A ninety-four year old woman reported being sexually assaulted by an unknown male at the Brookdale Atrium Way 2 nursing home in the Regency area of Jacksonville last April. According to the victim, the perpetrator was wearing scrubs. At the hospital, it was confirmed that she was sexually assaulted. According to her lawyers, DNA testing suggests that the assailant may not have been an employee of the nursing home. No one has been arrested.
The woman has hired lawyers to file a lawsuit for nursing home neglect. Notably, two other residents have reported being assaulted at the same nursing home this year, including one other rape and one attempted rape. Descriptions of the perpetrator in each instance have been vague. Family members and residents have expressed concerns and questions remain whether they were not fully informed of the nature of the attacks.
Assuming the assailant was not an employee, the woman’s lawsuit will focus on the security measures taken to ensure strangers do not walk into the nursing home without being screened – which can prove to be a difficult task for nursing home operators. If it turns out that the assailant was an employee, the lawsuit will focus on whether that employee was appropriately screened and whether there were prior incidents or complaints regarding his behavior.
Nursing homes can provide an environment attractive to opportunistic predators. There are a lot of people coming and going in a nursing home including family members, medical providers that are not employed by the nursing home, employees brought in from a temp agency, and private nurses and assistants hired by family members. In addition, there is a lot of employee turnover at nursing homes so new people in scrubs are a common sight. A person in scrubs can easily walk into almost any nursing home, past the information desk and into a resident’s room.
Sexual assaults in nursing homes are a significant problem. Elderly people can be targeted due to physical and cognitive infirmities, making getting away with such a crime more likely. All nursing homes are aware of this potential problem and are charged with the duty to take necessary measures in an effort to prevent sexual assaults.
Generally speaking, Brookdale Atrium Way 2 receives fairly good ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as reflected on its Nursing Home Compare website, which has assigned it an overall rating of four out of five stars. It received a “quality measures” rating of five stars, a “staffing rating” of four stars and a “health inspection rating” of only two stars.
“Quality measures” ratings are based on various factors regarding the health of residents including: how often residents have to be sent to a hospital; how often residents have to be sent to the emergency room; the number of residents receiving anti-psychotic medications; and the development or worsening of bedsores. “Staffing ratings” are based on each nursing home’s report of the number of nurses and nurse assistants that worked during a given time frame compared to the number of residents living at the nursing home. The “health inspection” rating focuses on the safety of the building, food service, medication management, housekeeping and maintenance. Continue reading