Westfield, New Jersey police and the state health department are investigating whether wounds suffered by an 86- year old resident of the Westfield Center nursing home were the result of a fall, as the nursing home claims, or whether she was assaulted by staff, as per her son’s version of events.
The victim, Dolores Gomez, suffered several facial fractures and a broken nose, and required stitches for her injuries. Her son, Benny Gomez, produced a photo of his mother on Facebook showing the injuries to her face, including black eyes and a deep cut above her eye.
Totally Disabled and in a Wheelchair
Dolores Gomez has resided at Westfield Center for approximately 18 months, and is totally disabled, according to her son. He adds that she requires a wheelchair and also suffers from “slight” dementia. He alleges that the staff assaulted his mother numerous times, including hitting her over the head with a hairbrush on several occasions. Benny Gomez also cited a lack of staff at the nursing home. Dolores Gomez has since been removed from Westfield Center.
A spokeswoman for the nursing home says there was an incident resulting from a fall that caused numerous injuries, but claimed the resident was not struck or hit.
Westfield Center, owned by Genesis, one of the nation’s largest nursing home providers, is not highly rated on the Medicare.gov nursing home comparison website. The facility was rated “below average” overall, and received a “much below average” rating for health inspections, although staff ratings were average. Inspectors noted various deficiencies at Westfield Center, including those dealing with fall minimization and medication issues.
$53.6 Million Fine
In 2017, Genesis agreed to pay the federal government a $53.6 million fine to “resolve False Claims Act allegations relating to the provision of medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy and hospice services.”
This settled six federal lawsuits against the company regarding false claims sent to Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare for providing certain treatments to patients longer than medically necessary or billing for more therapy minutes than the patients received. The company was also sued for “grossly substandard” care at some facilities. These were whistleblower lawsuits, filed by former staff members at Genesis.
Aide Charged with Manslaughter
In August, an aide working at another New Jersey Genesis property, the Waterview Center in Cedar Grove, was charged with reckless manslaughter in the case of a resident’s death. In addition, she was charged with “hindering, obstruction and neglect of the elderly.”
In this incident, the aide found an 85-year old woman on the floor of her room but failed to seek immediate help. Instead, she blamed the injuries on another resident, but an investigation showed the aide had found the woman earlier and simply put her back in the bed.
The victim’s daughter said she had already raised concerns about staffing levels at the nursing home and the quality of her mother’s care. According to the daughter, her mother, who suffered from dementia, had previously fallen and also sprained her ankle in another incident. Waterview Center was also rated below average on the Medicare nursing home comparison website.
If you or a loved one died or suffered a serious injury from a fall, abuse or neglect at an assisted living facility, call us. Our experienced team and national network of assisted living facility neglect lawyers can help. For more information, contact us online or by phone at 833.201.1555. You can also visit our nursing home abuse page.