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Skyline Nursing Home Chain Collapses, Putting Elderly Residents at Risk

Joseph Schwartz of Skyline Healthcare LLC, who at one point operated a chain of 120 nursing homes across 11 states—including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Jersey, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota—is coming under fire after the chain went bankrupt, leaving elderly residents at risk, according to an NBC Nightly News report from July 19, 2019. Residents allegedly endured neglect, many were ultimately kicked out after the firm collapsed.

When nursing homes collapse into chaos because of private-sector greed and lack of state and federal oversight, staff and residents are left to pick up the pieces. Nurses find themselves out of a job while residents find themselves being “evicted” from a place ostensibly designed to keep them safe.

Joseph Schwartz operated his nursing home business from an office above a pizza parlor in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, but the business expanded too quickly, from December 2015 to February 2017. Over four months in the fall and winter of 2017, he signed leases for 66 facilities—in South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska—all of which had been formerly managed by the beleaguered Golden LivingCenters nursing home chain. (During a sworn deposition while settling a neglect case in Pennsylvania in 2017, a lawyer asked him how many nursing homes he operated. He said he didn’t know. At its peak, Skyline oversaw 7,000 elderly and disabled residents. This rapid expansion went unchecked and should have raised red flags for state regulators, who were unaware that he had been sued in Florida for “unpaid healthcare claims,” according to a news article in the Pennsylvania-based newspaper the Reading Eagle.

Schwartz’s alleged actions seemed to harm residents, who were allegedly neglected. A Massachusetts man was allegedly found with maggots on his catheter. A Tennessee man was allegedly found in feces and with maggots and gangrene in his open wounds; he later died of sepsis. Staff at a Tennessee nursing home allegedly ignored the moans of a woman with ovarian cancer, who was later found dead. An Arkansas man fell off a commode and allegedly lay on the floor for 45 minutes before staff came to HIS aid; as a result, he severely bruised his face. These horrific anecdotes can be hard to stomach, but we cannot ignore the alleged negligence that occurred at these nursing homes.

Nursing home operators must have enough capital to continue functioning until they receive Medicaid reimbursements. That didn’t happen here. Ultimately, the homes’ supposed lack of funds left residents without proper nutrition; in one instance, nurses had to buy juice out of their own pockets to make sure that diabetic residents’ blood sugar levels didn’t dip dangerously low. In Massachusetts, staff bought toilet paper with their own funds. Meanwhile, Joseph Schwartz was allegedly stealing money, also according to the Reading Eagle. He allegedly defrauded a pharmacist in New Jersey for $200,000. One nurse in South Dakota discovered that she didn’t have health insurance—even though premiums were coming out of her paycheck. She wasn’t alone. This also allegedly happened in Pennsylvania and Kansas.

Ultimately, Skyline went bankrupt, As a result, fourteen homes have shut down, displacing over 900 confused and angry residents. Nursing home facilities are supposed to serve the needs of the most vulnerable in society—the low-income elderly and severely disabled. Hardworking nursing staff members toil away for low wages, doing their best to ensure that these residents receive proper care. And yet Schwartz allegedly exploited the vulnerabilities of low-wage workers and the elderly to line his own pockets, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake.

If you have questions about the care you or you loved one received at a nursing home, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call (877) 238-4175. Or email info@fkesq.com. Experienced attorneys are standing by to hear your concerns.