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California nursing home catastrophe continues


As yet another COVID-19 variant barrels through the United States, another chapter in the long tale of the coronavirus continues. The story itself is one of tragedy, particularly for nursing home residents who unnecessarily lost their lives due to poor, if not bizarre, decision-making.

Shlomo Rechnitz is California’s largest nursing home owner. He founded his Los Angeles-based company, Brius Healthcare, in 1998. What started as sales of supplies to nursing homes became ownership of the actual facilities. Today, his empire involving his and affiliated companies oversees 81 skilled nursing facilities in the Golden State or one in every 14 nursing beds statewide.

An alarming lack of care leads to loss

Rechnitz soon became no stranger to fines and sanctions at the local, state, and federal levels. Accused of substandard care, his facilities saw nearly triple the number of deficiencies in 1,000 beds as the statewide average in 2014. Soon, grieving family members filed countless lawsuits for elder abuse and wrongful death because of his purported zeal to maximize profits, regardless of the costs.

A total of 46 plaintiffs, 14 of whom are deceased, have filed a lawsuit claiming that Rechnitz and his companies are unlicensed owner-operators of nursing homes that forced staff to work, even though they showed symptoms of the virus that resulted in a deadly outbreak.

For residents, illness was only the beginning of their problems as they were left isolated and neglected due to a chronic and continuous lack of staffing. The already stressed and overloaded employees were late in providing timely medication, even though they were denied breaks.

In all, 142 violations of resident neglect and abuse combined with staffing and infection control problems occurred between January 2018 and June 2021.

Facilities that provide care, only to fall short in ensuring the well-being of nursing home residents, continue to operate in California and throughout the United States. The problem-in-need-of-a-solution continues at the expense of residents’ lives.