Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did.
Mr. Palermo, who was the lead singer in a Midtown nightclub in the 1960s when her elegant tango first caught his eye, now regularly rolls his wife’s wheelchair to the piano at the Catholic nursing home in Manhattan where she ended up in 2010 as dementia, falls and surgical complications took their toll. He sings her favorite songs, feeds her home-cooked Italian food, and pays a private aide to be there when he cannot.
But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.
It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.
Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.
In a random, anonymized sample of 700 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan over a decade, Hunter College researchers found more than 12 percent were brought by nursing homes. Some of these may have been prompted by family feuds, suspected embezzlement or just the absence of relatives to help secure Medicaid coverage. But lawyers and others versed in the guardianship process agree that nursing homes primarily use such petitions as a means of bill collection — a purpose never intended by the Legislature when it enacted the guardianship statute in 1993.
At least one judge has ruled that the tactic by nursing homes is an abuse of the law, but the petitions, even if they are ultimately unsuccessful, force families into costly legal ordeals.
“It’s a strategic move to intimidate,” said Ginalisa Monterroso, who handled patient Medicaid accounts at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home until 2012, and is now chief executive of Medicaid Advisory Group, an elder care counseling business that was representing Mr. Palermo in his billing dispute. “Nursing homes do it just to bring money.”
“It’s so cruel,” she added. “Mr. Palermo loves his wife, he’s there every single day, and they just threw him to the courts.”
* … In our case in Corrupticut, the object of the game was to seize control over the entire $1M Partch Estate, not just “payment” for Wilton Meadows’ unnecessary “bills,” which only resulted from my mother’s seizure (i.e., her Fraudulently Procured Involuntary Conservatorship) in the first place. She could have come back home in 2010, which would have cost a fraction as much. Besides, she was thrown on Medicaid in just 18 months anyway, after they burned through $465,000+ in that time. Plus, they also took control of her State Pension (as a retired schoolteacher) to pay for one year of her captivity. All that is left now is the house, in (fraudulent) foreclosure for a completely unnecessary mortgage because I was wrongfully evicted from the home to which I am entitled under Federal Medicaid Law:
Boomers Against Elder Abuse
Michael Volpe reports on a case of severe legal abuse, not unlike the abuses perpetrated upon elders and their families in guardianship courts. Family courts can be equally abusive. “On December 29, 2013, Chris Mackney drove to East Potomac Park in Washington D.C., parked his car, took a rifle from the backseat, put it underneath his chin, and blew his head off. Mackney was once a free spirited, outgoing, successful salesman, and father of two. By the time he killed himself… he hadn’t seen his children for nearly four years: he was homeless, jobless, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and he’d been jailed four times. . . ” Please show your support by liking the page below. The courts must not be used to bully people into submission.
Bullied to Death: The Chris Mackney Story