Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, has issued a rule that will prevent nursing homes receiving federal funding from requiring resident’s to sign admission agreements with arbitration clauses. An arbitration clause is a clause in a contract requiring parties to resolve issues through the arbitration process, therefore depriving the resident of his/her right to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home. These clauses have forced claims of sexual harassment, elder abuse and even instances of wrongful death from being handled in an open courcourthouset.

The fine print of arbitration clauses have also prevented disputes on resident safety and quality of care from being publicly known. This rule will provide new protections to 1.5 million nursing home residents. The agency’s new rule is the most significant overhaul of rules regarding federal funding for long term care facilities, restoring millions of Americans their right to pursue action in an open court.  The rule applies to pre-dispute matters, allowing the parties to a dispute the opportunity to seek arbitration after a dispute arises. Continue reading

Attorney General Eric T. Schniderman announced the arrest and arraignment of four former nursing aids in Oswego, NY on September 15, 2016. The aids were arrested for cases regarding nursing home abuse at two Oswego nursing homes. All four aids were charged with misdemeanors and felonies for taking “undignified” photographs and videos of residents at Pontiac Nursing Home and St. Luke Health Services; both facilities have strict policies forbidding cell phone use.  A.G. Schneiderman stated that residents of nursing homes and their families deserve peace of mind knowing their loved ones are being properly cared for and respected by their caregivers. He continued to say recording residents for amusement is a “blatant violation” of residents trust and privacy in a place they call home.

In one case, nursing aids Matthew Reynolds and Angel Rood, former employees of Pontiac, took demeaning photographs of a resident using an iPhone. A.G. Schneiderman said there were multiple pictures showed Reynolds and Rood lying in bed with the resident and touching them in a “taunting and abusive manner.” John Ognibene, Administrator at Pontic fired both aids immediately. Ognibene stated the staff at Pontiac is educated in patient rights during orientation as well as at their annual inservice training. Inservice training reviews the restriction using cell phones, social media and taking photographs of residents. Ognibene continued to say any violation of the policies or implementation of them is unacceptable. Continue reading

A study published June 14, 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that at least one out of five seniors residing in a nursing home has experienced resident-on-resident abuse. Reports of resident-on-resident abuse were tracked over a period of one month in New York nursing homes through interviews, observation and incident reports. Of the 2,0111 residents included in the study, more than 20% (407 residents) said they experienced such abuse over that month. The research found verbal abuse was ranked highest followed by assorted instances such as invasion of privacy and menacing gestures, physical abuse with incidents of sexual abuse accounting for a small percentage.

Several factors had an impact on the amount of abuse experienced, for example residents in a dementia unit with a greater nurse aide caseload reported higher rates of abuse. Dr. Mark Lachs, researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine stated most of the aggressive acts that occur in a nursing home are due to community living. Residents often suffer from dementia or other neurodegenerative illnesses and are being forced into communal living areas for the first time in decades, which are often triggers for people suffering from these illnesses.  Dr. Janice Du Mont, a public health researcher at the University of Toronto suggested families of patients with dementia or patients prone to violent behavior should look for nursing homes with rooms or units set aside to prevent triggering aggressive acts. She also suggested touring facilities to see if the space feels adequate or overcrowded. Continue reading

A study published June 14, 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that at least one out of five seniors residing in a nursing home has experienced resident-on-resident abuse. Reports of resident-on-resident abuse were tracked over a period of one month in 5 urban and 5 suburban New York nursing homes through interviews, observation and incident reports. There were 2,011 residents included in the study. 407 (more than 20%) said they experienced such abuse over that month. The research found verbal abuse was ranked highest followed by assorted instances, including invasion of privacy or menacing gestures, physical abuse and incidents of sexual abuse accounting for a small percentage.

fightSeveral factors had an impact on the amount of abuse experienced.  For example, residents in a dementia unit with a higher nurse aide caseload reported higher rates of abuse. Dr. Mark Lachs, researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine stated most of the aggressive acts that occur in a nursing home are due to community living situations. Residents often suffer from dementia or other neurodegenerative illnesses and are being forced into communal living areas for the first time in decades, which are often triggers for people suffering these sicknesses.  Dr. Janice Du Mont, a public health researcher at the University of Toronto suggested families of patients with dementia or are prone to violent behavior, should look for nursing homes with rooms or units set aside to prevent triggering aggressive acts. She also suggested touring facilities to see if there is adequate space or feels overcrowded. Continue reading

Monroe County nursing homes have been cited for numerous deficiencies that often place residents at risk, yet they are still open for business; a Rochester nursing home remained open for two years after receiving chronic violations from the government. Democrat and Chronicle, a newspaper in Rochester, NY found that more than 1/3 of violations received have been cited by Department of Health (DOH) inspectors during previous or checkup inspections (repeat offenses). In some instances, the conditions that led to repeat citations were the basis of wrongful death lawsuits.

reportThere are 34 nursing homes in Monroe County, all of which were cited for a total of 768 state and federal violations during the period of 2012 to 2015; 38% of those citations were repeat deficiencies. The DOH is supposed to ensure that nursing homes comply with regulations of minimum standards of care by making random visits every nine to 15 months and posting the results of inspections online.  However, many believe this method is not enough and the state should do more as a means of enforcement. Rose Marie Fagan, a citizen of the town of Victor said that there is no reason for less than excellent nursing home care and that the community should demand better for the elderly. Continue reading

There are around six million cases of elder abuse in the United States each year.  Five states account for more than 1/3 of those cases.  New York is one of the five states. A report released in 2013 identified five obstacles prosecutors faced in handling elder abuse cases, which was the impetus for new bill that would help victims of elder abuse testify against their abusers in criminal proceedings. The bill states that based on certain conditions, witnesses of advanced age will be able to be examined before a trial starts in order to preserve their testimony for future use in criminal court.

Current legislation only allows elders to be examined conditionally if they suffer from demonstrable physical illness or incapacity at the time of application; however this is useless in some cases.  For example, a man in his 90’s who was a victim of theft by his home aide, but in good health for his age at the onset of his claim may be deceased before the case is presented to the Grand Jury.  In the specific instance discussed in the article, the aid confessed to committing the crime which allowed the elder abuse case to be prosecuted.  However if she had not confessed the DA would not have been able to prove its case.

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A Bronx nursing assistant accepted a plea to six months in jail and five years’ probation after being found guilty of Endangering the Welfare of an Elderly Person in the second-degree and Sexual Abuse in the second-degree of a nursing home resident at Manhattanville Rehabilitation and Health Center in the Bronx. He pled guilty to Endangering the Welfare of an Elderly Person and Sex Abuse.

On February 18, 2014, Nanic Adasani was found on top of a helpless female resident with dementia, who is also mute due to a stroke. Adasani was found by another employee of the facility on top of the resident engaged in the act of raping the elderly patient. As a result of the abuse, Adasani was forced to turn in his nursing license and label himself as a Level Two Sex Offender, a label that will stay with him for life. He is also banned from working in the Department of Education in any capacity and subject to deportation after he serves his time in jail.

scared manThe victim’s children, who bought the case forward, said that their mother is traumatized and wakes up in the middle of the night sweating, fearful of another attack. The victim’s son spoke about the incident, saying that their community is very tight-knight and are supportive of them seeking justice for this horrific act. He continued to say that these type of things should not be happening in nursing homes, a place where people leave their loved ones to be cared for.  New York Senator, Ruben Diaz and the Hispanic Clergy Organization rallied outside of Bronx Supreme Court chanting, “We Want Justice!”

On August 8, 2014, Adasani skipped court, claiming that he was in New Jersey receiving medical treatment; the family’s lawyer believed that the evidence made the case more real and he understood that he would be punished. In response, Adasani’s attorney stated that he was in a fragile state claiming that he tried to kill himself twice since the case began and asked that he be placed in protective custody for his stay at Riker’s Island.

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On January 4, 2016 Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced several guilty pleas in connection with  allegations against Mohawk Valley Health Care Center (MVNH) for falsifying business records and covering up nursing home resident abuse and neglect. In a separate civil settlement, MVNH Associates, LLC also agreed to pay a $1,000,000 fine to Medicaid for accepting overpayments from the program. The company will also be required to hire an independent monitor to implement reform and divest ownership of the two convicted defendants and a related investor.

The indictment included details of two incidents that occurred in May 2013 and the alleged cover up of those incidents. The first incident included a medication error that went unnoticed for several days and was then covered up.  The second incident involved a resident with dementia who took part in unlawful sexual conduct with another resident. MVNH’s guilty plea resolved these issues, which initially were part of a 45 count indictment. The plea involved admitting to adding an employee’s name to a staffing sheet who was not working. MVNH also had to pay a $5,000 fine. Two owners of the facility, a former administrator and director of nursing, pled guilty to separate charges. Continue reading

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced that John Tamba, a 48 year old CNA from Utica, NY was indicted in October on nine counts of abusing a female patient. Tamba worked at the Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at Utica, located at 1445 Kemble St, Utica, NY, and is being held at the Oneida County Jail without bail. Tamba was charged with three counts each of sexual abuse in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person or an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree, and willful violation of health laws. If he is convicted on all nine counts he faces up to 21 years in prison.

It is alleged that Tamba engaged in forcible sexual contact with a physically disabled female patient while she was in his care at the nursing home. Tamba was charged by the Medicaid Fraud Unit, which is a part of the Attorney General’s office that is charged with protecting the elderly and disabled from fraud and abuse perpetrated by nursing homes, as well as investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud. The Attorney General has repeatedly said how strongly he feels about protecting nursing and long term care patients as they are in a very vulnerable situation. He is quoted in the press release as saying that “those who are charged with protecting the health of the most vulnerable New Yorkers must do that – care for them and not hurt them,” and that his office “will go after those who break the law and seek justice for those who cannot defend themselves.”

The indictments against Tamba come from events which happened while Tamba was working at the Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The upstate New York nursing home offers a range of services to seniors including, independent living apartments, assisted living services, an adult day care program, short or long term rehabilitation, or specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, the facility also has an extensive record of complaints with the Department of Health. The Department of Health is in charge of regulating and inspecting nursing homes in New York. It publishes information about nursing homes including a range of quality measures, statistics on inspections and complaints and enforcement measures taken by the Department. While nothing in the Attorney General’s press release indicates that Tamba’s actions were caused by the nursing home, it is always important for patients and their families to research nursing and long term care centers before engaging their services.

Elesia Howard, a former certified nursing assistant (CNA) at the Pathways Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, a 112-bed facility located in Niskayuna, New York, pled guilty in September 2012 to charges that she pinched a patient’s left breast nipple. The former employee was convicted of Wilful Violation of Public Health Laws and agreed to surrender her CNA certificate. According to the Nurse Aide Registry, the incident took place in April 2012. As a result of her sentence, Howard, will no longer be allowed to work with elderly patients.

After Howard’s conviction, New York State Department of Health (DOH) inspectors determined in January 2013 that the nursing home failed to have an adequate system in place for employees to report allegations of abuse, mistreatment and theft of resident’s property. According to the DOH’s report, a certified occupational therapy assistant and a rehabilitation aide witnessed a CNA verbally abusing a patient, who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, anxiety and high blood pressure. He was completely dependent upon staff members for his care and treatment.

On November 5, 2012, the two employees witnessed the CNA making derogatory and insulting comments to the brain injured patient. According to the rehabilitation aide, the CNA told the resident, “You’re some big gang buster, and you sh-t and piss your pants. If you knocked my daughter up, I would shoot your d-ck off too.” Although the incident occurred on November 5, the two witnesses did not report it until three days later.

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