Attorney general files lawsuit against New York nursing home company, alleging neglect and fraud
New York Attorney General Letitia James launched a lawsuit Wednesday, accusing Centers for Care, a company that owns nursing homes across the state, of financial fraud and neglect.
Centers for Care owns and runs over 30 nursing home facilities across the state. The nursing homes included in the lawsuit are Beth Abraham Center in the Bronx, Buffalo Center in Erie County, Holliswood Center in Queens, and Martine Center in Westchester County.
The lawsuit argues that Centers for Care co-owners Kenneth Rozenberg and Daryl Hagler siphoned over $83 million in Medicare and Medicaid funds from the four nursing homes.
James argues management pocketed taxpayer money while cutting staff, which led to severe and preventable neglect.
“Residents were left alone and on their own, often unaided and unsupervised, leading to dangerous falls and broken bones,” James said. “Residents lived in squalor, surrounded by neglected food trays, vermin, and the smell of human waste.”
The suit alleges management enriched themselves by taking money from the nursing homes. James said they did this by essentially paying themselves, and sometimes their family members, for services. She added that Rozenberg and Hagler bought more than $130 million in real estate and purchased shares in an airline while the homes struggled.
“Families and friends trusted their loved ones would be treated with dignity, respect, and afforded comfort and care,” James said. “They did not know that the owners were breaking the law and cutting and cutting staffing to pocket more money.”
Family members of residents at the nursing homes described horrific bed sores, seeing their loved ones covered in feces and urine, and watching as their family members deteriorated.
Marie Dunn’s father stayed at the Martine Center after he had a stroke. She became increasingly concerned about her father after seeing signs of falls and neglect.
“When I got off that elevator on the sixth floor, and I proceeded to the room where my dad was, I smelled death upon walking into that space,” Dunn said. “My dad looked like a skeleton.”
Dunn said she and her brother called an ambulance, despite protests from staff. Her father was severely dehydrated and had developed sepsis. He died days later.
James is seeking an injunction requiring the nursing homes to obtain a financial monitor and a health care monitor to oversee operations. She is also asking the judge to prohibit the nursing homes from admitting new residents until they are properly staffed, and for management to return the $83 million to Medicaid.
Centers for Care currently has a consulting contract with Broome County’s nursing home, Willow Point. The county legislature voted last year to pay the company over $3 million in exchange for help with staffing and billing services.
Broome County’s Willow Point Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was not referenced at all in the lawsuit. But the consulting contract between the county and Centers for Care caused division among legislators last year. In the contract, if the county decides to sell Willow Point within the next six years, Centers for Care has the right of first refusal to buy the facility.