Multiple Nursing Home Residents Abused
Lara Johnson and others represented the families of several nursing home residents who were subjected to neglectful and abusive care at a Pleasant Hill nursing home which has since closed. The facility hired a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) who had a theft conviction and also a history of spousal abuse that had never resulted in a conviction. The CNA then abused many of the residents at the facility, causing them unnecessary suffering and pain, and leading to the premature death of at least one resident.
After the CNA was hired, other staff began approaching the facility administration – the Director of Nursing Services and the Administrator – to tell them that they had observed the CNA physically and verbally abusing residents. He was observed spanking, hitting, and pinching residents and calling them names. Staff expressed their concerns orally and in writing, but the facility allowed the CNA to continue working.
At the same time, the facility administrators noticed a significant increase in the number of bruises, scrapes, and other injuries that had not been present before. The facility created a committee that documented that many residents had unexplained injuries. Instead of investigating the cause of these injuries or interviewing the CNA, the facility administrators allowed him to continue working. In violation of state law, the facility did not report the injuries to the State. When family members became concerned and called law enforcement, the staff who had expressed concerns about the CNA were finally interviewed. It was learned during the investigation that the facility destroyed evidence of the prior complaints before law enforcement was able to seize them.
The families of these residents expected that their mothers and fathers would be taken care of, not that they would be physically and verbally abused, or that the people entrusted to take care of their loved ones would knowingly turn a blind eye to abuse. It is hard to measure the harm that these residents suffered to their well being and their sense of safety.
The CNA was later convicted of several felonies and was sent to prison. The nursing home was placed under strict oversight and was later sold. All but one of the civil cases on behalf of abused nursing home residents were successfully mediated. The remaining case was submitted to a formal binding arbitration. The family of the then-deceased resident’s family was awarded a substantial confidential amount.
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