Monthly Archives: February 2016

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The Daily Mail and the Manchester Evening News reported the disturbing discovery recorded on video at Ashbourne House nursing home.  The video appears to show a member of staff throwing a doll to the floor in front of an elderly resident while shouting ‘die baby, die!’  Pictures also appear to show dolls being boiled in a pan, strung up by the neck and put into a tumble dryer. Two caregivers have been suspended for cruelly taunting dementia patients by snatching away and torturing their ‘comfort dolls’.  One picture shows a seemingly distressed elderly woman having the doll snatched from her hands.

Doll therapy is increasingly used with dementia patients, with some vulnerable residents said to consider them to be ‘like their own babies’.

In the video a colleague of the female staff member asks her: “How do you feel that you’ve just done that? How do you feel?”

The woman can be heard loudly laughing, then responding: “Great, because [resident’s name] is upset.”



Exopermaculture’s website had an incredible article written by Dr. Louis Profeta.  Dr. Louis M. Profeta is an emergency physician practicing in Indianapolis. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God.  Feedback at is welcomed.  It is so well written that I wanted to share it.

“In the old days, she would be propped up on a comfy pillow, in fresh cleaned sheets under the corner window where she would in days gone past watch her children play. Soup would boil on the stove just in case she felt like a sip or two. Perhaps the radio softly played Al Jolson or Glenn Miller, flowers sat on the nightstand, and family quietly came and went. These were her last days. Spent with familiar sounds, in a familiar room, with familiar smells that gave her a final chance to summon memories that will help carry her away. She might have offered a hint of a smile or a soft squeeze of the hand but it was all right if she didn’t. She lost her own words to tell us that it’s OK to just let her die, but she trusted us to be her voice and we took that trust to heart.

You see, that’s how she used to die. We saw our elderly different then.

We could still look at her face and deep into her eyes and see the shadows of a soft, clean, vibrantly innocent child playing on a porch somewhere in the Midwest during the 1920s perhaps. A small rag doll dances and flays as she clutches it in her hand. She laughs with her barefoot brother, who is clad in overalls, as he chases her around the yard with a grasshopper on his finger. She screams and giggles. Her father watches from the porch in a wooden rocker, laughing while mom gently scolds her brother.

We could see her taking a ride for the first time in an automobile, a small pickup with wooden panels driven by a young man with wavy curls. He smiles gently at her while she sits staring at the road ahead; a fleeting wisp of a smile gives her away. Her hands are folded in her lap, clutching a small beaded purse.

We could see her standing in a small church. She is dressed in white cotton, holding hands with the young man, and saying, “I do.” Her mom watches with tearful eyes. Her dad has since passed. Her new husband lifts her across the threshold, holding her tight. He promises to love and care for her forever. Her life is enriched and happy.

We could see her cradling her infant, cooking breakfast, hanging sheets, loving her family, sending her husband off to war, and her child to school.

We could see her welcoming her husband back from battle with a hug that lasts the rest of his life. She buries him on a Saturday under an elm, next to her father. She marries off her child and spends her later years volunteering at church functions before her mind starts to fade and the years take their toll and God says:

“It’s time to come home.”

This is how we used to see her before we became blinded by the endless tones of monitors and whirrs of machines, buzzers, buttons and tubes that can add five years to a shell of a body that was entrusted to us and should have been allowed to pass quietly propped up in a corner room, under a window, scents of homemade soup in case she wanted a sip.

You see now we can breathe for her, eat for her and even pee for her. Once you have those three things covered she can, instead of being gently cradled under that corner window, be placed in a nursing home and penned in cage of bed rails and soft restraints meant to “keep her safe.”

She can be fed a steady diet of Ensure through a tube directly into her stomach and she can be kept alive until her limbs contract and her skin thins so much that a simple bump into that bed rail can literally open her up until her exposed tendons are staring into the eyes of an eager medical student looking for a chance to sew. She can be kept alive until her bladder is chronically infected, until antibiotic resistant diarrhea flows and pools in her diaper so much that it erodes her buttocks. The fat padding around her tailbone and hips are consumed and ulcers open up exposing the underlying bone, which now becomes ripe for infection.

We now are in a time of medicine where we will take that small child running through the yard, being chased by her brother with a grasshopper on his finger, and imprison her in a shell that does not come close to radiating the life of what she once had. We stopped seeing her, not intentionally perhaps, but we stopped.

This is not meant as a condemnation of the family of these patients or to question their love or motives, but it is meant be an indictment of a system that now herds these families down dead-end roads and prods them into believing that this is the new norm and that somehow the old ways were the wrong ways and this is how we show our love.

A day does not go by where my partners don’t look at each other and say, “How do we stop this madness? How do we get people to let their loved ones die?”

I’ve been practicing emergency medicine for close to a quarter of a century now and I’ve cared for countless thousands of elderly patients. I, like many of my colleagues, have come to realize that while we are developing more and more ways to extend life, we have also provided water and nutrients to a forest of unrealistic expectations that have real-time consequences for those frail bodies that have been entrusted to us.

This transition to doing more and more did not just happen on a specific day in some month of some year. Our end-of-life psyche has slowly devolved and shifted and a few generations have passed since the onset of the Industrial Revolution of medicine. Now we are trapped. We have accumulated so many options, drugs, stents, tubes, FDA-approved snake oils and procedures that there is no way we can throw a blanket over all our elderly and come to a consensus as to what constitutes inappropriate and excessive care. We cannot separate out those things meant to simply prolong life from those meant to prolong quality life.

Nearly 50 percent of the elderly US population now die in nursing homes or hospitals. When they do finally pass, they are often surrounded by teams of us doctors and nurses, medical students, respiratory therapists and countless other health care providers pounding on their chests, breaking their ribs, burrowing large IV lines into burned-out veins and plunging tubes into swollen and bleeding airways. We never say much as we frantically try to save the life we know we can’t save or perhaps silently hope we don’t save. When it’s finally over and the last heart beat blips across the screen and we survey the clutter of bloody gloves, wrappers, masks and needles that now litter the room, you may catch a glimpse as we bow our heads in shame, fearful perhaps that someday we may have to stand in front of God as he looks down upon us and says, “what in the hell were you thinking?”

When it comes time for us to be called home, those of us in the know will pray that when we gaze down upon our last breath we will be grateful that our own doctors and families chose to do what they should instead of what they could and with that we will close our eyes to familiar sounds in a familiar room, a fleeting smile and a final soft squeeze of a familiar hand.


I saw the below on MedGadget and thought it was worth sharing.

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News4Jax reported the tragic and preventable death of Nadine McBurnett while a resident at Terrace of Jacksonville nursing home.  McBurnett suffered a preventable fall at the home but the facility failed to contact the family or provide emergency care for over three hours.

The family is suing the nursing home entrusted with her care.  Letter of intent to sue  They said if she had gotten timely medical attention, she would not have died, and they said the facility has been covering it up.


The family said McBurnett was having her bed sheets changed by a nursing assistant, and the railing on the bed was pulled down.  McBurnett required two nursing assistants to safely transfer her, but at the time of her fall, only one was helping her.  McBurnett fell off the bed and was severely injured.  The caregivers just cleaned the blood up and put her back in the bed. There was a video camera outside McBurnett’s room door, but the facility deleted the video

McBurnett’s wounds were not addressed, because when she went to the hospital, she was covered in bruises on her head and shoulders. The ambulance company report said McBurnett had a large 4-5-inch long and 1.5-2-inch wide hematoma beginning just above her right eye.  She remained alive for around another month, but with a painful broken hip.

“If this has been a child, if this had been a teenager, if this had been a young mom, or excuse me, if this had been a dog and this happened to them, this would be outrage. This would be everywhere,” her daughter Patte Wallace said. “But this is an old lady who looks pathetic right there, and they see her as no value.”


WCNC had two articles (here and here) about the horrific sexual assault of a nursing home resident by a caregiver.  Douglas Steven Little has been charged with second-degree forcible sex offense, sexual act by a private institution employee/custodian, and a crime against nature.   The female victim reportedly suffers from dementia and was not capable of defending herself, according to Union County officials.

Authorities responded to the Lake Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Services after receiving a call about a reported sexual assault. When deputies arrived on scene, administration told them than an employee witnessed a male certified nursing assistant sexually assault a patient at around 3:30 a.m.

NBC Charlotte asked about background checks at the Lake Park facility and were told the facility performs them, as instructed by state regulations.  The facility told WBTV that Little worked at the facility for about 13 years.


WKBW reported on a incident that once again proves how necessary cameras in nursing homes are to protect the residents from abuse and neglect.   Susan Sanborn, a social worker at Absolut Care of Orchard Park, is facing charges after being caught on surveillance video pushing a nursing home resident to the ground and kicking the resident.

According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Sanborn pushed a 68-year-old resident to the ground while exiting a room then kicking their legs out of the way of an exit door before closing the door and leaving the unit.  Sanborn is charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, and faces up to four years in prison.

WTVM reported that Elener Wyckoff, an employee of Adams Nursing Home, was indicted for stealing money from patient trust funds.  Wyckoff  stole $2,470 when she worked as a social services assistant for Adams Nursing Home. The attorney General’s Medicaid fraud control Unit presented evidence resulting in Wyckoff being indicted, charging her with theft of property in the second degree.

Wyckoff’s responsibilities was to manage patient trust funds and purchase items based off the patients’ needs and wants. It’s alleged that instead Wyckoff cashed the checks and kept the money.  When confronted Wyckoff tried to hide the theft by manufacturing and copying receipts from local businesses showing items had been purchased, but no items had been bought or distributed to the patients.

Theft of property in the first degree is a class C felony and can result in a prison sentence of a year and one day to ten years in the Department of Corrections.

CYNCentral and WKTV reported that Mohawk Valley Nursing Home LLC pled guilty to falsifying business records and has agreed to pay $1 million in overpayments to the Medicaid program.  This resolves a case that involved a 45-count indictment that alleged patient abuse and neglect and charges of falsifying records to cover up the incidents at the nursing home.

Owners and officials at a Mohwak Valley Health Care Center pleaded guilty to an array of charges including falsifying business records along with suppressing incidents of patient abuse and neglect, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The investigation began after the nursing home had helped to cover-up an incident involving a serious medication error that went unnoticed for several days, as well as, an incident where a resident suffering from dementia engaged in “unlawful sexual conduct” with another resident in an unsupervised dining room, a statement from AG Schneiderman explained.  “The neglect shown by senior leadership at this facility is shocking,” State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said.


The Times-Tribune reported that the Gardens of Green Ridge,and its corporate parent, Saber Healthcare Group LLC. have been sued after failing to report or investigate that two aides assaulted an elderly dementia patient after being made aware of the incident.  Thomas Drewes filed suit on behalf of his mother, Joan Drewes.  Ms. Drewes was a resident at the facility on Oct. 25, 2014, when nursing aides Joshua Wegielewski and Catherine Cordaro assaulted her, the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, video surveillance showed the aides grabbed Ms. Drewes’ wrists and arms, dragged her across the floor and strapped her into her bed against her will, causing extensive bruising on her arms, face and shoulders. They also held a door shut to prevent her from leaving her room.

The suit says the facility’s administrators were told of the assault the next day but took no action against the aides and did not report it to police, the state Department of Public Welfare or any other agency. The assault came to light only after another employee, who feared it would not be reported, contacted the Area Agency on Aging, which reported the incident to authorities.

Mr. Wegielewski was charged in December 2014 with simple assault and two other offenses. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and was sentenced in July to three months to one year in prison. A criminal complaint was drafted against Ms. Cordaro but she was never arrested because she fell into a coma shortly after the incident.