Posted April 19, 2017 | PA Nursing Home News
By mid-2015, hundreds of families had already filed complaints against Pennsylvania nursing home franchise Golden Living, leading the Attorney General’s office to file a lawsuit against 25 of the company’s 36 Pennsylvania facilities. Later the same year, an inspection by the Department of Health revealed live maggots around the site of a resident’s feeding tube, in addition to “severe neglect of wound care and proper cleaning.” In March and May 2016, two additional plaintiffs sued Golden Living for wrongful death in Pennsylvania. After being purchased in February 2017, many of the company’s facilities are now under new management – but for the victims, the damage has already been done. Philadelphia wrongful death attorney Brent Wieand examines the conditions that led to the lawsuit.
Golden Living has been in and out of the news since July 2015, when then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed a complaint alleging the company engaged in “deceptive and misleading representations to consumers.”
Elaborating on this statement, the complaint claimed that Golden Living’s promises “to keep clean and comfortable, and to provide food and water at any time” were “false, deceptive, and misleading,” because, in reality, “Golden Living facilities were so understaffed that residents were thirsty, hungry, dirty, and unkempt, and found that when they tried to summon help, no one was available to meet their most basic needs, like escorting them to a toilet or refilling a water glass.”
The complaint further noted that surveyors observed “residents struggling to feed themselves,” “unaddressed complaints,” and “pressure sores that were undetected until noticeably advanced,” among other serious violations which “cost residents their dignity and comfort, and jeopardized their health and safety.”
The lawsuit was dramatically expanded in September 2015, nearly doubling its scope by adding 11 Golden Living facilities to the original 14 named in the suit. Later, in March and May 2016, two plaintiffs filed additional lawsuits against the franchise, alleging that negligent care led to the wrongful deaths of their loved ones in 2014.
According to the lawsuit filed in March, the victim received such poor care that she was admitted to a hospital for severe nursing home dehydration – as well as pneumonia and low potassium, which can be caused by malnutrition in nursing homes – within a mere four days of her residency. After the victim was discharged from the hospital and readmitted to Golden Living, she developed a bacterial infection and subsequently suffered a nursing home fall, leading to her death. According to the other lawsuit, which was filed in May, the second victim fell six times during August alone – in addition to developing a urinary tract infection, respiratory tract infection, and losing nearly a quarter of her weight during her three-month stay at a Golden Living facility.
One particularly disturbing detail of the conditions of Golden Living, logged in an inspection report dated October 22, 2015, noted how one nurse at the West Shore Golden Living facility, which is located at 770 Poplar Church Road in Camp Hill, observed “a maggot roll down the resident’s stomach” as she “was getting the resident ready for lunch around 10:30 A.M.” (“Maybe,” the report noted the resident remarking, “this is why my stomach has been burning.”)
The same report reveals that the nurse “did not wash around the resident’s PEG tube site.” For reference, a PEG (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy) tube is a feeding tube that passes directly into the patient’s stomach through the abdomen.
Following up on the incident, the report noted that when the resident “returned from the hospital at 6:30 P.M., all of the maggots were removed and a new PEG tube was inserted. Review of the… hospital … revealed… multiple, ‘maggot looking’ bugs coming out of wound area.” After the wound was irrigated, “approximately 10” specimens were collected in a cup. The report stated the maggots were “still alive” when they were removed from the site of the resident’s feeding tube.
In February 2017, the company announced that 10 of its facilities’ licenses had been purchased by Priority Healthcare Group, a New York company established in 2015. Though Golden Living spokesperson Michelle Metzger declined to explain the rationale behind the sale, stating only that it was a “business decision” and that the reasoning behind it was “not relevant,” it is difficult to imagine the chain’s mounting legal problems did not spur the transaction.
While Golden Living will continue to function as a landlord, management responsibilities will now fall to Priority, which currently owns nearly three dozen nursing home facilities, primarily in the northeast U.S. The Golden Living facilities under new management include:
While Golden Living may seem like an extreme case, it is merely one example of many nursing home companies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that operate facilities where vulnerable senior citizens are abused, neglected, or subjected to hazardous, unsanitary living conditions. If you believe a relative or friend is being abused or neglected at his or her nursing home in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you should contact a Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer immediately for help. For a free legal consultation, contact the Wieand Law Firm at (800) 481-5206 as soon as possible.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.