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Nursing Home Fined $80,000 for 2005 Death

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It took a while for state officials to whip out a pen and write out a citation. Two years, to be precise. But this week they did it and fined Emmanuel Health Care Center of Norwalk $80,000 after investigators found that poor care by employees led to the death of a 54-year-old resident in August 2005, according to a news article in the Los Angeles Times.

A California watchdog group is criticizing state officials for taking too long to impose what is considered as the most severe penalty that can be imposed on a nursing home for negligence. If negligence by a nursing home took someone’s life, the state health department should act quickly to ensure that the facility corrects the problems and more importantly, to make sure it never happens again, said Michael Connors of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

The male resident, whose name was not released, reportedly died after suffering an injury to his forehead from a fall. Investigators determined that the resident was at risk for falls and died of “massive bilateral hemorrhage” from the head trauma. The Times reports that the nursing home’s parent company plans to appeal the citation. The death involving the Norwalk facility was the third that state investigators have attributed to negligent care at nursing homes owned by Pleasant Care Corp., California’s second-largest nursing home chain.

In March 2006, Pleasant Care agreed to pay $1.3 million to the state to settle a lawsuit brought by former Attorney General Bill Lockyer alleging that the chain, which operated 30 nursing homes in California, provided negligent care to scores of residents. One resident died at an Ukiah nursing home in 2003 and another died at a Novato nursing home in 2004. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. State officials say they have been inspecting the company’s facilities on a daily basis to ensure compliance.

At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, we’ve often observed while representing victims of nursing home negligence that most of the facility’s problems stem from understaffing. Why do they cut back on staff? To make more money, of course. Many of these companies pad their bank accounts on the misery of their own customers – the weak and the elderly who depend on them for care and their families, who trust these facilities with the care of their loved ones.

Personally, it’s a reality that breaks my heart. I feel for my clients who have been victimized in a heartless manner. My motivation to represent them and make sure they get the compensation they deserve is not only driven by this passion and emotion to make sure that justice is served, but also in the interest of society, to ensure that such incidents are minimized in the future.

My mother, who wants to keep her independence, is moving to an assisted living facility in Orange County as soon as her condo in Washington State sells. She didn’t want the facility to know that her son sues negligent nursing homes. She was afraid they would not rent her a unit if they knew.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, call me for a free and completely confidential consultation, John Bisnar, 800-259-6373.

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