Rosewood Terrace Care Center officials turned over records of patients' personal funds to the Disability Law Center Thursday, denying that there are irregularities in the handling of patient funds.
The law center filed suit recently, suggesting that the care center's paperwork may be fishy and that money may have been stolen.But the attorney for the nursing home said law center representatives were overdramatizing things, that residents already have been receiving money and information about their funds, and that no money is missing.
The nursing home was closed by the state in February following the January death of resident Sandra K. Gordon. She was strangled by waist and chest restraints staffers had used to confine her to her bed. She wasn't checked for eight hours, and the death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.
Since then, residents have been moved to other facilities, and these nursing homes say they haven't always seen personal funds transferred, said Sarah Lubbers, an advocate with the law center. Some patients said they didn't think they had gotten the full amount due them, she said.
The Disability Law Center got a temporary restraining order Tuesday, forcing the now-closed nursing home to produce all records by 2 p.m. Thursday regarding personal funds of former residents. The law center also asked that the nursing home establish interest-bearing accounts for residents' money.
"A lot of residents are not able to take care of themselves and would have no way of knowing if their money was being stolen," said Lubbers.
The guardian for one individual said that $11,000 is unaccounted for, she said.
Lubbers contacted former residents or their guardians and found that "42 out of 51 residents were missing money in some form."
Most individual accounts are expected to be relatively small, since many of the patients are receiving help from Medicaid or Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI). To qualify for these government programs, they are restricted to up to $2,000 in personal funds, said John Pace, the Disability Law Center's senior litigation attorney.
"The trust fund issue probably doesn't threaten the life or safety of residents, but it is a dignity issue," Pace said.
"These people get $35 to $40 a month for personal spending money. From this pittance they have to buy anything they want to be able to decorate their room, buy a plant, a picture" or other items such as gifts and toiletries, Pace said.
However, Gary Blatter, attorney for Rosewood, said the books have been audited and information has been dispensed to residents as part of normal routine.
"The information we provided to them (the Disability Law Center) was 4 inches thick. You can probably guess that you do not produce that much information within 48 hours. That wasn't something that happened because the temporary restraining order was issued," Blatter said.
"We were doing this anyway. The residents always received their monies and their accountings, and the facility was performing its tasks under the (state and federal) regulations," he said.
"First, the state of Utah requires that this money be kept in separate trust accounts. That money has never been co-mingled with Rosewood funds. Second, that information was being provided to the residents. The Disability Law Center, instead of going to the residents and requesting that information, decided that we needed to produce that to them directly," Blatter said.
"The legal center didn't seem to be communicating with their clients in determining that. Basically, the only thing we've turned over today are copies of things we've given to residents," said Blatter, adding that money has been sent to residents and guardians since February.
Blatter said matters were complicated by the fact that when the state took over Rosewood, it sent many original copies of resident records to new nursing homes, instead of copies, which meant resident files were not intact. "We've had to try to get back those original records."