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Nurses Charged With Murder and Concealing a Death in Atlanta Veteran’s Nursing Home Death

In November, a video was released to the public that showed 89 year old WWII Veteran James ‘Jack’ Dempsey’s cries for help go ignored by 3 members of Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation nursing staff. The video shows Jack Dempsey paging a nurse at 4:34 a.m. on February 27, 2014 while struggling to breathe and gasping ‘help me’ multiple times. A nurse finally responds after 8 minutes, ignoring his labored breathing and casually checking tubes and turning off his nurse call light before exiting the room.  After that, the video shows the nurse supervisor and a CNA coming to check on him and laughing while attempting to start oxygen. He appears to be lifeless and the nurses show no sense of urgency typically associated with a code situation. Mr. Jack Dempsey, a man who managed to survive war and live to the age of 89, died that night, alone and afraid in an Atlanta nursing home. The camera was placed in his room by his son, who said that his father was scared of living in a nursing home, and the camera was an attempt to alleviate his fears.

This week, two nurses and one CNA were indicted by an Atlanta grand jury on an array of charges, including murder. All 3 were charged with concealing a death. Loyce Picquet Agyeman, a licensed nurse, has been charged with murder, neglect to an elder person and concealing a death. Wanda Nuckles, a licensed nurse and nurse supervisor, has bee charged with depriving an elder person of essential services and concealing a death. CNA Mable Turman has been charged with neglect to an elder person and concealing a death.

Thanks to News Station, Video Made Public, Police Become Involved
After Jack Dempsey’s death,the family filed a wrongful death civil suit against the nursing home and the case settled before going to court for a jury trial. A local news station picked up on the case and petitioned the court to have access to the video caught by the surveillance camera placed in Mr. Dempsey’s room. The petition was granted and 11 Alive not only aired the video in November, but sent a link to it to the Georgia Board of Nursing. It was only after the video was sent to the board that nurse Wanda Nuckles and Loyce Picquet Agyeman were stripped of their licenses. According to local police, the video prompted them to get involved and investigate the incident, ultimately leading to the arrest of the 3 nurses and now their indictments.

Nurse Backtracks Under Oath Once Shown Surveillance Footage
The public version of the video, which can be seen here, includes part of a deposition with Wanda Nuckles, the nurse supervisor on duty that night. The attorney for the family questions Ms. Nuckles and then shows her footage of the surveillance video from that night. She is caught on tape lying about the sequence of events and also describes herself as a ‘residents’ advocate.’

According to Nuckles, she walked into Jack Dempsey’s room to find Loyce Picquet Agyeman doing chest compressions. She said that she took over for Loyce and advised her to go and call 911. Nuckles said that when Loyce Agyeman returns, she tells the CNA, Mable Turman, to go ahead and leave. She says they continued compressions and breaths until EMTs arrived. Everything Nuckles describes herself as doing follows the standard of care for a code, including continuous CPR until a physician or emergency medical crew takes over. However, the video tells a very different story.

The video shows Jack Dempsey using his nurse call button to page nursing staff beginning at 4:34:35 a.m. Nurse Agyeman arrives at 4:42:18 a.m. It shows the nurse, as described above, fiddling with tubes and walking out of the room. Here, the attorney for the family asks Nurse Nuckles if it is acceptable for such a delay in response to an emergency situation or to not at least check vitals. She agrees that it is not. It then shows Nuckles coming into the room at 6:23 a.m., nearly 2 hours after Mr. Dempsey’s initial page, and the video does not show anyone in the act of performing CPR when she arrives. Mr. Dempsey appears unresponsive and lifeless as Nurse Nuckles messes with a bag (to perform CPR), laughing with Nurse Agyeman and CNA Turman, and then doing 6 compressions before giving up.  The attorney then asks Ms. Nuckles “Do you see any sense of urgency on the part of any of the medical providers here, ma’am, including yourself?” She says she thought performed ok given the limited resources she had. She also tells him that her lies about what happened that night were an ‘honest mistake’ and that she responded based on what she normally does in a code situation. The attorney also asks her if Jack Dempsey and his family deserved better than what the video shows and she agrees.

It is a difficult video to watch, not only because it shows a good man dying and desperate for help, but because it shows dispassionate, careless nursing staff who somehow find a dying man’s last moments something to laugh at. Court dates have not yet been announced for the 3 nurses.


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