Lexington Herald-Leader have been writing some great articles on different problems going on in Kentucky’s nursing homes. This article discusses the failure to protect residents from sexual assaults such as Mae Campbell who was sexually abused twice as a resident of Hazard Nursing Home, according to the sworn testimony of two former nursing home employees.
Campbell, who has Alzheimer’s, was sitting in the hallway of the home last year when, within sight of a nursing supervisor and other staff members, a male resident walked up and ejaculated on her face, according to a former nurse’s aide. When former Hazard nurse’s aide Debbie Salley was deposed in the wrongful death case, she said that she had quit working at the nursing home in 2009 after witnessing the episode in the hallway. Salley said she thought the nursing home should have better protected Campbell.
Three months later she was sexually abused by another male resident who performed a similar sexual act, according to the deposition of a former nurse. Sandy Noble, a former nurse who also was deposed in the wrongful death lawsuit, said she found a second male resident with Campbell in a room where he had blocked the door. He was nude from the waist down and Campbell had semen on her. The nurse said a supervisor told her not to tell anyone and that no harm had been done to Campbell. According to the deposition, the nursing supervisor told Noble "to go on and keep working and … not to be discussing it with anyone," and that "there was no actual harm done to the patient."
Under state law, nursing home officials and staff members are required to report incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation to the cabinet. Hazard Nursing Home did not. "The facility failed to protect residents from unwanted sexual contact, failed to report the allegations to appropriate state agencies and failed to thoroughly investigate the allegations of sexual abuse," said the state’s citation in the Campbell case.
In May, Campbell’s sons sued the nursing home, saying that neither they nor authorities were contacted about the sexual abuse. "Someone at the nursing home should have told us what was going on," said John C. Campbell Jr., a son. "If they had, we could have protected Mom. … We could have gotten her out of there."
A Herald-Leader investigation found that since 2007, nine Kentucky nursing homes received Type A citations for cases involving sexual abuse and assault. At least two other cases of sex abuse have been documented that did not receive Type A citations. The abuse was committed by staff members, residents and visitors. In one case, a registered sex offender abused a woman when he visited a nursing home.
There were cases in which, despite warnings to nursing home officials by staff or family members, residents’ sexual abuse of fellow patients went unchecked by nursing home officials.
Pamela Teaster, a University of Kentucky professor who is doing national research on sex abuse in nursing homes, said she suspects that such abuse is under-reported and "woefully" under-prosecuted. Teaster and her fellow researchers have reported that some nursing home staff confuse assault with consenting activity among residents or assume that there is no harm to residents with cognitive problems.
Other sexual abuse cases cited by the cabinet since 2007 include one in which the facility failed to protect an 89-year-old woman from sexual abuse from a 44-year-old resident and a facility that failed to protect a resident from sexual abuse by a visitor.
In several cases, nursing home officials failed to monitor residents who had aggressive sexual behavior. In one, a male resident targeted nine female patients, in another case, 14 patients.
A male nurses’ aide in a Western Kentucky nursing home sexually abused two female residents. In two cases, nurse’s aides used cell phones to distribute nude or inappropriate photos and recordings of residents.