Multiple guilty pleas closed the book on “troubling acts of abuse and neglect” at Mohawk Valley Health Care Center, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
In August 2015, former nursing director Nicolle Wagner-Stinson pleaded guilty to cover up charges concerning an incident that involved resident-on-resident sexual abuse that took place in an unsupervised dining room. During the allocution, Ms. Wagner-Stinson also admitted to falsifying medical and prescription drug records. Three months later, Gerald Wood III received three years’ probation after pleading guilty to attempted eavesdropping on a federal employee, and co-owner Justin Wood was ordered to pay a fine after pleading guilty to tampering with evidence. Finally, former administrator John Prendergast is scheduled to be sentenced later this winter, after his December admission that he tried to destroy a witness statement from a New York State Department of Health officer.
As part of a separate civil settlement, the Wood family cannot own any interest in a residential healthcare facility for at least one year.
Nursing Home Abuse
There is an abuse allegation at one in three skilled care facilities in the country, and according to a recent survey, a significant number of these incidents involves an “immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury.” An industry spokesperson insisted that the numbers were inflated, because facilities must report all incidents, however serious.
But the fact is that elderly residents are so physically frail that any physical or emotional force often causes severe physical or emotional injuries. Moreover, the old adage of “where there’s smoke there’s fire” is often true in these cases, since seemingly minor incidents are often only indicators of systemic abuse.
So, if your loved one shares any concerns about abuse, these concerns probably have at least some validity. Common forms of abuse include:
- Resident on Resident: As illustrated in the above story, lack of staffing often leads to physical abuse and neglect, because potentially bad situations are not dealt with quickly enough.
- Caregiver on Resident: Low staff levels also create a stressful environment, and frayed nerves easily spill over into a push or shove.
- Relative on Resident: Many times, this abuse is financial, as unscrupulous relative try to force residents to sign wills and other financial documents.
Damages in a nursing home abuse case include compensation for economic and noneconomic losses. A negligence lawsuit also casts light on ongoing abusive practices, to protect other residents as well.
Nursing home abuse is far too common in New York. For a free consultation with attorneys who stand up to injustice, contact our office. After hours and offsite visits are available.