Center Accused of Dumping a Helpless Patient

EUREKA, Calif. (CN) — Four days after a Northern California nursing home left a blind man with dementia and a seizure disorder at a hotel with a half-gallon of milk, instant noodles and Velveeta, and told him he could stay 30 days, he was dead, his estate claims in court.

Sherri McKenna sued Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center et al. on behalf of her late brother, Alan Dewey, in Humboldt County Court. She also sued Shlomo Rechnitz and four of his companies that she says were “formed for the purpose of protecting the revenue generated” at the center.

The Eureka center, one of four skilled nursing centers in Humboldt County owned by co-defendant Brius Healthcare, was fined $160,000 on Feb. 28, eight fines of $20,000 each, according to the North Coast Journal, a Humboldt County newspaper. The Journal called Brius “a healthcare giant that has a virtual monopoly on skilled nursing care in Humboldt County.”

Dewey was admitted to Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center in 2014 for skilled nursing services and rehabilitation. He was 63 years old “and a ‘dependent adult’ within the legal definition,” his sister says in the March 10 complaint.

It continues: “He suffered a significant brain injury in 1975 and a stroke, which affected his vision. He had a seizure disorder and multiple complex medical problems, including bipolar disorder, chronic pain, anxiety, blindness, and encephalopathy due to hypertension and COPD. He also suffered from dementia, became easily agitated, and had angry outbursts of behavior. At the time of his admission, he was not able to self-administer his own medications.”

On Oct. 13, 2014, after two and a half years, McKenna says, the center told him he could no longer live there. The very next day, Eureka “deposited” him at the Clarion Hotel in Eureka, “simply telling Mr. Dewey he could stay there for 30 days,” according to the complaint.

“Eureka drove Mr. Dewey to the hotel in its van, and left Mr. Dewey at the hotel with his many medications, one of which he was to take because he was a ‘danger to others,’ a half-gallon of milk, instant noodles and Velveeta macaroni and cheese. Eureka also left Mr. Dewey with a CPAP [breathing] machine without the oxygen concentrator that he had used while a resident at Eureka. Eureka also promised to institute home health visits,” McKenna says in the lawsuit.

She says her brother was so badly off he “could not see well enough to attend breakfast in the lobby of the hotel, could not see well enough to sort and take his medications appropriately, and could not see well enough to use the key card to enter his room or navigate his surroundings.”

Nor did he receive any home health visits, she said. On Oct. 18, four days after he was checked in, he was found dead in his hotel room.

Three of the corporate defendants are Rockport Administrative Services; Brius Management Co.; and Brius LLC.

While her brother was living his final days, McKenna said, “Eureka had notified the public through its Brius and Rockport entities that it would close its facility. Prior to closing, Eureka is required to give 30 days’ prior notice to each resident, perform an appropriate assessment of each resident, and arrange for appropriate future medical care and services.”

McKenna says she is “informed and believes that defendant Eureka discharged Mr. Dewey in an effort to clear its facility and decrease the onerous requirements for resident transfers.”

She seeks punitive damages for her brother’s pain and suffering, wrongful death, and neglect and abuse of a dependent adult.

She is represented by Amelia Burroughs with Janssen Malloy in Eureka.

“The facts are horrific,” Burroughs in a telephone interview. “The corporate entities running the facility made decisions that I believe really hurt him.

“We actually filed a number of these cases, and all of their facts are heartbreaking when you remember that these are people’s loved ones.”

Shlomo Rechnitz did not respond to a phone call.

Eureka Rehabilitation and the Clarion Hotel would not comment.

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