Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Nearly Dies Due to Negligence at Torrance Rehabilitation Center; Prompts Police Investigation

Torrance, Calif. — Charles Meloncon, an 83-year-old man with Alzheimer’s dementia, was admitted to Heritage Rehabilitation Center after a series of hospitalizations for injuries related to falls, urinary tract infection, pneumonia and multiple pressure sores, and was entirely dependent on others to perform activities of daily living. Over the course of Meloncon’s residency in the facility, it’s alleged the facility flat out ignored his known needs and wrongfully withheld services required by the standard of practice. Due to the facility’s wrongful withholding of care, Meloncon was transferred to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and was discovered to be in a severely worsened condition, with his coccyx wound having deteriorated to stage IV and exposing bone. Meloncon’s family was told that he had also developed a severe blood infection, and his heart rate and blood pressure were abnormally low. The family was further informed that he had died and been resuscitated three times. Shortly thereafter, police officers informed Meloncon’s family that they were investigating the severe stage IV pressure on his coccyx.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against Heritage Rehabilitation Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Based on Charles’ rapid decline, it’s apparent Heritage Rehabilitation Center simply refused to implement a proper care plan to address the needs he was specifically admitted into the facility to receive required care for,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “This care plan is the most basic and fundamental of services to be provided by a skilled nursing facility, and yet facility staff knowingly disregarded the risks and injuries that could and did result from withholding adequate care. It’s our belief that facility management enacted a financial plan and scheme, which resulted in the facility being understaffed and clearly did not allow for sufficient resources to be provided to Charles, leading directly to his unnecessary injuries.”

Allegations and Background

In or around 2017, Meloncon experienced a series of falls, generalized weakness and a urinary tract infection. He was hospitalized multiple times at Torrance Memorial.

In or around September of 2017, Meloncon was admitted to Lomita Care Center for rehabilitation after hospitalization at Torrance Memorial for pneumonia.

On or about October 27, 2017, Meloncon fractured his hip from a fall. He was sent to Torrance Memorial for surgery, arriving with multiple stage II pressure sores on his coccyx. Following hip surgery, he was discharged to Heritage Rehabilitation Center with the stage II pressure sores on his coccyx still present, but healing.

The lawsuit asserts that the facility failed to provide Meloncon with the medical and custodial care that he required, including leaving him in his urine and feces for extended periods of time; failing to provide him with adequate and proper personal hygiene; failing to turn and reposition him while he was in bed to relieve pressure from his bony prominences; failing to provide him with adequate nutrition and hydration to stave off skin breakdown; and entirely failing to assess his skin integrity and his nutritional requirements during the entirety of his stay.

It’s alleged that the misconduct of the facility was the direct result of the financial and control policies and practices forced upon the facility by management. Pursuant to the last filing submitted by the facility with the State of California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) for the reporting period through December 31, 2016, the facility either siphoned off $470,124.00 in payments to or for phantom non-clinical “Bookkeeping & Consultation” services as it relates to the “Administration” of the facility, or the facility paid to Defendant Unified Care Services, LLC the amount of $470,124.00 for the provision of limited to no services. Moreover, as a further mechanism to ensure unlawful profit at the expense of the legally mandated minimum care to be provided to residents of the facility, the facility and the management defendants unlawfully siphoned off cash which should have been devoted to resident care as a matter of law, by paying to the Defendant Heritage Legacy, LLC as the owner of the land upon which the facility sits, a grossly inflated and well over market rent of $869,400.00. This is a mechanism by which the management defendants control the actual fiscal operations of each of their skilled nursing facilities.