An East Hartford woman is claiming that the Department of Public Health (DPH) in Connecticut dragged its feet when asked to investigate her claims that nursing home employees were abusing her mother.
In 2012, Patricia J. noticed suspicious scratch marks on her 88-year-old mother, who was being cared for in the Hartford nursing home Ellis Manor. When she questioned the staff, they suggested that perhaps the scratches were self-inflicted. However, her mother continued to have new scratches even while wearing gloves; new scratches failed to appear only when she stayed overnight with her mother.
After two years of getting insufficient answers from staff, Patricia J. set up a hidden camera. Reviewing six weeks of footage, she found scenes in which her mother was shoved by staff and left without the oxygen that she required. There was also footage of a nurse’s aid spinning her oxygen tubes.
Patricia had been trying to get the DPH’s assistance for years, but it was only when she took the footage directly to the nursing home that she got a response: eight nurses assistants were fired, and its administrator and director of nursing were replaced.
DPH’s response to abuse allegations found insufficient
Patricia J. had initially spoken to a Connecticut DPH state inspector about her suspicions of nursing home abuse in 2012, but was told that there was no need for an investigation unless she had further evidence. She said she again contacted the DPH after taking the video showing abuse.
She says that she kept calling, telling the department, “”I have facts. I have proof. I need to speak to someone now. Can you have someone call me back? I need to speak to a manager.’ Well, they told me…that that’s not policy and procedure. You send something in writing and we get it in the mail, and once we get it and review it and if it’s something that needs to be investigated, we go out there and we do it.”
When she was told that it would take three to six months for the state to take action, it was then that she decided to go directly to the nursing home. The DPH then began their own investigation when Ellis Manor submitted the video evidence, as they are required to do.
The DPH, which found 22 violations as part of the investigation, finally met with Patricia. She said, “When I told them that someone at their unit said that it would take three to six months before they contact a person who sends in stuff like this, they said no, this is gonna be changing.”
Elder abuse victims and legal rights
Nursing home patients have the right to live in an environment that is free of abuse, including physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, and neglect. Nursing home facilities are responsible not only for the behavior of employees toward patients, but also for the behavior of patients who abuse other patients.
If you believe that a loved one has been victimized in any of these ways, you have the right to request an investigation from the nursing home or from state authorities. Victims and their families may also be entitled to compensation through filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye offer legal advice to those who have reason to believe that a loved one has suffered elder neglect or nursing home abuse in Long Island. Please contact us at 1-800-469-7429 to set up a free case review.