A nursing home aide said she recorded an incident at the end of March involving a patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia being repeatedly sweared at by another aide. She said she also believes her reporting of the incident led to her dismissal two weeks later.
But the nursing home’s administrator said that it was the nursing home itself that notified the Department of Health after the aide came forward.
“We take all reports of abuse seriously and we investigate each of them,” he said.
The dismissed aide said she had worked as a certified nursing assistant at the nursing home for about seven months when the incident occurred, and that the woman heard on her cell phone recording was an assistant as well. In the 30-second recording, a woman can be clearly heard swearing and calling the patient in question derogatory names.
An unidentifiable sound that the aide says is the other woman hitting the patient’s hand is followed by a harsh command: “Be nice.”
The male patient was not doing anything to provoke the other employee, but rather began repeating “be nice” over and over toward the end of the incident, she said.
“I understand this guy is normally combative … (but) she kind of went into his room with the attitude that he was going to have an attitude,” she said. “She didn’t give him a chance to see if he was going to be in his better mood.”
The dismissed aide said she and the other assistant worked together for two shifts on the evening of the incident, and that she observed questionable behavior almost immediately.
“She was kind of rude to all of the residents, really,” she said. “She wasn’t really, really bad; it was just a weird attitude.”
She said she took her concerns to a supervising nurse who excused the woman’s behavior by saying she was probably tired, she said.
Not satisfied with that answer, the aide broke company policy by bringing her cell phone with her on the second shift and captured the recording.
When the supervising nurse continued to brush off her concerns, she took the matter to a charge nurse at the facility, and from there the report was taken seriously, she said.
She said she met with facility administrators, who in turn notified the state health department, and copies of the phone recording were made.
Although administrators praised her for reporting the incident, she said she began having conflicts with other nurses and nursing assistants at the facility shortly afterward, some of whom felt she should have been disciplined for having her personal phone at work that day.
“One day everything is, ‘Oh, you did a great job,’ and the next day they’re all throwing a fit because I didn’t get in trouble for having my phone,” she said. “It was just a whole stupid game of trying to get me kicked out of there, and then finally they (her supervisors) said they would probably have to terminate me.” For more, read the story.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is
dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing
home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke,
Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.