Healthcare workers fired for sexual mistreatment of elderly

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2011 4:39 PM
Healthcare workers fired for sexual mistreatment of elderly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four nursing home workers in upstate New York were fired for sexually humiliating two elderly patients with a history of mental problems, a state report revealed this week.

The Department of Health document released to Reuters on Wednesday detailed misconduct that occurred at Northgate Health Care Facility in North Tonawanda, New York, in April 2010.

It said two nursing assistants, Gloria Maxwell, 24, and Alicia Clemens, whose age was not revealed, put a male patient who is legally blind and has dementia into bed with a female patient, who suffers from mild retardation and schizophrenia.

They tried to trick the man into thinking the woman was his wife, even as his actual wife was in the room, the report said.

Using "sexually provocative commentary" to get the patients to touch each other, the nursing assistants then took cell phone pictures of the whole ordeal. Laughing, Clemens later shared the cell phone pictures with other employees, the report added.

Upon learning of the incidents, the facility notified the state Health Department, which investigated the matter.

The facility fired both assistants, as well as Jaclyn Cannon and Heather Whitcomb, two staff members who witnessed the incident but did not report it to their supervisors, the report said.

Officials at the nursing home in North Tonawanda, roughly 20 miles north of Buffalo, and attorneys for Maxwell and Clemens could not be immediately reached for comment.

Maxwell and Clemens were each fined $4,000 by the state and are no longer considered "in good standing," a status required in order to find employment at another nursing home, state records show. Cannon and Whitcomb were fined $500 each but remain in good standing, the report said.

None was criminally charged since their actions "did not rise to the level of criminal activity," Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said. He added that the state found no wrongdoing in the way the facility reported the abuse.

(Reporting by Aman Ali, Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Steve Gorman)