- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Reaches Settlement With Williamstown Nursing Home for Failure to Adequately Care for Residents
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today announced a settlement with a Williamstown nursing home to resolve allegations that it failed to adequately meet the needs of and appropriately care for residents, and failed to ensure that nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) had the necessary competencies to provide services for residents.
The settlement was reached with SB Operating Company, LLC, the former corporate owner of Sweet Brook of Williamstown Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (Sweet Brook), and its owners and corporate officers, Alexander Sherman, Samuel Sherman, Rochelle Sherman, Zaleman Horowitz, and Jeffrey Goldstein. Under the terms of the agreement, Sweet Brook will pay $110,000 to resolve the AG’s allegations and the owners will agree to abstain from owning or operating any long-term care facility in the Commonwealth for a period of 10 years.
“All nursing home residents deserve to live in a safe environment and are entitled to receive competent and adequate care,” said AG Healey. “Facilities that violate that right and break the trust of family members who have entrusted them with the well-being of their loved ones will be held accountable in order to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation into the care and treatment of Sweet Brook residents after complaints referred by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) about resident safety at the facility. Pursuant to a settlement reached between Sweet Brook and DPH, Sweet Brook closed permanently in August 2020.
“The Department of Public Health works to ensure that all nursing home residents receive high-quality care in a safe environment through their licensing and oversight of nursing facilities in the Commonwealth, and in April 2019, took steps to revoke the license of Sweet Brook of Williamstown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center due to the facility’s inability to provide adequate care to residents,” said Margret Cooke, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “DPH referred this matter to the Attorney General for further investigation and legal action and will continue to closely monitor care and refer cases for further investigation, when necessary, to protect the Commonwealth’s long-term care residents.”
The AG’s investigation found that, between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019, Sweet Brook allegedly admitted residents with violent or hypersexual behavioral tendencies without having adequately trained staff members to properly care for them. Sweet Brook also allegedly admitted bariatric, or obese, residents without having proper equipment and enough trained staff to meet their needs. The AG’s Office further alleges that staff failed to properly prevent the development of pressure ulcers on residents.
The AG’s Office alleges that Sweet Brook’s conduct was in violation of federal and state regulations protecting residents of long-term care facilities, which constitute violations of the state consumer protection statute, G.L. c. 93A, as well as the state civil abuse and neglect statute, G.L. c. 111, §72K.
In February, AG Healey filed “An Act strengthening the Attorney General’s tools to protect nursing home residents and other patients from abuse and neglect,” with co-sponsors Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Ruth Balser. This legislation strengthens the civil enforcement tools used by the AG’s Office to address abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled patients, whether they are cared for at home or in nursing homes. The bill increases the civil penalties that the office can seek for the mistreatment, abuse or neglect of nursing home residents or other covered patients, and increases the time in which the office can bring a civil suit from two years to four years.
In 2019, AG Healey reached a series of settlements with seven different nursing homes to resolve allegations of systemic failures at their facilities that endangered nursing home residents after investigations found that these facilities had practices that directly led to the death, injury or potential injury to residents.
Members of the public who are aware of similar practices by other nursing homes or health care providers should call the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Division at (617) 963-2360 or file a complaint through DPH’s website.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Ali Russo and Investigator John Cody, with assistance from Managing Attorney Kevin Lownds, all of AG Healey’s Medicaid Fraud Division. DPH and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs provided substantial assistance in the investigation.
The Medicaid Fraud Division receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award. The remaining 25 percent is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.