Residents sue SNF over staffing, safety

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Five residents of a for-profit California skilled nursing facility sued a Mariner Health Care Inc. facility in June, alleging inadequate staffing and an unsafe environment.

The residents, who are represented by Stebner & Associates, say that Creekside Health Care Center's lack of staff violated resident rights. The allegations include claims that staff does not answer resident call buttons for 30 to 60 minutes, and that residents are left in soiled undergarments for hours, are not regularly bathed, and develop preventable pressure sores. The complaint alleges that residents are over-medicated, that staff steal residents' food; and that residents are injured unnecessarily in falls. The suit also says there is inadequate security and that staff failed to prevent the sexual assault of at least four residents.

It's unusual for a group of residents to file suit together, said attorney Anthony Chicotel of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR). The sexual assault allegations also set it apart from other cases against nursing homes, he said. 

But Creekside spokeswoman Rebecca Kirkham said the company has “strong and appropriate protocols in place to ensure residents' needs are met in a timely and compassionate manner.”

“Though pending litigation and patient privacy concerns prevent us from responding directly to the lawsuit, everyone at Creekside Health Care Center is deeply committed to the care and safety of our residents,” she said.

“We are committed to swift and appropriate action to resolve any issues that might keep us from meeting the high quality standards we set for ourselves. We value the trust our residents and their families place in us.”

Plantiffs' attorney Kathryn Stebner asked for an injunction against the nursing home “prohibiting defendants' violations of the Health & Safety Code.” The plaintiffs also requested punitive damages, statutory damages and coverage of attorney fees.