A local nursing home is appealing a $5,000 fine it recently received from the State Department of Health in connection with the attempted rape of a resident there in late July.
Bill Pierce, administrator of AmeriCare Living Center of New Castle, said he was notified about a week ago concerning the fine, one that he feels is unfair to the facility for a variety of reasons.
“We have appealed the fine and the citation, we have met with the state officials and are currently waiting to have it revoked,” Pierce said.
The fine was levied in connection with the attempted rape of a resident by a former employee at the center. Brandon Thompson, 21, of 1614 Roosevelt Ave., was arrested for attempted rape, a Class B felony, when he allegedly exposed himself after washing and dressing an invalid resident.
Another employee at the center allegedly saw Thompson expose himself and told authorities the patient was in a precarious position in her bed. That employee immediately notified supervisors who removed Thompson from the room. Authorities were notified and Thompson was terminated from his position that same day.
He now faces a Dec. 10 trial date in Henry Superior Court 2. A motion for a continuance in that case is still under consideration.
Pierce says the facility has done and continues to do everything it possibly can. He believes it is undeserving of punishment by the state.
“The facility contends that despite pro-active steps to prohibit abuse, an individual remains responsible for his/her independent actions,” Pierce said. “The facility can not be responsible for a criminal act of an individual employee when all necessary precautions have been taken and training has been conducted. Further, the fact that the former employee’s effort was thwarted serves as evidence that operational policies and procedures at the facility were effective.”
Pierce added that the facility does limited criminal history checks on all non-licensed employees to ensure that they are suitable to care for the elderly population. The background check was done on Thompson, he said, and turned up no cause for alarm.
Pierce also emphasized that it was the nursing home which first contacted the Indiana Department of Health after the assault occurred. Pierce and others involved local authorities in a full investigation, welcomed an on-site visit by state officials and followed all necessary procedures.
“It is safe to say that if police or the prosecutor felt it was a repeat or serial situation, they would have furthered their investigation,” Pierce said. “It’s extremely unfortunate when the actions of one individual affect so many people.”
Pierce said state officials have told him a decision on facility’s appeal might be made in a couple of weeks.
“The staff of the facility continues to move toward healing in regard to this occurrence which gravely affected all involved,” Pierce said. “Professional grief counseling was provided to employees following the incident.”
Pierce said he’s been pleased with the way his staff has responded to this difficult situation.
“The bond between caregivers of the facility has grown stronger as the employees feel even more protective of the residents whom they see as their own family. The facility will continue aggressive abuse prohibition training and monitoring of the performance of employees in an effort to ensure the safety and welfare of the residents entrusted to its care.
And while he works to clear the facility’s record, Pierce added that he and other staff members would work hard to make sure justice is done.
“The facility will support local authorities to ensure the former employee will no longer be involved in any manner with a dependent population.”