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Florida Nursing Home Fined for Mishandling Sexual Abuse Case

Nursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that the state of Florida recently fined Avante at Ormond Beach Nursing Home $36,000 for improper handling of a sexual abuse claim. The allegation was reported by a resident who said an employee crawled into bed with her roommate.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration sent investigators in after the claim was filed, and found that the nursing home was not adhering to an adequate standard of care. This noncompliance, they determined, was likely to lead to serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to the patients in that facility. The state initially ordered a $45,000 fine, but later settled in the lower amount.

The incident occurred in January 2012. One of Avante’s residents witnessed an employee climb into bed with her female roommate, and, although the witness reported it, nursing home staff failed to notify local police or social services. Avante at Ormond Beach has 133 beds, and is on a state and national watch list for repeated and consistent violations. In its most recent inspection, in February 2013, officials noted several violations, such as excessive medication errors, inadequate food, and deficient infection-control policies.

Florida just issued the facility a conditional license, which means that it is on high-notice, and subject to frequent inspections. Each individual state determines standards for fines for nursing homes, and among Florida’s standards, this fine is quite considerable. The most serious long-term care violations typically result in an average fine of about $40,000. Avante at Ormond Beach recently sent a plan of corrective action to the state, which was accepted by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

In a similar case in Ohio, a 65-year-old man was recently imprisoned for sexually assaulting an 85-year-old woman in a nursing home where they were both residents. He was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent and sexual assault, and aggravated indecent assault. The victim, an Alzheimer’s patient, was assaulted in January 2013 at Maple Farm Nursing Center.

According to the police report, a nurse and nursing assistant noticed the man, Glenn Hershey, exiting the woman’s room at 1:30 a.m. The two nurses asked if she had had a visitor, to which the patient replied she did not. Three hours later, two of the facility’s other nursing assistants went into her room to administer care. They found her uncovered, nude from the waist down, and as workers began to care for her, she complained of pain in her abdomen and genital area. The nursing assistants noted much redness in the area.

Hershey was a registered sex offender under Ohio’s Megan’s Law, which Maple Farm was aware of. Newspaper records from 1993 indicate that Hershey contacted a Philadelphia escort service requesting a woman for $1,000. When the woman arrived and discovered he had no intention of paying, he sexually assaulted her. He pled guilty to the assault, and was sentenced to 1 ½ to 5 years in prison.

Another female resident stated that Hershey admitted to her to entering the Alzheimer’s resident’s room and having sexual contact with her. He was arrested that same day and taken into custody, where he admitted again to the assault. He was issued a notice of discharge and will not be allowed to return to the facility, where staff immediately took measures to protect the residents.

Unfortunately, predators often target dementia patients for their attacks because those in the later stages are unable to cognitively recount what exactly happened to them. Alzheimer’s patients account for a large percentage of our nation’s nursing home residents, and all steps must be taken to ensure their safety. This nursing home failed to prevent a despicable act of elder abuse, and must be held accountable.

Senior abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins urge anyone who knows of an unreported act of elder abuse to contact authorities as soon as possible. Our attorneys have decades of experience working with nursing home residents and their families, and will guide you through the process of filing a claim and obtaining maximum compensation.