A forum to discuss the need for safe staffing was recently held in Rhode Island.  The coalition is made up of consumer advocates, staffing experts, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) 1199 Rhode Island, Sista Fire, Fuerza Laboral, Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Organizing Project. Several caregivers talked about the need for adequate staffing in nursing homes.  A report prepared by Raise the Bar and made available to those in attendance found that numerous studies conclude that nursing homes have serious quality of care deficiencies that can be traced to a decrease in staffing.

“Rhode Island’s lack of staffing standards force caregivers to rush through the very basics of care tasks like feeding, bathing and dressing residents. Nursing staff do not have adequate time for answering questions or providing the type of social interaction with residents that is essential for maintaining quality of life.”

The coalition defines the issue as “the nursing home staffing crisis.”  It sets forth three easy steps to solving the crisis: A minimum staffing standard of 4.1 hours of direct care per resident per day; a raise in wages for caregivers and to recruit more staff; and to provide training opportunities for caregivers to match the increased complexity of resident care. 

The coalition urges people to spread the word of falls, lack of hygiene and insufficient staffing to family members and to contact legislators.

Stefania Silvestri of Warwick, a nurse, told of how she had found her aunt in tears due of the pain of being left alone on a toilet in a nursing home. She noted the home had only two to three staff to serve at least 31 residents and questioned how personnel could be expected to perform a variety of tasks – from combing hair and assisting with brushing teeth to washing and dressing patients, no less feeding them.

Amanda Sawyer described “extremely stressful” conditions where she worked third shift and was in charge of 24 beds. She said the home management disconnected bed alarms that alert staff when a resident has left a bed that made for quieter conditions yet required her to be constantly on the lookout.

“A fall can end somebody’s life,” she said. Additionally, she said she was forced to choose what policy to break in order to have enough time to serve each of her patients. In place of showers, she said she only had the time to “focus on hands, faces and butts,” and when another caretaker is absent “it means someone is not walking to dinner.”

“I had to quit my job, I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

Nursing homes should be required to have a set number of direct care nursing staff to cover the needs and care of patients. New York State is trying to determine how to quantify that number base don the acuity of the residents. However, lobbyists and nursing home apologists are pushing back against any mandatory minimum staffing requirements.

Safe-staffing requirements have been talked about for years. The current version of legislation that addresses it would require nursing homes in New York have a set ratio of at least one nurse for every five patients. Governor Andrew Cuomo this year directed the NYS Department of Health to study the viability of the proposal and see whether it would offer increased safety to patients.

Over the last few years, News10NBC has told dozens of stories about the care and conditions inside some of our local nursing homes. Something we’ve heard consistently from patients and their families is complaints about a lack of proper staffing to provide the kind of care that’s needed.

“We are here today to be a voice for those in nursing homes and hospitals who suffer, and yes die, in silence because of low staffing levels,” said Mary Ann Spring, a registered nurse and member of the Elder Justice Committee.

Marj Donhauser’s mother has been a patient at a local nursing home for the past five years.

“I cry all the way back (home) because I don’t want to leave my mother in that situation because there’s no one to look after her,” she told News10NBC.

The turnover and burnout rate in nursing homes is high. Then there’s the pay. Certified Nursing Assistants and LPN’s are, in some cases, making close to minimum wage.

“You can go to McDonald’s, give somebody a hamburger and say, have a nice day, and get $15 for doing that,” said Donhauser.


A patient at West Vue Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Plains reported the sexual contact to police. The victim is a 68-year-old resident who told police that Stroman had had sex with her twice since August. The first encounter was consensual, she said, but the second one was not, according to documents. Another nurse explained to officers the victim “was getting scared” after Stroman had sex with her a second time on Sept. 7. Stroman allegedly gave the patient a pain pill before each encounter.

Police collected an item of clothing from the patient as possible evidence, the West Plains Daily Quill reported.

Stroman agreed to talk to police and initially denied any wrongdoing, the documents said. When police told Stroman that they had clothes from the patient with possible DNA evidence on them, Stroman allegedly said that the patient had inappropriately touched him.

He eventually admitted that there had been sexual contact as the woman described, according to the documents. Stroman had been employed as the weekend nurse supervisor at the facility for one year.




I thought I had seen it all.  I have been a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer for over 20 years and this latest story surprised even me.

Apparently, three caregivers at a facility owned and operated by the Affinity Living Group have been charged with creating a makeshift fight club at Danby House in North Carolina. Their “fighters” were victims of dementia under their care at Danby House, a facility in Winston-Salem, police say.  The Winston-Salem Police Department received a tip in June about elder abuse at the assisted living and memory-care facility, according to Fox 8.

Marilyn Latish McKey, Tonacia Yvonne Tyson, and Taneshia Deshawn Jordan were arrested and charged with assault on an individual with a disability in early October, according to authorities. McKey, Tyson and Deshawn filmed two residents in Danby House’s “special care unit” for dementia patients and encouraged them to fight.

Resident 8 and Resident 9, as the women are referred to in the documents, fought in Resident 8′s room as the trio of health-care workers encouraged them and and recorded the assault.  The three caregivers can be heard in the video saying, “Stop screaming, [expletive].” Someone also prompts one of the residents to “punch her in the face.” Another is concerned that the phone is actually recording the video, so that it could be sent to her later.  Video shows the patients falling onto a bed in Resident 8′s room as Resident 9 continued her assault, according to court documents reviewed by Journal. The anguished pleas for help were ignored.

Staff members took video of the fight, which led to “one resident being strangled with her face turning red,” and shared it on social media.  The employees let the fight happen because one of the residents “always caused problems.”

They were only charged with Class A misdemeanors, which only come with a maximum penalty of 150 days of incarceration and a discretionary fine. Their next court date is Nov. 14.  Incredible.

Affinity Living Group is the fourth-largest provider of Alzheimer’s care and memory care in the country, according to its website.

McKey faces an additional charge after shoving one of the residents during a separate incident when staff took video while McKey pushed the woman “into a room, turned off the light and yelled to the resident to go to sleep, and then closed the door leaving the resident in the dark room,” according to the report.

A nursing home resident at Oxford Rehabilitation and Health Care Center allegedly beat his roommate to death with a walker Oct. 5. The tragic incident is getting a lot of attention but attorneys who specialize in nursing home abuse and neglect are not shocked because we know these types of assault happen often especially when short-staffing prevents sufficient supervision and monitoring of easily agitated residents.

When police arrived to find Jose Veguilla swinging a bloody walker at staff, Veguilla responded to an officer’s request to drop the walker. Veguilla has dementia and was speaking incoherently. He had not been given his medication that day.

Police then found the victim, Robert Boucher, unresponsive in his room. He had a large cut on his forehead, among other defense wounds. Boucher had been living at the Oxford Manor nursing facility since April after having a leg amputated. He was engaged to be married. He was pronounced dead soon after.

A judge ordered Veguilla to undergo a competency evaluation after he pleaded not guilty to murder on Oct. 7.  The suspect suffered a traumatic brain injury during a fall at his home last year. A court psychologist questioned Veguilla’s competency at his hearing.

Veguilla’s son Henry said his father had not been taking his medicine and that he felt it was the facility’s duty to ensure the health and safety of all their patients.

“How does an 83-year-old man have the time to do what he is being accused of doing and no one stepping in to intervene?” his son said.

Athena Health Care Systems operates the nursing home. Oxford Manor receives a much lower than average rating on Medicare.gov and was the subject of a settlement by the Mass. Attorney General earlier this year. They failed to protect patients in the past and now that same state-licensed nursing home is part of an ongoing investigation after an elderly patient is accused of murdering his roommate.

According to state and federal reports obtained by 5 Investigates, the nursing home has a history of problems related to the abuse and care of patients, including patient-on-patient assaults.

The state found the facility failed to protect residents from alleged abuse, including abuse of patients by a resident who was a potential sex offender. In another case, Oxford Rehab waited six months to contact police about an allegation of patient-on-patient sexual assault.

The nursing home even hired back a certified nursing assistant who was previously suspended for verbally and mentally abusing a patient.

One of the worse situations we investigate as a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer in South Carolina is physical abuse by caregivers and resident to resident altercations. Violence and mistreatment between nursing home residents is a common occurrence, according to experts.

In a 2014 study of nursing homes, Cornell University researchers Karl Pillemer and Mark Lachs determined that resident-to-resident elder mistreatment affected nearly 20 percent of residents over a four-week period. Researchers concluded that people who typically engage in resident-on-resident abuse are cognitively disabled to some degree but physically capable of moving around.

Specific types of mistreatment included verbal incidents, such as cursing, screaming or yelling at another person (16 percent); physical incidents, such as hitting, kicking or biting (5.7 percent); and sexual incidents, such as exposing oneself, touching other residents or attempting to gain sexual favors (1.3 percent).

Their underlying dementia or mood disorder often can manifest itself as verbally or physically aggressive behavior, the study found.

In 2015, nursing and residential care facilities were also among the industries with the highest prevalence of nonfatal occupational violence, with a rate of 6.8 per 100 full time workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One study revealed that nursing assistants at facilities with special units for Alzheimer patients had a significantly high risk for assault injuries and human bites. Thirty-five percent of nursing assistants reported physical injuries caused by aggression from residents, and 12 percent reported experiencing a human bite within the previous 12 months while working.

A black housekeeper is suing the assisted living facility in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, where she was reportedly given a birthday cake with “a noosed up black hangman”.  The facility argues it was just a stick figure.

“While it is unknown whether (these) claims will survive testing at a later stage of this litigation, the allegations in her complaint, when viewed cumulatively and taken in the light most favorable to (her)… are sufficiently plausible,” a magistrate judge in the Western District of North Carolina said recommending the suit continue. A federal judge accepted his recommendations and rejected the senior care facility’s motion to dismiss.

Tonya R. Chapman penned her complaint late last year, saying she was a jack of all trades at Oakland Living Center where she worked as a housekeeper, personal care aid and cook for more than 10 years.

But as “the lone black employee,” she said Oakland and the family who runs it harassed her to the point of quitting.

“I deserve to be treated better,” Chapman wrote.

Chapman alleges in the complaint that she was subject to various instances of harassment during the course of her employment, including hearing one defendant reportedly say they needed a new beach house “because of all the blacks at Myrtle Beach.”

She said later in the suit that she was forced to turn sideways like a prisoner when taking her photo ID while another defendant joked she would be given a “slave number” on her badge.

The young son of one defendant also reportedly taunted Chapman with a chant — “N-word, N-word, get to work N-word” — and told her that his father had called her a “lazy black N-word” because she didn’t come to work, Chapman said.

“I asked him to please stop but he continued the ugly language,” she wrote in the complaint. “He then kicked me and hit me on the bottom. I just ignored him until he got bored and walked out of the kitchen for a minute.”

Chapman also said she was given a birthday cake in 2014 that depicted a black person in a noose.


Absolutely disgusting!  Every time I see a news article about another resident being abused and harassed, I want to scream.  As a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney, we see this type of behavior often especially in short-staffed facilities where frustration and burn-out run rampant.

Video evidence shows that the staff at the Grace Care Northpointe Center nursing home physically abused a 93 year old resident.  The video is hard to watch and listen to because the resident was clearly roughed up by a certified nursing assistant where she’s been staying for about a year.

“She just snatched her around and continued to hit her over and over again while my mom just screamed for help,” Teno said.

Teno said after her mother complained of being hurt by some staff members, she decided to set up a hidden camera. Beyond what Teno said was verbal abuse, she also says there was physical abuse.

“It hurt me to see my mom being treated like that. And she could not defend herself,” daughter Mary Teno said.





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.