It is so difficult to know exactly what is happening at nursing homes when there are not guests or inspectors around. All that families of loved ones can hope for is that the state and Federal inspections reveal any deficiencies in their reports and make sure the changes needed are made. However, when any complaints or issues are made against a facility, it needs to be made public knowledge so families are aware of the dangers to their loved ones.
Facility With Sexual Abuse Not Revealed
A case of sexual abuse in Virginia is a prime example of how important information can be kept secret from the public. In early August 2012, Envoy, a nursing home in Staunton, VA, reported to the police that an employee was allegedly sexually abusing patients. There were two accounts reported to the police.
First off, when this happened, police would not release the name of facility involved to the public. According to Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, police authorities can decide to withhold certain information when they deem necessary. They eventually revealed the name of the facility about a week later.
Secondly, two administrators of the nursing home are now being charged with not reporting a civil charge. While they revealed two of the complaints of sexual abuse to the police, they did not report a third complaint that has happened earlier. Another alleged victim of abuse complained to a therapist that the man who was later arrested had tried to make her perform oral sex. Although the therapist reported the accusation to the administration, in which she stated that she saw the man leaving the woman’s room and that the woman was visually upset, this incident was never reported to police. They did their own “investigation” and talked to the suspect and decided the complaint was unfounded.
Need For Openness In Records
While it is certainly understandable why the nursing homes with such horrendous acts being committed in their facilities would want to keep it quiet, there needs to be a way for the families and public to find out this information. At the time these acts were being committed, families were deciding whether Envoy was a safe place to care for their loved one. If this information was public, what do you think their decision would be?
Although this is an extreme example of how non-disclosure of nursing home staff infractions can lead to further abuse, it is unlikely alone in this regard. The only hope that is that state and Federal authorities can learn from these types of incidences and enforce a more open record policy, allowing for full disclosure to the public when there are abuse allegations.