DHEC officials confirmed the agency is currently taking enforcement action against Brookdale Senior Living Facility in Charleston, where a resident died in July 2016 after wandering away and being killed by an alligator.

The action comes as a result of violations cited during a series of recent inspections and investigations, according to DHEC’s spokesman Robert Yannity.

According to DHEC’s website, when an agency takes enforcement action against a facility, administrative staff are called to attend a conference with DHEC officials to go over the violations and discuss corrective actions.

If DHEC and the violating facility come to terms, a mutually agreed upon “Consent Order” is issued outlining the actions which must be taken, and DHEC’s expectations.

 

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported the lawsuit filed after a resident was left in a tub for over 8 hours causing her wrongful death.  Steven Moreland alleges in the lawsuit that Lois Moreland’s March 2016 death was the result of negligence by the St. Sophia Health & Rehabilitation Center.

The lawsuit accuses St. Sophia of putting profits above health care by deliberately understaffing its 240-bed nursing home.

“When there are not enough staff members to care for residents, it creates an environment where employees are trying to do too many things that they forget about putting a resident in a bathtub and end up leaving her there for over eight hours,” Steven Moreland’s attorney, David Terry, told the newspaper.

Terry added that Lois Moreland was “unable to comprehend her circumstances or fend for herself because there were not enough employees to meet the needs of each resident. And as a result, Lois Moreland paid the price.”

 After Moreland’s death, government inspectors determined that St. Sophia residents were in immediate jeopardy — the most severe status given to nursing homes. St. Sophia was fined $39,260 and required to file a “plan of correction.”

The Buffalo News reported that Ruthie’s Law became law.  The new law requires that all nursing homes in Erie County contact designated loved ones within two hours and provide “all known information” if a resident suffers serious injuries requiring outside treatment.  Ruthie’s Law also requires nursing homes to give prospective nursing home patients and their families a copy of the nursing home’s performance rating and to provide a summary of incident reports to the county’s Department of Senior Services twice a year.

This law was a result of the assault and injuries sustained by Ruth Murray.  Ruth was found by her family with deep purple bruises blooming all over her mother’s body, gashes across her temple and nose, and blood trickling down her neck.

Ruth suffered from dementia and had a known history of wandering including into another nursing home resident’s room. That resident, apparently thinking Murray was an intruder, beat her so severely that she ended up at Erie County Medical Center in critical condition with broken bones and a collapsed lung.

The graphic photos Kuszniaj took showed her mother black, blue and bloody. Her neck, nose and jaw were broken. So were 11 of her ribs and the bones on the right side of her face. Her lung had collapsed and had to be reinflated twice.  Three days later, her mother died.

 

ABC News reported that a nursing home caregiver has been arrested for verbally abusing and bullying residents at SweetGrass Court Assisted Living. Mount Pleasant, S.C. police arrested Nandhina Lance and charged her with being a peeping Tom. Police said Lance and another staff member were fired from SweetGrass Court back in March after they posted a video of themselves to Snapchat verbally abusing two patients.  The Post and Courier obtained the video in question and posted it to YouTube.

According to a police report, the employees were seen telling one 82-year-old woman that “she is stupid, her mother is stupid, and not to touch them because she had bodily fluids on her hands.”  Officers asked the employees why they did it and they said “they thought it was funny.”

The facility’s parent company owned by Five Star Senior Living is facing two lawsuits from the families of the women who were abused.

 

 

 

Fox10Phoenix had an article about the tragic and preventable death of a nursing home resident.  Police say they responded to the Immanuel Campus of Care nursing home after officials at the nursing home notice that two elderly women who suffer from Alzheimer’s were missing. Police believe the unsupervised women were able to leave the facility through an unsecured door.

When officers arrived at the nursing home, they began searching the area and about 20 minutes later, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a resident saying two women were in their backyard.  Once officers arrived at the home, they discovered one of the women was dead.

Police believe 79-year-old Oralia Parra died from extreme heat exposure when she wandered off from the nursing home.

 

Several media outlets including the Post & Courier and the NY Post have reported the tragic and preventable death of Bonnie Walker.  Walker was found in a retention pond behind the facility, with “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries” consistent with an alligator attack.

Staff at the Brookdale Senior Living center in Charleston failed to supervise her and lost track of Bonnie Walker on July 27, 2016 and didn’t discover her missing until seven hours later, according to the wrongful death suit filed by her granddaughter, Stephanie Walker Weaver. The suit claims Brookdale failed to adequately monitor Walker or conduct a timely search.

Walker had a history of wandering at night and sleep-walking and the facility knew she needed supervision to be safe.  Investigators believe Walker slipped down a steep embankment and fell into the pond right before the gator struck. Weaver reportedly stumbled upon her remains while searching the area with relatives.

She “was shocked and horrified to find the remains of her grandmother’s body floating in the pond where it had been dismembered by an alligator,” the suit says.

“Defendants’ conduct was so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all bounds of decency and must be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the suit says.

“This was a horrifying, lamentable series of events that, with the exercise of reasonable care, we maintain could have easily been avoided,” explained Weaver’s lawyer, Ken Connor.

“The complaint really speaks for itself,” he said. “You can just imagine how horrified Ms. Weaver was by the scene that she was confronted with.”

Weaver’s filing on Monday marks the third time Brookdale has been sued in the past seven months, the Courier reports. At least two of those suits allege wrongful death, as well.

 

 

The Burlington Free Press reports a lawsuit filed against Pillsbury Manor South alleging violations including bed height, insufficient staffing and failure to re-examine the best type of bed conditions. The estate of Patricia Calmer who died at Pillsbury Manor South in November is suing the facility and its former owners, alleging negligence led to the resident’s death.  The family’s lawyer called it “an unnecessary and untimely death.”

Calmer was discovered in her room at the home in the early morning of Nov. 3, 2016, with her head trapped between her bed rail and an air mattress.

According to the lawsuit, the facility was in violation of a number of state regulations at the time.  A number of these violations were noted during a site visit five days after Calmer’s death in a report filed by the Division of Licensing and Protection through the Vermont Department of Aging and Independent Living.

 

 

The Minnesota Star Tribune reported the tragic case of Allene M. Hookom who suffered severe burns and died after falling into a tub of scalding laundry water, according to a state Health Department report that faults the home’s staff for leaving a laundry door open and unattended.

A week before the incident, a family member spoke to a facility representative about Hookom’s safety in connection with her wandering. The family member said “the facility assured her the resident was still appropriate to live there and she would be safe,” the state report read.

Hookom, who generally relied on a wheelchair to get around, was spotted three times that day approaching the end of the hall where the laundry room was and was sent away each time.

Eventually, Hookom walked through the laundry room’s unlocked door and ended up on her back in the uncovered concrete catch basin, where hot water drains from a washer hose.

A nursing assistant found an alert Hookom face up in the accumulating hot water about 3 p.m. and heard her faintly calling for help.

Hookom suffered second-degree burns to her back, waist, buttocks, legs, ankles and feet, leaving some of her skin bright red and peeling. The water was kept at that 155-degrees to disinfect the laundry. She died the next afternoon at Hennepin County Medical Center.

State Health Department investigators found that the operators of Auburn Manor were negligent when the 90-year-old resident, known to wander unsupervised throughout the facility, ended up on her back in a few inches of 155-degree waste water on Dec. 31.

 

CNN conducted a special investigation into the epidemic of sexual assaults and rapes in nursing homes.  “The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.”

“It’s impossible to know just how many victims are out there. But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine.”

“Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little — or nothing — to stop it.”

“In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations — or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.”

It’s these systemic failures that make it especially hard for victims to get justice — and even easier for perpetrators to get away with their crimes.”

“Some accounts of alleged sexual abuse come from civil and criminal court documents filed against nursing homes, assisted living facilities and individuals who work there. Other incidents are buried in detailed reports filed by state health investigators.”

“Most of the cases examined by CNN involved lone actors. But in some cases, a mob mentality fueled the abuse. And it’s not just women who have been victimized.”

“Despite the litany of abuses detailed in government reports, there is no comprehensive, national data on how many cases of sexual abuse have been reported in facilities housing the elderly.”

“More than 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse have been reported since 2000 in long-term care facilities (which include both nursing homes and assisted living facilities),according to federal data housed by the Administration for Community Living. But agency officials warned that this figure doesn’t capture everything — only those cases in which state long-term care ombudsmen (who act as advocates for facility residents) were somehow involved in resolving the complaints.”

“The result: CNN exclusively found that the federal government has cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse at their facilities during this period. (This includes some of the cases provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.) And nearly 100 of these facilities have been cited multiple times during the same period.  Complaints and allegations that don’t result in a citation, which the government calls a “deficiency,” aren’t included in these Medicare reports. In addition, national studies have found that a large percentage of rape victims typically never report their assaults. So these numbers likely represent only a fraction of the alleged sexual abuse incidents in nursing homes nationwide.”

“Yet the facilities that currently house more than 1 million senior citizens typically pay low wages to nursing assistants (about $11 or $12 an hour), making it difficult to attract and keep quality workers. And during the most vulnerable hours, the night shift, there are often few supervisors.”

The article discusses numerous horrific examples; I encourage you to read the full article.

Legal advocates, government regulators, criminal investigators and medical experts agree that sexual abuse in nursing homes can be extremely challenging to prevent and detect. But they say many facilities should be doing much more to protect vulnerable residents.

  1. “When you have a sexual assault claim, you shouldn’t go to a conclusion she’s a problem patient. You should investigate as a sexual assault until proven otherwise.” — Dave Young, district attorney for Colorado’s 17th Judicial District
  2. “Preserve evidence! Don’t bathe or change clothing, sheets, etc., when an assault is suspected.” — Sherry Culp, Kentucky long-term care ombudsman
  3. “Most abuse is undetected and never reported mainly because observable signs are missed or misinterpreted. A little training could go a long way.” — Tony Chicotel, staff attorney at California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
  4. “As with nearly every type of abuse and neglect seen in nursing homes, the better staffed the facility the less likely sexual abuse will occur. This is a crime of opportunity, so the more supervision the better.” — Kirsten Fish, elder abuse attorney
  5. “There needs to be a reporting system. …The system doesn’t keep track of cases that haven’t been substantiated, [and] their rules for substantiating a complaint are just astronomical. It’s virtually impossible to substantiate a complaint.” — Lt. Chris Chandler, Waynesville, North Carolina, Police Department

 

 

A new study from researchers from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine has found that delirium affects nearly 18 percent of nursing home residents and has a one-year mortality rate of 40 percent. The symptoms of delirium usually last one week, but can take weeks or months to resolve. The symptoms are similar to dementia, resulting in misdiagnosis in nursing home residents.

Delirium is a syndrome of altered mental status shown to produce disorganized thinking, deficits in attention and a fluctuating course, which plays a significant role in mortality of nursing home patients.  However, maintaining hydration and minimizing medication exposure is an effective means to prevent delirium. Pain can lead to delirium, and managing it well can improve outcomes.

The study was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.