The 11Alive Investigators have uncovered new information about the Atlanta nursing home, owned and operated by the chain SavaSeniorCare, accused of not responding fast enough to save a dying veteran. 11Alive introduced you to James Dempsey caught on hidden camera begging Sava’s nursing home staff for help before dying in 2014.
A video deposition showed a nursing supervisor changed her story about how she responded to Dempsey after she realizes her actions were caught on camera. The depositions were part of a lawsuit against Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center.
The 11Alive Investigators discovered a former employee claims she and others complained about staffing shortages for years before and after Dempsey’s death at the facility. The claims were made in a 2015 deposition from Mable Turman, a CNA, or certified nursing assistant, who is seen in the hidden camera video inside Dempsey’s nursing home room while is gasps for air.
Turman made those claims during a deposition with Mike Prieto, an Atlanta attorney representing the Dempsey family.
Prieto: “Did you personally make a request for an additional CNA on the Alzheimer’s ward on the night shift?”
Turman: “Me and the other CNA constantly have.”
Prieto: “Do you feel like the facility is understaffed?”
Turnman: “Now? Yes.”
The hidden camera video shows Dempsey pressing his call light for help numerous times. At one point, it took nursing staff eight minutes to respond. In the video deposition, Turman did not seem surprised with the delayed response.
“I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think they have enough staff in order for me to get to that call light on a prompt basis because we have been asking for an extra CNA at night,” said Turman in the deposition.
After the deposition, documents show the nursing home continued to experience staffing issues. According to a 2016 Medicare inspection report, an investigator identified “inconsistent staffing.”
11Alive requested an interview with Sava Senior Care, the owner of the nursing home. The operator did not provide a response.
Research proves higher staffing ratios improves care and provides better patient outcomes. According to a 2016 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institute of Health, “nurse staffing levels are too low in half of U.S. nursing homes.”
The study identified research that showed “numerous studies have consistently shown that higher state minimum staffing have had significant positive effects on staffing levels and quality outcomes.
Federal law requires nursing homes to have “sufficient staff to meet the needs of residents and one registered nurse (RN) Director of Nursing on duty for eight hours a day, seven days a week and licensed nursing in evening and night shifts.”