Activist sues ManorCare.
A LAWSUIT FILED MAY 8 IN CALIFORNIA SUPErior Court alleges that ManorCare Inc. has failed to meet state and federal minimum standards in providing nursing home care to residents in ManorCare's nine California facilities.
The suit was filed on behalf of the general public by Ila Swan, an activist for nursing home reform. (See "Citizen Swan," November 1998 CLTC, page 46.) It alleges that the Toledo, Ohio-based chain has systematically failed to meet the standards set by the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, which mandates that a nursing home "must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care." ManorCare operates 298 nursing homes in 31 states. Combined, the California facilities represent about 1,400 beds.
Swan, a resident of Vacaville, Calif., says that she became an activist after witnessing the poor care her mother received in a nursing home. That facility was not operated by ManorCare.
Based in part on a sampling of complaints and deficiencies confirmed by California health authorities, the suit cites cases in which ManorCare staff allegedly failed to respond to call lights and caused residents to sit in their own waste for several hours, as well as instances of severe pressure sores and malnutrition. Swan also alleges that ManorCare violated the California Business and Professions Code by engaging in unfair business practices and false advertising.
"When you look at ManorCare's promotional material, you see an organization that purports to deliver the highest quality of care," stated Steve Berman, Swan's attorney. "The allegations of the complaint paint a far different picture-- one of abject neglect and callous disregard for the human condition."
Berman, who is based in Seattle, has won several victories against the tobacco industry in 13 states.
Rick Rump, a ManorCare spokesman, says the company is reviewing Swan's allegations. "Most of the incidents included in the lawsuit are from 1999 and before," he adds. "It's going to take some time to go through it, so there's not much we can say at this point."
The suit seeks a court injunction ordering ManorCare to fully comply with the Nursing Home Reform Act, an order to stop deceptive advertising, and restitution.