Last month a former nursing home caretaker – Anthony Joseph Garcia was sentenced to 5 ½ years in jail for beating a man in his care. A subsequent investigation performed after the beating revealed that Garcia had a lengthy criminal record including three prior felony and rape charges.
By law, nursing homes are required to perform background checks prior to hiring caretakers. If a caretaker has been convicted of a felony, he or she is prohibited from working at a nursing home.
While it is unclear whether a pre-employment screening was conducted, Mr. Garcia slipped through the cracks. His job gave him access to the residents, where he severely beat and injured an elderly man.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In a recent study, over 80% of nursing homes in New Mexico violated federal health and safety standards. Almost 20% had a violation that caused actual harm to residents or placed them at risk of death or serious injury. The types of violations are widespread – from failing to perform adequate background checks on those hired, to abuse and neglect.
While many nursing homes provide a wonderful community for our elders, others may be taking advantage of or harming those most vulnerable. Signs of abuse and neglect include:
•Sudden changes in behavior
•Unexplained bruises, welts, black eyes or broken bones
•Dehydration and malnutrition
With the holiday season upon us, many of us will visit loved ones in nursing homes. As New Mexico personal injury attorneys dedicated to assisting nursing home residents and their families, we believe we should use this opportunity to ensure our elders are being well cared for in their twilight years.