The New York Attorney General is Suing Fulton Commons Care Center and The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center
During the months of November and December 2022, the country watched as New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center and a lawsuit versus Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. The New York nursing home lawsuits alleged that both nursing homes exploited New York’s Medicaid program and caused significant neglect and abuse of residents.
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Background on New York’s Attorney General that Sued Fulton Commons Care Center & Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab
Ms. Letitia James is the 67th Attorney General of New York and the first woman to be elected as such. Attorney General James is a graduate of Lehman College and Howard University School of Law. Throughout her career as a public defender, she helped uncover the $600 million scheme behind the Office of Payroll Administration’s CityTime contract, passed the Safe Housing Act to force landlords to improve living conditions for tenants, and more. Ms. James has announced that she intends on cleaning up New York’s nursing home industry and exposing facility ownership amid a web of shell companies.
Background on The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center
The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center is a 120-bed nursing home in Orleans County. It can be located at 14012 Route 31 in Albion, New York. Known also by the legal business name of Comprehensive at Orleans, LLC., this nursing home is a for-profit company owned by Mr. Bernard Fuchs. Mr. Fuchs and his family own more than ten other nursing facilities in the state of New York.
As of the time of this post, Medicare has rated The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center one out of five stars for the facility’s “below average” quality care measures, health inspections, and staffing reports.
Lawsuit vs. The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center
On November 29th, 2022, Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center (Comprehensive at Orleans, LLC.) for alleged years of financial fraud and the abuse and neglect of residents. Outlined in the 152-page complaint are instances of Medicaid fraud, unexplained doping of residents, severe neglect of residents, resident injuries and fatalities, etc.
From 2015 to 2021, The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center received an estimated $86.4 million in funding. A great amount of that total came from taxpayer dollars through Medicare and Medicaid. These funds were intended to provide the facility with the means to provide quality healthcare to residents and to maintain a safe and warm environment. However, the owners of the facility, primarily the Fuchs family, allegedly took $18.6 million – more than 20% of the funding received, for themselves. In order to increase their profits, the Fuchs family allegedly cut staffing hours and allowed the facility’s residents to be neglected. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center’s understaffing is directly correlated with the Fuchs’ family’s financial fraud.
The following are some of the most significant allegations of neglect and abuse included in the NY Attorney General’s lawsuit against Villages of Orleans Health & Rehab:
- A woman, known as Resident 38 in the Attorney General’s complaint, was admitted to the facility in 2020 for rehabilitation. The woman had recently fractured her left femur and needed physical therapy along with nursing care to recover. Soon after her arrival to the facility, Resident 38, began refusing food and drink and made complaints about her depression. Resident 38 had a consult with an outside psychologist’s office, which confirmed she was suffering from major depression and suicidal ideations. The woman consistently talked about wanting to end her life. Staff at The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center were informed of Resident 38’s high-risk for self-harm. Staff were instructed to check on her every thirty minutes. Just twenty days later, Resident 38 was found dead by suicide in the facility. Staff had failed to appropriately monitor her and her mental health condition. Furthermore, The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center failed to report her passing to the New York State Department of Health as is required of nursing homes.
- In January 2021, a woman, known as Resident 42 in the complaint, was admitted to The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center. She had a preexisting Stage II bedsore, also known as a pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer, on her lower back. By June 2021, she had developed two Stage III bedsores. Staff at the facility failed to provide Resident 42 with appropriate wound care. When wound care was provided, it was often weeks apart. By July 7th, 2021, Resident 42’s wounds were both diagnosed as Unstageable. On July 13th, 2021, Resident 42 was found unresponsive in her room and taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
- In December 2020, a man, known as Resident 50 in the Attorney General’s lawsuit, was admitted to the facility for rehabilitation after a knee surgery. Resident 50’s wife became increasingly concerned with her husband’s care at the facility. She discovered unexplainable bruises on Resident 50’s head, face, and arms. After some time in The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center, Resident 50 lost the ability to communicate verbally. Resident 50’s wife made the decision to transfer him to a different rehabilitation facility where he became able to talk and eat again.
Other notable allegations in the lawsuit include:
- Pressuring nursing staff and aides to perform duties outside of their qualifications.
- Failing to provide adequate nutrition and monitor weight loss. Attorney General Letitia James alleged that one resident in particular lost sixty pounds in three months.
- Failing to provide wound care and infection prevention care.
- Failing to communicate with residents’ family members and loved ones about changes in their conditions.
- Failing to provide staff with adequate masks and gloves during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Forcing staff to work while sick.
Background on Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc.
Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. is a 280-bed nursing home located at 60 Merrick Avenue in East Meadow, New York. Medicare has issued a Consumer Alert for this facility due to citations against the facility for resident abuse and neglect. As of the time of this post, Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. has been given a rating of two out of five stars on Medicare’s Care Compare page.
Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. is a for-profit corporation.
NY Attorney General vs. Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc.
Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. was sued on December 13th, 2022, by New York Attorney General Letitia James for a “fraudulent scheme.” According to Attorney James’, the owners and operators of Fulton Commons purposefully understaffed the facility in order to pocket government funds. Between January 1st, 2018, through December 31st, 2021, Fulton Commons received approximately $105.8 million in funding from Medicaid and Medicare. These funds were intended to be used for resident care, however, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that only $47.3 million went towards that purpose. It was alleged that around $16 million was wrongfully pocketed by the owners of Fulton Commons.
This lawsuit is actually Attorney James’ second legal action against Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. In November 2022, Attorney James announced the indictment of a former staff member of Fulton Commons. The former Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Daniel Persaud, was charged with sexually assaulting a resident at Fulton Commons. Furthermore, the former Director of Nursing (DON) of Fulton Commons was charged with multiple counts of falsifying records for covering up the assault and failing to report it to the proper authorities.
The December 2022 lawsuit against Fulton Commons Care Center, Inc. focused on the owners’ personal use of over $16 million that should have gone to hiring adequate staff and improving residents’ care. Due to the facility’s failure to use Medicaid and Medicare funds to provide residents with appropriate care, supervision, and a safe living environment, multiple residents allegedly suffered harm.
The following paragraphs are allegations of abuse and neglect included in the complaint:
- Resident E.M. was admitted to Fulton Commons for rehabilitation following a foot amputation. Resident E.M. complained to her daughter-in-law numerous times about the lack of staff and supervision in the facility. She told her daughter-in-law that she was once served a raw egg for breakfast. In January 2020, Resident E.M.’s remaining foot became infected. She was not provided with adequate nursing care to treat the infection, which led to her foot becoming gangrenous. Resident E.M. subsequently passed away in the facility in November 2020.
- A resident suffering from dementia and blindness, Resident F.H., developed an unexplained laceration near his left eye. Staff at Fulton Commons were unable to explain how the laceration developed and if the resident had suffered any falls that could have caused the injury.
- Resident S.K. was found tied to her wheelchair by a piece of clothing. Resident S.K.’s son did not complain to staff about the incident in fear of retaliation against his mother.
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