiple falls, preventable pressure sores on his feet and coccyx area that penetrated to the bone, “a blood infection that required amputation of both legs, as well as other injuries… which were the proximate causes of his death on or about October 17, 2017” (pp. 5-6).

Last month, after developing “a gruesome foot ulcer” and a blood infection, both of Mr. Espinosa legs were amputated at a nearby hospital, according to the suit. Mr. Espinosa died days later.

According to the suit, “These injuries were entirely preventable had there been sufficient staff on duty, in both number and competency, to actually implement the protections required by the facility’s own Plan of Care and physician orders and assessments for Guillermo Espinosa” (p. 10).

The lawsuit alleges that Brius “wrongfully withheld required care” from Mr. Espinosa.

“In short, staff at the facility did not have time to turn and reposition Guillermo Espinosa every two hours to relieve pressure on [his] bony prominences, to make sure he received pressure-relieving devices, to make sure Guillermo Espinosa was clean and dry at all times, and to make sure Guillermo Espinosa was properly hydrated with sufficient nutrition to fight off the development of pressure sores” (p. 11).

The lawsuit also alleges that Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz and other top executives “siphoned off huge and unwarranted amounts of money” from the nursing home through “related party transactions” with Boardwalk West Financial Services, SR Capital, LLC, and other companies (p. 4).

Earlier this year, NUHW published an analysis of Brius’ related-party transactions (“Brius Healthcare’s Insider Transactions: How California’s Largest Nursing Home Chain Funnels Millions to Insider Companies”), citing state data that details how Brius nursing homes paid $67 million in 2015 to 65 companies controlled by Rechnitz and his relatives for financial services, medical supplies, loan repayments, facility rentals and other items. These transactions are also the subject of an ongoing investigation by the California State Auditor, which was ordered in June 2017 by California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The lawsuit – known as Guillermo Espinosa vs. Boardwalk West Financial Services, LLC et al – was filed by the firm Garcia, Artigliere & Medby of Long Beach.

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