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Where is the care in senior care?

Care is hard to Come by in a Senior CenterWhen families realize that they are no longer able to provide the necessary care for their aging loved ones, they want nothing but the best professional care for them. One of the greatest fears for these families is that harm comes to their aging relatives. That fear came true for a family in Albany, New York. Sarina Francis – a certified nursing assistant – acknowledged that she broke an elderly patient’s arm while the woman was under her care.

The court and state records show that the nursing home aide did not only break her arm, but two supervisors ignored the woman’s pleas for help for several hours. According to the Albany Times Union, Francis pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly adult. Her sentence, expected in March, may be as high as four years.

More about the incident itself

Francis was escorting the 84 year-old woman to her room when the incident occurred. The certified nursing assistant alleges the woman became combative. The response from Francis was to grab the woman’s wrist and twist her arm behind her head. This caused a fracture in the forearm.

It may have been easy to suggest that the combative nature of the woman was such that Francis overreacted in her response, but upon putting the woman in her room, Francis took off the woman’s incontinence brief. According to the court, Francis would then hit the elderly woman in the head with that brief with such force that the urine splashed across her. The Albany Times Union reports that at that time, Francis once again grabbed the woman’s wrists and forced the elderly resident to hit her own face with her hands repeatedly.

Making matters worse is that it took close to 12 hours before the resident received the medical care she clearly needed. A nursing supervisor examined the woman and despite the bruising and swelling, determined (without the use of an X-ray) that the arm was not broken. It was not until another nursing supervisor ordered an X-ray that the elderly resident finally received confirmation that her arm was in fact broken. The state cited the Hudson Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center because it put the safety and the health of an individual at risk.

Where was the care?

This unfortunate case highlights a number of troubling developments. Not only does a person who is supposed to care for the patient harm her, but then, despite the injured resident’s numerous pleas to the contrary, the supervisors fail to take responsible action. If there was a possibility of injury (which there clearly was in this case), the facility is responsible for determining whether the harm is real. Delaying an X-ray for another 12 hours causes unnecessary suffering.

Despite the worker’s claim that she ‘lost her temper’, that type of reaction is unacceptable and those type of individuals are clearly not capable of working with elderly patients at a long-term care facility. Especially in these cases, where there are obvious mistakes and willful maltreatment of residents, it is important to hold these homes accountable. This goes beyond the abuse; the abuse merely highlights the lack of caring and professionalism in these facilities. Especially considering that these patients require a lot of extra attention and patience, we are left to wonder – where is the care in these senior facilities?

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Learn more about the laws applicable to New York nursing homes here.
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