Indiana Nursing Home Investigated in Series of Abuse Incidents

State officials in Indiana (U.S.) have banned the Hanover Nursing Center from admitting any new residents as the result of an investigation into a series of incidents involving the abuse of several elderly inhabitants.  

One such incident involved a 79-year-old woman who was severely beaten and left with a bloody face.

The Indiana Department of Health has released a report indicating that four Hanover residents were physically or verbally abused since August of 2005.  The agency issued an emergency order banning the admission of new residents to the facility. A daily fine of $4,050, which began at the end of August, was also recommended.

Two former Hanover aides are facing charges in relation to the abuse allegations.  One is facing a felony battery charge for an attack on a female Alzheimer’s patient and the other is facing a misdemeanor charge for failing to report the event.  Both aides pleaded not guilty but are now facing trial on January 12, 2006.  

The former aide charged with felony battery is Amy Johnson, who is accused of attacking a female resident in the center’s Alzheimer’s unit on August 30.

According to the state’s report, Johnson, 28, wrapped her left arm around the resident’s neck, punched her in the face, and then asked her "how she liked it." Following the assault, the elderly woman had blackened eyes and blood gushing from her mouth and nose.

Seven other employees were fired because of claims of abuse, including an incident where a male resident was choked "so hard he was turning blue." He also had his thumbs bent back by two aides when he refused to go to bed.

Hanover is managed by Medical Rehabilitation Centers Inc., of Lexington, Kentucky.  Executives of the company have called these abuse claims isolated incidents and said that they are enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on abuse like many other nursing homes. The Hanover nursing home is one of 15 such facilities in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin managed by Medical Rehabilitation Centers.

Medical Rehabilitation Centers claims that the rest of the employees at Hanover are angered and outraged about the alleged abuse.  The company has also established an anonymous abuse hotline.

A state monitor and two consultants are currently working at the nursing home to effect changes designed to prevent such incidents in the future. The Department of Health plans to conduct a follow-up inspection within the next 45 days to determine if remedial measures have been implemented at the center. 

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