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Texas gunman killed 4 at home and a nursing center before killing himself, official says

(Posted: 07/29/2018)

A gunman killed two people at his Texas home before going to a nearby nursing home and killing two others and himself in what investigators believe are related incidents, an official said.

The deaths in the Robstown area, near Corpus Christi and the Gulf of Mexico, are being investigated as murders and a suicide, Robstown city secretary Herman Rodriguez said.

Police said they first were called to a shooting at Robstown's Retama Manor Nursing Center around 7 p.m. There, they found three people dead -- a female and two males, including the shooter, police said.

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Hospitals Urged by Joint Commission to Address Workplace Violence Against Staffers

(Posted: 05/14/2018)

Healthcare facilites have been advised by the Joint Commission to address workplace violence against staffers. 

In an alert released in April, the accrediting body warns healthcare to take seven steps to address the workplace violence. They say hospitals need to more clearly define what constitutes violence, better follow up with and support victims, and develop and assess prevention initiatives. The moves are considered recommendations but employers must take action if an employee faces violence, a Joint Commission spokeswoman said. Should it receive complaints, the Joint Commission would evaluate whether an on-site survey is needed. An unsatisfactory survey can affect accreditation status.

Dr. Ana Pujols McKee, executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Joint Commission says that "We encourage our accredited organizations to use the alert to help their healthcare workers recognize violence from patients and visitors, become prepared to handle it, and more effectively address the aftermath."

According to the accreditor's data, there have been 68 incidents of homicide, rape or assault of hospital staff members in the past eight years. OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has found that many violent incidents are not reported by nurses, but approximately 75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults reported every year occurred in healthcare and social service settings.

According to a spokeswoman, there are differences in the rates of incidents noted by the Joint Commission and OSHA differ as it's not mandatory to report workplace violence to the commission.

Healthcare employees are four times more likely to be victimized than workers in other industries, according to OSHA. Healthcare workers also are especially empathetic, and they may believe patients are not be responsible for their actions if they suffer from illness or are taking medication that affects their mental state. This can also affect morale among workers.

The Joint Commission could not say whether the incidents of violence they were made aware of led to a loss of accreditation.

Hospitals are working to address the matter both individually and as a group, according to the American Hospital Association's top lawyer.

Noting that the AHA's Hospitals Against Violence initiative is a tool available to hospitals, Hatton said "the Joint Commission's newest Sentinel Event Alert may provide an additional resource for hospitals on addressing workplace violence, namely physical and verbal violence, and its impact on employee morale, retention and well-being."

Until now, some professional associations believe they have been largely unprotected.

Cheryl Peterson, vice president of nursing programs at the American Nurses Association, said that they should remove barriers to reporting incidents.

Dr. Paul Kivela, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, thinks it'll take stiffer penalties at both the federal and state level to really curb the problem.

Currently, legal penalties vary around the country. For instance, in West Virginia a person can face a felony charge and up to three years in jail depending on the severity of the attack against a healthcare worker. In California, an assault or battery against a provider is viewed as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year of jail time for the most severe cases.

Kivela argues that medical providers should be treated similarly to other front line professionals who regularly deal with combative individuals, such as the police, where assaulting an officer is a felony and can incur up to three years in jail. 

Source: Modern Healthcare

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Emergency Preparedness Concepts & Requirement of Participation for LTC Facilities

(Posted: 04/09/2018)

This webinar will address the essential concepts of emergency preparedness in long-term care facilities (LTC),  including the disaster management continuum of planning, mitigation, response and recovery.

Speaker Stan Szpytek will focus on the necessity of "All Hazards" planning and utilization of a trusted emergency management model known as the Incident Command System (ICS) as it pertains to healthcare facilities.  This program will also include a brief overview of new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Requirements of Participation regarding emergency preparedness in skilled nursing facilities.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe basic emergency preparedness best practices
  • Summarize critical elements of a compliant Emergency Preparedness Plan for LTC facilities
  • Outline new CMS requirements related to emergency preparedness

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Man impersonated worker, smothered senior living resident, killed someone else

(Posted: 03/29/2018)

Billy Kipkorir Chemirmir, arrested on capital murder charges March 20 in Dallas, also is suspected in the October attack on a resident at Parkview in Frisco, a Watermark Retirement Community offering independent living, assisted living and memory care in Frisco, TX.

Chemirmir, who has a criminal record, posed as a maintenance worker to try to gain entry to the resident's apartment, Plano Police Chief Gregory W. Rushin alleged at a Friday press conference. After forcing his way into the apartment, Chemirmir knocked the woman off her walker and to the floor, put a pillow over her face until she passed out and then took her jewelry, Rushin alleged.

The resident survived. Chemirmir is accused of attempted capital murder in the case.

"In late 2017, we reported this individual to the authorities for an intrusion into our community. We are thankful he has been apprehended," the company said in a statement to WFAA. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities to assist them in any way possible. We are deeply saddened by the actions of this individual, and our hearts go out to the affected communities, their residents and family members."

Chemirmir is a former healthcare worker "and has a history of impersonating maintenance personnel at a retirement community in Dallas," Rushin said, although he could not provide details on his work history because the investigation is in the early stages. Tuesday, Plano police said Chemirmir may have used the name Benjamin Koitaba while working in healthcare.

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Florida governor signs generator bills into law; is Oklahoma next?

(Posted: 03/27/2018)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed bills into law Monday requiring assisted living communities and nursing homes in the state to have emergency generators. Legislators in Oklahoma are considering similar requirements for assisted living.

Scott, a Republican, asked for the Florida legislation following the September deaths of eight residents of a Hollywood, FL, rehabilitation facility after a power outage related to Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility's air conditioning. Six additional residents of the facility later died, and a medical examiner ruled that 12 of the deaths were homicides caused by environmental heat exposure.

“As we near the 2018 hurricane season, families can now know the facilities responsible for caring for their loved ones will have the resources needed to be fully prepared ahead of any potential storms,” he said Monday in a statement.

The new assisted living law requires each community to have a backup power source that can maintain an air conditioning system during a power outage. Air temperature in the community must be maintained at or below 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The backup power source can be portable but must provide at least 20 square feet of cool space per resident, calculated based on 80% of the community's licensed number of beds. Communities with fewer than 17 beds also must have 48 hours worth of fuel on hand, and larger ones must have 72 hours worth of fuel.

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Assisted living generator bill headed to Florida governor's desk

(Posted: 03/13/2018)

A bill requiring assisted living communities in Florida to purchase backup generators and have fuel on site is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott's desk for signing after the Florida legislature approved it last week.

The proposed rule ratified by SB 7028 is expected to cost operators more than $243 million over the next five years, calculated the state Department of Elder Affairs, which issued the rule at Scott's direction. The department's earlier estimate of $280 million was modified. Ratification of the rule was required because the five-year cost of the measure was more than $1 million.

The rule requires each assisted living community to have a backup power source that can maintain an air conditioning system during a power outage. The source can be portable but must provide at least 30 square feet of cool space per resident. Communities with fewer than 17 beds also must have 48 hours worth of fuel on hand, and larger ones must have 72 hours worth of fuel.

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Senior living resiliency in the face of disaster

(Posted: 02/20/2018)

Working with several clients in California, I have the opportunity to provide consultative services, including mock surveys and training, to several senior living and long-term care providers around the state. Although it's no secret that the past year has been particularly challenging for all types of senior living and healthcare providers in California and beyond, the response to disasters (yes, disasters — plural) by one particular skilled nursing facility in Shadow Hills represents the pinnacle of preparedness, dedication and resiliency.

For any homeowner or business operator nestled in the hills in Los Angeles County near Burbank, CA, the threat of wildfire is ever present. In September, a raging wildfire in La Tuna Canyon to the east of Shadow Hills Convalescent Hospital was this facility's first real brush with disaster in 38 years. As the fire grew in intensity and acreage at an alarming rate, SHCH was put on high alert and prepared to evacuate.

The exterior sprinkler system manually was turned on to drench the vegetation behind the building, and fire crews initiated a massive attack to stop the inferno from knocking on the facilities back door. An exterior sprinkler system had been installed electively by the facility's owner to provide an extra layer of protection to the property during vegetation and wildfires.

As the fire raged, residents were evacuated from the upper level of the building, which actually is positioned on the side of a hill to the lower level near the street. Facility staff worked tirelessly in concert with fire department and EMS resources as they prepared to initiate total evacuation. Firefighting efforts were successful, and the blaze was stopped within a hundred yards of so from back of the property.

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Fired employee allegedly returns with gun to rob assisted living community

(Posted: 02/16/2018)

A woman who had been fired from a Utah assisted living community returned six weeks later with a handgun and a stun gun and tried to steal locked-up medication before leaving with two employees' backpacks, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

Becky Golly, 44, has been charged with aggravated robbery, use or threatened use of a weapon; financial transaction with intent to defraud; forgery; and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person for the Feb. 7 incident. All of the charges are felonies, and additional charges may be filed later, the sheriff's office said in a press release. Golly remained in jail as of Feb. 15, according to Utah County Sheriff's Office Corrections Bureau records.

Authorities said that an employee of Elk Ridge Assisted Living, Elk Ridge, UT, opened a door for Golly after receiving a call that someone was trying to get into the building; the employee thought a resident must have walked outside.

Golly reportedly was wearing all black, had her face covered with a cloth or bandana and pointed a gun at the woman's face. A second employee locked herself in another room and called 911.

Meanwhile, according to the sheriff's office, Golly ordered the first employee to go to an office where medications are stored. Golly ordered the employee to spray the security camera with shaving cream that she had brought, then told the employee to unlock a medication storage box, authorities said. When the employee was unable to open the box, Golly allegedly fled with the two employees' backpacks.

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Second CA community sued over handling of evacuation during wildfire

(Posted: 02/15/2018)

A 94-year-old California resident is suing the senior living community where she was living when a wildfire broke out in October, claiming that she and at least 80 other residents were abandoned by staff members instead of being evacuated.

The woman, Barbara Jeanne Pierce, lived at Oakmont Senior Living's Varenna at Fountaingrove retirement community in Santa Rosa, CA, a sister property to Villa Capri, a neighboring assisted living and memory care community that also is facing a lawsuitover the way staff allegedly handled evacuations during the fire. Villa Capri was destroyed by the wildfire, but Varenna has since reopened.

“Natural disasters are foreseeable, especially in California, and we filed these suits as a wake-up call to all long-term care facilities that they must be prepared to keep their residents safe in an emergency,” said attorney Kathryn Stebner, who is representing the plaintiffs in both lawsuits. The latest lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

Oakmont did not respond to McKnight's Senior Living's request for comment by the publication deadline. On its website, however, the company said, “Our heroic Oakmont Senior Living employees kept our residents out of harm's way and successfully evacuated all 435 seniors living at our Santa Rosa properties.” The company also posted thank you notes from residents and family members of residents who were evacuated from Oakmont's communities due to the fires.

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His elderly mother wandered out into the cold and died. Whose fault was it?

(Posted: 02/13/2018)

On a frigid night last March, Ellen Hinds, who was 85 and had dementia, left her apartment building in her retirement community north of Philadelphia wearing only light pajamas. There was snow on the ground, and her feet were bare.  She carried a potted plant but no key.  It was 2:15 a.m. Five hours later, she was found near a different door lying facedown in the snow.  She was turning blue. Her feet showed signs of frostbite.  There were icicles on her hands and feet, according to a report from first responders.

She died a week later having never regained consciousness. Family members said she appeared to be in “great agony.” Her death certificate lists “complications of hypothermia” as the cause of death.

Her son, Blake Rowe, a drug company scientist, has filed suit against Shannondell at Valley Forge in Audubon and its security company, Universal Protection Service LLC, claiming that they should have done more to protect his mother. She had been allowed to stay in an independent-living apartment after Shannondell knew she had a tendency to become confused and wander aimlessly, the suit says.

“I put my trust in them. They said they would do an assessment they never did,” Rowe said.  As for the security company, he said, “If they were doing their rounds, someone would not be at a door for five hours freezing to death.”

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U.S. Department of Labor Cites Colorado Nursing Home for Workplace Violence Hazards

(Posted: 02/13/2018)

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Pioneer Health Care Center of Rocky Ford for failing to protect employees from violence in the workplace. The nursing home faces proposed penalties of $9,054.

OSHA opened an investigation at Pioneer Health Care Center in response to two complaints related to workplace violence received in August 2017. OSHA subsequently identified five documented incidents of workplace violence in 2017 that resulted in employee injuries, along with several unreported incidents. OSHA issued one serious citation for failing to implement adequate measures to protect employees from workplace violence hazards

“Employers are responsible for providing employees a safe and healthy workplace,” said OSHA’s Englewood Area Director David Nelson. “Pioneer Health Care Center must understand that their employees’ safety is important.”

Pioneer Health Care Center provides residential services that mostly consist of long-term care and mental health services.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Read the citations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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How to develop a water management program

(Posted: 01/26/2018)

Approximately 8000 cases of legionellosis (Legionnaires' disease, Pontiac fever, and any illness caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria) are reported in United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data also indicate the rate of reported cases of legionellosis in the U.S. increased 286% between 2000 and 2014. Of the overall reported cases of legionellosis, 10% result in death. 

However, among those that occur in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the mortality rate jumps to 25%. 

While the presence of Legionella in any water system presents a danger to occupants, the threat of infection is particularly dangerous in healthcare facilities where residents are more vulnerable to exposure since many are senior citizens and/or immunocompromised due to illness. The fact that these facilities often contain complex water systems, where Legionella bacteria are likely to thrive, makes them particularly high-risk locations.

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Florida associations drop generator rule challenges

(Posted: 01/24/2018)

Associations representing assisted living operators in Florida have agreed to drop their legal challenges to a rule requiring them to install generators for resident safety during power outages. Instead, they will support a revised proposed rule issued Friday by the state Department of Elder Affairs, Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday.

Challenges against the state Agency for Health Care Administration also are being dropped in relation to a previously proposed rule that would have applied to nursing homes.

Tuesday's announcement marks the end of a contentious battle between provider organizations and the state government. That fight began in September after the governor issued an emergency generator rule following the deaths of eight residents of a Hollywood, FL, rehabilitation facility after a power outage related to Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility's air conditioning. Six additional residents of the facility later died, and a medical examiner ruled that 12 of the deaths were homicides caused by environmental heat exposure. Provider organizations argued that the emergency rule and subsequent efforts did not factor in enough time for compliance.

The newly proposed rules must be ratified by the state legislature to go into effect, but Scott and the associations said they will accomplish their shared goal of keeping residents safe in emergencies.

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