Two Elderly Men Repeatedly Abused At Assisted Living Home

A news report in The Star-Ledger again highlights the danger of abuse against elders suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Two residents at an assisted living home in New Jersey filed a lawsuit last week based on injuries they sustained in 2010 due to suspected abuse. Though only two residents filed suit, a total of four residents were taken to local hospitals around the same time period because of alleged abuse. The two victims were Henry Glowacki, 92, and Robert Prochazka, 89. Both men alleged facility staff repeatedly and extensively beat them, and photos of the men depict old and fresh bruises across the men’s torsos, arms, and stomachs.

After the local prosecutor’s office conducted a criminal investigation (no criminal charges have been filed), the families of the victims contacted an elder abuse attorney and filed a civil suit. In December 2010, just a few days before Christmas, local police were called to the assisted living facility after the director of operations told authorities four residents appeared to have been badly abused. According to police, the two men directly responsible for the victims’ care were placed on administrative leave.

A care manager first discovered the bruising and alleged abuse five days prior to police involvement. While cleaning the older of the two men, Mr. Glowacki, the care manager noted that the elderly man refused to sit down because he was in too much pain due to injuries on his buttocks. Although the care manager documented the bruises, the assisted living facility failed to investigate the report. The state Department of Health and Senior Services later cited the home for this violation. The other victim, Mr. Prochazka, also suffered from extensive bruising and sustained fractures to his ribs and one of his fingers.

wheelchairs%20%28Daquella%20amnera%29.jpgThe two victims are still living at the facility where they suffered the abuse. According to the article, the families felt their fathers would be safer there because state officials are closely watching the home. At a new assisted living facility, they worried, abuse might occur again.

Unfortunately, at many facilities where abuse occurs, prior abuse has been reported. That is why our San Diego County nursing home abuse lawyers recommend thoroughly researching a home before admitting a loved one. More importantly, it is crucial to visit various facilities to compare them, meet the staff and administrators, and assess their safety and cleanliness.

For example, the company that runs the facility where Mr. Glowacki and Mr. Prochazka were abused has been accused of wrongdoing in the past. A facility in another state had its license revoked (later reinstated) when a hidden camera showed employees taunting and assaulting a woman suffering from dementia. The company has also been investigated for financial reporting fraud, but settled that suit in 2010.

Sadly, elder abuse occurs all too often. Our experienced San Diego and San Bernardino negligence lawyers have handled numerous cases against nursing homes and assisted living facilities involving elder abuse and neglect. If you are concerned about a loved one, please consult us for a free and confidential consultation today.

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Nursing Home Neglect Cited By Whistleblower

Disturbing allegations were reported yesterday in an NBC Ten report. The story discussed a new nursing home abuse and neglect whistleblower lawsuit filed by former employees who make scathing allegations which, if true, reveal chronic problems at the long-term care facility. The Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm have worked on enough of these cases to know that the claims made in this suit, while shocking, are seen in many more facilities that most would assume.

The Lawsuit
The suit was filed by two certified nursing assistants and a nurse all of whom used to work at the facility. The complaint filed with the court initiating the suit alleges that the employees complained about the care of a resident at the facility with the state’s Health Department. Management at the nursing home was obviously not pleased by the reports. The suit claims that the whistleblowing employees faced harassment by other nursing home employees after voicing their concerns to the state’s health agency. Further, the suit claims that the employees had their hours continually cut to the point where they were unable to make a living. Eventually, in combination of the harassment and cut hours, two of the employees were forced to quit.

The nursing home abuse that the employees reported to the Health Department were sexual in nature. We previously blogged on the bizarre abuse allegations . Several women were accused of sexual abuse which allegedly involved the women abusing their own elderly mother.

Following the revelations the nursing home apparently took corrective actions so that their care plans accounted for this potential misconduct. However, our nursing home neglect lawyers know that facilities always claim to make changes. But claims are far different from real overhauls which actually improve the lives of residents.

Pressure to Keep Quiet
This harassment suit is a symbol of a common problem at these long-term care facilities: the pressure not to speak up about inadequate care. Direct care workers at these facilities are often incredibly hard-working, dedicated employees. Unfortunately, their job is made much more difficult as a result of decisions at the management level to cut staffing and pay to the point where it is almost impossible to provide the care each resident needs.

Chronic mistreatment is often the result.

However, employees are in a difficult situation, because reporting misconduct will obviously anger facility owners and operators. Particularly in today’s tough economy, employees are obviously loathe to lose their job, many have families who are counting on their income.

A variety of rules are in place to protect employees who try to do the right thing by reporting mistreatment. Yet, those rules notwithstanding, many owners still react wrongly following these revelations. Often that wrongdoing takes the form of using various techniques to pressure employees out of the position. This is yet another way that owners and operators can place profits over patient safety. These efforts must be fought against every step of the way.

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Hillcrest Nursing & Rehab Center Cited for Illinois Nursing Home Neglect

Disturbing News About High Bed Sore Rates at City Nursing Homes

White House Coordinates Effort to Fight Elder Abuse

The AARP Blog shared information last week on new federal programs seeking to target elder financial abuse. Like all forms of elder mistreatment, our Chicago elder abuse lawyers know that there is chronic underreporting of these issues. Older Americans are consistently barraged by a range of individuals that seek to use their vulnerability for their own financial gain.

The problem is severe and it is only getting worse. The most recent data suggests that nearly $3 billion was lost in 2010 to this abuse. That represents a steady increase from the three previous years, with a least a 12% jump from 2008.

In an effort to tackle the problem once and for all, the White House is hoping to replace the current anti-financial abuse measures that are quite fragmented. Instead, it will be replaced by a much improved, coordinated project. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new project last Thursday.

The New Approach
About $5 million in funds from the Affordable Care Act will be designated to the effort. In particular, a new federal “elder justice coordination team” will be created with officials from the Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). the team is tasked with analyzing current efforts across various federal departments that target this abuse. They will then come up with recommendations to correct the current fragmentation and enhance protections for seniors.

Part of the effort will also take a look at successes at a state level. Secretary Sebelius noted that the new task force will look at state protective service systems which worked to prevent fraud and other forms of elder financial exploitation. All efforts that worked will be included in the group’s plan to come up with best practices. Much of the material will be shared with caregivers and others in a position to recognize the abuse and report it.

In keeping with the new spirit of coordination on these efforts, the Director of the CFPB also announced step the the agency to better address the ways that seniors are taken advantage of financially. For their part, CFPB Director Richard Cordray wants to hear from members of the general public on ways that these abuses are stopped. All those who work directly with seniors or otherwise have experience with these matters are being sought out for counsel.

For example, our Illinois elder abuse attorneys know that the CFPB wants guidance on helping seniors root out legitimate financial advisors from those who are merely looking to take advantage of the senior’s vulnerabilities.

Like most recent efforts on this front, a lot of work is going into figuring out ways to remove the problem from the shadows. Elder abuse and exploitation advocates repeatedly explain how the vast majority of abuse is kept hidden for a range of reason. Surveys into the issue found that nearly 86% of victims reported shame at being taken advantage of in this way. In addition, those with certain mental vulnerabilities are more likely to be taken advantage of and also more likely to be unable to recognize and report the abuse.

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Elder Abuse Prevention Laws Strengthened

Consumer Voice Prepares to File Brief in Important U.S. Supreme Court Nursing Home Case

When the United States Supreme Court decides an issue, it is binding on all federal courts throughout the country. For that reason, when important issues are at stake in a case being heard by the Court, all those with an interest in the matter often want their voices to be heard. Our Illinois nursing home attorneys know that even individuals who are not named in a suit might be affected down the road by the legal principle decided in the case.

All parties in a case submit a formal, written document to the court referred to as a “brief.” The brief lays out all of the party’s arguments in the case advocating why the lower court decision was right or wrong. The brief, in conjunction with a question and answer hearing in front of the nine justices, are used by the Court to reach a decision. In addition, interested parties are able to file their own briefs in these cases if they are affected by the underlying issues being resolved. These documents for third parties are known as briefs amicus curiae.

Consumer Voice Amicus Curiae
For example, the Consumer Voice is set to file a brief amicus curiae in a case set to be heard by the court, Kindred Nursing Centers East v. National Labor Relations Board. Nursing home neglect attorneys across the country appreciate that the issues decided in this case may ultimately affect care received by residents in long-term care facilities everywhere.

As we often share, the Consumer Voice is one of the nation’s leading advocates for nursing home residents and their families. One of our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys, Steven Levin, is on the group’s Leadership Board. The Consumer Voice, like all senior care advocates, understand that the one of the most important parts of ensuring quality care at one of these facilities is a stable, well-qualified, and properly sized workforce. Failure to have this workforce in place is one of the prime underlying causes of mistreatment at these facilities.

This particular case involves collective bargaining arrangements at nursing homes for CNAs—certified nursing assistants. The amicus curiae brief argues that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was proper in exercising its statutory authority in deciding that the CNA group at the facility was a proper unit for collective bargaining.

The case is important in setting a precedent for the rights of CNA workers at facilities across the country. Empowering this group of employees is crucial in ensuring that they have adequate working conditions. The quality and stability of the workforce has direct implications on care provided to seniors at these homes.

The brief makes clear that CNAs play a unique role in nursing homes which make them distinct from other nursing home occupations. As such, the decision by the NLRB to treat these groups different for collective bargaining purposes was apt. Additionally, the brief argues that allowing proper collective bargaining will not undermine the industry’s ability to operate.

Nursing Home Death Results in $4.5 Million Award

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported this week on the end of a nursing home neglect case that resulted in an award for the family of a former resident. The case is somewhat unique in that it represents one of the rare instances when a binding arbitration panel sided with the family in one of these suits for a substantial amount instead of the nursing home.

The Case
According to the story, a man filed suit against a national nursing home chain after the death of this mother. The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that inadequate care at the facility–where the woman lived for only three weeks-led to her passing. Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorney often work with local residents on similar suits. When an individual dies as a result of neglect, the surviving family members are able to file a special type of suit–referred to as a wrongful death suit–to ensure there is accountability.
Few details are provided about the actual abuse, but the nursing home neglect lawyer that advocated the case on behalf of the family claimed that the facility “put profits over people.” This is a common issue in these cases and might suggest that the facility’s staffing level or quality was substandard.

In any event, the case was eventually brought before a binding arbitration panel. This is essentially a deciding body that exists outside of the regular court system. Somewhat different rules apply, but in general the body hears information about the case and issues a ruling that is usually binding on both parties. In this case the group found that neglect did take place. They awarded the family $4.5 million for the losses as a result of the death.

The attorneys are now asking a judge for final approval of the binding arbitration award. Following these decisions the judge usually approves the award unless there is some sort of procedural or substantive irregularity.

Legal Accountability
Unfortunately, far too many families never receive proper redress following the death of their loved one due to neglect. A big part of the problem is that when a senior passes, there are many cases where the family is never made aware that the passing was related to neglect. It can sometimes be difficult to untangle the health conditions that a senior has with the impact that care (or lack of care) has on that health.

However, from a legal perspective, negligence that exacerbates a problem or causes an illness to lead to serious problems is itself enough to meet the “causation” requirement in negligence suits.

In other words, just because a senior was sick or had health problems when they entered a nursing home does not automatically absolve the facility from accountability for ill health effects suffered by the senior. It is important for loved ones to understand that if there are suspicions about whether the care provided to the senior was inadequate, they are well-served by hiring legal professionals to ensure a full investigation into the situation. It is not easy to get nursing homes to cooperate by providing information about the exact steps taken by staff members during the health crisis. However, lawyers experienced in these issues are in a position to ensure these facilities cooperate and provide answers for families.

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Secretary Sebelius on Fighting Elder Abuse

This week the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services published an op-ed in the USA Today that delved into an issue of paramount important for our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers: elder abuse. The editorial comes amid the 7th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which for the first time ever included a White House symposium. The increased awareness and advocacy for these efforts on the part of high-ranking government officials is quite welcome.

Looming Crisis
In the editorial, Secretary Sebelius explained how the problem of elder mistreatment is bad now and will only get worse. She explained how every day 10,000 more Americans turn 65 years old. In the next thirty years the total number of Americans over that threshold is expected to double. The total population over 85 years old is expected to rise much faster–increasing by 400% by 2050.

The rising demographics will have very real consequences on the care that is needed in the future. If we are struggling to provide that care now, one can only imagine the problems in the future. Each Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm appreciates that It will take clear and decisive action now to ensure that communities are prepared to meet the needs of this aging population and provide care and support void of mistreatment and neglect.

Current Abuse
The editorial noted that today about one in ten senior Americans experience some kind of abuse–from financial exploitation and physical abuse to mental and sexual assault. As we frequently note, the majority of this abuse is never reported. The best estimates indicate that only about one in 24 cases makes it way to the desk of some authorities. It is logical to assume that part of the reason that the abuse occurs so frequently is that wrongdoers are so rarely held accountable. The deterrence system is failing.

Secretary Sebelius argues that improving the situation requires raising awareness about the problem. There can be little progress when so much of the abuse is not uncovered and there is no accountability. She noted that the problem is two-fold. First, there are times when outside observers simply do not recognize abuse. Second, sometimes outsiders understand that mistreatment is occurring but they do not step in to speak out and put an end to it. We need to address both issues.

Awareness efforts can help in both regards. By sharing the stories of abuse and explaining how it arises and can be recognized, the hope is that societal views will change. No longer will observers remain silent, but there will instead be consistent accountability when spotted. In a legal sense, our elder abuse attorneys understand that much more abuse occurs than is ever brought to our attention. A difficult part of our work is getting families to understand that they have legal options when their loved ones do not receive the basic treatment to which they are entitled. If you are in our area and suspect that a nursing home resident that you know was hurt by inadequate or intentionally abusive care, please get in touch with our team to see how we can help.

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Don’t Forget World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Tomorrow marks the official 7th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Each Chicago nursing home attorney at our firm is proud to promote this and similar events which seek to raise awareness of the prevalence of elder abuse and the need to enact better preventative measures.

The “World Day” is spearheaded by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). NCEA is urging all local residents to do something tomorrow in honor of the occasion. Any step that makes the life of an area senior a bit better is a great way to recognize the day. There are various official “World Day” events, but even taking a simply step, like visiting a nursing home or volunteering for a neighbor can make a difference.

“Take a Stand” Website
To learn more about sanctioned events and to get information on other ways to participate, be sure to check out the NCEA’s “Take a Stand in the Fight Against Elder Abuse” website. The group is hoping to collect information on each of the activities that occur tomorrow to provide a comprehensive report on the special day.

In addition, our Illinois elder neglect lawyers know that the website also includes a range of very helpful resources. We understand that many local residents are simply not acquainted with the best ways to spot abuse or take steps to hold wrongdoers accountable. For most, dealing with these issues only comes when their loved one suffers a serious illness or injury that raises red flags that are impossible to miss. However, it is always better for local families to be prepared and aware of these issues well before the abuse actually occurs.

One of the resources on the website, for example, is a “fact sheet” about hard to answer elder abuse questions. The tip sheet is intended to be a quick go-to reference when one is asked questions about these issues. Creating an army of advocates who can help others recognize the problem is important.

Even seemingly simple question can be complex. For example, what is elder abuse? Does it include self-neglect? Does mental abuse apply? If so, what exactly is mental abuse? Is the definition of elder abuse different in each state? What types of elder neglect are most common?

Unfortunately, elder abuse remains an “invisible” problem because it always occurs before closed doors. In addition, seniors are often reluctant to report the abuse or are unaware of the seriousness of their condition. Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s are the most likely to be abused and also the most likely to be unable to recognize and report the situation.

Legal Help
Preventing mistreatment of seniors before it occurs is always the paramount goal. Part of the prevention effort involves holding wrongdoers publicly accountable when they abuse or neglect seniors.

If you suspect that a loved one may have been neglected or abused in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or any other setting, please take a moment to contact our elder abuse lawyers to see how we can help.

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Additional Nursing Home Neglect Allegations Against St. Louis County Facility

The conditions which lead to nursing home neglect exist on a facility-wide level. That means that when one resident is mistreated at these facilities, there is a good chance that others experience the same less-than-adequate treatment. The nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm have been working on these cases for years, and have litigated cases against against the same facility against different defendants. Often it just takes observant friends and family members to identify the signs of neglect to come forward and demand that their loved one’s rights be respected.

Additional Neglect Allegations
For example, KMOV News reported this week on new allegations of nursing home neglect at a long-term care facility in St. Louis County. This is not the first time that allegations of mistreatment have been against this home. Chronic mistreatment may be an issue here.

The latest allegations come from the family of a 68-year old resident who claim that their loved one was brought to the hospital with serious injuries indicating neglect. Family members explain that they were shocked to find their loved one with bruises all over her body. She also has fractured elbow and separated shoulder. They do not know if this was caused by a fall or something else. Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers appreciate that families frequently are left in the dark about the care their relative receives or reasons for certain injuries. Mysterious marks and less-than-clear explanations from caregivers is a warning sign

In this case, the senior’s family members slowly watched the condition deteriorate. Last week they saw that the woman’s elbow was turning green. A doctor was called, but am ambulance was only called when the family demanded that the nursing home take the senior to a hospital. Even then the family was incensed that the nursing home took several hours to call the ambulance.

These latest claims were made only days after a criminal elderly abuse began which targeted the facility. Local law enforcement agents admit that they have been made aware of the latest claims of mistreatment. The criminal investigation was instigated followed mistreatment of an 82-year old resident of the facility. In that case the woman fell while being transferred into her bed from her wheelchair. She suffered serious cuts and bruises.

Systematic Mistreatment
It is too early to make any clear statements about what did or did not happen in this case. However, the fact that this is the second resident to be found with mysterious injuries at this facility is a indication that they may be chronic problems.

One of the most common underlying problems involve staffing levels and training. Direct-line care workers are vitally important in ensuring that seniors receive the basic observation and monitoring needed to prevent falls and other accidents. Yet, if there are not enough workers for the number of residents, then no matter how well-intentioned the employees they cannot provide the close care needed. Similarly, proper staffing levels are inadequate if those employees do not take their role serious or act reasonably throughout their shift.

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Hillcrest Nursing & Rehab Center Cited for Illinois Nursing Home Neglect

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Guilty Plea in Nursing Home Drugging Case

A nurse has pled guilty to drugging her Alzheimer’s patients for no apparent reason other than to keep them quiet during her work shifts, reports The Herald Sun. Sadly, the nurse’s illegal, unethical, and unprofessional behavior led to one elderly patient’s tragic death. The elderly woman, Rachel Holliday, 84, died of pneumonia brought about by morphine toxicity. Six other patients also were hospitalized due to the nurse’s wrongful actions.

The nurse, Angela Almore, plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and six counts of patient abuse. Though she sobbed throughout the hearing, she did not speak specifically about her crimes or apologize for her actions. Almore, who is a registered nurse, was working in the Alzheimer’s unit on February 13 and 14, 2010. According to the district attorney’s office, she made statements indicating she did not want to see her patients on those nights and that she had given them something to “relax.” She even bragged “‘she [had] knocked all their asses out.’”

In fact, the nurse had drugged her patients with strong opiates. All 14 patients in the unit tested positive for opiates, but only 1 of them had been prescribed morphine. One elderly woman, Rachel Holliday, went into acute respiratory distress on the night of February 14th. She, too, tested positive for opiates, though she had never been prescribed the drug. Several other patients in the Alzheimer’s unit exhibited signs of respiratory problems and lethargy. All of them tested positive for opiates; none of them had prescriptions for the powerful drugs. Ms. Holliday and her fellow residents were rushed to the hospital, but for Ms. Holliday, it was too late. She died from complications created by the un-prescribed morphine.

The use or overuse of medication to manage “hard-to-control” patients, particularly those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, is typically referred to as chemical restraint. Caregivers may choose to take the easy way out instead of providing each patient with the attention and individualized treatment he or she deserves. Some caretakers may even mistakenly believe they are helping patients suffering from serious illnesses or life-threatening conditions. Those of us working in North County nursing home abuse and nearby communities know when medicines—particularly opiates or other sedatives—are improperly used to control the behavior of patients, rather than to provide them with appropriate heath care, it is a serious form of elder abuse. pills.jpg

All elders have the right to be free from physical or chemical restraints that nursing home staff may wrongfully use to control or discipline patients. Family members should be on the look out for some of the following warning signs. For example, does your loved one seem unusually lethargic or disoriented for no reason? Or does your mother or father, great aunt or great uncle, or grandparent appear confused at times or extremely forgetful? If so, it could be a sign they are suffering from nursing home abuse. To learn more about the use of chemical restraints and associated abuses, please click here.

No one wants to believe their loved ones are being abused, but our San Diego elder abuse attorneys know it is more important than ever to be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse. Many caregivers are wonderful, caring people who work very hard to care for our state’s seniors. Others may abuse their power and try to take advantage of our elders.

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Hillcrest Nursing & Rehab Center Cited for Illinois Nursing Home Neglect

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued its “Quarterly Violator Report” for local nursing homes. The reports include public records detailing citations issued for Illinois nursing home neglect and abuse.. The documents are an important reminder of the widespread problems that still exist in so many homes. For example, one particularly troubling report highlights problems at the Hillcrest Nursing and rehab Center in Joliet. The facility was slated for closure earlier this year as a result of the chronic issues at the home.

The IDPH Report
This latest report includes information on horrific allegations that we’ve previously discussed at Hillcrest involving a resident who terrorized others. The full report can be found HERE.

The report explained how reviews and interviews verified that the facility failed to prevent upwards of two dozen residents from assault by a dangerous, “high-risk” resident. Much of the abuse was sexual, but residents were also verbally and mentally abused by the resident who had a history of aggressive and violent behavior. The 26-year old attacker was admitted with bipolar disorder, ADHD, and with known tendencies to be aggressive toward others. He was supposed to be admitted to a locked psychiatric unit with very specific, targeted therapy. A Criminal History Analysis Report indicated that the individual was a “high risk” resident with “chronic psychiatric disorder and non-compliant with mediations.”

Levin & Perconti File Suit
Many residents were victimized by this aggressive individual who was not kept under control by the facility. Unfortunately, our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys appreciate that the facility had other serious caregiving problems, beyond the issues with this particular resident.

For example, earlier this year the family of a former resident of the facility contacted our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys for help holding the home accountable for their conduct. The resident in the case was burnt by another resident at the facility. The nursing home failed to report the burning incident to the Illinois Department of Public Health as required.

This is not the first lawsuit we have handled against Hillcrest. Our attorneys worked on at least two other cases where negligence caused harm to local residents.

Share Your Story
It is likely that many other residents were hurt by the aggressive resident and other misconduct on the part of staff members. Families of individuals who lived at Hillcrest are advised to investigate fully to determine if their loved one received substandard care during their stay at the home. It is important for all those hurt to come forward so that an accurate assessment of the situation can be conducted.

In addition, the civil law may provide an avenue for those hurt and their families to receive compensation for their loss.

If you worked at Hillcrest, were a resident there, or knew someone who was hurt while there, please get in touch with our nursing home neglect lawyers to learn more. It is important to act in a timely fashion because the law has time limits that must be respected in these cases.

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