Neglected WWII Vet Dies in Nursing Home, Crying Out for Help

November 20, 2017 | Crandall & Pera Law
Neglected WWII Vet Dies in Nursing Home, Crying Out for Help

James Dempsey was a decorated WWII veteran. He died in 2014, at the age of 94, while at the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center. On the day he died, he called out for help six times: “Nurse, help me please!” he called. “I can’t breathe.”

By the time the nurses showed up, Mr. Dempsey was unresponsive. It took an hour before anyone called 911. The staff started and stopped CPR multiple times, and laughed when they could not get his oxygen machine to work. We know this happened, because a DeKalb County judge allowed WXIA-TV to publish the hidden camera video footage that showed exactly what happened.

WARNING: the following video is graphic in nature. Viewer discretion is advised.

The nursing home learned of the video in 2015, but it took then 10 months to fire the nurses, according to a USA Today report. Newsweek reports that it took until September of 2017 – three years – before the nurses were made to surrender their licenses. Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation is still open and operational, despite “Medicare records show[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][ing] the nursing home facility was cited at least two dozen times for serious health and safety violations, including ‘immediate jeopardy’ levels, the worst violation. Medicare withdrew one payment and the facility has been fined $813,113 since 2015.”

This type of abuse and neglect is not unique to Georgia

What happened to Mr. Dempsey is horrific, but it is far from a one-off experience. In August of 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General issued a memo about its ongoing research into reports of abuse and neglect in nursing homes which take on Medicare patients. (Private facilities, or facilities which do not accept Medicare, will not be included.) That memo is damning:

“For example, OIG’s recent audit reports on critical incident reporting at group homes showed that group home providers did not report up to 15 percent of critical incidents to the appropriate State agencies. Furthermore, OIG’s study of adverse events in [Skilled Nursing Facilities, or SNFs] found that an estimated 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their SNF stays. These adverse events included infections, pressure ulcers, and medication-induced bleeding. Medical record review determined that 69 percent of these patient-harm events could have been prevented had the SNF provided better care. Over half of the residents harmed during their SNF stays required hospital care to treat the adverse event.”

Kentucky has also had more than its fair share of problems when it comes to abuse and neglect. As we discussed in September, Kentucky is among the worst offenders in the country. Brian Lee, the executive director of the non-profit citizen advocacy group Families for Better Care, told the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that “there’s widespread abuse, neglect, mistreatment of residents occurring in far too many nursing homes.”

Earlier this year, the Courier-Journal reported on Kentucky’s poor rankings for long-term care services for the elderly and disabled, as well as the State’s programs for transitioning elderly individuals into assisted living facilities and nursing homes. The rankings, compiled by the AARP Foundation, said “Kentucky’s worst ranking – 49th – came in quality of life and quality of care. That’s a broad category that encompasses such measures as the rate of employment for working-age adults with certain disabilities; the percent of high-risk nursing home residents with pressure sores; and the percent of long-stay nursing home residents who are receiving an antipsychotic medication.”

What happened to Mr. Dempsey is beyond tragic. At Crandall & Pera Law, we fight on behalf of Kentucky families and nursing home residents who have suffered pain and loss because of the negligent or abusive actions of nurses, doctors, staff and volunteers. If your loved one has been hurt, we may be able to help. Please call 877-686-8879 or fill out our contact form to learn more.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]