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December 22, 2015

DAILYKENN.com -- Two nurses aides — Sabrina Costa, 23, and Kala Shaniece Lopez, 23 — were accused of posting humiliating videos of elderly people on social media. The two worked at Wingate at Belvidere nursing home in Lowell, Mass.

A a judge called the acts "beyond reprehensible."

According to lowellsun.com:

One video shows an 86-year-old patient, dressed but sitting on a commode, being asked by one of the suspects about her sex life and if she smoked marijuana. Another video shows the same patient sleeping soundly when one of the suspects yells in her ear, abruptly waking her up.
A third video shows a 75-year-old patient making noises to show her teeth with the caption under the video, "Chuckie's Bride."
Judge Ellen Caulo on Tuesday rejected the prosecutor's request for bail. She ordered the women to have no contact with the victims. and they are prohibited from working with the elderly in a health-care capacity.
The women pleaded not guilty to three counts each of permitting abuse on an elder or disabled person. Costa is also charged with assault and battery on someone over 60 or disabled.
Attorneys for the two women said their clients have been fired from the nursing home, and will likely have their licenses as certified nurses aides suspended or revoked.
The above occurred in August, 2015.

This week, however, The Washington Post published an expose revealing a much broader, ongoing epidemic of vulnerable nursing home residents being photographed or video recorded while they are abused and humiliated.

ProPublica has identified 35 instances since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds and then disappear with no lasting record.

Some have led to criminal charges, including a case filed earlier this month in California against a nursing assistant. Most have not, even though posting patients’ photos without their permission may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law that carries civil and criminal penalties.

The incidents illustrate the emerging threat that social media poses to patient privacy and, at the same time, its powerful potential for capturing transgressions that previously might have gone unrecorded. Abusive treatment is not new at nursing homes. Workers have been accused of sexually assaulting residents, sedating them with antipsychotic drugs and failing to change urine-soaked bedsheets. But the posting of explicit photos is a new type of mistreatment — one that sometimes leaves its own digital trail.

In February 2014, a nursing assistant at Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center in Centralia, Wash., sent a co-worker a Snapchat video of a resident sitting on a bedside portable toilet with her pants below her knees while laughing and singing.

The following month, one nursing home assistant at Rosewood Care Center in St. Charles, Ill., recorded another using a nylon strap to lightly slap the face of a 97-year-old woman with dementia. On the video, the woman could be heard crying out, “Don’t! Don’t!” as she was being struck. The employees laughed.

And this February at Autumn Care Center in Newark, Ohio, a nursing assistant recorded a video of residents lying in bed as they were coached to say, “I’m in love with the coco,” the lyrics of a gangster rap song (“coco” is slang for cocaine). Across a female resident’s chest was a banner that read, “Got these hoes trained.” It was shared on Snapchat.

The woman’s son told government inspectors that his mother, who had worked as a church secretary for 30 years, would have been mortified by the video. Days after the incident, the home changed hands and is now known as Price Road Health and Rehabilitation Center. Greystone Healthcare Management, its new owner, said it “provides extensive, ongoing training, support and oversight to ensure that we provide patient centered care.” (The prior owner, Steve Hitchens, said the incident happened days before the home was sold and he does not recall details.)


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Image credit: Lowell Sun

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