Action Against Nursing Home Operator for Systemic Understaffing
One of the nation’s largest nursing home chains suffered a legal setback that could eventually send ripples throughout the nursing care community at large. Despite aggressive attempts to have a lawsuit thrown out alleging that the systemic understaffing of facilities has resulted in numerous deaths and the pain and suffering of countless patients under the company’s care, a judge denied the motion to dismiss the case.
In a Stroke of Irony, Defendants Claim Lawsuit is due to Greed and Opportunism
Preferred Care Partners Management Group is playing the role of victim by alleging that New Mexico’s attorney general is unfairly targeting the company for abuses committed at facilities prior to their assimilation into the Preferred Care Partners Management Group organization. State Attorney General Hector Balderas has offered the counterpoint that elderly patients living in New Mexico have suffered at the hands of greedy nursing corporations that place profits over people and safety for far too long and that Preferred Care Partners should be culpable for any of its businesses despite their dates of acquisition.
This lawsuit represents public pushback for the systemic prioritization of profits in the entire industry and the decision of Balderas to advocate on the behalf of victims statewide is a signal that people have reached their limits. Preferred Care Partners Management Group operates nursing homes in more than ten states, including Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
It is one of the largest chains in the nation and any success in this high profile case could open a floodgate of similar cases in other states as residents grow tired of having their choice of nursing care limited mostly to corporations that place more effort into finding ways to increase profit than in offering quality care.
Claim of “Compassionate Caregivers” Challenged by Mathematical Approach
The defendants offer the claim that their caregivers are extraordinarily compassionate toward the needs of their patients, but Balderas has dismissed this notion as he argues it has no weight in the case. His argument is that the intentions of workers don’t matter because they are often placed in impossible situations and forced to make tough decisions. They are victims of understaffing policies as well because they are often the first people demonized whenever a patient suffers an injury or dies due to neglect.
In a methodical approach using mathematics, Balderas is presenting his case by calculating the amount of hours it takes to complete individual tasks such as assisting patients to the bathroom, feeding them, administering medication, bathing them and more. He argues that the amount of time it takes to complete all of these tasks is not measuring up to the amount of work hours contributed by staff members at the facilities in question.
Among other allegations included in Balderas’s complaint are that the nursing homes mischarged patients and the government by not rendering the services promised in exchange for state and federal funds.
In another stroke of irony, Balderas is relying on accounts from many of the compassionate caregivers Preferred Care Partners Management has referred to in their defense. Their alarm at the conditions they needed to work under, their inability to address patient needs due to limited resources and staff and the manner in which nursing facility administrations blatantly focused on ways to increase profit while denying service moved them to approach the Attorney General of their own accord.
Cooperation with State Attorney Generals not Unprecedented
One of the greatest complaints Preferred Care Partners Management Group is voicing is that the New Mexico State Attorney’s suit was inspired by lobbying from a private law firm. The strategy for private firms of working with state attorney generals’ offices has been documented in the past. New Mexico’s previous attorney general was approached about this case in 2012, but it was Balderas who chose to take up the case after hearing from numerous residents and nursing caregivers, who also care about the state of the industry and how patients are treated.