The New York State Attorney General recently reported that the former owner and manager of an Otsego County nursing home “allegedly endangered the facility’s 200-plus elderly residents by cutting payroll and staffing and refusing to improve working conditions” [Source: Press Connects]. The nursing home where the potential neglect occurred has been identified as Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Cooperstown, however, it has since been purchased by new owners and renamed. But, during the time Joseph Zupnik owned the facility, he apparently was cutting costs far beyond what state regulations would have permitted that may have resulted in abuse, neglect, and even resident deaths.
Zupnik and his former managerial employee, Daniel Herman, are now being recognized for failing to provide the facility with enough staff so that there was adequate supervision and care for the residents and patients staying there during a two-year period which ended November 29, 2016. The prosecutors involved in the case are claiming that when Zupnik, Herman, and the corporate entity CCRN took ownership of the facility in October 2014, payroll was cut along with staffing. The defendants are also being accused of cutting other necessary supplies and services that were needed to provide residents with safe and adequate care.
Court documents also highlighted that the two “prohibited administrators and directors of nursing at the facility from assigning adequate staff to each shift.” And when they notified the owner that there was insufficient supervision, sometimes so low that is was unsafe, Zupnik made no modifications to how he was operating the nursing home. Aside from not having enough staff to tend to residents, there was also not enough employees available to supervise the nursing staff to ensure they were providing residents with the proper care they needed.
Court Papers Highlight Two Cases of Alleged Neglect that Occurred Under Zupnik’s Ownership
Prosecutors are claiming that because of all the cuts Zupnik and Herman were making, residents began to suffer. One case involved a 91-year-old resident who was found next to his bed during the early morning hours. His condition deteriorated after and was eventually taken to a hospital emergency room. He died several days later after doctors say he suffered a subdural hematoma.
Another incident occurred, this time involving a 94-year-old resident. It was around 1:00 p.m. on May 28, 2016, when the resident was placed in a common living room reclining chair at Focus and wasn’t moved until 6:30 a.m. on May 30, 2016. After nearly 41 hours had passed where the resident was not moved, fed, provided anything to drink, or even taken to the restroom, four nurses were accused of neglect. Those employees were later charged and convicted for that incident.
Aside from putting the lives of the residents living in Focus at risk, Zupink and Herman were also accused of taking the funds paid by the state’s Medicaid Program and putting the money into other companies they owned.
As a result of all the allegations, criminal charges were filed against both Zupnik and Herman on May 24, 2018 in Otsego Town Court which consisted of felony counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, misdemeanor counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, and misdemeanor counts of willful violation of health laws.
Until the defendants attend their court hearing which is expected to be scheduled for some time in July, they are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. They were also released on their own recognizance after their arraignments.
While the charges are fresh, the allegations date back to a few years ago. However, the reality is, these types of incidents are still occurring in many nursing homes all across the country. So, if you have a loved one living in a nursing home in New York City, NY or the surrounding area and you believe they are being abused or neglected, don’t wait to contact USAttorneys.com. The quicker you call us, the quicker we can place you in touch with a reputable nursing home abuse lawyer in NYC who can begin working to hold the facility or staff member accountable for their careless actions.