Buffalo News reported that nine months have passed since a hidden-camera investigation led to the arrest of 17 workers at HighPointe. It was late April and the employees – a registered nurse, seven licensed practical nurses and nine certified nursing aides – stood accused of neglecting a bedridden man under their care. Each worker at HighPointe on Michigan pleaded guilty and has been sentenced, ending a story that cast yet another critical spotlight on nursing home care across the region. Initially charged with felony crimes, the defendants ended up pleading guilty to only misdemeanors or violations. With one exception, a nursing aide who went to jail for 15 days, each was sentenced to community service.
As part of their sentences, they are required to take part in a “scared straight”-style program intended to educate other nursing home workers. “They worked in the most difficult, short-staffed unit,” said Charles J. Marchese, a defense lawyer in the case. Marchese said the workers took the fall for the owners, who failed to provide its staff with the proper training and resources to adequately do its job.
The allegations against the 17 workers revolved around a single patient. With the help of footage that came from a camera hidden in the man’s room, state investigators accused the nurses and nursing aides of ignoring their responsibilities. They said nurses failed to check on him and dispense pain medication, and aides failed to provide incontinent care and give him liquids. The workers also faced allegations of falsifying documents to conceal their neglect.