A New Jersey nursing home is facing legal action after allegations that staff tied a patient to a wheelchair in an effort to restrain her.
The staff member that reported the incident has since been fired from the center and has now filed a claim against the nursing home and its parent company. A lawsuit may also be filed by members of the patient’s family.
Patient restrained with bedsheet
Eleanor Hallowell, 85, was a patient at the Voorhees Center nursing home in South Jersey for four years, according to a report at FOX 29. Hallowell was a hospice patient that had experienced multiple falls at the center, including one earlier in the day when the incident of abuse occurred, on August 16, 2015. The charge nurse, Nikki Thompson, had left orders for Hallowell to receive one-on-one care throughout that night to prevent additional falls from happening.
Instead, a concerned staff member contacted Thompson, stating Hallowell had been tied to her wheelchair with a bedsheet. Her top had been pulled down in an apparent effort to hide the restraint. A photo appeared documenting the incident, and Thompson reported the incident to members of Hallowell’s family. Family members urged Hallowell’s attorney to collect documents and evidence involving the unauthorized use of restraint on Hallowell.
Thompson told FOX 29 that she was fired shortly after the report, after eight years of work at the facility. She also received an anonymous letter after the report that included the phrase, “snitches get stitches.” Thompson has since sued Voorhees Center and its owner, Genesis Healthcare.
“I was called into the administrator’s office and I was told he felt as though I was not happy there, and they were not happy with me,” Thompson explained to FOX 29.
The nursing home has told local media that the person responsible for tying Hallowell to the wheelchair has also been dismissed.
Second incident cited by health inspection records
According to health inspection records, Voorhees was also recently cited for a patient that ingested a hard piece of plastic and required surgery to remove it. Jose Medina suffers from an eating disorder that prompts him to put any nearby object into his mouth and eat it, whether or not it is food. The plastic piece was a plant from an aquarium at the center.
The 73-year-old Medina, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was also photographed by center staff wearing women’s pajamas. Staff explained the attire was to keep Medina from eating his clothing, but Medina’s daughter, Mildred Medina, told FOX 29 the staff should have given her father clothing designed for his specific eating disorder.
Problem of nursing home abuse
Sadly, elder abuse is more common in the United States than anyone would like to admit. A study cited by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 44 percent of nursing home residents reported being abused, while 95 percent said they had experienced or witnessed neglect by nursing home staff. Nearly one-third of all nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for violations that had resulted in potential harm or actual harm to residents.
Nursing homes have a responsibility to provide a “duty of care” to residents of the facility. This means nursing home patients are entitled to a reasonable standard of care and safety. When the standard is not met, nursing homes may be held liable for injuries or illnesses that might result. To hold a nursing home legally responsible to injuries to a patient, the victim and family must be able to prove there was a breach in the standard of care due to negligence or intentional abuse. They must also prove the injuries were caused by the negligence or abuse.
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in New Jersey, help is available. Contact Eisbrouch Marsh for a free case evaluation to see if you have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Call 201-342-5545.
- FOX 29, FOX 29 Investigates: NJ Nursing Home Abuse Allegations, http://www.fox29.com/news/local-news/fox-29-investigates/50276381-story
- Nj.com, N.J. Nursing Home Faces Abuse Allegations, Report Says, http://www.nj.com/camden/index.ssf/
- National Center on Elder Abuse, Statistics/Data, http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/library/data/