When Nursing Homes Take Control

Date: February 4, 2015

A shocking news article from the New York Times this week reports on some nursing homes that are using legal means to own – yes own- their nursing home patients when their bills are not being paid.

What is legally known as the guardianship statute from 1993, nursing homes around the New York area are filing under this statute in order to control their nursing home patients for the purpose of obtaining their finances.

The trend of nursing homes using the guardianship statute for their bill collections has shown to be a popular action. Numbers from Hunter College reveal that twelve percent of guardianship cases have been filed by nursing homes.

As stated in the article, “New York’s guardianship statute was part of a national movement to limit guardianships to the least restrictive alternatives necessary to prevent harm. A petition is supposed to be brought only by someone with the person’s welfare at heart, and guardianship is to be tailored to individual needs, taking into account the person’s wishes.” Guardianship statutes allow that person or party to “make some or all legal decisions.” While the original idea of this statute is to protect loved ones, nursing homes are using this to threaten caretakers of the loved one for financial payment.

The article mentions the story of Mr. Palermo who is fighting with his wife’s nursing home to continue to make decisions as her caretaker. When the co-pays of his wife’s nursing home bills started to double which he was unable to pay and he complained of a staff member dropping his wife on the floor, he was later given a legal document declaring the nursing home was taking legal action to declare custody over Mrs. Palermo under this guardianship statute. Mr. Palermo has been fighting with the courts in order to retain his present power of attorney and health care proxy status over his wife which Mrs Palermo arranged before becoming incapacitated.

The nursing home’s argument is that its only a secure way to collect payment of nursing home expenses. But even so, this would allow the nursing home to have complete control of a nursing home patient. In the case of Mr. Palermo who has come to see his wife everyday, to sing, cook and keep her company, it seems that nursing homes are doing this for the sole purpose of money and not for the best interest of the nursing home patient.

Attorney Sean McDonough has been a partner of Dougherty, Leventhal and Price for over twenty years. He practices in personal injury cases with an emphasis on nursing home abuse. If you suspect nursing home abuse, don’t wait until its too late. Call DLP and make an appointment with Attorney Sean McDonough today!

The information from the blog post can be found from the following link:

Sean McDonough
Upon graduation from law school, he entered the private practice of law with Dougherty, Leventhal & Price. He has been a partner with the firm since 1993. Over the years, Sean has concentrated his practice in the areas of personal injury litigation; he has also represented governmental entities and officials in federal civil rights and employment lawsuits. Sean also works on many of DLP's Nursing Home Abuse cases.