Friday, May 8, 2009

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Committed by One Nurse Aid at Two Facilities

May 6th, 2009

A New York nursing home worker, who was already facing criminal charges for sexually abusing residents last summer, now faces new charges related to alleged abuses that occurred at another nursing home where he worked months earlier.

The New York Attorney General’s office has filed new charges against Robert Gundersen for misdemeanor forcible touching, felony sex abuse and misdemeanor third-degree sex abuse involving a 78 year-old nursing home resident. The sexual abuse allegedly occurred between December 15, 2007 and January 7, 2008, while he was working as a nurse aide at the Northwoods Rehabilitation Center in Troy.

At the time the charges were filed, Gundersen was already facing nursing home sex abuse charges as a result of forcibly French-kissing a younger wheel-chair bound resident with multiple sclerosis. That abuse allegedly occurred between August 2008 and September 2008, while he was working at the Eddy Ford Nursing Home in Cohoes, New York.

Discovery of the nursing home sexual abuse stems from increased investigations by the New York Attorney General’s Office, including the use of hidden cameras at facilities throughout the States.

Since the crackdown on abuse at nursing homes has become a top priority for the AG, more than 70 nursing home employees have been arrested or convicted for rape, sexual assault, theft and forgery. At least one nursing home company, Highgate LTC Management, has also been temporarily suspended from doing business as a result of nursing home neglect caught on camera.

Nursing home residents are susceptible to sexual abuses and unwanted physical contact, due to their weak and disabled conditions. Younger nursing home residents who are unable to speak or move independently could be especially at risk.

To ensure the safety of their residents, nursing homes have an obligation to conduct thorough background checks on their employees and to ensure that employees are properly trained and supervised. When a facility negligently fails to protect residents, they can often be held accountable through a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

Discovering abuse in nursing homes can often be challenging given the physical and mental impairments of many residents. In addition, information is often withheld from family members, facility supervisors and law enforcement because the residents are afraid of punishment or ashamed about what has occurred.

Patient advocates urge family members to always be alert for signs of nursing home abuse, which could include unusual cuts and bruises, broken bones, unexplained hair loss or changes in behavior when certain staff members are around.

Tags: New York, Nursing Home, Nursing Home Abuse, Nursing Home Neglect

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