A former nursing home worker in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania could spend up to a year behind in prison for abusing a patient.
On Wednesday, Joshua Wegielewski of Scranton was sentenced to three to 12 months behind bars, Scranton television station Newswatch 16 reports. Prosecutors say that in October 2014 Wegielewski hit and dragged a 76-year-old patient at the Green Ridge Gardens nursing home.
Court documents in the case say the certified nursing assistant assaulted a resident at a nursing home in Scranton in October. The woman suffers from dementia. Wegielewski and a co-worker held the woman’s door shut so she could not leave her room. The documents also indicate the victim was dragged by her arms and wrists, causing multiple bruises.
Wegielewski’s attorney says his client was trying to help an agitated patient. He said his client “is just a kid,” and that he was “taking direction from people who are not only older, but more qualified, better educated, who have been there longer. And he’s taking direction from them. You know ‘hold the door, stay here, don’t let her out.’ That’s all he’s doing,” Newswatch 16 reports. Assistant district attorney Susan Price said, “Not only did he restrain her in her room, but the way he grabbed her and forced her and pushed her into the room and caused her bruising was uncalled for.” A certified nursing assistant working that night testified in court that he witnessed the alleged abuse. The coworker said Wegielewski told him the victim slapped him. The witness said a few minutes later he overheard the victim telling Wegielewski to get his hands off of her after following her into her room. Video surveillance also allegedly shows the victims swinging her arms at Wegielewski. The victim has reportedly recovered and now lives in a new nursing home.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about one in 20 nursing home patients is the victim of abuse or neglect, but the center says the number may be far higher because much of this mistreatment goes unreported. Many nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities are understaffed, with poorly trained and poorly paid staff. Too few staff members struggle to care for too many patients and this creates the potential for neglect and abuse.
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