Kansas is one of 10 states where the U.S. Justice Department is launching an Elder Justice Task Force to combat “grossly substandard care” of residents in nursing homes.
The task forces combine federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies with state and local agencies. They are part of the Justice Department’s Elder Justice Initiative.
“We already have one investigation open,” Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney in Kansas, said in an announcement Wednesday. “We’re not wasting time.”
No further details on the investigation were provided.
Grissom said the Kansas attorney general’s office received a nod because of its expertise in the investigation and prosecution of nursing homes and a commitment to work with state and local agencies.
Others in the Kansas task force are with the Department of Justice Civil Fraud Section, Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Kansas Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
State agencies that work with long-term care, public health and aging also may join the task force. The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services maintains a list of 1,215 nursing home workers who the agency says were involved in abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults in their care.
Victoria Falls Nursing Facility in Andover, Kan., was fined more than $150,000 after a video from a hidden camera showed a night-shift nurse taking a 60-year-old resident from her wheelchair, placing her on the floor of her room and leaving her alone in the dark for nearly 45 minutes in September 2013. The nurse was later jailed after pleading no contest to a charge of mistreatment of a dependent adult.
“Millions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable,” Stuart F. Delery, acting associate U.S. attorney general, said in the announcement. “Yet all too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents.”
Elder justice task forces also are being set up in the U.S. attorney districts in Maryland, northern California, the northern district of Iowa, northern Georgia, western Kentucky, southern Ohio, eastern Pennsylvania, middle Tennessee and western Washington.