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Shameful Conditions Continue in Adult Homes

Aug 19, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

We have long been reporting on the horrendous conditions in some of this country’s nursing homes as well as some of the abuses suffered by nursing home residents.  In one such case, 54-year-old resident Karen Preston left the Roscoe Manor Adult Home in uptate New York; stumbled into the woods about a mile away; fell repeatedly; wandered in circles; curled up under a tree; and was found by police, two days later, frozen.  Her socks were nearby and she was not wearing shoes.  The medical examiner ruled that she died of hypothermia.  Preston suffered from severe schizophrenia and lived in Roscoe Manor because she needed help with daily activities and self-care.

In many of this country’s worst adult homes, residents are routinely subjected to neglect, filth, and indifference according to a Times Herald-Record investigation found.  A year after the Preston disappearance, another Roscoe Manor resident—Ella Maye—left the home.  Maye, 78, suffered from dementia and heart disease and state police believe she suffered a fatal heart arrhythmia as she was trying to crawl back to Roscoe Manor when she collapsed on a neighbor's front lawn and died.  Roscoe Manor is supposed to conduct hourly bed checks; however, owner Charles Benson said an employee had failed to do so.  No one noticed Ella Maye was missing.

Adult home inspection reports and history documented by state agencies reveal that residents of some New York's Hudson Valley adult homes are at a significant risk of illness, injury, or even death due to carelessness or negligence on the part of the homes' operators and staff.  Inspections at 22 licensed adult homes in Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange counties from 2001-2007 revealed 846 violations were found to directly affect the safety or well being of its residents.  State documents indicate that in some cases, residents are left to sit in soiled clothing, are subject to physically or verbally abusive staffers, and suffer repeated cases of mismanaged medications.

Further, state oversight has been ineffective in regulating these homes.  For instance, in 2005, a Narrowsburg Adult Home resident with a long history of substance abuse and mental illness set three fires in the home in one day.  In the first two events, staff told the alarm company there was no fire; emergency services were not notified.  The third fire so badly damaged a wing of the building that 20 residents required relocation.  Inspectors found the building’s sprinkler system had not been properly maintained or repaired and was rendered inoperable.  Also, staff was not supervising residents’ medication doses.  In 2006, inspectors reported that a 16-year-old was routinely assigned to work a shift on Fridays and Saturdays.  Another inspection found no staffers present and residents were roaming about.  Residents complained that workers routinely locked themselves in the kitchen at night.

In 2006, the Jeffersonville Adult Home neglected to seek help for a resident who waded into a creek after threatening to jump in, and who slashed her wrists soon after in a suicide attempt; a resident who repeatedly injured herself and threatened suicide; and a resident who assaulted staff and punched an elderly resident in the face.  A 2002 inspection of Monticello Manor found a staffer in a room shouting at a naked resident with the door open and the resident's roommate present.  A state inspector noted that an employee put new bed sheets on top of a wet, urine-stained mattress.


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