Many of the physical, verbal, sexual, and financial abuse and exploitation cases we have seen across the country, including in Illinois, are often attributed to the acts or failures to act by staffers like nurses, nursing aides and other assistants. Management tends to be implicated where there is a negligent hiring, and/or a failure to train and failure to supervise. However, in a relatively recent case in late August of this year, a nurse manager was accused of physically abusing a patient resident at the Loretto Health and Rehabilitation Center in Syracuse, New York. To make things worse, the manager has been accused of covering up the incident by falsifying certain records.
The New York State Attorney General’s Office filed a felony complaint in court against the manager after investigating the case, charging her with felony first degree “endangerment of the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person,” as well felony falsification of business records. There was also a misdemeanor charge of a “willful violation of the public health law.” The state has accused the manager of grabbing a 92-year old resident by the arms, lifting the resident out of her bed and shoving her into her wheelchair in spite of the resident’s refusal to move from her bed. This alleged act amounts to a violation that has apparently resulted in bruising on that resident’s arms.
As a local article further details, the resident has since become incredibly “anxious and fearful of care providers,” after the alleged physical abuse that also resulted in her being terrified and yelling while it went on all in protest of the manager aggressively removing her from her bed. In addition to the abuse, the manager sought to cover up the incident. When others at the facility disclosed the bruising to management, management actually assigned the accused manager to investigate the situation, presumably not realizing she was the very person that allegedly caused the bruising. In this seemingly unrealized conflict of interest, the manager took advantage of the situation and wrote in both an incident report as well as the patient’s medical records that the bruising was from a skin condition stemming from weak blood vessels that can be found in the elderly, as reported in the article and as indicated in the state’s complaint. As reported, the manager, who has nearly a decade and a half experience as a nurse and has managed the Loretto facility for a year, states the accusations are false and have been drummed up by colleagues at the facility who simply do not like her. This contradicts a doctor’s assessment that the marks were caused by bruising as opposed to the blood vessel-causing skin condition. For the nursing home’s part, it suspended and then subsequently fired the manager.
Protecting Vulnerable Seniors
It is scary enough when aides and nurses act inappropriately and even criminally when it comes to our loved ones in nursing homes. It is even scarier that a person of high authority at the facility not only also engaged in such unacceptable behavior, but also used her position to conveniently cover it up to protect herself and leave the victim without justice. It is fortunate that the state got wind of the case from facility employees and took action. As far as civil action it is unclear if anything will be done, but in general people should be aware of their rights in seeking justice from a home and/or its employees for such activities.
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