Our Port St. Lucie nursing home abuse attorneys were appalled to learn about an attack on an 81-year-old female nursing home patient by a staff worker in North Florida.
While we’ve had numerous instances of nursing home abuse in Port St. Lucie and throughout southern Florida, an incident like this anywhere in the state is cause for alarm because it indicates a breakdown of the overall system.
We know from experience that nursing home abuse is severely under-reported. This is do to a myriad of reasons that include the fact that the patient may not have the capability of telling someone when something awful has happened.
In this case, the octogenarian victim was a dementia patient at a St. Johns County nursing home. We don’t have all the details at this point, but here’s what we know so far, according to local news reports:
A 53-year-old staff member has been charged with abusing the woman after he was allegedly caught holding a pillow over the woman’s face.
The victim reportedly screamed for help and a co-worker who was near the victim’s room heard her yelling, “Stop, don’t do that.” It was about 2:30 a.m. The co-worker peered in and saw the male nurse’s assistant holding a pillow tight over the victim’s face.
Upon seeing his co-worker, the man reportedly threw the pillow by the headboard of the bed and yelled, “Don’t hit me.” He then threatened that if she continued with her alleged hitting, he would take her to the shower room.
The co-worker rightfully reported the incident immediately to a supervisor, who called police.
The police report indicates that the woman, who suffers from dementia, has a history of yelling out, “Stop, don’t do that,” while she is in the shower or being changed. This raises a huge red flag for our Port St. Lucie nursing home abuse lawyers. In so many of these cases where physical or sexual abuse is occurring, the patient may not be able to clearly vocalize what’s happening to them, but there are often indicators – and this is a huge one.
The suspect in this case is charged with abuse of an elderly person, which is defined in FL Statute 825.102. This is considered a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that this is the not incident of outright abuse of patients at this particular facility.
Last fall, a 25-year-old female staff member reportedly became angry when the victim asked for help reaching the toilet paper. She allegedly grabbed her arm and pulled it hard. One of the reported witnesses in that case? The man who was just arrested for the pillow-over-the-face incident.
News reports indicate that there had been a previous complaint against the male staffer for sexual abuse of a patient, though that was never definitively proven and he continued his employment there.
One bright spot in all of this is that the man’s co-worker’s did act quickly in reporting the alleged abuse to authorities. So often, that is not the case, and we never learn the truth.
If you or a loved one have suffered from nursing home abuse in Port St. Lucie or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Nursing home aide accused of abusing dementia patient, By Jim Schoettler, Morris News Service
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Davie Nursing Home Abuse Reforms Dead in Water, March 25, 2012, Port St. Lucie Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog