New York State agreed to pay more than $6 million to victims of abuse at a state-run nursing home in The Bronx. The settlement comes after a protracted legal battle that began more than five years ago after a series of news reports detailing physical abuse and widespread neglect at the nursing home. According to The New York Times, staff members would spit on the nursing home patient’s faces, force them to take cold showers, and physically attack the helpless patients. One family member of a nursing home resident, which is known as Union Avenue I.R.A., told the newspaper that the front desk answered the phone with, “Good morning, Bronx Zoo.”
As part of the legal settlement with New York, the nursing home abuse victims forced the state to surrender control of the facility to a private nonprofit agency. “We lost all faith that the agency can run this house effectively,” the victims said in a statement to The New York Times. Indeed, the misconduct of the nursing home was not the only problem at Union Avenue I.R.A. The lawsuit describes a dysfunctional culture where anyone who reported misconduct faced retaliation. After a state investigation found 13 instances of nursing home abuse at the Bronx facility, New York State did not fire anyone. A state-mandated arbitration process protected the confidentiality of the employees and the state merely transferred the abusers to a new facility.
For family members of the current patients at the nursing home, the end of the lawsuit brings hope that their loved one’s care may finally improve. “I pray that it’s a very quick change,” Laura Kearines, who has a 50-year-old sister living at the facility, told the New York Times. These residents deserve “to be able to live happy lives, lives that are not lived in fear of what’s going to happen to them next.” New York State agrees that “this resolution will help ensure these residents receive [the proper care and treatment], according to a spokesperson from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities. Sadly, the agreement does not bar any of the abusers from working at other facilities or even require them to accept responsibility for their horrific mistreatment of these disadvantaged New Yorkers.
Contact us to discuss your potential case if you or a loved one was neglected or abused in a New York nursing home.