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Sacramento, Bay Area, and Northern California Elder Abuse Attorneys discussing the problems related to the Special Focus Facility Program

In 2017, a Lyft driver, Rex Riley, was called to a nursing home in Hawaii, the Legacy Hilo Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, with instructions to pick up a 76-year-old man with dementia. The nursing home requested that Lyft take the man to a hotel 110 miles away, where they reserved a room for him. Two hours later, when Riley arrived at the hotel, he discovered that the nursing home neglected to arrange for payment. The hotel wouldn’t take him. In addition, the resident, confused and incapable of making any plans, had no identification, no medication, no money, and no credit card. Worse still, the Lyft driver, a former paramedic, noticed that the man was in poor physical shape, and his feet were turning blue. An urgent call to the Legacy Hilo nursing home went unanswered! Riley called 911, and medics took the 76-year-old to a hospital, where he remained for the next five months.

Why a nursing home thought it a good idea to send a 76-year-old man with dementia to a hotel 110 miles away remains a mystery. But the actions taken by Legacy Hilo in 2017 put the nursing home in a highly undesirable group called the Special Focus Facility (“SFF”) Program. The SFF is a list of nursing homes with a history of serious quality issues, which is now regularly published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). While CMS has maintained the list for many years, last June, United States Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania forced CMS to release the list of nursing homes with serious violations publicly.  Facilities that land on the list are supposed to receive extra oversight from CMS.

The problem with the CMS list, though well-intentioned, is that only ~85 homes throughout the US are on it, meaning that they receive direct intervention and special attention. Meanwhile, 400+ more are waiting to get on – or put another way, 400+ more need to be on the list. Also, another failing of the program is that it only allows the inclusion of one home from each of several states, including Louisiana and Arizona, even though there could be dozens of facilities in those states that should get direct oversight from CMS.

The issue, according to Senator Casey, is resources. Funding for the CMS program has been limited by Federal budget limits, which means that there are many more facilities that should be included and monitored. The fact that CMS has limited time and resources isn’t based on actual need; it is merely an indication of misplaced priorities. If our representatives in Washington placed greater value on the health and safety of nursing home residents, the CMS budget would be increased. It’s that simple.  York Law Firm has award winning Sacramento Elder Abuse Attorneys that specialize in representing Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases.  We have successfully represented many elderly clients and their families who have faced such losses.

The COVID-19 epidemic continues to roil the nursing home industry, where vulnerable senior citizens reside. During the ongoing pandemic, families and even regulators are being prevented from entering many facilities, which means that many nursing homes are cutting corners with no fear of being caught. Our duty and responsibility are to keep our seniors safe. To do that, we need to hold accountable the repeat offenders, the worst of the worst, the nursing homes in the SFF program, and the 400+ more that should be there.

Let your congressmen and senators know you support additional funding for CMS! Let us all do whatever we can to keep our senior citizen residents in skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes safe.  You can find more about our Elder Abuse legal services by visiting the Elder Abuse page of our website.

Contact our Sacramento, Bay Area and Northern California Elder Abuse Attorneys today if you have an elderly loved one who has wrongfully suffered from Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect.

Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting elder abuse and wrongful death cases.


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