Johnstown Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys, Here to Help Your Family
At Senior Justice Law Firm, nursing home negligence claims are the focus of our law firm. Our Pennsylvania elder abuse attorneys specialize in this niche practice area. From our Pittsburgh office, our lawyers proudly represent victims and families in Johnstown and Cambria County.
If your loved one was wrongfully injured in a Western Pennsylvania skilled nursing or assisted living facility, contact a skilled and compassionate Johnstown nursing home abuse attorney. Demand justice. Demand accountability. Demand Senior Justice Law Firm.
Call our Pennsylvania nursing home negligence law firm today at 412-948-7300 for a completely free case consultation.
Johnstown, PA Nursing Home Neglect
The dense, suburban city of Johnstown is located in the beautiful Laurel Mountains, and it’s one of the most popular places in the area to retire. For good reason, too—the natural wonder and appealing climate are highly desirable for those entering into their later years. As a result, Johnstown has seen consistent growth in its nursing home locations.
Nursing facilities are meant to support and provide services ranging from medical care to various types of therapy, and in such a homey city like Johnstown, locals are prone to trust these locations implicitly. However, the unfortunate reality is that nursing homes and long-term care facilities are not exempt from cases of negligence and abuse.
The United States has tens of thousands of nursing home abuse allegations filed each year. Moreover, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that these allegations––though numerous––are often not reported in a timely manner. Add to this the fact that many more incidents likely go unreported entirely, and it becomes clear that nursing home abuse and neglect are much more common than you may want to admit.
Whether you suspect that someone you love has been a victim in a Johnstown nursing home or you’re simply evaluating your options before committing to a specific facility, here’s what you need to know.
Pennsylvania’s Laws Regarding Abuse and Negligence in Nursing Homes
The federal government provides general oversight and guidance for widespread standards of care in nursing homes. From this comes the baseline protections that staff are beholden to, such as properly administering medications and reporting potential issues in a timely manner. However, each state is also free to add further regulations or requirements, and Pennsylvania has done so in an effort to improve elder care outcomes.
The state of Pennsylvania has issued the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA), which protects residents from 60 years of age and older against any type of abuse (including the common varieties mentioned below), exploitation, or abandonment.
Section 201.3 under the Pennsylvania law defines abuse as:
“The infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental anguish, or deprivation by an individual, including a caretaker, of goods or services that are necessary to attain or maintain physical, mental and psychosocial well-being. This presumes that instances of abuse of all residents, even those in a coma, cause physical harm, or pain or mental anguish.”
Moreover, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 established new standards that Medicare and Medicaid sections must adhere to in nursing home settings. Because facilities often operate on razor-thin margins, fraud or overbilling relating to Medicare and Medicaid are fairly common.
If you suspect that a nursing home is in violation of federal or Pennsylvania state-specific laws and regulations for care and behavior, a complaint—no matter how minor you may think it is—can make a significant difference. Do not feel intimidated to come forward with your allegations; Pennsylvania’s nursing home negligence laws exist to provide support, as do attorneys who focus on nursing home abuse.
What Nursing Home Abuse in Johnstown Looks Like
Remember—stay vigilant for any signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. There are numerous types of abuse, including physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and financial, that your loved one may experience in a long-term care facility.
Physical abuse in nursing homes can commonly be identified by broken bones, unexplained bruises, burns, scars, weight loss, and infections in multiple areas of the body. Recurrent UTIs or infections surrounding feeding or catheter tubes are important indicators. Preventable physical states, such as having bed sores or being underfed and dirty, are also typical symptoms of physical abuse.
There is no medical explanation for bedsores aside from neglect, even if a nursing home attempts to convince you otherwise or divert the allegation by saying a wound is just a diabetic ulcer. Pressure injuries like bed sores are a strong indicator of Johnstown nursing home negligence.
Also, keep watch over your loved one’s general behavior to see if they appear to be under- or overmedicated.
Financial abuse in nursing homes can commonly be identified through abrupt or recent––and out of character––changes in finances, such as banking or spending habits. If your loved one is suddenly always low on money, or if they seem stressed about their possessions, they could be financially suffering as a result of staff theft or appropriation of their items.
Mental abuse is often tied with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and sadly goes overlooked until extreme circumstances force it into visibility. Your loved one may be suffering from mental or emotional abuse of he or she appears to be depressed, withdrawn, confused, isolated, overly anxious, or out of character. These types of abuse can even occur from other residents of the nursing home, and that facility is still responsible for such behavior.
Carefully observe your loved ones for abusive symptoms, and do not hesitate to contact Johnstown nursing home abuse attorneys for guidance on what to do. However, that is not your only option; there are additional resources that you should also reach out to a Johnstown nursing home abuse lawyer if you suspect that abuse is occurring or has occurred.
What to Do If Your Family Member Is at Risk in a Johnstown Nursing Home
Once you have identified signs and symptoms of abuse, it’s time to take action and resolve the situation. Whether you pursue financial compensation as well is up to you, but it can also be a powerful force for change—and we’ll discuss that below.
Before doing anything else, if you suspect your loved one is facing an imminent risk of severe bodily harm or death, contact your local law enforcement or hospital immediately. You may call for help even if the nursing home asks you not to or says they have it under control; it may save your loved one’s life.
Next, try talking to the nursing home your loved one is located at. Reach out to a trusted employee or administrator; it is a requirement for them to file the proper documentation once they suspect any form of abuse is occurring, and you have the power to make that known to them. However, it is also imperative that you do not trust their claims immediately. Observe them and make sure that they acknowledge and note down your concerns. Ask for written documentation.
After that, there are numerous other ways in which you can file a complaint, and it is beneficial for your family member and other residents of the nursing home that you do so. Such reports are confidential and can be filed at any time. In other words, you have the right to remain anonymous and request legal protection if needed. Remember to report the concern with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health through these options:
- Report to the local Area Agency on Aging
- Call the Pennsylvania abuse hotline (1-800-490-8505)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use the online complaint form
- Fax (717-772-2163)
Division of Nursing Care Facilities Director
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Division of Nursing Care Facilities
626 Forster St., Room 526, Health and Welfare Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0701
Once you have reported the potential abuse or negligence to the correct authorities, consider reaching out for legal guidance as well. By filing a lawsuit, you can penalize the facility for its behavior and force them to revise how they administer their nursing program. This may save the lives of other residents in the future and prevent them from going through what your mother, father, sibling, or other family member endured.
It can also help to recover money for you. If you were faced with expenses like medical bills for treatment of the abuse or even funeral costs if your family member passed away, an attorney can help you recover these as damages from a nursing home abuse lawsuit. This is in addition to compensation for your family’s pain and suffering.
What Are the Biggest Problems in Nursing Homes in Johnstown, Pennsylvania?
Though nursing homes in Johnstown Pennsylvania had ample time to prepare, health inspectors have recently discovered a range of problems with their response to infection disease outbreaks, including COVID-19. For one, lack of control over infections has caused a series of outbreaks––something to be especially concerned over given the vulnerable conditions of those who stay in nursing homes.
In other instances, employees who had already tested positive for COVID-19 (or who were exposed to those who were infected with COVID-19) were allowed to continue to work, sometimes without appropriate personal protective equipment. In many locations, simple tasks like washing hands and using new gowns were not handled in accordance with CDC guidelines, and this is a problem—even common diseases like the flu can be fatal to older folks, and staff were found negligent in their approach to preventing the spread of illness.
Johnstown Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect News
Sometimes, nursing home abuse allegations make it to news sources due to how extreme the accusations are.
Grane Healthcare was recently faced with a lawsuit claiming the Johnstown nursing home failed “to provide basic services to elderly and vulnerable residents.” In particular, LaurelWood Care Center in Johnstown found itself embroiled in the suit. Allegedly, Grane failed not only to supply sufficient materials and staff—in an era where understaffing is more common than ever—but also falsified financial records and billing information. There were also claims that Grane’s negligence led some residents to lie in their own urine or feces for hours at a time due to lack of proper care from attending staff.
Though cases as extreme as Grane rarely make it to Johnstown news sources, it does not mean that similar cases do not exist.
Do not hesitate to take action if you believe that a loved one, family member, or anyone you know is being mistreated in some way in a nursing home. If you are considering taking legal action, our Johnstown nursing home abuse attorneys can help.
Free Johnstown Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Consultation
Call us now at 412-948-7300 or submit your case facts below to speak with a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney and learn more about your legal rights.