UticaOD.com had an article about a nursing home being investigated for abuse of a resident. A former home employee claims the investigation is based on an audio recording she made of another employee repeatedly swearing at a patient. Tracie Bowers, the former employee, said she recorded an incident at the end of March involving a patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia. She said she also believes her reporting of the incident led to her dismissal two weeks later.
Bowers said she had worked as a certified nursing assistant at St. Joseph for about seven months when the incident occurred, and that the woman heard on her cell phone recording was an assistant as well. In the 30-second recording, which Bowers shared with the O-D, a woman can be clearly heard swearing and calling the patient in question derogatory names.
An unidentifiable sound that Bowers says is the other woman hitting the patient’s hand is followed by a harsh command: “Be nice.” The male patient was not doing anything to provoke the other employee, but rather began repeating “be nice” over and over toward the end of the incident, Bowers said.
Bowers said she and the other assistant worked together for two shifts on the evening of the incident, and that she observed questionable behavior almost immediately. “She was kind of rude to all of the residents, really,” she said. “She wasn’t really, really bad; it was just a weird attitude.”
Bowers took her concerns to a supervising nurse who excused the woman’s behavior by saying she was probably tired, she said. Not satisfied with that answer, Bowers broke company policy by bringing her cell phone with her on the second shift and captured the recording.
When the supervising nurse continued to brush off her concerns, she took the matter to a charge nurse at the facility, and from there the report was taken seriously, she said. Bowers said she met with facility administrators, who in turn notified the state health department, and copies of the phone recording were made.
Although St. Joseph administrators praised her for reporting the incident, Bowers said she began having conflicts with other nurses and nursing assistants at the facility shortly afterward, some of whom felt she should have been disciplined for having her personal phone at work that day.
“One day everything is, ‘Oh, you did a great job,’ and the next day they’re all throwing a fit because I didn’t get in trouble for having my phone,” she said. “It was just a whole stupid game of trying to get me kicked out of there, and then finally they (her supervisors) said they would probably have to terminate me.”
The facility scored in the bottom 20 percent statewide for 7 out of 19 categories on its most recent state evaluation, and a Feb. 2008 inspection noted a pattern of administrative problems that could pose “immediate jeopardy” to patients’ wellbeing. That inspection led to $12,000 in fines for various violations, a health department report states.
This CNA should be praised, promoted, and given a raise not fired for what she did. This is a terrible tragedy becuase now this CNA will be blacklisted and will find it difficult to gain employment, and it will stop others from reporting abuse and neglect for fear of their jobs.