KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/KSMO) — Before COVID-19 visitor restrictions at nursing homes, a concerned family member placed a camera inside their loved one’s room to see exactly what was going on.
What they found on that recording led to charges against two now former employees.
KCTV5 first told you about this case in July of last year when the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging released a list of troubled nursing homes with persistently poor health inspections.
On Thursday, KCTV5’s Emily Rittman with did this follow up report.
According to a Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services inspection report, the family didn’t hide the camera. They placed it below a television in their relative’s room.
Investigators said the abuse happened in March of last year. The suspects were charged this week.
In the early morning hours inside a room at the Garden Valley Healthcare Center off Granby Avenue in Kansas City in 2019, a then 71-year-old man fell out of his bed.
He lay naked on the floor trapped between the bed and a wall with a mattress on top of him
. He cried out for help for approximately 10 minutes.
Due to his health conditions, including a brain disorder, he has difficulty with balance and cannot stand or walk without extensive assistance.
Once staff did arrive, the video showed them cursing and berating the man for falling. According to court records, one staff member said, “If you get back down there, you have to stay down there. I don’t give a damn.” The camera recorded staff using other expletives.
“We are glad to see that these former employees of our center have been charged,” said Fred Stratmann.
Stratmann, a spokesperson for CommuniCare Family of Companies, said that following the abuse investigation and recent inspections their company increased training at their Garden Valley location and interviewed residents.
“To make sure it is an isolated incident and nothing systemic,” he said. “We replaced a lot of the management staff in that building because we recognized it wasn’t being well run. Residents weren’t being served as well as they should have.”
During the last standard health inspection, inspectors found 30 health deficiencies. In the past three years, 55 complaints resulted in a citation.
We asked Dollar, Burns & Becker attorney Rachel Stahle what concerned family members can do if they question care at a nursing home or facility.
“Make sure that they are in a place that is close enough that you can visit regularly,” she said. “The people who have regular visitors tend to get better care because these staff members know that someone is checking up on them, someone is going to notice.”
During COVID-19 visitor restrictions, she is recommending families take additional steps and contact a long-term care ombudsmen if they have complaints or concerns.
“If it is possible, give your loved one an iPhone or other device where you can have a Facetime or other call so you can lay eyes on them,” Stahle said.
In this case, former employees Aisha Silas and Muriel Jackson-Kuofie are both charged with abuse of a healthcare recipient.
If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, both Kansas and Missouri have hotlines to report issues.
Missouri Adult and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-0210
Kansas Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-842-0078
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