Despite the prevalence of so-called “nanny cams” and increased attention into the mounting scandals concerning nursing home abuse, yet another case of elder abuse is making headlines. This time, says NJ.com, a nurse’s aide hit an 87-year-old paralyzed woman, Modesta Alvarado, several times in her head. The assault, said police Lt. Frank Cannella, was recorded.
The attack took place on January 15th at The Harborage nursing home, a part of the Palisades Medical Center, said NJ.com. The woman’s daughter placed the nanny cam in her mother’s room after she saw a number of suspect bruises on her mother’s body, said Cannella. Mrs. Alvarado had been living at The Harborage for nearly one year and was both terminally ill and paralyzed; she died the day after the recorded attack, but her death was not ruled as a homicide according to the Hudson County prosecutor, said NJ.com.
“The daughter showed us the tape and it was pretty quiet there (in the department) for a couple moments this was very disturbing,” Cannella said at a press conference on Friday, quoted NJ.com. The tape was received on February 23rd and followed with an arrest of Julia Galvan, 59, on March 2. Wrote NJ.com. According to Cannella, Galvan was charged with three crimes: “Assault, abandonment, and neglect of the elderly,” said NJ.com. Galvan was released after posting $5,000 bail.
The footage shows Galvan repeatedly hitting Alvarado in her head several times and “violently” removing her oxygen mask, said Cannella, who noted that Galvan was not licensed to remove oxygen masks, explained NJ.com. “These are the disturbing portions of the video that I’ve been here 29-years and seen quite a bit it was difficult for me to watch,” Cannella said, quoted NJ.com.
Although it remains unknown how long Galvan worked at the facility, she has since been fired. “The Harborage takes this issue very seriously. We have a zero tolerance policy with respect to the improper treatment of any of our residents,” a hospital spokesman said, quoted NJ.com. The spokesman also said that they met with family members of residents and staff to discuss the abuse issue.
North Bergen police and the Special Victim’s Unit of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office are planning on reviewing the video footage “the nanny cam ran for a week” to determine if other charges are warranted or other issues are revealed, said NJ.com. As for the bruising found by Mrs. Alvarez’s daughter, the facility reported those to the state Department of Health (DOH), said NJ.com; however, the DOH said that while regulations were not broken, the hospital was out of compliance with its policy of reporting skin condition changes to nursing staff.
We have long been reporting on the growing tragedy of nursing home abuse with increasing frequency. For instance, a case in California in which a grandmother, placed in a facility by a reluctant family who felt she needed additional care, was physically abused and neglected. Before her death in the facility “a very short time after she arrived” her grandson equipped her bed with a Granny-Cam. And, while staff, aware of the device, unplugged the cam (against family wishes and without their knowledge) routinely, the camera did capture some abuse, which is at the center of litigation and a probe. Fair Oaks, the facility involved, has since been shut down and all residents have been placed elsewhere.
Late last year we wrote that, in a massive verdict, nursing home operator Skilled Healthcare, was mandated to pay over $671 million in a class-action lawsuit after having been found to have neglected to provide appropriate staffing at its assisted-living locations, said the Associated Press (AP) at the time. The complaint involved 32,000 patients at 22 facilities. Since, five other nursing home abuse lawsuits have been filed in that state, with each alleging insufficient staffing. A number of other emerging cases have also alleged insufficient staffing against Evergreen California Healthcare, Thekkek Health Services, Beverly Healthcare California, Kindred Healthcare, Covenant Care, and Emerald Gardens Nursing Center, all involving negligence and injury to residents.