Tag Archives: Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center

Brius faces new lawsuit amid state fines for understaffing Humboldt county facility

A Humboldt County woman is suing Brius Healthcare and its CEO Shlomo Rechnitz for elder abuse after she fell multiple times in a Brius-operated nursing home, fracturing her arm, neck and wrist.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month on behalf of Marie White, alleges that Rechnitz endangered the health of White and other residents by intentionally understaffing the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center to boost profits.

White, according to the lawsuit was one of several patients referenced in a recent California Department of Public Health inspection that resulted in a $160,000 fine against the 99-bed nursing home in part for failing to provide adequate staffing to prevent falls. The report quoted an unnamed worker who said company officials increased staffing levels when state inspectors were present in an apparent effort to conceal the facility’s under-staffing.

In court papers, White’s attorney, Stephen Garcia of the firm Garcia, Artigliere, Medby & Faulkner, alleged that the home admitted White knowing she suffered from dementia and was prone to falling, but nevertheless failed to provide the care she needed.

White fractured her left arm last year after falling when walking unassisted to the bathroom. The nursing home “concealed” the injury and White’s subsequent 24-pound weight loss from her relatives, according the lawsuit.

White fell again on Jan. 26, 2017 while “left completely unattended” in the bathroom “striking her head on the toilet and sustaining a fractured neck and wrist,” Garcia wrote in court papers.

White was one of several patients who suffered preventable falls at the under-staffed facility, according to citations issued by state investigators on Feb. 28, 2017.

  • A resident suffered eight falls in less than four months, and had to be taken to a hospital for treatment.
  • A resident fell six times from May through December of 2016. In one instance, the resident was “found in the bathroom sitting on the floor wet with urine.”
  • A resident suffered six falls from August through October of 2016 including one that resulted in a broken nose.
  • A resident fell six times from May through November of 2016, including one fall that required stitches to close a head wound.

After interviewing several caregivers and residents, investigators from the California Department of Public Health determined that the facility had “failed to ensure adequate nursing staff to provide quality care.”

One caregiver told investigators that the facility “needed to have more staffing on the B Wing, because there were lots of confused residents who required more help and care.” Another caregiver said the facility had reduced staffing on the B Wing and that because of short staffing he “could not do things for the residents as he wanted to do (i.e brush their teeth, wash their hands, give a bed bath…)”

One resident told an investigator she sometimes had to wait up to 30 minutes for a staffer to help her go to the bathroom.

With the arrival of state investigators, however, staffing levels suddenly increased. A caregiver told investigators that she typically had 12 patients per shift, but had only eight residents that week “because the state was there.”

Investigators analyzed the “routine care tasks” performed by Certified Nursing Assistants during their work shifts, and learned that caregivers said they were assigned up to three times the amount of work that could possibly be completed during a shift.

However, the Brius nursing home administrator insisted there was no staffing problem, even though she acknowledged that one Certified Nursing Assistant had to care for more than 15 residents on a night shift. Questioned about the facility’s action plan for staffing, she told investigators there was no plan “because the facility did not have staffing problems.”

In court papers, Garcia insisted the home was under-staffed as part of Brius’ “plan to cut costs at the expense of the residents…” The under-staffing, he added, “was designed as a mechanism to reduce labor costs and … resulted in the wrongful withholding of required services to many residents of the facility, and most specifically, Marie White.”

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NUHW requests investigation into Humboldt patient death

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) last week formally requested a government investigation into the death of Randy Lee Kruger, who died in November after developing a pressure ulcer while a patient at Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

The 99-bed nursing home is operated by Brius Healthcare Service, the largest nursing home operator in California and the only operator in Humboldt County.

NUHW filed its complaint with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) after learning that the agency was not investigating Mr. Kruger’s death. CDPH is responsible for licensing, monitoring and regulating the state’s nursing homes.

Last month, Mr. Kruger’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that Brius committed elder abuse by failing to adequately care for her husband. Mr. Kruger lived at the nursing home for 15 months, where he developed a Stage IV pressure sore that ultimately penetrated all the way to his tailbone, according to the lawsuit.

On November 2, 2016, he was transferred by ambulance to a nearby acute-care hospital where he died seven days later from a bone infection and pneumonia, says the lawsuit.

Kruger’s wrongful death lawsuit is one of three filed in Humboldt County since November against Brius nursing homes and Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz.

Last August, CDPH fined Brius’ Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center $40,000 in connection to its care of Ralph Sorensen, who also died of complications stemming from a pressure ulcer, according to press reports, government records and his family’s lawsuit. The agency’s investigation, however, fails to mention Mr. Sorensen’s death.

The CDPH is reportedly investigating the care Alan Dewey received at the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of his sister, the nursing home discharged Mr. Dewey and left him at a hotel where he died four days later. Mr. Dewey had “multiple complex medical problems” including dementia, blindness, encephalopathy, bipolar disorder and chronic pain, says the suit. Last October, Brius officials allegedly “deposited” him at a Clarion Hotel with his medications, “a half-gallon of milk, instant noodles, and Velveeta macaroni and cheese.” Mr. Dewey was found dead four days later.

Below is NUHW’s letter requesting an investigation into Mr. Kruger’s death:

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Humboldt County Brius home hit another wrongful death lawsuit

A Brius-owned nursing home in Humboldt County evicted a 63-year-old patient suffering from dementia and left him alone in a hotel room where he died four days later, according to a lawsuit filed last month by an attorney for the man’s sister.

Alan Dewey had been living for nearly two years at the Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, which state regulators fined $160,000 earlier this year for substandard care that stemmed from chronic understaffing. The nursing home also has been named in two other wrongful death lawsuits since November.

Dewey was admitted to the  home in late 2014, according to his complaint filed by Amelia F. Burroughs of the law firm Janssen Malloy LLP. He had suffered a “significant brain injury in 1975 and a stroke, which affected his vision.” He also had “a seizure disorder and multiple complex medical problems.”

On Oct. 14, 2016, the nursing home “deposited” Dewey at the Clarion Hotel in Eureka with his medications, “a half-gallon of milk, instant noodles, and Velveeta macaroni and cheese,” according to the complaint, which described his hotel stay this way:

“Dewey could not see well enough to attend breakfast in the lobby of the hotel; could not see well enough to sort and take his medications appropriately, and could not see well enough to sort and take his medications appropriately, and could not see well enough to use the key card to enter his room or navigate his surroundings.”

He was found dead inside his hotel room on Oct. 18.

At the time that Dewey was allegedly dumped at the hotel, Rechnitz had announced his intention to close the Eureka nursing home and two others in Humboldt County in a move local officials said was a naked ploy to pressure them into once again boosting his reimbursement rates.

Dewey’s sister, Sherri McKenna, told Courthouse News she thinks her brother was discharged as part of Rechnitz’s effort to clear the nursing home given “the onerous requirements for resident transfers.”

The lawsuit names Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz, and several of his corporate entities as defendants for wrongful death and dependent adult abuse. “The facts are horrific,” Burroughs told the news outlet. “The corporate entities running the facility made decisions that I believe really hurt (Dewey).”

Burroughs’ firm is also representing the families of Ralph Sorensen and Randy Kruger. They both died after developing Stage IV pressure ulcers that became infected, according to lawsuits that also name Rechnitz among the defendants.

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Two Brius homes hit with wrongful death lawsuits

The families of two men who died after developing pressure sores in Brius nursing homes have filed lawsuits against the company and its CEO Shlomo Rechnitz. 

The suits, filed in Humboldt County Superior Court, claim the deaths could have been prevented had Brius adequately staffed the homes, according to a report in the Eureka Times-Standard and a copy of court records.

Ralph Sorensen and Randy Kruger both died after developing pressure ulcers that became infected, according to the lawsuits. Kruger resided at the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center and Sorenson resided at the nearby Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

The lawsuits come just one month after the California Department of Public Health issued $160,000 in fines to the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center for patient care violations stemming from low staffing levels and poor oversight.

Pressure ulcers form when patients spend too much time in one position, which is often the case at nursing homes that are not adequately staffed. The families’ attorney, W. Timothy Needham of the firm Janssen Malloy LLP, told the Times-Standard that it appeared that both facilities “are being consciously understaffed.”

In Kruger’s case, the Brius facility failed to properly treat a pressure sore that formed on his tailbone last August, attorneys alleged in court papers. Three months later Kruger died of a bone infection and pneumonia.

“You have to realize what (they) have literally done is they’ve allowed this person to rot to the point that they’ve got a hole in their back so large you can put your fist in all the way to their backbone,” Needham told the Times Standard.

The lawsuit, filed by Randy Kruger’s wife, seeks damages for wrongful death, negligence, and elder abuse under California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. The suit, attached below, states:

“The continuing pattern of abuse, as alleged above, was a direct result of defendants’ conscious plan to operate Eureka at inadequate staffing and patient care levels to wrongfully maximize their business profits, including patient dumping to avoid incurring costs associated with transfer to another appropriate facility under the law.” 

In Sorenson’s case, the Seaview facility never alerted his family or doctor that he had developed an ulcer,” attorneys alleged in court papers.

State regulators fined the Brius facility $40,000 in connection with Sorensen’s death, but Brius is appealing the fine, the paper reported.

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