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Jack's Take on the Bill that would Crack Down on Bad Nursing Homes

Modesett Williams - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Read the Austin American-Statesman article about Senate Bill 932 here. The bill was filed by State Senator Charles Schwertner on Thursday, February 16, 2017.


Jack Modesett has spent twenty-five years representing patients who have suffered abuse in the long-term care setting. He feels that Senator Schwertner is to be congratulated for his work on behalf of some of our most vulnerable citizens, but he knows there is still work to be done in protecting these people.


The two agree that nursing home operators must be held accountable for their acts of malfeasance. In handling hundreds of these cases across Texas, Jack has seen every kind of horror one can imagine and recognizes that these types of abuses and neglect occur all too frequently in nursing homes. He asserts that this will continue as many nursing home operators have used recent changes to Texas law to "associate" with county hospitals and then claim Tort Claims Immunity. These "associations" are a sham and change nothing about how the homes are operated or who really operates them; some of the "associations" are with county hospitals that are not within a hundred miles of the home.


If Jack can offer any assistance in representing these victims, holding nursing home operators accountable, or improving the long-term care industry, Modesett Williams stands ready.

CNN: Over 1,000 Nursing Homes Cited for Mishandling and Failing to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CNN investigation published: February 22, 2017


"The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.


"It's impossible to know just how many victims are out there. But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine.


"Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little - or nothing - to stop it.


"Sometimes pure - and even willful - negligence is at work. In other instances, nursing home employees and administrators are hamstrung in their efforts to protect victims who can't remember exactly what happened to them or even identify their perpetrators.


"In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations - or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.


"It's these systemic failures that make it especially hard for victims to get justice - and even easier for perpetrators to get away with their crimes."


Continue reading about the mishandling and lack of prevention of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse cases in nursing homes here:

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/

What You Don't Know About Your Doctor Could Hurt You

Modesett Williams - Monday, April 18, 2016

"Thousands of doctors across the U.S. are on medical probation for reasons including drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and making careless - sometimes deadly - mistakes. But they're still out there practicing. And good luck figuring out who they are."


Read more of this Consumer Reports article by Rachel Rabkin Peachman here: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/doctors-and-hospitals/what-you-dont-know-about-your-doctor-could-hurt-you/index.htm

Nursing Homes Combining with Hospital Districts - Crony Capitalism at Its Worst

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

For those who keep abreast of developments in the world of nursing home care in Texas, a recent Dallas Morning News article should cause outrage. Nursing homes have entered into sham arrangements with rural hospital districts (which are governmental entities). The stated purpose of the arrangement is to give the nursing home access to additional federal dollars and improve the care of nursing home patients (Texas ranks last - 50 out of 50). But the law permitting this arrangement does not compel nursing homes to use this new money to improve care. Nor does it give the hospital districts any authority on how to improve care. So, what could be the real purpose of these arrangements? Money. The hospital districts receive a little money, the nursing homes receive a lot. A second purpose, unstated in the article, is to potentially further lower the statutory cap on damages. If your mother needlessly dies of malnutrition because the staff did not feed her, her damages may be capped at $100,000 under certain circumstances. Stay tuned.


Read the full Dallas Morning News article here:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150530-public-hospitals-help-nursing-home-operators-get-federal-funds.ece

Low-rated Texas nursing homes strike deals with public hospitals for federal cash

Modesett Williams - Monday, October 26, 2015

A recently published article in the Dallas Morning News tells the story of good intentions and bad results. Nursing homes have reached agreements with local hospital districts that provide more federal dollars for the nursing home, but there is no requirement that the nursing home use that money to improve care. Consequently, a majority of this money will go directly into the nursing home operator's pocket and not towards patient care, no matter how poor a nursing home's record. An additional outcome is that patients harmed by the nursing home's poor care may be subject to even lower caps on their damages.


Read the entire article here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150530-public-hospitals-help-nursing-home-operators-get-federal-funds.ece

Winning Before Trial - Employees as Witnesses

Modesett Williams - Monday, October 19, 2015

In July, we tried a nursing home abuse case where four former and one current employee testified that Bastrop Lost Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was chronically understaffed and unable to turn and reposition their patients, causing infected, fatal bed sores. This contradicted the payroll records the nursing home offered to show it was appropriately staffed. The jury believed the five live witnesses. Prior to trial, we spent a large amount of time compelling the Defendant to provide former employee contact information, tracking them down and talking to them. Their stories were consistent, as was their desire to help our clients tell their story.


Our take-away: Former employees know how organizations really run, are usually willing to testify and are not always disgruntled. Credible live witnesses often outweigh the cold documents. This is particularly true when the witnesses have nothing to gain by their testimony and may have placed themselves at risk when they want to continue to work in the industry.

3 Strikes, You're Out

Modesett Williams - Monday, February 16, 2015

For years now, Texas has consistently ranked among the worst states when it comes to nursing home quality. Recognizing this deficiency, Texas lawmakers have proposed a "3 strikes rule" that would revoke the license of and shut down any nursing home cited with three federal-deficiencies. The conditions of the legislation are that the offenses would have to take place on separate dates, and that the offenses would have to occur within a 24 month period. 


Proponents of the legislation argue that the 3 strike rule would make nursing homes more conscious about their conditions and encourage managers to appropriately handle their staff. However, there are oppositions to the legislation. It has been argued that if a nursing home's license were to be revoked, the individuals living in the home could face difficulties finding a facility to accept them. Regardless of the arguments against the legislation, the lawmakers have spurred and welcomed a much-needed discussion on what Texas can do to improve the quality of care in nursing homes.


To view the full article, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/nursing-facilities-blast-three-strikes-proposal.html?_r=0

The Most Disturbing Elderly Abuse Cases: Sexual Assault

Modesett Williams - Thursday, February 12, 2015

In 2012, Mary Rivera was placed in a nursing home after being diagnosed with dementia. She was the beloved mother of 8 who spent her life cleaning nursing homes to support her family. Her daughter went to visit her mother one weekend to find that she was behaving very strangely and appeared injured. Her daughter took her into a hospital that same day where exams concluded that she had been sexually assaulted. 

 

As disturbing as this case is, it is unfortunately not uncommon. KVUE reports that since September of 2009, over 494 sexual assaults claims have been filed in Texas alone to the Department of Aging and Disabilities Services, otherwise known as DAADS. Of those 494 claims (yes, that many) only 8 have been substantiated as legitimate by the department. Although Mary Rivera's rape kit has not yet been tested by the Austin Police Department, DAADS has already closed her case. It is unacceptable that this many claims have been submitted to DAADS, an organization that should be protecting the elderly, not ignoring claims that ultimately subject them to abuse.

 

Our own Jack Modesett successfully represented Miss Rivera’s lawsuit. With dedication and perseverance, it is possible that we will end eradicated these disturbing elderly abuse cases.

 

 

To view the full article, visit the KVUE website: http://www.kvue.com/story/news/investigations/defenders/2015/02/09/these-are-the-perfect-victims/23144269/

The Good Guys are out There

Patricia Small - Friday, June 13, 2014

Texas Elder Abuse and Mistreatment Institute Works to Mitigate the Growing Tide of Elder Abuse


In Harris County, a coalition of clinicians, APS (Adult Protective Services) workers, prosecutors, attorneys, community groups, researchers, academics, business entities, social service agencies and others have formed a clinical and research arm to help stop elder abuse in Texas. The group was formed to educate health professionals, community service workers and the public about the growing problem of elder abuse. 


TEAM takes clients referred by APS who have suffered substantial abuse or neglect, may have complicated medical issues and often have a questionable capacity, and provides a comprehensive geriatric assessment. After this medical assessment, a plan of care is determined by an interdisciplinary team made up of the APS case worker, a social worker, and the TEAM Institute medical team. 


TEAM is also the umbrella organization for H-FAST and EFFORT, which also have a role in protecting the elderly and providing justice for abuse and neglect cases that result in tragedies. H-FAST, the Houston Financial Abuse Specialist Team, works specifically to fight against financial exploitation of the elderly, which is the third most common form of abuse against our elderly. EFFORT, or the Harris County Elder Abuse Fatality Review Team, reviews specific cases of unexpected adult deaths and reports its findings and recommendations to the Harris County Commissioner's Office every two years. 


For more information on TEAM and how you can get involved, visit these sites:


https://med.uth.edu/im/divisions/geriatric-palliative-medicine/research/basic/

http://www.apshealthcare.com/

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/special-reports/article/As-Houston-region-gets-older-abuse-of-elderly-4872716.php#/0

http://www.houstonmatters.org/show/2014/04/18/preventing-elder-abuse-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-record-store-day-houston-matters-for-friday-april-18-2014





It's Not a Myth

Patricia Small - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Elder Abuse is Happening in Our Own Backyard


Recent statistics by the National Center on Elder Abuse state that 9.5% of the elderly population suffered some form of abuse in 2010. That is roughly one out of of every ten people over 60 years of age. Despite how shocking those numbers may be, it is difficult to see them as anything other than numbers. Connecting real names and faces to the individuals who experience abuse and neglect can be challenging. We write them off, dismiss these incidents as anomalies or freak accidents.


Unfortunately, these cases hit closer to home than we may want to believe. A recent article by the Houston Chronicle reported the death of two residents in a northwest Houston nursing home after both were beaten to death by another resident with a wheelchair armrest.


According to the article, Antonio Acosta, one of the victims, warned his family about the dangers of his new roommate, even begging them to find somewhere else for him to go. The roommate, 56-year-old Guillermo Correa, was charged with capital murder for the death of Acosta and another roommate, Primitivo Lopez, the article reports. 


This tragic murder sheds some light on a problem that is often not thought about when we talk about abuse in nursing homes. Often we assume that nursing home abuse refers to blatant abuse between a staff member and a resident. However, as was the case in Houston, abuse can also occur between residents. The Houston facility, Lexington Place, refused to comment, the article states. 


These incidents are often yet another result of understaffed nursing homes. More supervision, more time for resident concerns and more careful monitoring of arguments between residents can go a long way in preventing these tragedies. 



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