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South Carolina Investigates Westminster Towers after Abuse Reports

Nursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that a nursing home in South Carolina, Westminster Towers in Rock Hill, is currently under investigation for failing to prevent abuse. The state opened investigations after staff failed to report allegations of abuse at the facility.

The retirement and skilled nursing facility allegedly failed to comply with state regulations, which require it to report all suspected incidents of abuse to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The department regulates and oversees all nursing homes and retirement communities in the state.

The investigation was sparked by a parallel investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which suspected abuse at Westminster Towers in March 2013. The unit receivedan anonymous call that month, pointing to a specific certified nursing assistant that was fired for sexually abusing a 71-year-old resident.

The caller told police that a co-worker walked in on the nursing assistant, a 49-year-old male, sexually assaulting the resident. He was subsequently fired, however, the caller was concerned that the abuse was never reported to the proper authorities. Indeed, the incident occurred in September 2012, however, police were not notified and the man was not arrested until nearly four months after that.

The victim lived in the health center of Westminster Towers, but has since moved out of South Carolina. The abuser was employed for about one year in the facility’s health center. South Carolina requires such incidents of abuse to be reported to the certification bureau within 24 hours, and to the Division of Health Licensing in writing within 10 days. Westminster Towers, however, failed to report the abuse whatsoever, and is now subject to significant fines and citations.

In a similar story, a nursing home in Florida is currently facing fines and investigations over allegations of abuse. The facility, Silvercrest Manor Nurisng Home in Crestview, is accused to failing to implement policies to prevent abuse, a critical measure for any skilled nursing facility. According to reports, several members of the staff were aware of rough and abusive treatment toward residents, including refusal of services and care.

The state proposed to fine Silvercrest $13,500 for its failure to prevent abuse, along with placement on the state’s “watch list.” Facilities on the watch list are subject to unannounced inspections about every six months. About one in five nursing homes in Florida are on this watch list – a number far too high considering the sheer volume of senior citizens residing in the state. No Silvercrest staff members have been disciplined as a result of the citation. Just last year, in 2012, Silvercrest was issued two citations, a Class 1 and Class 2, resulting in immediate fines.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, a former nursing home employee was convicted of elder financial abuse and ordered to spend up to 15 years in prison. Her accomplice, however, who helped her steal $100,000 from residents, was able to avoid jailtime. The $100,000 was stolen in nearly 400 separate acts of theft, from patients at Shady Lawn Nursing Home and Vicksburg Convalescent Center.

Unfortunately, this kind of abuse in our nation’s nursing homes is only increasing, as the baby boomers age and become more and more vulnerable. Assisted living facilities in the U.S. are chronically understaffed, leading to over-worked, over-stressed and under-paid employees, who are unable to adequately care for all residents under their watch.

Nursing home abuse and negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins encourage anyone with an aging loved one to become aware and well-versed in the warning signs of elder abuse and neglect. Our attorneys are also always available to review your potential nursing home case, free of cost and obligations, to help guide you through the legal process.