Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Dies Due to Negligence at Sylmar Rehabilitation Center; Facility Cited by California Department of Public Health

Sylmar, Calif. — Yvette Klevens, a 92-year-old woman, was admitted to Astoria Nursing & Rehab Center for rehabilitation after having a cancerous lung tumor removed. Klevens’ conditions left her dependent upon others to perform activities of daily living, all of which rendered her a high risk for pressure sores, infection and falls. One week into her residency, it’s alleged the facility’s wrongful withholding of necessary care caused Klevens to suffer an avoidable and infected pressure sore that subsequently worsened to sepsis. Further, the facility’s continued wrongful withholding of care caused Klevens to suffer an entirely preventable fall from her bed that resulted in severe injuries before she passed away on February 10, 2018.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Astoria Nursing & Rehab Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“It’s our position that Yvette suffered these injuries because Astoria Nursing & Rehab Center’s staff simply did not have adequate time or the inclination to provide her with the required care, or to document and address her emergent conditions,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Unfortunately, this wrongful withholding of care was not an isolated event, but one that frequently occurred in the facility as it has repeatedly been issued deficiency citations by the California Department of Public Health. Our Complaint states that the facility fraudulently concealed the deficiencies because they knew that once admitted as a resident in the facility, residents such as Yvette were a source of revenue and the facility could increase its profit margin at the expense of residents’ health and safety. Our investigations also uncovered an alleged scheme in which the facility siphoned off large amounts of money for fictitious services and illegally diverted those profits to facility owners.”

Allegations and Background

Klevens was admitted to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in early January 2018 feeling ill and having difficulty breathing. Further testing revealed a cancerous lung tumor, which was then removed by minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. After surgery, Klevens was discharged to Astoria Nursing & Rehab Center for rehabilitation on or about January 19, 2018.

Upon her admission, it’s alleged the facility was well aware, through assessment information, family information, as well as physician notes and orders provided to the facility, that she required special care and assistance with toileting, feeding, dressing, grooming, transferring, bathing, mobility and other activities of daily living to prevent pressure sores, infections and falls.

According to the lawsuit, the facility failed to provide Klevens medical and custodial care that she required, including leaving Klevens in her urine and feces for extended periods of time; failing to provide her with adequate and proper personal hygiene; failing to turn and reposition her while she was in bed so as to relieve pressure from her bony prominences; failing to ensure her call light was accessible and properly functioning to alert staff of urgent needs; and failing to provide her with adequate nutrition and hydration to stave off skin breakdown.

Further, the facility allegedly failed to provide Klevens with the special care and assistance she required, including 24-hour supervision and monitoring; assistance and monitoring with ambulation and transferring; adequate supervision and assistive devices for getting in and out of bed; the provision of safety and assistance devices to prevent accidents; accessible and functioning call lights to alert staff of urgent needs; assistance and monitoring with other activities of daily living; and the implementation of interventions to prevent and mitigate corresponding injuries from falls out of bed.

It’s also alleged that no one from the facility informed Klevens’ family, physician or legal representative about the horrific pressure sore, infection or the consequent injuries from her fall from her bed, or what was being done to treat them. In an unfortunate effort to cover up the facility’s failure to provide required care, facility nurses simply concealed these conditions from her family, physician and legal representative, and untruthfully stated that nothing was wrong and that she was “alright.”

During the year immediately before Klevens’ residency, and unbeknownst to Klevens or her responsible parties, the facility was repeatedly issued deficiency citations by the California Department of Public Health for wrongfully withholding necessary care from residents, including the exact care the facility allegedly deprived Klevens and led to her entirely preventable fall.

According to investigations, the lawsuit asserts the facility siphoned off huge and unwarranted amounts of money under the guise of providing phantom services referred to as  “Administration” which the facility will now assert were “back office and consulting services,” the true value of which is not near the $882,522.00 paid to defendant Saint Cabrini Healthcare Services, LLC for non-clinical illusory “Management” services pursuant to the filing submitted by the facility, under penalty of perjury, to the State of California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). Moreover, in the siphoning of funds required to service residents, and as reported to OSHPD, the facility paid yet another related party, G and R Capitol Group, the above-market rate land lease payments totaling $1,364,583.00 in one year. These over market payments were a ploy by the facility to unlawfully divert false profit from the operations of the facility to common owners, thereby leaving insufficient funds to lawfully operate.

As a further mechanism to ensure unlawful profit at the expense of the legally mandated minimum care to be provided to residents, the facility confirmed payments totaling $ 1,068,434 to unnamed “Various Entities” through something called “Pay Related Parties,” each and every one controlled by the facility management.

In sum, facility management commingled the funds of the facility with the operations of other skilled nursing facilities operated and controlled by them, including GEM Transitional Health Care and Alameda Healthcare, siphoning funds from one to the other to cover up the fact that facility management was unlawfully siphoning off cash, leaving insufficient funds to operate any of these facilities.