When Krysten Schmidt visited her grandmother at Premier Genesee Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation nursing home, an aide quietly pulled her aside to share there were maggots on her grandmother’s foot.  Schmidt said that if it hadn’t been for the aide, she might never have known that maggots – fly larva that look like small worms – were infesting her grandmother’s leg wounds at Premier Genesee not only that day but also four days earlier.

Two nurses who responded to Schmidt’s demands for an explanation downplayed the maggots, the granddaughter said.

“My mother had just arrived for the visit and took off the shoe and sock and three or four maggots fell to the floor,” Schmidt said. “They proceeded to tell me the maggots were in her shoe and not her sock. I mean, does it really matter? Are maggots supposed to be anywhere? They were trying to downplay it.”

Later that same day, Schmidt said, she filed a complaint with the state Health Department, which initiated an investigation in early October.  Staff at Premier described the Sept. 25 incident to a state Health Department investigator in graphic terms. On Mary Ellen Sharp’s left foot, there was “something wiggling between her toes,” a nurse’s aide told investigators.  In the state investigation report, the director of nursing told an investigator that the licensed practical nurse who initially discovered the maggots has been banned from working at the facility “for lack of nursing supervision notification.” The licensed practical nurse, however, told the investigator she not only recorded the incident in Sharp’s file, but also informed a registered nurse and tried “many times” to alert the nursing supervisor by phone, pages and texts, but could not reach her. The state cited Premier Genesee for violations but incredibly did not fine the nursing home.

An inadequate pest control program to prevent flies from entering and spreading maggots at the 160-bed nursing home was cited by the Health Department as the culprit.  A maggot infestation on a nursing home resident’s body is a very disturbing violation of minimum care standards.  An adequate pest control program includes making sure screens remain properly fitted in windows and eliminating gaps in doors to block flies from entering, making sure bug light traps are plugged in and that monthly recommendations for repairs from a pest control company are promptly addressed.  The best intervention would be to care for and treat the resident’s wounds every shift.

The state cited other problems:

• An unsanitary situation occurred when a wound doctor, after treating one of Sharp’s wounds, failed to place a dressing on it. For hours, the wound was openly exposed, making it a target for flies.

• Officials at the nursing home failed to comply with a federal regulation requiring they immediately notify a physician and relatives when there has been a change in a resident’s condition.

• Breakdowns in communication among employees, ranging from the nursing staff to maintenance workers.

“What happened is inexcusable and horrifying,” said Lindsay Heckler, supervising attorney at the Center for Elder Law and Justice in Buffalo. “Had staff followed basic standards of care and timely notified the physician, maggots would not have infested the resident’s leg for additional multiple days. Maggots should not have infested her leg on Sept. 21, and the resident should not have been left to suffer from further infestation.”

“You don’t really think it could be true or it could ever happen,” Schmidt said of the maggots. “How would anyone feel having that happen to a loved one?”

 

 

Hidden cameras should be allowed in nursing homes to protect residents; prevent fraud; and to monitor the effectiveness of treatments. Recently, I read a tragic story about the abuse and neglect suffered by Skip MacNally, a resident of Peak Resources nursing home.

Her daughter, Renee Herwin, had suspicions about the care her 86-year-old mother, Skip MacNally, was getting at the nursing home in Cherryville, N.C. So, she decided to install a hidden camera to find out. She immediately discovered disturbing video of staff at the nursing home abusing her mother.

“I put the camera in on August 28. On August 29 I had a video of abuse,” she said. She had a second video within 24 hours of installing the camera.

The first video shows a nursing assistant yelling at MacNally—who is blind and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease—while changing her. In the video, you see the nursing assistant go from yelling at MacNally to violently moving her across the bed while changing her. MacNally cries out in pain several times over the course of the video.

“Have I done something?” MacNally asks the nursing assistant towards the end of the video.

“Devil’s wife,” the nursing assistant responds.

Herwin expected the hidden camera to capture evidence of her mother not being properly fed or going long periods of time without being checked on. She didn’t expect to find her mom being violently abused by staff.

A DSS report shows a social worker confirmed MacNally was abused but indicates the social worker didn’t even open an investigation. Fortunately, the police investigated and a detective wanted to press charges. But then the unthinkable happened.

“Well, he called me about four days later, told me the (assistant district attorney) was not going to file charges. I didn’t understand,” Herwin said.

To date, no charges have been filed against the employees in the video.

Herwin called WBTV in hopes the story of what happened to her mother would draw attention to a system that has lax regulation and little oversight.

“They need to have consequences for their actions! If you don’t have any consequences, it’s just going to continue to get worse,” she said.

 

A resident who was sexually assaulted in her Balboa Nursing & Rehabilitation Center nursing home in October has filed a claim against the facility operators, alleging they failed to provide proper security and staffing to keep her and other residents safe. The claim states that employees at Balboa routinely left the back door open, which allowed a man to slip inside, walk past a nursing station and reach the second floor where the victim lived.

Staff heard the woman and her roommates scream for help and saw a naked man dash out of the building. The woman’s arm was broken in the assault, but she is recovering and now living in a different skilled nursing home. Using DNA evidence, San Diego police arrested Lusean Arline, 49, about a week later. He has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the incident. He had just been released from prison after a conviction for following two women and exposing himself.

The state Department of Public Health opened an investigation of Balboa within a week of the assault and issued findings that the facility failed to maintain safe and secure premises. Employees would leave the building’s back door open on a regular basis, despite problems of loitering and trespassing at the building and in the neighborhood. The facility failed to hire sufficient security and staffing to keep costs low.

“This is a terribly shocking case, one that is most unfortunate and violates our trust we place in these facilities when we place a loved one in their care,” the woman’s attorney, William Berman. “This could have happened to any female resident at Balboa.”

The state’s online records show Balboa Healthcare, Inc. as the legal name of the 194-bed nursing facility since 2005. The records say eight complaints were filed against the nursing home in 2019, with 14 findings of “deficiencies” involving pain medications, diet and accommodation for a disability. The government levied a $2,000 fine in one case. In 2018, the records show, 10 complaints were filed with seven findings of deficiency. In 2017, 18 complaints were filed with 19 deficiencies found.

 There was no New Year celebration for the father of Andrea Leech.  Andrea is demanding answers after discovering her 82-year-old father was physically assaulted by a caregiver at Riverside Care Center nursing home on New Year’s Day.  Andrea told Channel 11 she couldn’t believe this happened to her father. She took pictures of every single bruise left on his body, including marks on his face, arm and leg.

Leech said a certified nurse aide (CNA) saw her father in the hallway and tried to force him to the restroom, but he said he didn’t want to go. Once he got back into his room, Leech said “they heard a big commotion” from inside.  Other nurses then found her dad with multiple bruises on his body. He had to be taken to the hospital, and police were called and are investigating.

“You put your loved one in a nursing home, expecting them to get tested with proper care. It didn’t happen that way,” Leech said.

A preliminary hearing was recently held for a man accused of breaking into Balboa Nursing and Rehab Center nursing home and sexually assaulting an 88-year-old patient.  During the testimony, Defendant Lusean Arline kept his head down in shame.  Prosecutors said that days after being released from jail on a drug charge, 49-year-old Arline snuck into Balboa Nursing and Rehab through an unlocked door after dark and was found completely nude on top of the victim. Arline has a prior conviction from 2017 for following two elderly women home to their apartment and exposing himself to the victims.

He is accused of breaking in during the early morning hours of Oct. 27 and entering a room shared by patients.  Arline was arrested about a week after the alleged assault. San Diego Police say DNA from the victim’s body was put into a federal DNA database and Arline was a match.

The roommate of the 88-year-old victim told the court she saw a man in their room. The roommate, who is being referred to as “Louise”, said the man was naked and on top of the victim.  “Louise,” said she screamed for help and when employees ran into the room the suspect took off running.

The victim’s daughter said she received a call on Oct. 27 from the facility saying her mother was at Scripps Mercy Hospital. When she arrived at the hospital, she noticed her mother’s arm was broken and she was emotional.

“She cried out to me, ‘Am I dreaming?’ I said mom do you think you’re having a dream, she said, ‘I had a terrible nightmare.'” the victim’s daughter said.

The victim’s daughter went on to testify that since the assault her mother is agitated and withdrawn.

He is facing charges of sexual assault, burglary, and elderly abuse.

 

Syracuse police arrested a certified nurse aide Nov. 25 after conducting a lengthy investigation into allegations that Cania Williams slapped a 90-year-old resident in the face with a wet cloth, injuring and bruising the elderly woman. The incident occurred on Oct. 19 at Bishop Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.

Williams was charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor, and harassment in the second degree, a violation. The injuries were not severe enough to charge Williams with assault.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Williams could be sentenced to up to a year in prison, three years of probation and a substantial fine.

Two other employees who may have known of the incident were suspended when Bishop began its investigation and have since returned to work, according to Newman.

In the wake of the incident Newman said the nursing home has re-educated employees on abuse reporting, identifying abuse, resident rights and handling residents with dementia.

The news of people abusing nursing home residents are especially tough around the Holidays when I’m trying to get into the festive mood.  Recently, I read about a young woman named Berianne Smith who was arrested over the weekend, with police saying she attacked a patient, twisting the woman’s breasts and nipples.  Smith is a certified nurse aide at Allied Services Meade Street Skilled Nursing.

Smith was charged abuse of care of a dependent person, simple assault and harassment, after city police responded to reports of the assault. A co-worker, Lawrence VanBuren-Morgan, told police he heard the female patient “screaming at the top of her lungs as if she was being attacked or in a fight.”  VanBuren-Morgan said he hurried to her room, where he said he saw Smith “grabbing and twisting at (the victim’s) breast.” VanBuren-Morgan said he heard the patient yelling that Smith was twisting her nipples.

A short time later, VanBuren-Morgan said he saw Smith return to the room, and he once again heard the patient screaming. He returned again to find the woman’s nose was bleeding, claiming Smith had hit her.

The alleged victim was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for multiple bruises and swelling.

 

Karen Paredes-Luquin is a nursing assistant at Auburn Oaks Care Center nursing home facing multiple charges of felony fraud involving elders she cared for, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.  Paredes-Luquin was caught on surveillance video Nov. 22 using stolen credit cards belonging to two residents.

Authorities received reports of the fraud from the nursing home and found video at the locations the credit cards were used. One of the videos shows Paredes-Luquin wearing nursing scrubs and a surgical mask while making the purchases, which made the cashier serving her suspicious, according to officials. The cashier followed Paredes-Luquin and wrote down her vehicle information. The cashier was able to provide that information to investigators, who then used it to identify Paredes-Luquin.

Detectives arrested Paredes-Luquin when she arrived at work and charged her with multiple counts of felony fraud. She has since posted $100,000 bail and was released from custody.

 

When managers and owners of Symphony Residences nursing home discovered employees had stolen more than $700,000 from a 98-year-old resident who has Alzheimer’s disease, they didn’t fire them or go to authorities — they sought to cover it up, according to a lawsuit.  The Cook County public guardian’s office filed a 335-page complaint seeking monetary damages for four entities that own Symphony Residences, several managers and the five employees accused of stealing Grace Watanabe’s life savings.  The lawsuit alleges Cruz and other nursing home executives discovered the theft and failed to report it to law enforcement.

Bank regulators noticed irregularities and brought the case to the attention of authorities.

The lawsuit accuses nursing home executives of locking Watanabe in an office to keep county social workers from moving her to another nursing home. Word of the standoff got back to authorities who dispatched Dawn Lawkowski-Keller, an attorney who works in the financial recovery unit. After a shouting match, Lawkowski-Keller boiled it down for Symphony Executive Director Erika Cruz: “You have 5 minutes or we’re calling the cops.”  Cruz finally freed Watanabe.

An investigation later concluded that five nursing home employees used Watanabe as their personal piggy bank — draining her life savings through a series of ATM withdrawals, forged checks and other payments.  Two of the five employees accused in the civil suit of stealing from Watanabe have been charged criminally with financial exploitation of an elderly person.

A separate civil suit filed seeking information from Symphony is stalled while company executives appeal a September court order compelling them to testify. They are being fined $400 for every day they defy the order and remain silent.

Watanabe was born in Santa Cruz, California, in 1921 and was held in the Poston internment camp from 1942 to 1946. After her release, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

The Gowanda Rehabilitation & Nursing Center was fined $10,000 after mishandling the sexual assault of a patient. According to investigators, numerous deficiencies were discovered related to the prevention and investigation of the incident.

According to a report compiled by the New York State Department of Health, a male resident was found with his pants down, on top of a female resident in the early hours of May 29, 2019.  The female resident could be heard saying, “no, no” before staffers intervened. The female resident suffers from “severe cognitive impairment.” The male resident who carried out the sexual assault is said to suffer from, “moderate cognitive impairment” and who, according to the report, “knew what he was doing but not with who. He was confused.”

In the subsequent hours, state investigators say the facility did not take proper steps to preserve or document potential evidence. The staffers denied at first that a sexual assault actually occurred. An examination several hours later at a nearby Emergency Room revealed physical evidence proving an assault had occurred.