Sauk City, a tiny Wisconsin village of about 3 or 4 thousand people, was recently rocked with a nursing home sexual abuse scandal. Investigators found that not only was a registered sex offender a resident at the nursing home, but staff members were aware of this fact and failed to stop him from sexually abusing three female residents. Furthermore, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) also found that two administrative officials at the Maplewood nursing home tried to obstruct the investigation into these incidents.
The attempted coverup by nursing home officials means that this case involves more than just negligence, but outright malice on the part of the officials who prioritized protecting their public image over the safety of their residents. Unfortunately, nursing home negligence and attempts to avoid responsibility are nothing new and affect countless nursing home residents throughout the country.
9 Federal Violations Found In Wisconsin DHS Investigation
A 110-page report by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows the scope of Maplewood’s negligence. A total of nine federal violations were identified by the DHS, and the agency determined that the nursing home places female residents in immediate danger by failing to monitor a registered sex offender who was also a resident there.
In interviews with investigators, multiple employees said that they’d been aware that resident Galen J. Malisch was on the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry for months before he sexually assaulted a fellow resident on May 9. Staff members also told investigators that they were aware of two other prior residents with Malisch, but didn’t report either incident to police.
The investigation also determined a pattern of intimidation by Maplewood administrator Paul Fiscus and nursing director Joni Blau. The Wisconsin DHS found that these two attempted to intimidate staff from reporting the incidents and threatened to fire them if they said too much to investigators.
A police investigation into Malisch has produced felony charges and remains open. Additionally, this investigation has been expanded and could potentially produce further charges.
How Common Is Nursing Home Negligence?
Unfortunately, nursing home negligence is a widespread problem with a multitude of negative consequences for the residents of these homes. Along with cases of negligence allowing sexual abuse to occur, nursing home populations are also vulnerable to serious health consequences if they’re not adequately cared for. Negligence can involve everything from failure to help residents bathe and change clothes to failure to prevent sexual abuse and violence.
Statistics on elder abuse in nursing homes are unfortunately incomplete. It’s difficult to know just how widespread the problem is because many cases go unreported. The elderly are a vulnerable population and many do not report either because of fear of retaliation, the lack of physical or mental ability to report, or because they don’t want to get the perpetrator in trouble.
However, cases of nursing home neglect regularly make local national headlines. Some recent cases have included:
- In July 2018, a nursing home in Downey, PA was sued for allegedly stealing money intended for the care of residents and using it to enrich themselves.
- In June 2018, a nursing facility in Alameda, CA was sued with allegations that negligent care (including an unreported fall) lead to the death of a 61-year-old at the facility.
- In May 2018, the St. Francis nursing home in Philadelphia was sued after being sanctioned for neglect.
Holding A Nursing Home Liable For Abuse & Neglect
Nursing homes have a legal obligation to make sure their residents are safe and properly cared for. When they fail to meet this obligation and a resident suffers injury, illness, or death, the nursing home may be considered negligent and held liable for related damages.
If you have a loved one who has recently suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s important to be aware of your legal rights. Filing a lawsuit can help get financial support your family needs and also help hold the nursing home accountable for their negligence. When residents and their families speak out about abuse or neglect, they help protect other residents from suffering their own abuse and neglect.