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.

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.”

 

The Pantagraph reported the lawsuit filed against Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community related to sexual images of residents posted on Facebook by caregivers.  The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home failed to protect residents of the dementia care unit.

Residents’ privacy and dignity were violated by the alleged unauthorized and inappropriate photography of residents, including “toileting, bathing, resting in bed” while partially nude and in embarrassing and humiliating circumstances.

 Criminal charges are pending against Samantha J. Brown and Michael Shawn Scurlock. Both are charged with nonconsensual dissemination of sexual images. The criminal charges resulted from a McLean County Sheriff’s Department  investigation that prosecutors said involved reviewing about 55,000 pages of documents, including records from Facebook and internet service providers.

The nursing home was fined $25,000 in July by the state Department of Public Health for allegedly failing to protect residents and failing to report the posting of unauthorized images on social media.

Nationwide, eviction is the leading complaint about nursing homes. In California last year, more than 1,500 nursing home residents complained that they were discharged involuntarily. That’s an increase of 73 percent since 2011.  NPR reports on AARP’s lawsuit against the illegal practice.  Nursing home residents have a lot of rights guaranteed in state and federal law. For example, they have to be given 30 days’ notice before they’re moved involuntarily. And the nursing home has to hold their bed for a week if they’re in the hospital.

The legal wing of the AARP Foundation asked the federal government to open a civil rights investigation into the way California deals with nursing home evictions. Now, they’re suing Pioneer House and its parent company. It’s the first time the AARP has taken a legal case dealing with nursing home eviction.

The California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association joined the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff. The organization represents long-term-care ombudsmen. Those are the public officials who track complaints about nursing homes and advocate for residents. But Leza Coleman, the group’s executive director, says the spike in complaints about evictions is so overwhelming, that it’s “impacting our ability to handle other complaints.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the tragic and preventable death of Pittsburgh businessman Robert Frankel who died from asphyxiation from an incident in which his neck was trapped in bed rails.  Mr. Frankel died late Sept. 17 at the nursing home from what the medical examiner deemed at the time accidental asphyxiation, “due to compression of the neck.” The Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has discontinued using such railings in response, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Health report.

“Based on review of facility policy and documentation, clinical records and staff interview, it was determined that the facility failed to identify a hazard created by the use of side rails resulting in the death,” the report said.   The report said that at 11:30 pm. on Sept. 17, “a nurse aide was performing first rounds to check on the residents and found Resident R1 (Health Department inspection reports do not identify individuals by name) pulseless and without respirations, lying with his body on the floor and his neck between the air mattress and the side rail.” A nursing supervisor pronounced him dead at 11:40.

 

WHNT reported another nursing home employee accused of sexually assaulting a nursing home resident at Mitchell-Hollingsworth nursing home.  Zack Reeves, a nursing home aide has been arrested and charged with sodomizing a male nursing home resident.  The 21-year-old was arrested following a week-long investigation into possible abuse on November 2nd.

Police say a co-worker witnessed an incident and immediately notified authorities.  Florence police say Mitchell-Hollingsworth is playing a crucial role in the on-going investigation by speaking with other residents.  “We are kind of letting them lead that part of it since they know their patients. We don’t want to cause any undue stress or trauma to any of the patients,” said Sgt. Greg Cobb with Florence Police.

 

WKYC reported the horrific death of James Dempsey, a decorated World War II veteran from Woodstock, Georgia.  An 11Alive investigation uncovered hidden camera video catching nursing home staff laughing while an elderly patient dies in front of them. The video was recently released as part of a lawsuit filed by the family.   Hidden cameras are an important way to prevent abuse and neglect and to prevent cover-ups like this one.

The incident happened at the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation owned and operated by the national for-profit chain, SavaSeniorCare.  Attorneys representing SavaSeniorCare tried to prevent 11Alive from obtaining the video. They asked a DeKalb County judge to keep the video sealed and then attempted to appeal to the Georgia State Supreme Court. The judge ruled in favor of 11Alive and the nursing home eventually dropped its appeal to the state’s highest court.

Watch the extended deposition here where her story changes after watching the hidden video.

The video includes almost six hours of video court deposition from a nursing supervisor explaining how she responded to the patient before she knew the hidden camera video existed. The video shows a completely different response. SavaSeniorCare was made aware of the video in November 2015, but the nursing home did not fire the nurses until 10 months later.

In the video deposition, former nursing supervisor Wanda Nuckles tells the family’s attorney, Mike Prieto, how she rushed to Dempsey’s room when a nurse alerted her he had stopped breathing.

Prieto: “From the time you came in, you took over doing chest compressions…correct?”
Nuckles : “Yes.” 

Prieto: “Until the time paramedics arrive, you were giving CPR continuously?”
Nuckles : “Yes.”

The video, however, shows no one doing CPR when Nuckles entered the room. She also did not immediately start doing CPR.  The video shows the veteran calling for help six times before he goes unconscious while gasping for air. State records show nursing home staff found Dempsey unresponsive at 5:28 am. It took almost an hour for the staff to call 911 at 6:25 a.m.

When a different nurse does respond, she fails to check any of his vital signs. Nuckles says she would have reprimanded the nurse for the way she responded to Dempsey. She called the video “sick.”  When nurses had difficulty getting Dempsey’s oxygen machine operational during, you can hear Nuckles and others laughing.

Prieto: “Ma’am, was there something funny that was happening?”
Nuckles : “I can’t even remember all that as you can see.”

11Alive showed the video to Elaine Harris, a retired nursing professor and expert in adult critical care. “In 43 years in nursing, I have never seen such disregard for human life in a healthcare setting, is what I witnessed,” said Harris.

In the video, nursing staff repeatedly start and stop doing CPR on Dempsey. Harris says once you start doing CPR, it should not be stopped until a doctor makes the decision not to resuscitate.  “That is absolutely inappropriate. You never stop compressions,” said Harris.

The nursing home operators, owned by Sava Senior Care, declined interview requests.

State health inspection records show Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation continued to have a history of  problems after Dempsey’s death. Medicare records show the nursing home facility was cited at least two dozen times for serious health and safety violations, including “immediate jeopardy” levels, the worst violation. Medicare withdrew one payment and the facility has been fined $813,113 since 2015.  The facility has a one-star rating from Medicare, the lowest score the agency can give. The nursing facility remains open today.

 

Virginia Santillan is suing Manning Gardens Care Center for elder abuse, neglect and violation of patient rights after the nursing home  dumped her outside her home where she had been found soiled with vomit and feces, with cockroaches crawling on her and maggots in a wound on her right foot.

According to Santillan’s lawsuit, Manning Gardens made no arrangements to make sure she would have appropriate care before calling a transport company to take her home last Nov. 7.   Under state law, nursing home residents have the right to a 30-day notice of a discharge, the date of the discharge, the location of where they are being sent, sufficient preparation and orientation at the discharge location to ensure a safe and orderly transfer and to be given information of their right to appeal the discharge and help in submitting an appeal. The lawsuit says the home failed to prepare a safe and orderly discharge plan.

In addition to the alleged illegal eviction, Santillan says the nursing home failed to provide adequate care and did not protect her from a male resident of the nursing home who she says preyed upon and stalked her, violating her privacy and dignity.

The home was cited three times this year for improper patient transfers by the California Department of Public Health, which investigates nursing home complaints.

In Santillan’s case, the state fined Manning Gardens $20,000. State records show Manning Gardens also was cited for the improper transfer of an 82-year-old man who fell and broke a hip after being sent to a facility that was not equipped to take care of his needs. And in a similar case, the state said a man was sent to a facility that could not provide the 24-hour care he required to remain safe. In each case of the two cases involving men, the state fined the nursing home $2,000.

WPRI reported the family of an elderly woman who was assaulted at Coventry Center Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation nursing home has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the home and her alleged assailant.  On Oct. 14, police arrested Francis Kinsey on a charge of first-degree sexual assault after an employee at Coventry Center Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation reported seeing him assaulting an 80-year-old resident.

Now, the alleged victim’s family is suing Kinsey and the owners of the nursing home, Genesis Healthcare.  In the lawsuit, the family claims the suspect should not have been in the nursing home since he was out on bail from a pending child molestation charge.  Police learned Kinsey had been arrested for first-degree child molestation in 2012, and that case was still open at the time of the alleged nursing home assault.

“Genesis Healthcare, LLC knew or should have known that Defendant Francis E. Kinsey, Jr presented a danger to residents he came into contact with for reasons including, but not limited to, his arrest record,” the lawsuit states.  The family claims the nursing home did not take adequate steps to ensure the woman’s safety when Kinsey was moved to or allowed to roam a floor specifically treating mentally frail individuals, such as the victim.

 

WHEC reported that Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is under investigation after a man reported finding his father dead in bed.  Dave Tuper tells WHEC-TV in Rochester that his 80-year-old father Wayne suffered from dementia and his family decided in September to take him to the Sodus nursing home.

The son went to visit his father at the nursing home and found him dead in his bed. Tuper says he alerted the nursing staff and was told that they already knew he had passed away but hadn’t notified his family.

The son filed a complaint with the state Department of Health, which has launched an investigation.

The father’s death certificate says he died from cardiac arrest.

The St. Louis Dispatch reported the tragic and preventable wrongful death of Donna Chapman who caught fire and suffered fatal burns in May while smoking a cigarette in her wheelchair.   On May 13, a member of the staff wheeled Chapman onto the patio, then left her alone to smoke a cigarette before dinner. Chapman somehow ignited her clothing and was found ablaze by an attendant.

“I am burning alive, I am burning alive,” Chapman kept saying, according to an investigative report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.   She suffered third-degree burns to her scalp, chest, neck and shoulders.

Chapman died May 15, two days after she caught fire while smoking unsupervised on a patio at NHC HealthCare. Her son, Dean Chapman filed the wrongful-death suit Oct. 23.

The suit claims the nursing home improperly left the disabled woman alone while she smoked without a special burn resistant apron that was supposed to protect her from ashes and dropped cigarettes. The suit also says the nursing home failed to adequately assess her ability to smoke unsupervised and detect changes in her mental and physical condition.

Chapman had dementia, and because of her paralysis, limited use of her legs and left arm. She was a longtime smoker. The nursing home performed eight “smoking assessments” for her between 2012 and March 17, 2017, the suit says. All of the assessments determined she could smoke without supervision, despite concern expressed by staff in October 2016 and the discovery of burn marks on her clothing in February, the suit adds.

In March, the nursing home did tell Chapman she had to wear a special smoking apron to protect her from hot ashes and dropped cigarettes. Despite concerns that her dementia was worsening and that burn marks continued to be found on her clothes, she was put on the back porch alone on May 13 without a smoking apron, the suit says.

Peimann, the nursing home administrator, told the Post-Dispatch in May that Chapman’s death was “a bad accident.”

David Terry, an attorney for Dean Chapman, said: “For a nursing home to provide a safe environment for its residents, there must be enough staff members to properly supervise the residents and the staff needs to be sufficiently trained to meet the needs of each resident. We believe in this case the NHC facility failed to do that.”