In This Issue
Resignation of Department of Public Health Director Provides Opportunity for New Leadership at Troubled Agency
The December 3, 2014 announcement by Dr. Ron Chapman that he is resigning his position as Director of the California Department of Public Health is welcome news to California nursing home residents. Dr. Chapman has shown little interest in the plight of nursing home residents who have increasingly been exposed to neglect and abuse under his watch. New leadership at the Department of Public Health is urgently needed and long overdue.
Omnicare Facing New Federal Charges Involving Drugging of Nursing Home Residents
On December 22, 2014, the U.S. Justice Department filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against Omnicare for soliciting and receiving tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks from Abbot Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depakote, between 1998 and 2008. Omnicare is the nation’s largest long term care pharmacy and supplier of pharmacy consulting services to nursing homes.
The DOJ alleges that Omnicare collected kickbacks from Abbott in exchange for purchasing and recommending Depakote, an anti-seizure medication, to be used to control the behaviors of nursing home residents with dementia in facilities served by Omnicare. Depakote is commonly used in many nursing homes and assisted living facilities to chemically restrain residents who have dementia.
In the DOJ’s press release
on this action, Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda expressed concern that “elderly nursing home residents suffering from dementia are among our nation’s most vulnerable patient populations, and they depend on the independent judgment of healthcare professionals for their daily care. Kickbacks to consulting pharmacists compromise their independence and undermine their role in protecting nursing home residents from the use of unnecessary drugs.”
Omnicare and Abbot are repeat offenders. The DOJ has prosecuted prior cases against both companies and collected large settlements due to practices that promoted misuse of drugs that endangered nursing home residents with dementia.
NPR Hits on Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes
In a three-part series, NPR recently took on the persistent problem of antipsychotics in nursing homes. Part 1
reviewed some very bad cases of antipsychotic misuse in California nursing homes. Part 2
criticized the federal government's effort to enforce nursing home rules regarding antipsychotic misuse and Part 3
focused on the good dementia care practices at Ecumen nursing homes in Minnesota that have led to dramatic decreases in antipsychotic usage.
The NPR series does a great job of telling the story of antipsychotics in nursing homes: a frightening tale of chemical restraints from overmatched and frustrated nursing home staff, fostered by governmental failures, that is only now being rescued by the humane, comfort-centered approaches to care finally getting their due.
Fresno Area Nursing Home Closure Raises New Concerns About Operator and DPH
The Wish-I-Ah Skilled Nursing Facility & Wellness Centre in Auberry closed in early December after the Department of Public Health suspended its license due to extreme neglect of residents and crumbling facilities. DPH investigators issued two immediate jeopardy findings in October after a resident became septic and died due to poor wound care and another resident died after being diagnosed with Salmonella. Sixteen other residents developed symptoms of gastroenteritis when the facility failed to identify a foodborne outbreak that occurred after a dietary staff person continued to work while infectious.
The horrible care and suffering are only part of the story. After declaring in its accusation that the “respondent (licensee) has demonstrated a pattern of conduct inimical to the health, morals, welfare, and safety of its patients” and forcing the closing of the facility, DPH turned around and allowed the same operator, Brius Healthcare Services, to transfer about half of the residents to other Brius-owned nursing homes throughout the state. The California ombudsman office reported that 20 of the residents were bused to a Brius facility in Eureka, hundreds of miles away. DPH’s appalling lack of concern for the displaced residents is yet the latest sign that its priorities, allegiances and culture are corrupt.
New RCFE Laws for 2015
Effective January 1, 2015, several new laws regarding Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) will go into effect. These laws are part of a comprehensive package of bills called the “RCFE Reform Act of 2014” that were introduced in response to several scathing investigative reports about the failures in oversight and enforcement regarding California’s RCFEs, and the scandal at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, where 19 elderly residents were abandoned by the care home’s owner/licensee. The reform bills focus on improving RCFE care, empowering residents, and providing DSS with new tools to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
CANHR’s RCFE fact sheets
have been updated to reflect the new laws. For a summary and implementation plans for the new laws prepared by the state regulatory agency, the Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division, see http://www.ccld.ca.gov/res/pdf/14APX-15.pdf
. For a summary of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 bills, and other bills sponsored or supported by CANHR during the 2014 legislative session, see http://canhr.org/legislation/index.html
CANHR is Hiring
Are you looking for an administrative assistant position in the San Francisco area? Send your resume to Robert@canhr.org
. Find out more about the position here:
Dementia Care California Trainings: Sustaining Momentum and Success
On February 23 (Sacramento) and February 25 (Pasadena), the California Partnership to End Unnecessary Antipsychotic Use and Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, through the California Culture Change Coalition, is hosting two dementia care training events. Click here
for more information about the training and how to register.