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Articles Posted in Physical Abuse

A Ventura nursing home called Fillmore Convalescent Center, its owner, and one of its employees were hit with a $7.75 million verdict yesterday after a jury found them liable for elder abuse. It has to be one of the largest verdicts in California in a case involving nursing home abuse or neglect.

The facts are egregious. In 2006, the family of 71-year-old Maria Arellano, a stroke victim who was also non-verbal, began to notice suspicious bruising. They complained to the nursing home administration, but it failed to look into it. The family then placed a hidden camera in Ms. Arellano’s room, which caught caregiver Monica Garcia slapping Arellano, pulling her hair, bending her fingers, and treating her violently. When the tape was revealed, Garcia was charged with criminal acts, and the family brought an elder abuse lawsuit against the nursing home.

The lawyer for Arellano, Greg Johnson, must have done an excellent job. He told the Ventura County Star that he offered to settle the case for $500,000, but was rebuffed. The nursing home, through its attorney Tom Beach, never offered a dime to resolve the case. “There was a lot of arrogance,” said Johnson.

California should take heed. Illinois has been housing mentally ill felons with the elderly in state nursing homes and the results have not been pretty. An elderly woman was raped by an ex-convict, a frail man had his throat slashed, and in one home a wheelchair-bound man died of massive head injuries that a doctor said it looked like he was hit with a baseball bat.

According to one report, mentally ill patients make up over 15% of Illinois’ nursing home patient population, and among them are approximately 3,000 ex-felons with histories of serious crimes. Nursing home owners downplay that numbers of violent attacks, arguing they are miniscule in context to the whole, but there is a growing concern. The states largest nursing home owner’s association has advocated an end to the practice, asking state officials to create separate facilities for those residents who may pose a danger to others.

While the population of U.S. residents is aging, those who can afford to do so are opting from home health or assisted living care over traditional nursing home or convalescent hospitals.

After 15 years of bouncing from nursing home to nursing home, and living with the indignities, the mother of a quadriplegic and brain injured daughter had had enough. On Sunday, September 13, Diana Harden wrote a note to a television news station exposing the problems she encountered trying to care for her daughter, then went to the nursing and shot her daughter to death, before turning the gun on herself.

In her letter to ABC news in the San Francisco Bay area, Harden spoke of the years of abuse and neglect her daughter endured in her nursing home. Yvette Harden, suffered a major brain injury and quadriplegia in a car accident 15 years earlier, and spent the last six years at the Oakland Springs Care Center. Oakland Springs is a nursing facility that had 54 complaints lodged against it in 2008 (which is an astonishing amount), and hundreds of deficiencies.

The letter attempts to explain, “the deaths of my daughter and myself.” In it, Harden says that that nurses called her daughter a “big fat pig,” and that they would “wash her like a car” in the shower. To punish the daughter, Harden claims, the water would be turned cold until she screamed. As a result, Harden wrote that her daughter has been “begging” her to end her life for over two years. The stress was too much.

When police came to a San Bernardino board-and-care home looking for 23-year-old Trevor Castro, they found Castro and a whole lot more. Upon arrival they found a bucket of urine outside the door, and inside found outright squalor. The discovery led to the arrest of the home’s owner, 61-year-old Pensri Sophar Dalton, who is currently being held on 16 counts of felony elder abuse.

According to reports, Dalton, who was called “Mama Sophar,” ran a prison-like home – which was unlicensed – for 22 elderly and mentally ill residents in San Bernardino County. The home was surrounded by cinderblock walls with barbed wire atop. Several residents lived in converted chicken coops with no plumbing. A bucket was used for a toilet.

“None of [the chicken coop rooms] were up to code,” said City Atty. James Penman. “They had some with padlocks on the outside and no emergency exits, which concerned us because it could be used to lock people in as well as lock people out. The smell of urine was horrific; it permeated the entire place.”

Aggressive behavior by nursing home residents is on the rise, and is becoming a big problem in nursing homes and residential care facilities around the country.

Resident-on-resident aggression is substantially more common than previously thought,” said Dr. Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontologist. “While they are mentally impaired, they are not physically impaired. They can do considerable damage.”

It is estimated that roughly half of Americans over the age of 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. With the population of elderly set to explode in the next 20 years – those 65 or older will make up 20 percent of the U.S. population – most experts agree that the problem is only going to get worse.

Police arrested a nursing home resident after he punched a fellow resident because he thought the man was stealing his food. According to new accounts, Ardyce Nauden was charged with aggravated battery after punching 72-year-old and wheelchair-bound Andres Cardona in the face, knocking him unconscious.

Nauden allegedly stated, “He was trying to steal my food and that is why I hit him. I held onto the bed with my right hand and hit him with my left hand.”

Peer-on-peer resident abuse in the nursing home setting is not uncommon. A study by Cornell University found that aggression and violence between residents is more prevalent than abuse or neglect from nursing home employees. According to the Cornell study, peer abuse is nursing home is a problem that has received little attention.

SANTA BARBARA – Sheriffs have arrested a 35-year-old man in the alleged rape of a 36-year-old developmentally disabled woman. Christopher Coates was arrested last Wednesday and is being held on $100,000 bail.

According to new accounts, Coates was a caregiver at a residential care facility in Santa Barbara County (the name has not been released) in June when police received information from an employee, who told police that the victim had complained of being sexually assaulted. An investigation led to the arrest of Coates, who lives in Goleta, and who was no longer employed at the facility at the time of his arrest.

Under California law, the facility could be held responsible for the sexual assault upon the disable adult. California’s Elder Abuse Act applies equally to “dependent adults,” who are defined as individuals between the ages of 18 and 64, and who reside in a custodial care facility.

One nurse twisted a patient’s jaw until he screamed. Another grabbed an elderly man by the shoulders and slammed him against a mattress. Our 70-year-old client was punched in the face by an angry nurse while giving our client a bath.

Charles Ornstein of the LA Times is out with an article today about problem nurses. He highlights a very troubling fact: It sometimes takes years for a formal complaint against a nurse to be addressed by the California Board of Registered Nursing. As Ornstein writes:

It’s a high-stakes gamble that no one will be hurt as nurses with histories of drug abuse, negligence, violence and incompetence continue to provide care across the state. While the inquiries drag on, many nurses maintain spotless records. New employers and patients have no way of knowing the risks.

When Doris Weaver saw her mother’s black eye at the local hospital emergency room where she had been taken from a nursing home, she was stunned.

“She had a bruise from her temple all the way down to her lower earlobe,” said Weaver. “Her eye was black and was swollen.”

Weaver demanded to know what caused her mother’s injury, and even filed a police report, but to date she has gotten now answers…from anyone, even her mother, who cannot speak. [Read the entire story here]

There is a short but solid article in a New Jersey paper today addressing the signs of elder abuse. New Jersey attorney Victoria Dalton lays out the real world signs and symptoms of elder abuse, which she defines simply as taking advantage of the elderly.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is simply the use of physical force which causes bodily injury, pain or some other type of impairment. It can also include hitting, shaking, slapping, kicking, or pinching. The signs to be aware of include bruises, broken limbs, welts, cuts, burns or marks.

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