Extendicare Hit with Class Action Lawsuit in the State of Washington
SEATTLE, Aug 22, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- 15 Washington Skilled Nursing Facilities Hit With Class Action Lawsuit
A class action lawsuit (Case #08-2-28645-2KNT), was filed today in King County Superior Court against Milwaukee-based Extendicare Homes, Inc., Fir Lane Terrace Convalescent Center, Inc. and its 15 long-term skilled nursing facilities in the state of Washington [see list by city at end of release] on behalf of Howard Steele as the personal representative for the estate of Lee Ann Steele and on behalf of all Washington citizens who resided in one of the company's Washington facilities from July 1, 2004 through July 1, 2008.
""Extendicare facilities sound warm and fuzzy on paper. The type of place that you would want your parents or grandparents to be if they needed care you couldn't provide them yourself,"" says Long Beach, Calif., plaintiff attorney Stephen M. Garcia of The Garcia Law Firm. ""The reality is that these facilities have a long record of excessive and repeated citations by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services for providing substandard care and care that violates the rights of residents.""
As an example, Garcia points to Franklin Hills Health & Rehabilitation Center in Spokane that was found by the WDSHS to have an astounding 35 notices of deficiencies in 2007 and 30 notices of deficiencies in 2006. It should be noted, Garcia points out, that the Washington state-wide average number of deficiencies was nine during those years.
The complaint, filed by The Garcia Law Firm of Long Beach, Calif., and Stritmatter, Kessler, Whelan, Coluccio of Seattle, Wash., alleges that Extendicare tells the public and prospective clients that it is operated in such a way that it meets the needs of its elderly and vulnerable adult residents by providing a certain standard of care. The complaint contends that in spite of the claims made on Extendicare's websites and in its brochures and in other promotional materials, it is, in fact, cheating its residents and misrepresenting itself to prospective residents.
The complaint charges that the corporate officers, directors and managers of the company and of the homes deliberately keep the budgets so tight that appropriate staffing cannot be provided so that residents do not receive the care they need and should be getting, and for which they are paying. Extendicare uses false advertising to lure in unsuspecting prospective residents, thereby increasing its profits by charging for services that are not provided.
""Basically, we believe that Extendicare's corporate strategy and policy is to maximize profits at the expense of the elderly and vulnerable people it claims to serve,"" says Garcia. ""We all know that there is a direct correlation between elder abuse and staffing levels. In my opinion, the Extendicare facilities in Washington are elder abuse cases waiting to happen. It's just a matter of whose parents or grandparents are going to be the victims.""
Extendicare Homes, Inc. is a subsidiary of Extendicare Health Services, Inc. and is the licensee of a number of long-term nursing facilities. In the United States, Extendicare Health Services, Inc., (EHSI), based in Milwaukee, Wisc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian company Extendicare Real Estate Investment Trust (Extendicare REIT). The company (symbol: ALC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Extendicare Health Services, Inc. operates, according to its website, 191 senior care facilities in the United States with approximately 19,200 beds.
Extendicare's problems seem to range across the country. A July 27, 2008 article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Extendicare owns 26 nursing homes in Wisconsin. Twenty of them have been cited for at least one serious care violation in the past three years. The article also reports that in 2005, Extendicare paid $2.3 million to Wisconsin in a civil settlement over serious nursing home violations arising from the 2003 death of a resident. Its Sun Prairie home, Willows Nursing & Rehabilitation, was cited for poor care after two residents died. Willows paid $198,045 in state and federal fines; it also is on the federal list of the worst homes in the country.
Nevertheless, Extendicare is expanding in Washington. A July 12, 2007 article in the Journal of Business reported that it had received preliminary state approval to build a 120-bed facility on the South Hill in Spokane. The article said that the facility is expected to open in July 2009.