One of the situations I can never get used to seeing as a nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys is when a caregiver assaults a vulnerable adult in a nursing home.  I know it is typically caused by burn-out from overworked and underappreciated employees but I still can’t believe it can happen as often as it does.  It happened again in Augusta.

According to an incident report, deputies were called for a suspicious situation to the Golden Living Center nursing home.  Deputies discovered that an employee witnessed Jatoria Audrey Johnson grab a male patient, 69, by the genitals and twist them.  Ouch.

The Richmond County C.A.V.E. Task Force arrested Johnson. She is charged with two felony counts of exploitation of an elder or disabled adult.  The Task Force believes Johnson also punched and hit a blind patient against a dresser in that same room.

The Johnson case is just one of 118 cases investigated by C.A.V.E. in September

“Some of the types of abuse that we run into are physical, emotional, neglect, abandonment, sexual and financial,” Shawn Rhodes, the deputy director for C.A.V.E., said. “I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s just terrible.”

“In this instance, there’s a healthcare facility regulation group that inspects each facilities and receives complaints,” Rhodes said.

 

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.

 

 

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 Chicago Sun-Times reported on the crazy situation at Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park.  Several executives of the nursing home  refuse to disclose what they know about employees who allegedly bilked a 98-year-old resident out of more than $750,000.

A judge found them in contempt and imposed a fine of $400 a day until they tell the truth.  These privileged SOBs are refusing to sit down for a deposition in a civil lawsuit involving Grace Watanabe, who has advanced dementia.

“This appears to be yet another attempt to delay having to repay Ms. Watanabe the money that was stolen from her at their facility,” said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert. Golbert took emergency custody of Watanabe and removed her from the nursing home in September of 2018 after bank officials alerted authorities to a series of irregular withdrawals.

Watanabe’s money — largely stolen through forged checks and using Watanabe’s ATM card — was spent on jewelry, travel, ride-hailing services and fast food, according to Golbert.

Several of the Symphony employees accused of stealing from Watanabe chose to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights when asked about stealing from Watanabe during depositions in the civil case in recent months.

Golbert said the company is stalling the civil suit as much as possible — waiting for Watanabe to die.

“It’s not clear how much longer she’ll be with us,” Golbert said. “And I think they’re hoping they’ll get off the hook if she dies because as long as she’s alive, they know 100 percent that I’ll be going after them aggressively.”

Should Watanabe, who has no living relatives, pass away before the conclusion of the civil suit against Symphony, the beneficiaries of her will — Misericordia and Mercy Home for Boys & Girls — could step in as complainants, Golbert said.

“If that happens, those charities will have a decision to make,” Golbert said.

 

As a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer, I know that adequate and competent staffing is the most important factor for quality care.  One of the factors that affects care is staff turnover.  one of the major reasons for high turnover is burnout and lack of a compeititive wage.  Well, at least one nursing home operator has it figured out by raising entry level wages to $17 per hour.

Illuminate HC has a pay rate of $17 per hour for certified nursing aides at the rapidly growing operator. The $17 wage, which went into effect last fall, has made a distinct mark.   While the high CNA wage admittedly caused some frustration — among better educated nurses, for example — it also created unexpected waves of competition.

“It was good, certainly, for morale,” founder and CEO Yair Zuckerman reported. “The thought behind the wage increase was it would allow us to start getting selective. And it was important for them to see even before the turnaround could get successful we’re investing in the team.”

“People working in social services or the kitchen are saying, ‘I want to be a CNA,’” Zuckerman explains. “Whereas before a lot of people said, ‘I’m making the same money with a mop or a skillet,’ now they’re saying, ‘That’s hard work, but maybe it’s worth my getting certified.’”

Frontline workers “make or break” a facility, he believes. “We put them on a pedestal. If these people do a great job, we’ll have a quality building. Now we’re beating the Whole Foods and Walmarts and Targets. We’re getting a different breed, so to speak.”

 

 

Penn Today had a fantastic article that helps explain why short-staffing causes care not to be provided; this will help nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys like myself show the dangers of short-staffing. Data proves that there is a direct causal relationship between job burnout, dissatisfaction and incidence of missed care reported by registered nurses (RNs). The results are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS).  72% of RNs reported missing one or more necessary care tasks on their last shift due to lack of time or resources. One in five RNs reported frequently being unable to complete necessary patient care.

“For years, extensive evidence from hospitals has shown that nurses are more likely to leave necessary patient care unfinished when employed in settings with insufficient staff and resources.  This “missed care” has been linked to poor care quality, increased adverse events, and decreased satisfaction with the health system. New research—from Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research (CHOPR)—finds similar evidence in nursing homes specifically, and identifies the strong relationship between missed care, nurse burnout, and job dissatisfaction.

I read a well-written article on The Journal about allegations of abuse and injuries of unknown origin.  As a nursing home abuse and nelgect lawyer, we hear these type of allegations all the time, and often see photos of disconcerting bruises, skin tears, and other injuries that the nursing home refuses to explain to the resident’s loved ones.

The article deals with incidents of sexual assault, unexplained injuries and poor hygiene standards in nursing homes in Ireland.  Documents show that since January of this year specific concerns were raised about staffing issues, nutrition, residents sustaining injuries and fire and safety issues.

In one piece of correspondence sent to the health watchdog Hiqa, it is alleged that a person received an anonymous letter stating that a resident “suffered physical and sexual assault by another resident”.  Hiqa is responsible for the monitoring, inspection and registration of designated centres for older people, such as nursing homes, in Ireland.

In that same entry, it is claimed that staff were “instructed not to record the incident”.

hiqa1Source: Hiqa

Another piece of information from a concerned person claims that a resident “was naked from the waist down” and “standing at the head of the bed” in their relative’s room.

This person also claimed “another resident previously entered relative’s room and urinated all around it”.

A recurring theme within the documents is residents experiencing bruising.

In one instance, a concerned person (CP) claimed that a resident “suffered a number of assaults by another resident who has challenging behaviour”.

In another instance in the documents, it is claimed that a resident had “significant bruising on a number of occasions”.

“Medical attention was not received by resident until 3 days after a fall,” it was alleged.

One concerned person claimed a resident “suffered unexplained bruising on the face”.

hiqa2Source: Hiqa

Another piece of information outlined that a relative visited a centre to find a resident “sitting in their bedroom very upset and crying”.

“Resident has Dementia but could not communicate what was wrong. Relative lifted the resident’s clothing to find bruising on their arm,” it was claimed.

hiqa3Source: Hiqa

In another instance, it is alleged that a resident “banged their head” and that the family were not informed.

“When another relative visited they noticed the bruising and also that the resident was in soiled, wet clothing in the activity room,” it was claimed.

It continued: “The following day when relative visited again they noticed blood on the bandages used to cover [redacted] ulcer and discovered that the blood was not from ulcer but from a fresh cut.

When relative touched resident’s arm to try hold her whilst investigating the fresh cut they were in pain. Resident transferred to [redacted] hospital and tests confirmed they had two fractured bones in their arm and a lot of bruising under their arms.

The concerned person alleged that “staff cannot give an explanation as to how these injuries occurred”.

Other common issues raised within the documents include hygiene issues, concerns over building standards and staffing worries.

One document alleges that “residents are left in soiled incontinence wear for long periods of time”.

Another piece of information claims that a person found their relative “cold, hungry, soiled and upset” when they visited.

In another complaint, concerns were raised over a resident “not being encouraged to eat or drink”.

In relation to staffing, Hiqa received numerous pieces of unsolicited information.

One person raised concerns regarding staffing levels, “especially at night time”. They claimed that staff are “constantly rushed off their feet”.

The person said they had “witnessed call bells ring constantly without being answered”. They claimed this was because they were “attending to residents who need constant monitoring”.

Another complaint alleged that there is a “lack of supervision” in the day room in the nursing home in question.

One person complained that “there was a lack of appropriate care to meet the needs of the resident”.

The document outlined that the concerned person brought the resident home and discovered they had been “given medication that was prescribed for another resident”.

 

 

Two nursing assistants who worked at the Macclenny Nursing and Rehab Center have been arrested after they were accused of abusing an elderly patient, according to an arrest report from the Baker County Sheriff’s Office.  According to the Sheriff’s Office, surveillance video shows Rikki Davis and Trestany Wilkerson forcefully push the woman onto a bed. Investigators said the woman was pulled up by a shirt that was wrapped around her neck.

The Sheriff’s Office said the woman was then thrown into a wheelchair. When the woman tapped Davis’ arm, police said, Davis slapped the woman and yelled, “Quit hitting!”

The Sheriff’s Office said the nursing assistants were supposed to be helping the woman get dressed for breakfast on Aug. 2 when the incident took place. Investigators said Wilkerson was then seen covering the camera with a cloth. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the patient is legally blind, has osteoporosis and was being treated for a spinal injury.

This is why we need to allow video cameras in resident’s rooms to deter abuse and protect vulnerable adults.

Macclenny Nursing and Rehab said Davis and Wilkerson were fired. The nursing home said it immediately contacted police.

Nurse.org reported the story of two young and careless employees of a nursing home who lost their jobs over stupid social media.  Please let this story be a lesson for you.  As a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer, this use of social media is a blow to the dignity of the residents and does not show the care and compassion expected of nursing home caregivers.

The two nursing aides are accused of elder abuse after posting a controversial photo caption on Facebook. They were employed at the Etowah Health Care Center in Etowah, Tennessee, and fired after publishing a Facebook post that showed them posing with a piece of medical equipment and featured the caption, “Felt cute … might drop your grandma later.”

Both CNAs attempted to claim that the photo was not taken in the nursing home and is actually years old although many people who have worked with the two aides, dispute this assertion.

If you haven’t heard of the #FeltCute challenge, it refers to a popular online meme that features the phrase, “Feeling cute, might delete later.” The #FeltCute challenge went viral and led to thousands of popular and humorous memes.

The nursing aides are now taking steps to sue the Facebook user for stalking and harassment. Many of the comments regarding the post talk about personal experiences with nursing homes and express disappointment and even anger about that the two women would be so cavalier about something so serious that affects families all over the country.