The Buffalo News reported a horrific story of sexual assault and a cover-up that many nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers like myself see far too often.  After finding a female resident being sexually assaulted by another resident, the caregivers failed to call police for more than six hours and destroyed evidence, the state Health Department has determined.

A certified nursing assistant heard the victim in her room saying, “No, no,” at around 4:30 a.m. May 29 and found a 73-year-old male resident on top of the woman in her bed, with his pants around his ankles, according to a Gowanda Police Department report. The woman’s gown was over her head, and her underwear was partially off.  Videotape footage shows the assailant was alone in her room for over 37 minutes.

The nursing home was the Gowanda Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and the family asserts that its negligence allowed the assault to occur and failed to prevent it.  The staff did not secure the woman’s underwear, clothing or sheets as evidence, according to the agency.

The female resident has “severe cognitive impairment,” and is unable to get out of bed without the help of a mechanical lift.

A staff member wrote in a statement to police that the man “knew what he was doing, but I don’t think he knew with who. He seemed confused.”

When a staff member checked on the woman around 8 a.m.,  the woman was reaching toward her pelvic area while saying, “Ugh, ugh, get it off!”

Shortly before 10 a.m., a physician assistant examined the woman and determined that she “was the victim of sexual assault and sent to the hospital for a sexual assault assessment,” according to the Health Department report.

The nursing home called an ambulance at around 10:11 a.m., according to a police report, and then called police 25 minutes later, according to the report.

 

An assisted living facility worker in Florida is accused of falling asleep in a minivan, as the disabled man he was caring for died in the hot vehicle.  Joshua D. Russell was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a disabled adult in connection with the May 9 incident.

Russell, who was working at Crossroads of Pinellas, had taken John LaPointe to a doctor’s appointment.  Russell then stopped by his home after the appointment and took kratom, WTSP reported. He told deputies he began to feel ill and parked the assisted living facility’s Toyota Sienna minivan to take a nap, the television station reported.

Russell said he later woke up in a sweat from the minivan’s heat and noticed LaPointe was not breathing. Russell attempted CPR but could not revive LaPointe. Investigators said LaPointe died of heatstroke. The medical examiner’s office ruled LaPointe died of hyperthermia. Investigators estimated the temperature inside the minivan reached 125 degrees, the newspaper reported.

Russell went back into his home to retrieve a gun and called his mother, who worked at the assisted living facility, telling her he was going to kill himself, the Times reported.

 

 

O’Nesha Cherdele Cummings was arrested for abandoning her residents.  Cummings is a CNA at an assisted living facility who left the people under her care alone while she went to a club, and one of those people left along had to be taken to a hospital, St. Petersburg police said.

According to an affidavit, Cummings was the only person working and caring for the residents at the time at the facility, which was not named by police.

She left the residents alone for more than an hour. While she was gone, one of the residents had severe diarrhea and could not care for herself. Her screams woke up her roommate, who called police.

Cummings finally returned to the facility after a supervisor told her police and EMS were there. When she was interviewed, police said she told them she knew what she did was wrong.

She was charged with two counts of abuse or neglect of an aged or disabled person.

 

Authorities are currently investigating how a nursing home resident, Dolores Gomez, at Westfield Center Nursing Care facility got severe bruises and injuries to her face. Her son, Benny Gomez, states she was assaulted at the facility. Gomez says she suffered double fractures to her face and a broken nose. She also needed stitches.

Benny Gomez posted photos of his mother’s injuries to Facebook, a post that has been shared over 9,000 times. The photos show his elderly mother’s face covered in bruises.

(Photos courtesy: Benny Gomez)

Gomez claims this wasn’t the first time his elderly mother ended up with injuries. He tells Fox 35 his mother said that some of the nursing home employees had hit her before. Gomez told the media earlier in the week that his mother “was assaulted numerous times. She tells me that they were rough with her. They hit her over the head with a hairbrush multiple times.”

“My mom had black eyes and bruises and was struck over the top of her head with her hair brush. I had filed many complaints previously.”

The nursing home claims the woman fell.  On her face?

Genesis, one of the largest providers of long-term care in the nation, owns the Westfield Center. It also owns the Waterview Center in Cedar Grove, where a certified nursing assistant has been charged with reckless manslaughter for failing to seek emergency care for a patient who later died from a fall.

 

 

Newsweek reported the sad case of two nursing home assistants in Ohio accused of spraying a female resident in the face with hairspray, and sharing a video of the “cruel” incident on social media.  Roberta I. Bowers and Makiah Chane’I Halsell were indicted for one count of patient abuse.  I hope they serve some hard time.  This kind of abuse and neglect is cruel, dehumanizing, and commonplace.

The pair were responsible  for caring for the patient at The Inn at Winchester Trail assisted living facility in Ohio, on June 3 2019 when Bowers took a canister of hairspray and used it on the 94-year-old. The care home employee aimed the spray at the woman’s face from around a foot or less. Bowers got the product in the woman’s eyes and mouth.

As Bowers sprayed, Halsell filmed. The pair can be heard laughing throughout the clip.  Halsell then shared the footage on the social media app Snapchat. The video lasted around 15 seconds.  The memory and trauma will last forever.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said in a statement: “Elder abuse can often go unnoticed and unreported, however these two women videotaped their physical and emotional abuse of this senior and posted the video on social media.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said: “This crude, cruel criminal act doesn’t belong in a place that provides care to the weak and the vulnerable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elder abuse is a “significant public health problem.”

One in 10 people aged 60 and over suffer abuse including neglect and exploitation, the agency states. That amounts to hundreds of thousands of people a year.

 “Based on the interview and record review the facility failed to supervise a male resident with known sexual aggression to prevent resident from having access to female residents on the dementia unit,” the report said.
 On Oct. 27, he was placed on increased behavioral monitoring after sitting on a couch next to a resident and touching her inappropriately across her chest, down her leg and poking her hip.

As a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney, I often hear complaints and problems from family members about the neglect suffered by their loved one.  One of the key reasons many do not file grievances; complain to regulatory agencies; or file a lawsuit; is because of fear of retaliation and not being able to see their loved one.  Well, that is exactly what appears to be happening to T.J. Sarrington.

Sarrington was banned from seeing her elderly mother at a nursing home out of retaliation for reporting abuse. In 2018, Sarrington filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, alleging neglect and abuse at Meadowlake Estates nursing home in Oklahoma City.  When the findings of the report were published and substantiated her claims, she called the administrator to get answers. That’s when he told her not to come to the property, or she would be arrested. That day, Sarrington said she was escorted off the property by Oklahoma City police for trespassing. In the months since she was first removed, Sarrington said she missed what may be her mother’s last birthday and last mother’s day.

Among 25 violations, the OSDH found the nursing home committed violations against Sarrington’s mother and two other residents, and failed to “honor the resident’s right to a dignified existence, self-determination, communication, and to exercise his or her rights.”
 “I begged him to please let me see my mom. I begged. I swallowed every inch of pride that I had, and I begged,” Sarrington said. “He told me if I showed up, I would be arrested for trespassing.”  Her mother thought her daughter was dead after going weeks without seeing her.

After seeking legal advice from advocates for nursing home reform, Sarrington said she returned to the home over the weekend, armed with a 2013 law saying, “every resident shall have the right to… meetings of family… or any other person or persons of the resident’s choice…”

 The operator in charge of the home again called 911 telling dispatch, “I have a trespasser that’s been advised that she is not allows on our property.”
Sarrington said the responding officer called a supervisor after she said she had a right to see her mother. The supervisor agreed and the officer walked her back to see her mother for the first time in four months.

Lisa Bernier is claiming that two employee caregivers of The Shoreline of Clinton, a skilled nursing facility, had sex in her 81-year-old father’s room while he was present, according to WTNH.  Another employee informed Lisa Bernier about the incident which happened in June.  her father has died since then.

“He wasn’t able to leave that room, he had no way of calling for help,” she told WTNH. She is angry, upset and disgusted about the incident, she added. “I’m just very hurt that I trusted these people to take care of my father,” Bernier said.

Facility officials said after learning about the alleged incident they followed reporting guidelines but refused to provide information on the status of the employees who were accused of committing the act.

 

Cimarron Pointe Care Center has been under an investigation since late August.  Several caregivers have been arrested for various crimes.   Three of the four suspects who used to work at the Cimarron Pointe Care Center have been arrested.  The police chief said the investigation is far from over. Officers are looking for one more suspect and want DHS held accountable, saying the agency “dropped the ball.”

John Rose and Blake McLellan are the latest suspects arrested in the case. They are accused of failing to report abuse they knew about. McLellan is also accused of abuse as a caretaker.  Officers said McLellan and 21-year-old Senite Smith took a selfie with a naked, elderly man in the background. 
Police have data from three cell phones on a hard drive. One of the phones, officers discovered, has 14,000 images on it they will need to sift through.  Court documents show the abuse went beyond taking pictures, and got physical. Smith’s arrest affidavit says abuse by one of the men included slapping a resident in the private parts, and running cold water over a woman until she screamed.
 “We can prove with photographs and text messages that some of abuse did occur after they received the two notifications. We could have stopped that,” Miller said.

The Sealy News reported on the tragic and preventable death of an assisted living facility resident. The facility allowed her to smoke alone and unsupervised and her cigarette fell in her lap and ignited her clothing and wheelchair, according to Chief Russell Wilson of the Katy Fire Department.

Bobby Johnson was found engulfed in flames outside of the Veranda House by staff members, but they were unable to extinguish the flames in time to save her life. Johnson was responsive at the scene but later died. Johnson had burns on over 60 percent of her body.

Critics and advocates claim that the nursing home was negligent in their care for Johnson because no one was outside with her, and if there were security cameras, no one was watching them.

Donna Mikulenka, a representative from Veranda House, stated  “It’s a sensitive matter.”