Multiple women in an Oldham County, Kentucky nursing home were allegedly subjected to repeated groping and sexual abuse by a male staffer over the course of eight months, according to a lawsuit and report by the Office for the Inspector General, and reported by the Courier-Journal on December 3, 2019. After allegedly being notified multiple times of the abuse by other female staffers, management at the Friendship Health and Rehab facility in Pewee Valley failed to intervene to prevent continuing abuse of both nursing home residents and female staffers.
The alleged abuser, Richard Coleman, is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at the facility. According to a lawsuit filed in Oldham County on December, 11 2018, Coleman repeatedly sexually harassed and groped four female staffers, including several young women who were still in high school and working part time at the facility. The lawsuit claims the women were groped by Coleman, subjected to sexually-charged comments, and after repeated reports to management nothing was done to stop Coleman’s continuing harassment and abuse. In fact, several of the women allege their employment was terminated after they requested shift changes to avoid Coleman and called in sick to avoid working shifts with Coleman.
The lawsuit by the coworkers is in addition to a scathing government report from the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which concluded Friendship’s failure to protect residents and other staff from an unidentified CNA presented an “immediate jeopardy” to the public. The report included findings that the CNA called a resident a “b*tch” and yelled he was “going to kill” the resident, who he was bathing at the time, and forcibly shoved a washcloth between the resident’s legs. The incident was not investigated at the time or reported to the resident’s family members.
In another incident, the anonymous CNA allegedly placed tape over a resident’s mouth, to stop the resident from yelling. Another resident was reported to display unusual behavior and point to her pubic area and hips when discussing the anonymous CNA, stating the CNA was “bad and hurt” her while playing “the finger game” with the resident
Following the OIG’s report and the December 2018 workplace harassment lawsuits, additional lawsuits have been filed against Friendship by other staffers and residents concerning abuse and sexual harassment allegations and the nursing home’s failure to properly address them. The lawsuits include a claim filed on October 15, 2019 by a now-deceased resident, Beverly Cochran, which claims Coleman yelled at Cochran and forcibly cleaned her vagina with a washrag, causing her to scream out in pain.
According to the December 2018 workplace harassment lawsuit, nursing home administrators, after receiving reports of harassment and abuse by Coleman, would tell those reporting abuse to “let it go,” that “nothing could be done,” and instructed employees not to call the police to report Coleman’s conduct. According to the lawsuit, after repeated reports of groping and abuse for over eight months, Friendship finally terminated Coleman on July 2, 2018 and he has since been charged in Oldham County with four counts of Sex Abuse, 1st Degree.
The OIG has conducted two further investigations of abuse and neglect at Friendship since Coleman’s firing. On April 17, 2019, the OIG found Friendship failed to adequately assess and treat a patient suffering from a pressure ulcer on the sacrum, which led to a sepsis infection and ultimately causing death. Another OIG investigation report on June 5, 2019 found the facility failed to create and follow adequate care plans for three residents’ diets.
Since these allegations, the federal government’s Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) downgraded Friendship to a “one-star” facility in its Five Star scale, classifying the facility as performing “much below average.”
Unfortunately, Friendship is far from the only nursing home in Kentucky where abuse and neglect occur. According to a 2018 national study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 40% of Kentucky’s nursing homes have one star for staffing levels in the Five Star rating system, placing the Commonwealth near the bottom. This follows a report from a patient advocacy group giving Kentucky a “D” in the quality of its nursing homes. Low staffing levels, failure to implement and follow policies, and failure to address reports of abuse have led Kentucky’s nursing homes to be ranked among the worst in the nation.
Here at the Poppe Law Firm, we represent individuals and families from all across Kentucky and Indiana who have suffered abuse and neglect in a nursing home. If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home or rehab facility, please contact us.