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California Chain Cited for Care Center Abuse Twice in Three Years

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Anaheim, CAA chain of elder care centers previously cited for care center abuse and was successfully sued by a collection of disgruntled plaintiffs has again found itself under scrutiny. Various elder care centers associated with Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. (Skilled Healthcare) will again be closely monitored for the next two years, and the company has agreed to spend additional funds to improve staffing levels.

According to the Orange County Register (2/18/13), the five facilities in Orange County are part of a larger collection of elder care centers peppered throughout the state of California and operated by Skilled Healthcare.

The attorney general for the State of California launched a care center abuse lawsuit against the entity following reports by state inspectors of malnutrition, dehydration and overmedication. In total, according to a statement issued by the attorney general’s office, there were no fewer than 209 deficiencies found at the five Skilled Healthcare’s facilities in a four-year period from 2008 through 2012.

At the time the alleged abuses were taking place, Skilled Healthcare was in the throes of defending itself against a class-action lawsuit alleging similar abuses.

Prosecutors in the most recent care home negligence lawsuit cited Skilled Healthcare for failing to meet minimum staffing levels, and failure to prevent the most basic of medical complications amongst its residents.

“This is a case about neglect and abuse of California’s elders by a facility that was supposed to protect and care for them,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement.

The care center abuse lawsuit was settled before it had the chance to go to trial. According to the report, Skilled Healthcare has agreed to provide and fund additional supervision at its five facilities in Orange County over the next two years. What’s more, unannounced site visits will be undertaken by way of an independent monitor with regular reports forwarded to the office of the Attorney General.

According to the report, the facilities are Alta Care Center in Garden Grove, Anaheim Terrace Care Center in Anaheim, Carehouse Healthcare Center in Santa Ana, Fountain Care Center in Orange, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Fullerton. Overall, Skilled Healthcare operates 20 facilities across the state with 2,360 beds.

As part of the settlement, Skilled Healthcare was not required to admit to any wrongdoing.

This is not the first time the elder care chain has been embroiled in allegations of care home abuse and negligence. In 2006, the operation faced a class-action lawsuit filed by patients and family members, alleging the facilities in question provided inadequate care.

Following trial, a jury in 2010 awarded plaintiffs $670 million, but that award was reduced to $50 million in a settlement agreed to by both sides in the dispute. Ironically, the settlement included the requirement for monitoring akin to the latest settlement agreed to in Orange County with the Office of the Attorney General.

Nursing home abuse is a growing concern, given the aging baby boomers that are now just entering their retirement years. As demand for additional beds increases over the next few decades, pundits wonder about the capacity or even willingness for elder care facilities to keep up with the demand, and provide adequate care and supervision.

Most agree that negligence is a form of residential care abuse.

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