State Investigation into CT Nursing Home Abuse Not Fast Enough
In 2013, an East Hartford woman told health officials she believed her mother was being abused at an assisted living facility charged with her care.
According to an interview with Fox 61 News, Patricia J. suspected that her 88-year-old mother was the victim of nursing home abuse at Ellis Manor, after noticing scratches on her mother’s hands and arms. In 2012, she questioned workers at Ellis Manor how the scratches got there only to be told that they might have been self-inflicted. However, the marks mysteriously stopped appearing on occasions when Patricia spent the night in her mother’s room.
Two years later and still without answers, Patricia installed a hidden camera in her mother’s room, which captured damning footage of staff blatantly mistreating the woman over a six-week period. Patricia is now accusing the Connecticut Department of Health for failing to investigate her claims in a timely manner.
Claims of elder abuse go unchecked
In the video, Ellis Manor employees are seen shoving the 88-year-old resident into her bed and leaving her without oxygen – something she is supposed to have 24/7. The footage also reveals a nurse’s aide whirling the mother’s oxygen tubes.
Patricia says that in 2013 state health officials told her that unless she had proof to show them, there were no grounds for starting an investigation. Armed with surveillance video, she attempted calling the Department of Health claiming she finally had evidence to show them. When she asked to speak directly with a manager, she was informed that wasn’t the proper procedure. She was then told to mail in a written request, which would be answered in three to six months.
After getting stonewalled by the DPH, Patricia confronted management at Ellis Manor, who took immediate disciplinary measures. Eight nurse’s assistants were fired and management also replaced the director of nursing, promising to pay better attention to daily operations. Judy Johnson – the new administrator of Ellis Manor — told Fox 61 News,“We’ve done additional training. We watch. We just have more eyes in place.” Johnson also noted that she felt this case was an isolated one that will not repeat itself.
Ellis Manor cited with 22 violations
Ellis Manor was then legally required to report the incident to the Connecticut Department of Health, triggering its own investigation. After an on-site inspection, DPH officials found some 22 violations at the nursing home including inadequate staffing and incidents of residents roaming off the grounds.
FOX 61 News was told by a DPH representative that the department has no written record of Patricia’s phone calls or requests in 2013. An official statement by the DPH was later released.
“…DPH first received information concerning care related to a relative of Patricia Johnson from the nursing home on August 4, 2015… As a result of this investigation, DPH took enforcement actions against Ellis Manor effective October 6 and November 3, 2015. DPH’s investigation is ongoing, and further enforcement action may be warranted.”
Policy changes needed
Patricia has since moved her mother to another long-term care facility, but believes she has likely suffered permanent damage at the hands of Ellis Manor personnel. Based on her own experience, she argues that the state needs to investigate reports of nursing home abuse much faster, and she hopes her mother’s story may provoke some policy change so that other residents will be spared a similar fate.
The case is now being opened for a criminal investigation by the Hartford Police Department, according to Patricia.
Protecting our most vulnerable population
Nurse’s aides and other staff employed in nursing homes and assisted care facilities have a duty to treat their patients with the dignity and respect they deserve. Reports of physical, emotional or financial abuse or gross neglect are punishable by law.
The Sanders Firm provides steadfast advocacy to victims of elder neglect and abuse in New York. To discuss your case with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney, please call 1-800-FAIRPLAY for a free consultation.
- FOX News 61, East Hartford woman claims nursing home staff abused her mom, says state didn’t act fast enough http://fox61.com/2015/11/16/east-hartford-woman-claims-nursing-home-staff-abused-her-mom-says-state-didnt-act-fast-enough/
- CT Department of Public Health, Mandatory Reporters of Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation, and Impaired Practitioners http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3121&q=389520