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Families sue care homes, alleging neglect contributed to death of loved ones

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Marlene Greenwood’s daughters say her health declined after she moved to a Winnipeg care home where staff failed to care adequately for the 72-year-old, so they’ve joined about 85 families in suing the multinational company that owns the facility. 

“It still hurts,” said Kelly Thibodeau, 46, whose mother spent the last three years of her life at the Charleswood Long Term Care Home, owned by Mississauga, Ont.-based Revera Inc.

“We were constantly just sort of swept under the rug with, ‘Trust us. It will be fine. We know what we’re doing.'”

Greenwood’s family alleges negligence on the part of staff and doctors caused or contributed to the deaths of elderly patients. Charleswood Long Term Care Home, Beacon Hill Lodge and Parkview Place are named in the five lawsuits filed in Manitoba.

Charleswood Long Term Care Home is located on Roblin Boulevard in Winnipeg. (Travis Golby/CBC)

“The plaintiffs state that the negligence and deficiencies in care by the defendants caused or materially contributed to the plaintiff’s death,” each of the five Manitoba lawsuits state.

The lawsuits also point the finger at five unnamed doctors who were employed or contracted by Revera and 10 unnamed nurses and personal support workers. The lawsuit alleges the physicians breached their duty of care.

Revera is a privately held care home company with 500 senior living facilities across Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. — including 12 in Manitoba and more than 100 in Ontario.

The Manitoba lawsuits were filed against Revera in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Winnipeg. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The statement of claim for the lawsuit involving Greenwood accuses staff of neglecting “extremely vulnerable” and “frail elderly patients,” and thus contributing to Greenwood’s decline and premature death.

Understaffing allegations

The lawsuits involve facilities in Western Canada and Ontario, with the majority in Ontario, said Melissa Miller, a lawyer with the firm Howie Sacks & Henry LLP in Toronto, which is involved in the case. She expects lawsuits that have yet to be filed will push the total to around 120. 

The lawsuits each seek $1.75 million to $3 million in damages and court costs, Miller said. Countrywide, the cases amount to a total of $150 million to $175 million, she said.

“The common theme” across Canada is complaints about staff-to-resident ratios at Revera care facilities, Miller said.

“There’s too many residents, too few staff, and you know, they’re not able to spend the time and the attention with the residents that they should be.”

‘Great responsibility’

A Revera spokesperson said the company believes helping its elderly residents is “a great privilege but also a great responsibility.”

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority stipulates each resident at facilities in the region is entitled to 3.6 hours of care per day, and Revera “meets or exceeds WRHA’s care requirements,” Larry Roberts, the company’s senior manager of corporate affairs, said in a statement Wednesday.

“WRHA provides funding to cover the wages of staff providing front-line care, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and health care aides. Revera allocates these resources fully to meet the government’s care requirements, and any unused care staffing funding is returned to the government,” Roberts said. 

“We are committed to providing a safe, caring and supportive environment in which all our residents are treated with dignity and respect.”

The company has not yet been served with the lawsuits and can’t yet provide comment on the allegations, Roberts said.

Kelly Thibodeau says she felt concerns she raised about the care her mother was receiving weren’t answered by staff at the Charleswood Long Term Care Home owned by Revera. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Greenwood lived with dementia and a degenerative neurological condition that prompted her move to the Charleswood Long Term Care Home in 2014, Thibodeau and her sister Coral Doherty said. 

Within months, Greenwood was diagnosed with scabies. She was treated, and her skin cleared up, but within about a year Greenwood began developing skin issues again, Thibodeau said.

Marlene Greenwood holds out her hands to show her sores while in her bed at the Charleswood Long Term Care Home on Aug. 23, 2016. She entered the facility in 2014 and died in the summer of 2017. (Submitted by Kelly Thibodeau)

Among other health issues, she developed scabs and open sores all over her arms and hands, some of them from scratching due to a persistent “unbearable itch,” said Thibodeau. Despite the previous diagnosis, staff at the care facility didn’t recognize the condition as scabies, the sisters said.

The statement of claim alleges Greenwood was neither tested for nor diagnosed with scabies in the second instance, which caused her great pain and discomfort. 

Greenwood had difficulty communicating what she was going through due to her dementia and the degenerative neurological condition she had been living with for years before entering the care home, her family said.

‘Makes me really sad’

Her condition worsened as she began refusing to bathe and lost weight, said her daughters.

“She was not sufficiently fed or hydrated, resulting in significant weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition,” says the statement of claim. “She was forced to live in unsanitary conditions going without bathing, handwashing, changing clothes, etc. despite repeated complaints and requests from family.”

After a brief stint at the Grace Hospital, Greenwood was sent back to the Charleswood facility and died hours later, Thibodeau said. Though no cause of death was confirmed, an autopsy revealed Greenwood again had been suffering from scabies.

Scabies is a skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin, and it is highly contagious — both Thibodeau and Doherty caught it from comforting their mother.

“When I look back at her overall story, and then to learn that there was that kind of true human suffering happening as a result of her moving into her Revera facility, it just makes me really sad,” Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau says she found her mother in distress on Aug. 7, 2017, about two weeks before Greenwood died. Her hands were crusted with what an autopsy would later confirm was scabies. (Submitted by Kelly Thibodeau)

Doherty said the fact that her mother was refusing to bathe or put on creams only made sense after they learned of the scabies diagnosis following her death.

“Her rights to care and her rights to be heard were ignored, and my sister and I had multiple meetings with them to try and advocate for my mom, because we knew that my mom wasn’t normally like this, that there’s something wrong,” Doherty said.

“At one point she did say, ‘They’re not listening to me. They’re not listening to me,’ and she had a complete breakdown.”

Coral Doherty, left, and her mother Marlene Greenwood hug at Doherty’s wedding. (Supplied by Kelly Thibodeau)

The court documents allege Revera provided inferior care to maximize profits.

“The defendants are well aware that their drive to maximize corporate profits comes at a cost of poor resident care, injuries, serious pain and suffering, and premature, painful death to the residents of the Revera nursing homes,” the documents say.

Class action discontinued

Miller and lawyers at Oakley and Oakley PC and Diamond & Diamond, who represent other plaintiffs, discontinued an application for class action status in September.

All parties consented to the move and the courts made no finding as to the merit of the class action, Miller said.

The plaintiffs are proceeding under mass tort status, which means each family will have a separate lawsuit against Revera, but the cases will be dealt with as a group, Miller said.

Greenwood’s daughters hope the lawsuit helps raise awareness about shortcomings in the personal care home system and leads to improvements at Revera-run facilities, they said.

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Health Ranger posts new microscopy photos of covid swabs, covid masks and mysterious red and blue fibers

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(Natural News) What follows is a series of microscopy photos of covid swabs (a synthetic swab, then a cotton swab), a covid mask and some zoomed-in photos of mysterious red and blue fibers found in the masks.

The magnification range for these photos is 50X to 200X. Most were taken with white light, but several (as indicated) were taken with UV light.

The images shown here are 600 pixels wide. We have higher resolution images available to researchers and indy media journalists; contact us for those hi-res images.

More microscopy investigations are under way, and new images will be posted as they are finalized.

First, this series shows the carbon fiber layer of a covid mask, illuminated with UV light:

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5,800 test positive, 74 die of coronavirus at least 14 days after getting fully vaccinated

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(Natural News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, April 15, confirmed some 5,800 breakthrough coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S.

A breakthrough COVID-19 case is defined as someone who has detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – at least 14 days after getting fully vaccinated against the disease.

Nearly 400 breakthrough cases required treatment at hospitals and 74 died. A little over 40 percent of the infections were in people 60 years and above and 65 percent were female. About 29 percent of the vaccine breakthrough infections were reportedly asymptomatic. The figures were for cases through April 13.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told a congressional hearing on Thursday that the causes of the breakthrough cases are being probed. “Some of these breakthroughs are, of course, failure of an immune response in the host. And then some of them we worry might be related to a variant that is circulating. So we’re looking at both,” she said.

The CDC is monitoring reported cases “for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type or lot number, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage.” It has created a national COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough database, where state health departments can enter, store and manage data for cases in their region.

Where available, respiratory specimens that tested positive for COVID-19 will be collected for genomic sequencing “to identify the virus lineage that caused the infection.”

Positive test less than two weeks after getting fully vaccinated is not a breakthrough case

The number of cases the CDC has identified does not include people who contracted COVID-19 less than two weeks after their final dose. The two-week marker is important, said infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

A human body should have enough time to develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 after that timeframe. Before then, a person won’t necessarily have the built-up immunity needed to fight off an infection. According to Dr. Adalja, cases that occur before the two-week mark are not considered breakthrough cases.

Dr. Adalja also noted that more research is needed to determine if highly infectious variants of the virus are behind the breakthrough cases. “It is crucial to study breakthrough cases to understand their severity, their contagiousness and what role variants may be playing,” Dr. Adalja said.

More than 78 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the U.S. as of April 15.

“To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics,” the CDC said in a statement. “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control.”

But the CDC conceded that “thousands of vaccine breakthrough cases will occur even though the vaccine is working as expected.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, agreed with the CDC. “These vaccines that we’re using are fabulous but they’re not perfect,” he said. “At best, they’re 95 percent effective in preventing serious illness, but minor illnesses can occur.”

According to U.S. drug regulators, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection. Moderna’s was shown in a clinical trial to be 94.1 percent effective while Johnson & Johnson’s was 66.9 percent effective. Only Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received its emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Feb. 27, was tested when variants were circulating.

The percentages are based on results from vaccine recipients two weeks after the final vaccination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in a briefing last week that the breakthrough cases are not a cause for concern.

“I think the important thing is to look at what the denominator of vaccinated people is. Because it is very likely that the number of breakthrough cases is not at all incompatible with the 90-plus percent vaccine efficacy,” he said. “So I don’t think that there needs to be concern about any shift or change in the efficacy of the vaccine.”

More info needed before drawing conclusions from breakthrough cases

The percentage of vaccine breakthroughs in a population depends on multiple factors, including vaccine efficacy, the amount of virus circulating and the length of time since vaccination, according to Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

“I love to see small numbers as much as anyone, but know that numbers like this cannot be directly interpreted as a measure of vaccine efficacy (although I have a feeling they will be). We can only interpret them against a background rate in unvaccinated people,” Dean wrote on Twitter.

“Similarly, ‘most breakthroughs have been in elderly adults’ should not be read as the vaccine is less effective in elderly adults. The majority of vaccinations (and the longest amount of follow-up time) have been in elderly adults. Again, we need more info to interpret.”

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More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus in San Francisco last year

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(Natural News) More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus (COVID-19) in San Francisco last year, a microcosm of a larger nationwide problem coinciding with the pandemic.

Data from San Francisco’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shows that 708 people were killed by fentanyl in 2020, an astonishing 118 times more since the introduction of the drug in the city just five years earlier.

That figure nearly tripled the 254 COVID-19 deaths recorded in the city for the whole of last year. More than 8 in 10 deaths were male, and just under half were white. People aged 55 to 64 made up nearly a quarter of the fatalities. Nearly 40 percent of the deaths occurred in open-air drug markets such as the Tenderloin and South of Market.

The number of overdose deaths in the city could have been far worse as more than 3,000 addicts suffering from an overdose were administered with naloxone, the lifesaving medication that reverses overdoses.

San Francisco’s death rate from fentanyl overdose continues to rise this year as 135 died by overdose in January and February, putting the city on pace for more than 800 deaths by the end of the year.

The city has become a significant part of a larger trend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on Wednesday, April 14, showing that more than 87,000 Americans died from drug overdose over the 12-month period that ended in September last year – the highest since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s.

Lockdowns lead to more cases of drug overdose

The surge represents an increasingly urgent public health crisis that may be correlated to the government’s monotonous battle plan against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19 last year, California became the first state in the U.S. to implement a stay-at-home order. It subsequently endured the longest lockdown of any state in the country.

The pandemic and accompanying lockdowns are believed to be partly responsible for the soaring number of drug deaths for obvious reasons. Lockdowns have badly disrupted the social services in the city, including drug addiction treatment. Drug experts say the isolation of the past 12 months is causing vulnerable residents to turn to opioids.

“We see the death and devastation getting worse right in front of us,” said Matt Haney, San Francisco Board of Supervisors member. “It’s an unprecedented spiraling, directly connected to the introduction of fentanyl in our city.”

Fentanyl first appeared on the streets of San Francisco in 2015. There were just six deaths from the synthetic opioid that year, 12 deaths in 2016 and 37 deaths in 2017. The figure skyrocketed when the drugs became widely available in the city in 2018.

Kristen Marshall, manager of the national drug harm reduction DOPE Project, noted the grim irony that while social isolation could save lives from COVID-19, it had undoubtedly contributed to the number of overdose deaths.

“Isolation is also the thing that puts people at the absolute highest risk of overdose death,” she said.

Pandemic exacerbates rise in deaths from drug overdose

The number of deaths from drug overdose started rising in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, making it hard to gauge how closely the two phenomena are linked. But the pandemic unquestionably exacerbated the trend. The biggest jump in overdose deaths took place in April and May when fear and stress were rampant, job losses were multiplying and the strictest lockdown measures were in effect.

Many treatment programs closed during that time while drop-in centers, which provide support, clean syringes and naloxone, cut back services.

The data released by the CDC shows a 29 percent rise in overdose deaths from October 2019 through September 2020 compared with the previous 12-month period. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were the primary drivers, although many fatal overdoses have also involved stimulant drugs like methamphetamine.

Unlike in the early years of the opioid epidemic, when deaths were largely among white Americans in rural and suburban areas, the current crisis is affecting Black Americans disproportionately.

“The highest increase in mortality from opioids, predominantly driven by fentanyl, is now among Black Americans,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said at a national addiction conference last week.

“And when you look at mortality from methamphetamine, it’s chilling to realize that the risk of dying from methamphetamine overdose is 12-fold higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives than other groups.”

Dr. Volkow added that more deaths than ever involved drug combinations, typically of fentanyl or heroin with stimulants.

“Dealers are lacing these non-opioid drugs with cheaper, yet potent, opioids to make a larger profit,” she said. “Someone who’s addicted to a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is not tolerant to opioids, which means they are going to be at high risk of overdose if they get a stimulant drug that’s laced with an opioid like fentanyl.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) supported Dr. Volkow’s claim, saying that transnational criminal organizations cause a spike in overdoses by mixing fentanyl into illicit narcotics.

According to the DEA, Mexican cartels often purchase the drug components in China and use human mules to smuggle the narcotics to lucrative drug markets north of the border.

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