Elderly patients left in abandoned facility

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

New York residents might be interested in the recent news story about elderly patients who were left to fend for themselves in an abandoned nursing facility. The California Department of Social Services ordered the shutdown of the unsafe facility, but reports indicate that they were unable to send any staff to oversee the closure.

Although most of the staff walked off after the facility was ordered closed, a few people remained, including a janitor and a cook who tried to care for the patients. They eventually called 911, and paramedics and police arrived. They rescued the 14 patients who had been left behind, including those who were bedridden and mentally incapacitated.

Social services and health care workers have reported problems with the facility since 2007, although woman who lives nearby told a television station that the nursing home had been having issues for at least 20 years. Included in the facility’s issues were dementia patients wandering away from care, improper medication distribution and unsanitary food storage. Authorities are still searching for the workers who abandoned the patients, and the location of administrators of the facility is unknown.

Because nursing homes are responsible to keep loved ones safe, the abuses suffered by these patients may be eligible for compensation in a civil court. This facility allegedly failed to live up to that responsibility, and the California Department of Social Services supposedly failed to shut down the facility properly. The families of the patients left behind may be able to pursue a claim for elder abuse against both the facility and the Department of Social Services. An attorney may be able to help those families pursue compensation by representing them in court or in negotiations with relevant insurance companies.

Source: NY Daily News, “Elderly patients abandoned at ‘deplorable’ nursing home closed by California officials“, Deborah Hastings, October 28, 2013

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