Extendicare, a large Minnesota nursing home corporation, is facing a federal class-action lawsuit from its customers who are alleging that it used deceptive marketing to entice seniors into facilities that were often cited for deficiencies and sub-standard care. According to a news report in the Pioneer Press, the nursing home company readily admitted “high-dollar seniors” – patients who bring in a high rate of reimbursement — without first looking into whether they can meet their needs. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Patients such as 59-year-old Laura Bernstein, who is named in the lawsuit, says Extendicare’s promotional materials claim that the company provides high-quality, skilled nursing care services and that their facilities maintain quality standards above and beyond what government regulations mandate. But state health department records show otherwise. Extendicare’s homes apparently received between 10 and 37 citations in recent years. In one instance, state investigators discovered that one of Extendicare’s nursing homes didn’t even take the necessary steps to rescue a resident who hanged himself.
What this nursing home company in Minnesota did is appalling, but hardly rare. To advertise your services as the best anyone can ever find and then to turn around and provide sub-standard care is simply unacceptable. It’s a shocking display of utter disregard for the health, safety and well-being of one’s paying customers. This type of behavior can be corrected only when victims turn around and decide they will not take it any more. And that’s where class-action lawsuits come in.
This class-action probably will not get individual consumers a lot of money. But the goal of a class-action lawsuit is not to make money but about righting a wrong that is prevalent in society. In this case, nursing home residents who are lured into these facilities with promises of high quality care end up neglected and receiving sub-standard care. The state departments probably do not have the time to go after these corporations that are clearly doing something illegal and unethical. It’s a wrong that must be righted and class-action lawsuits help accomplish just that.
I know that such deceptive advertising is common in California nursing homes. If you would like to file a complaint for nursing home negligence, abuse or sub-standard care in a California nursing home, please visit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform’s Web site. This site also offers excellent advice about how to select a good nursing home for your loved one.