Tag Archives: Sacramento Bee

Brius Healthcare’s Shlomo Rechnitz globetrotting on private jet

Less than a year before California Attorney General Kamala Harris labeled him a “serial violator” of nursing home laws, Shlomo Rechnitz made a purchase that further called into question his commitment to provide proper skilled nursing care.

Rechnitz, whose firm Brius Healthcare is California’s largest nursing home operator, spent approximately $3.6 million on a luxury jet in 2013, which he operates through a subsidiary that receives direct payments from his nursing homes. Over the following three years, that plane circled the globe more than 20 times, while Rechnitz racked up nearly 400 patient care violations and threatened to evict nearly 200 elderly patients claiming his homes were losing money.

Revelations about Rechnitz’s Gulfstream G-IV – including its flights to international destinations like Brazil, Portugal, and Israel – are contained in a report issued this week by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The details come from previously unpublished records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies.

Altogether, Rechnitz has spent an estimated $8 million to purchase and operate the jet.

Rechnitz’s spending habits should concern all Californians because he controls one out of every 14 nursing home beds in the state. And there is ample evidence that he is not spending enough to properly care for residents.

A Sacramento Bee investigation found that in 2014 Rechnitz’s homes were “tagged with nearly triple as many serious deficiencies per 1,000 beds as the statewide average.” One of his Los Angeles homes has been cited in connection with three separate resident deaths since 2009.

In July 2016, the California Department of Public Health blocked Brius from obtaining licenses to operate five nursing homes due to the company’s widespread violations of California’s patient-care laws. Harris labeled Rechnitz “a serial violator” in an emergency motion seeking to block it from buying 19 nursing homes three years ago. And the federal government barred three Brius nursing homes from treating Medicare patients due to severe violations of federal standards.

The report on Rechnitz’ private jet comes on the heels of recent articles raising questions as to whether he is siphoning money out of his nursing homes. The North Coast Journal reported that Rechnitz’ nursing homes in Humboldt County appear to pay inflated rent to  companies that he controls and that over the course of two years they paid $117,000 more to Rechnitz’s medical supply firm for “routine supplies” even though their admissions dropped 30 percent.

NUHW’s report – entitled “Misplaced Priorities at 40,000 Feet” – includes recommendations for policymakers and the public, as well as links to more than 100 pages of source documents obtained from government agencies.

Download (PDF, 1.44MB)

Report: California low-balling nursing home penalties

How can Shlomo Rechnitz and Brius Healthcare assemble a stable of 81 California nursing homes while racking up 386 health and safety violations over a recent three-year period?

The answer may be found in a report issued last week by Disability Rights California. The nonprofit concluded that the state often issues strikingly different penalties for seemingly identical violations and often declines to seek the maximum penalty for nursing homes found to have violated safety rules.

Issuing lower-level penalties helps unsafe facilities stay open and deprives the state of lost fine revenue, the report found. And it keeps patients and their families in the dark about the safety risks posed by certain facilities.

The Sacramento Bee highlighted one of Rechnitz’s nursing homes to illustrate this practice in its article detailing the report.

In 2010, Armando Reagan was rushed from Rechnitz’s Vedugo Valley Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre in suburban Los Angeles to a hospital bleeding from bedsores in his groin. Within an hour, he was dead.

Instead of issuing Verdugo Valley the harshest punishment – A Type AA citation and a $100,000 fine, the California Department of Public Health issued a milder Type A citation and a $20,000 fine.

That decision had consequences, the Bee noted, because Verdugo Valley had already received a AA citation in 2009. Had Reagan’s death in 2010 also resulted in an AA citation, the state would have had to revoke or suspend the facility’s license.

Instead, the facility remained open and was later hit with another AA citation in connection with the 2014 death of James Populus.

In fact, Disability Rights California found that state regulators classified more deaths as Class A Citations than Class AA citations between 2000 and 2014.