Ohio Nursing Home Worker Pleads Guilty To Abuse

An Ohio nursing home worker has pleaded guilty to abusing a resident in a case in which a family member’s hidden camera revealed numerous instances of maltreatment.

Steve Piskor, concerned over his mother’s treatment at MetroHealth Medical Center Skilled Nursing Care, not only installed a hidden camera in her room, he put up a sign advising workers of its existence, said Cleveland.com. Despite this, Piskor’s camera filmed a number of instances of aides at the facility abusing his 78-year-old mother, according to Cleveland.com.

Virgen Caraballo, 45, pleaded guilty to seven counts of patient abuse or neglect after being seen treating Esther Piskor forcibly; for example, throwing her into a wheelchair and pushing a hand into her face, said Cleveland.com. Caraballo’s sentencing is scheduled for January 9.

The elderly are among our most fragile citizens and, often, we have no choice but to place our older relatives in the care of others. Sadly, families are left with limited options as reports of nursing home abuse continue to rise. “Caring for the elderly is a sacred responsibility,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said in a statement. “Ms. Caraballo’s actions in this case shocked the conscience,” according to Cleveland.com.

Another employee, Maria Karban, 26, faces a trial in January on one count of patient abuse. The video recording in that case shows Karban spraying something in Esther’s face. MetroHealth officials declined to be interviewed, but issued an apology saying that Caraballo and three others were fired. “We absolutely do not tolerate mishandling of any patient under any circumstance,” the statement said, wrote Cleveland.com.

Piskor said his mother moved into MetroHealth in March 2009; he filed four complaints with the facility, but saw no action after noticing marks on his mother’s face and finding her sitting in her feces in her wheelchair, said Cleveland.com. When the facility did not respond, he installed a camera visible to employees. Administrators told workers they could cover the lens with a towel when caring for Esther, said Cleveland.com.

Piskor then hid a camera in an air purifier on his mother’s dresser and put up a sign that warned of the camera’s presence. Within two days, Piskor said the camera recorded one incident that was investigated by Cleveland police and the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said Cleveland.com. Some MetroHealth staff said that the videotapes showed no abuse; however, Caraballo was put on leave within a half-hour of the tape’s airing. Piskor’s attorney has filed a lawsuit against MetroHealth and administrator Christina Szatala, said Cleveland.com. Esther was moved to another facility two months ago.

Despite ongoing headline-making news concerning abuse of the elderly in countless nursing home facilities, the abuse continues. We recently wrote that another son of a nursing home abuse victim filed a lawsuit against a West Virginia Hurricane facility on behalf of his mother. David Brafford, filed on behalf of the estate of Mary Brafford, alleging that Teays Valley Center and Genesis Healthcare Corp., were negligent in caring for his mother from July 2009 and that Mary was admitted to the facility for rehabilitation and, while there, suffered a number of falls, including one that caused a fracture to her left hip. The complaint also stated that the Teays Valley Center failed to provide a safe environment and implement appropriate fall prevention measures. “Ms. Brafford suffered from systemic abuse and neglect causing significant injuries, [which] ultimately led or contributed to her death on or about Jan. 16, 2011,” the suit alleged.

We’ve long been following the issue of nursing home abuse, a devastating indignity that attacks these vulnerable members of society on all levels: Physical, emotional, chemical, and sexual. Neglect, abuse, mocking, and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other are becoming more and more commonplace.

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