The legal action was filed Wednesday by the Office of Attorney General's Health Care Section against Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC, which manages and operates 36 facilities statewide. Its subsidiaries are commonly known as Golden LivingCenters, of which there are 14 named in the legal action including one in Pottsville, also known as York Terrace.
"As we allege, these companies profited at the expense of our most vulnerable residents," Attorney General Kane said. "These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents’ most basic human needs. That is simply unacceptable."
The legal action asserts Golden Living violated the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law by deceiving consumers through its marketing practices.
The company advertised it would keep its residents clean and comfortable while providing food and water at any time. But its facilities were understaffed, leaving residents thirsty, hungry, dirty, unkempt and sometimes unable to summon anyone to help meet their most basic needs, such as going to the bathroom, the legal action asserts.
Moreover, interviews with residents' family members and former certified nursing assistants who worked at Golden Living facilities revealed a widespread pattern of understaffing and omitted care, the legal action states. Those allegations include the following:
- Continent residents left in diapers because they were unable to obtain assistance going to the bathroom.
- Incontinent residents left in soiled diapers, in their own feces or urine, for extended periods of time.
- Residents at risk for bedsores from not being turned every two hours as required.
- Residents not receiving range of motion exercises.
- Residents not receiving showers or other hygiene services as required.
- Residents being woken at 5 a.m. or earlier to be washed and dressed for the day.
- Residents not being timely dressed in order to attend their meals.
- Residents not being escorted to the dining hall and sometimes missing meals entirely.
- Long waits for responses to call bells or no responses at all.
- Staff, under the direction of management or fear of management, falsifying records to indicate residents received services when in fact they did not.
- Improved staffing when state inspections occurred, leading to deceit about the true conditions at the facility.
The investigation also included a review of staffing levels self-reported by Golden Living facilities and deficiencies cited in surveys conducted by the state Department of Health.
The legal action, filed in Commonwealth Court in the form of a complaint in equity and petition for permanent injunction, seeks permanent injunctive relief prohibiting Golden Living from engaging in the allegedly deceptive and unlawful business practices it is accused of.
It also seeks $1,000 per violation of the law, or up to $3,000 for every violation involving a person 60 years old or older. The action also seeks restitution for consumers, injunctive relief and costs of litigation.
Those with complaints concerning Golden Living facilities or other health care facilities are encouraged to contact the Office of Attorney General's Health Care Section. Complaints may be filed at www.attorneygeneral.gov by selecting "File a Complaint" from the tool bar and then "Health Care." Complaints may also be filed by calling the Health Care helpline at 877-888-4877.