A Grand Jury in Franklin County has indicted seven nurses – formerly employed by Whetstone Gardens and Care Center in Columbus – on a litany of charges surrounding the mistreatment of multiple nursing home patients in 2017.
Six employed nurses and one contracted nurse practitioner have been indicted on 34 separate changes. The charges include involuntary manslaughter, gross patient neglect, patient neglect, tampering with evidence, and forgery. The most extreme offense was a result of a patient developing “serious wounds on his body progressing to gangrenous and necrotic tissue.” This was a direct result of not maintaining the most basic levels of resident care. The staff took no measure to address this and the resident died of septic shock shortly after developing these conditions. A second patient also suffered direct physical harm. To hide the negligence, the nursing staff “repeatedly” documented treatments that were never actually provided to the patients.
In a public statement Attorney General Yost stated:
This case goes to the heart of protecting the unprotected,…These victims were completely dependent on others for day-to-day care, which their families trusted Whetstone Gardens to provide. Instead of providing that care, evidence shows these nurses forced the victims to endure awful mistreatment and then lied about it. This is gut-wrenching for anyone who has entrusted a care facility with the well-being and safety of a loved one.
As concerning as the mistreatment is at this facility, there may be even greater concerns with the parent company.
Currently, Whetstone Gardens is owned and operated by the MacIntosh Company, headquartered in Hilliard, Ohio. The company currently runs seven separate facilities in Franklin and its surrounding counties, as well as a “home health agency.” Of the seven facilities, six were rated as “Poor,” “Worse than Average,” or “Average.” It’s worth noting that, before the incident, Whetstone was rated “average.”
One of the most alarming findings of the review came from the Winchester Care facility, located in Canal Winchester, which received 11 separate violations during its fire safety inspection in January 2018. The national average is three. They were specifically dinged for failing to “properly select, install, inspect, or maintain portable fire extinguishers, failing to “inspect, test, and maintain automatic sprinkler systems,” and failing to have an “approved installation, maintenance, and testing program for fire alarm systems.” Per state requirements, the facility reported these issues corrected within a month of being identified.
U.S. News and World Report Health begin compiling these rankings in 2009.
The Whetstone Gardens and Care Center has consistently received negative reviews online, noting “horrible” conditions and a pervasive corporate culture of unprofessionalism overall. Despite this, the facility remains open and providing care. One reviewer recounted her time there as the worst experience she ever had.
Elder abuse is a very difficult problem to track. According to a 2008 report by the CDC, as many as one out of every ten individuals over the age of 60 “reported emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or potential neglect in the past year.” The study also noted that these numbers are likely much higher, but there is a significant lack of data due to many victims fear of reporting said abuse. While many states have attempted to address the issue, the issue remains a constant challenge in most states.
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