At York Law Firm, it’s fair to say that we’ve seen it all when it comes to nursing homes. Elder care is big business, so companies involved in providing long-term care are prone to look for ways to cut corners, shave costs, and goose profits. Most of the time, that involves straight-up understaffing, where facilities purposefully hire fewer nursing staff to lower labor costs. When pressed, they’ll say that they tried to hire more nurses, but they weren’t able to do so. The argument is absurd, but they think it gives them some measure of cover.
How big of a problem is Nursing Home Fraud and Falsifying Records?
Now from Pennsylvania comes news of a different kind of understaffing scheme. According to the York Daily Record, the U.S. Attorney and the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed criminal charges against the administrator of the for-profit facility called Mount Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. The indictment states that between October 10, 2018, and February 20, 2020, the administrator falsified records to make it appear that the facility met federal and state staffing requirements.
According to the indictment, the administrator told nurses to clock in for shifts but not work. In that way, the facility was able to keep two sets of staffing level books, one with actual hours, which they used to pay employees and a second that they shared with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, showing inflated staffing levels that met minimum requirements. If convicted, the administrator faces up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
- Falsified timecards and two sets of records.
- Bonuses were paid to staff for work they did not do (the bonuses being less than the cost of actual labor) as a way to induce employees to cooperate in the scheme.
- Staff routinely did not ‘clock out’ during lunch breaks to cover up the fact that no one was providing care to residents during such times.
- Administrators gave falsified documents to DOH investigators.
None of the nursing facility’s fraud schemes comes as any surprise to us at York Law Firm. In the process of investigating elder abuse and neglect at for-profit long-term care facilities, we often find administrators and staff falsifying documents and electronic records to cover up negligence, scams, wrongdoing, fraud, and other acts. This is what is shocking — that this case is finally being investigated and that an administrator is criminally charged. Why? Because criminal charges are rare but should be happening more often.
Schemes such as this one uncovered in Pennsylvania are disturbing. Seniors are being deprived of the care they deserve, and our government (meaning you and me ultimately) pay for their fraud schemes. This case should serve as a warning shot to other for-profit nursing home chains that the U.S. Attorney, State Attorney Generals, and the IRS are ready, willing, and able to hold them accountable. It’s about time.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in handling nursing home fraud, elder abuse and wrongful death cases in California on behalf of the victim and family. If you or a loved one are in need of legal assistance please contact Wendy today!