ABUSE REALLY DOES HAPPEN IN NURSING HOMES

If you have ever doubted that people can be intentionally cruel and abusive to the most vulnerable in our society, the following might change your mind.

In New York State, a Nurse intentionall dumps an elderly dementia patient from her wheelchair, onto the floor – breaking her hip.

CBS Reporter Kristin Johnson reports the following:

The incident happened on March 20, just after 9 p.m. Joiner is seen on video pushing a medication cart but suddenly abandons the cart and heads to the patient in the wheelchair. Joiner appears to jerk the chair sharply to the left and the woman, who is 85 years old and suffers from dementia, goes flying to the ground, a fall that breaks her hip.

We showed the video to Dan Moles, who is a registered nurse, licensed nursing home administrator and expert witness in cases relating to nursing home standards of care.
    “I was startled by the speed with which she grabbed the chair and spun the chair,” Moles said. “Obviously to see someone flop out of the chair like that and directly on to the floor.”

And that, he said, could be negligence. Another expert, the director of a statewide advocacy group for people in nursing homes, went even further.

“It’s criminal; it’s criminal,” Betti Weimersheimer said. “It’s awful; its horrible. I mean why wasn’t the person even strapped into the wheelchair?”

Both experts said they were stunned at what happened next.

Nurse Joiner is seen walking right by the patient, who is now flailing on the ground with a broken hip. She does this not once but twice and then leaves the area.

“She must’ve been terrified and in pain. Maybe she thought she was going to be left there to die,” Weimersheimer said of the victim.

But Joiner’s attorney, Michaelangelo Matera, who said he hasn’t seen the tape, told a different story, saying that the patient herself caused her own fall.

“My client basically saw a patient that was in her care on her floor that was going towards … leaning to get something — not sure what — from a medical cart and went over to assist and before she was able to assist, unfortunately, the patient fell,” Matera said.

Here’s what happened next: the woman is seen lying alone on the floor for more than two minutes before another employee arrives on the scene. It appears he will help her, but with the patient still writhing on the floor, for over a minute he does nothing.

“It sure would be nice if someone would go over and at least reassure this lady that staff is here for her. I don’t see any urgency,” Moles said.

“He doesn’t even do anything. I don’t understand that,” Weimersheimer said.

Finally, the tape appears to show him speaking to the elderly patient.

Three minutes have passed since the patient fell. Joiner is seen returning to the area and finally calls for help. A third staff member arrives and they all approach the patient. Ultimately, it took more than four minutes for the patient to be helped.

“Nobody feels worse than Ms. Joiner about what happened, that somebody under her care got injured, but in no way does that lead to a finding that she actually caused that injury,” Matera said.

According to the attorney general’s complaint, Joiner admitted knocking the woman out of the wheelchair and not helping her. The complaint also alleges that she didn’t report the incident until another staff member noticed the patient and later lied about it to the nursing home staff.

But her attorney insisted that’s not true, that Joiner did not abandon the patient, that she did help.

“She must’ve been crying out in pain if she broke her hip. You would think people would come running from all directions,” Weimersheimer said.

The Attorney General’s Office said the investigation is ongoing.

In a statement, the administrator for the nursing home said: “We remain vigilant in protecting our patients at all times. This was an isolated incident and the newly employed nurse depicted in the report was immediately reported to the authorities.

“Our video system, which is in place throughout our center, assists us in providing our patients the best treatment and care available.”

To Moles, it simply seemed as if no cared about the patient that night, and that caring he said is what good nursing is all about.

“You need to be kind and you need to be caring and if you can’t be kind and caring then you should be gone. You should look for another line of work,” Moles said.

Among the charges against Joiner are endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person and willful violation of health laws.

What do you think?
Accident? (The nurse says so)
Neglect or Abuse?

Terrible – lets hope she is held accountable.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.