The abuse and neglect of nursing home and long-term care facility residents can result in injury, illnesses, injuries, or even deaths. It can lead to administrative and civil liability, or even criminal charges in particularly egregious circumstances. However, there is another act that can truly threaten the integrity of the nursing home system and the safety of patients and residents: the cover-up. On top of committing acts of abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect of nursing home residents, the active cover-ups of these acts make things even worse, and can certainly lead to further civil and criminal liability, such as obstruction of justice. We have blogged about attempted cover-ups before, including a recent case in Illinois. Another appalling case comes out of Western New York, near the Syracuse area.
Nursing Home Abuse Allegations
In Ilion, New York, nursing home officials have been accused by the state’s Attorney General of covering up the abuse and neglect of residents at a facility there, called Mohawk Valley Health Care Center. This home has already had a recent history of citations, including failure to keep proper clinical records, for example. The cover-up in this particular situation reportedly occurred relevant to two serious incidents. In one, a resident suffering from dementia was in an unsupervised room in the facility where they sexually assaulted another resident, and the other was a medical error that no one seemed to notice. The state looked into these matters, and one of the co-owners is alleged to have eavesdropped on an interview between investigators and an employee, while he and another co-owner were also accused of destroying evidence related to those incidents.
The two co-owners and two other high-level managers at this home were indicted and arrested in early May, with the indictment carrying 45 counts spread among the four defendants. All 45 counts were brought against the nursing home corporate holding company itself, called MVNH Associates, LLC. The four individuals are accused of covering up abuse and neglect that went on at the facility, including the falsifying of records.
According to local reports, among the charges, one co-owner was hit with one count of fifth-degree conspiracy, while the other co-owner of the company was charged with willful violation of health laws, eavesdropping, and fifth-degree conspiracy. The facility’s director was hit with these same charges, as well as eight counts of felony tampering with physical, evidence, twelve counts of third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, and eighteen counts of first-degree falsification of records. And the facility administrator was also charged with willful violation of health laws, fifth-degree conspiracy, and felony tampering with physical evidence. All face a certain number of years in jail based on the particular charges.
The scope and volume of these charges is big enough, but they appear staggering when considering that these individuals are responsible for the care and quality of life of their residents, and for conducting their business transparently. Of course the prosecution has not happened yet, and these are merely allegations. But the cover-up accusations ring a bell for similar cases seen elsewhere, and should prompt nursing home residents, their families, and authorities to be mindful and aware of the acts of some bad apples’ to cover up other bad acts of abuse and negligence.
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