Tennessee Nursing Home Company Faces13 New Suits

Life Care Centers of America Inc., one of the nation’s largest elder care providers based in Cleveland, TN, will be facing a class action suit filed earlier this month against 13 of its California care facilities.

Sound run-of-the-mill? Lets consider a few points of this buried Page 4 Los Angeles Times 3/17/07 story. The first concerns how many California facilities the company owns (and the answer is not for those with triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13): 13. All 13 had received multiple violations.

Now, secondly, the nature of these multiple violations (one branch received over 25 in one year). These are the minimum state requirements being violated. Think about your favorite restaurant. Then think about 25 health violations. Now, finally, think about not being able to leave your restaurant and having to eat that unfit food for years, and you get some idea the lives these residents lived. There’s no reason for a single violation, not to mention the more than 12 an inspection inspectors found every time they visited 1 of these 13 facilities.

Third, let’s clarify the idea of a nursing home company. Life Care Centers of America brings in approximatly a billion dollars every year and, according to the L.A. Times article. It has been alleged that nursing home companies increase their income by finding those who need the most care (because Medicare will pay more for them) and simultaneously reduce overhead by hiring less than the bare minimum staff.

As the attorney prosecuting this case Stephen Garcia says in the 3/17 home edition of the Los Angeles Times where I first began following this story, “It’s not an issue of the people on the floor not wanting to do their jobs. It’s that there’s not enough of them. It’s a matter of corporate greed at the corporate level, not at the caregiver level.”

So let’s clarify what is alleged in this suit. Life Care Centers of America wants to make money; the residents part of this class action suit want to punish the corporation by taking back some of that same money made off their misery. If this is accurate, more power to them.

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