Two Women Sentenced for Florida Nursing Home Abuse
Gregg Hollander | January 20, 2016 | Personal Injury
The 76-year-old victim’s mind was being ravaged by late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, but his body was being abused by hands that were supposed to care for him.
Now, the two certified nursing assistants in Florida accused of causing him harm have both pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison. A 30-year-old certified nursing assistant (CNA) must serve 18 months in prison followed by five years of probation for conviction on a single count of battery on an elderly person. Her former co-worker, a 36-year-old CNA, must serve five months of jail followed by five months of probation, plus complete a 26-week batterer’s intervention course. She too was convicted of felony battery on a person over the age of 65.
It’s difficult to comprehend why anyone would want to harm someone in such a vulnerable state. Yet it happens seemingly all the time. A study conducted by the minority staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found elderly patients were abused at 1 in 3 facilities. That is horrifying, especially when you consider these crimes are often far underreported to start.
Indeed, this nursing home abuse case out of Winter Haven didn’t come to light until his son placed a hidden camera in a clock located in his father’s room. Prior to that, the son noticed his father had unexplained bruises on his hands and body. His father couldn’t tell him what had happened. The administrators at the nursing home insisted he was receiving adequate care. Those answers were unacceptable to the son, who said he and other loved ones had noticed his father’s demeanor change over the months.
Recordings showed three separate incidents in which the father was being abused. Both the accused CNAs are seen the video taunting and hitting the victim. One of those clips shows the 30-year-old making punching-like motions at the victim, who cowers. The CNA then grabs the man’s wrists and makes him punch himself in the face while he tries to wrench away from her grasp. The CNA is then seen holding down the man’s legs at the end of the bed, which prevents him from sitting up.
The family members watched the images in disbelief and horror. The son would later lament it felt as if he’d let his father down. He also struggled with the fact that if staffers were doing this to his father, what were they doing to the other patients?
Management at the nursing home issued a statement shortly after the video clips became public in October 2014, saying it suspended six employees in connection with the investigation and had been unaware of any problems prior to the law enforcement investigation. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t or shouldn’t have known what was happening. After all, these were all incidents that unfolded inside their walls, by their employees and while their supervisors were supposed to be monitoring.
As for the victim in this case, he died in hospice just three months after the investigation was launched. His son has regrets that the last years of his father’s life were spent in such fear and pain.
Sometimes the best defense these patients have is an inquisitive family member. Some signs to watch for:
- Bed injuries
- Emotional agitation or sadness
- Falls/ fractures/ head injuries
- Instances of wandering
- Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Unexplained cuts or bruises
- Unsanitary conditions
- Reluctance to speak in the presence of staffers
If you suspect a loved one has been abused by nursing home staffers, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (561) 347-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Nursing assistant sentenced in abuse case, January 2016, By John Chambliss, The Ledger
More Blog Entries:
University of Miami v. Ruiz – Birth Injury Vicarious Liability, Jan. 7, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog