Years of Neglect at Cheltenham Nursing Home Draws Federal Lawsuit: 

Both Cheltenham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and its parent company, American Health Foundation, Inc., are at the center of a False Claims lawsuit brought by the Justice Department.

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against a Philadelphia area nursing home for years of “grossly substandard care” that amounts to nursing home neglect and abuse, a Philadelphia Inquirer article says. The lawsuit also alleges negligence on the part of Cheltenham’s parent company, an Ohio nonprofit called the American Health Foundation, Inc. (AHF).

Filed in June in Philadelphia, the 144-page civil complaint against Cheltenham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center claims that the nursing home permitted residents to endure a range of long-term incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect, such as verbally abusing residents, giving them unnecessary antipsychotic and antibiotic medications, neglecting to safeguard residents’ personal belongings, and allowing them to reside in a building infested with pests.

According to the article, the continued existence of the long-troubled Cheltenham home underscores a poorly functioning regulatory system for nursing homes; however, advocates for the elderly are encouraged by the step the Justice Department is taking.

“It’s about time,” said Sam Brooks, policy director for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, a Washington nonprofit.

The False Claims case against AHF seeks to recoup money that was used for “nonexistent or grossly substandard services.” Listed in the suit are over 104 allegedly false claims made by AHF facilities, totaling over $473,000. Cheltenham accounted for 85 percent—over $403,000—of these costs. Should the federal government win the case, AHF may be required to pay back three times as much as it received from Medicaid and Medicare for the “nonexistent or grossly substandard services.” AHF will also be forced to pay fines of up to $25,000 per violation.

Years of neglect at Cheltenham nursing home draws federal lawsuit which also alleges that, during the prolonged years of abuse and neglect at Cheltenham, AHF persistently endeavored for the home to slash nursing costs and increase the number of admitted residents—particularly needier residents who would boost Medicaid rates—at the home, even as AHF itself garnered millions of dollars in management fees from Cheltenham.

According to the Inquirer’s research, between 2016 and 2018 Cheltenham paid $3.6 million in management fees to two AHF entities; in this timeframe AHF paid over $3.5 million to its executives and board members. Meanwhile, Cheltenham suffered a total net loss of nearly $2.3 million between 2016 and 2018. In its complaint the Justice Department argues that the management fees imposed on Cheltenham demonstrated negligence on the part of AHF managers.

In 2018 Cheltenham Nursing was fined about $825,000 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid after a resident committed suicide. In the current lawsuit the Justice Department is now saying that Cheltenham’s failure to provide proper psychiatric care amounts to nursing home neglect that contributed to the suicide. According to the Inquirer, the home and AHF have yet to pay the 2018 fine to CMS.

Your Advocate Against Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

The Philadelphia/PA or NJ nursing home where your loved one lives is required to meet health and safety standards and also to ensure its residents achieve a quality level of physical, mental, and psycho/social well-being. Should you have concerns about the quality of care in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey nursing home, or if you suspect neglect, abuse, or fraud has occurred at the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.