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California’s Largest Nursing Home Owner Under Fire From Government Regulators

On June 14, 2015, the Sacramento Bee published findings of its investigation of California’s largest nursing home operator, Shlomo Rechnitz. The remarkable articles and video describe the appalling conditions at some of his nursing homes and the deaths and suffering of residents due to neglect. Since September 2014, three of Mr. Rechnitz’s nursing homes have closed or had their Medicare and Medi-Cal certification terminated due to repeated findings that residents’ lives were in immediate jeopardy due to neglect. The problems don’t stop there, as the Sac Bee cover story describes several other Rechnitz nursing homes that have been cited for harming residents.

The details of the abuse and neglect are beyond shocking. At Gridley Healthcare & Wellness, a group of CNAs took photos of exposed or deceased residents and shared them on social media, in one case while dancing in a sexually provocative manner over the head of a resident who appeared to be asleep or unconscious. At Wish-I-Ah Healthcare & Wellness Centre near Auberry, which is now closed, a resident died after poor wound care left her septic. A sponge from her wound dressing had been left in the wound and was growing in her skin. Numerous other residents at Wish-I-Ah became ill while living in dangerously unsanitary conditions. At South Pasadena Convalescent, the nursing staff did not know how to properly administer CPR and a resident died in the presence of an inspector. Another resident, who was known to be suicidal and delusional, was allowed to walk away from the facility unsupervised and died a horrific death after lighting herself on fire. In the first five months of 2015, DPH issued 24 citations to South Pasadena Convalescent for neglect and abuse that appears to be rampant in this facility.

The Bee article discloses that DPH rejected Mr. Rechnitz’s application to acquire Riverside Pointe, a Chico nursing home, in September 2014 because of noncompliance at his facilities.
In an absurd twist, the articles report that Mr. Rechnitz alleges that the California Department of Public Health has singled him out and made him to “look like the Charles Manson of the nursing home business.” This is the same Department of Public Health that is notorious for giving nursing homes chains a free pass to deliver substandard care throughout the state and that usually rubber stamps their applications to acquire nursing homes no matter how poor their performance history. Instead of blaming the Department of Public Health for finally trying to do its job, Mr. Rechnitz should look in the mirror and take responsibility for the terrible conditions described by the Bee and the state inspection records in some of his nursing homes.

After all, these are for-profit facilities. According to the Bee article, Mr. Rechnitz’s nursing homes earned about $62 million in profit in 2013 alone.

The articles illustrate the need for AB 927 (McCarty), the CANHR sponsored bill that would give the Department of Public Health stronger authority to stop the expansion of California nursing home chains that endanger residents. AB 927 is a two-year bill and will be heard in early 2016.

Page Last Modified: August 24, 2015