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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, October 17, 2016

Napa care facility sued for elder abuse after nurse steals prescriptions

How can we protect our loved ones from elder abuse?

No one expects their loved ones to be abused or neglected when they trust a care facility to look after them. Unfortunately, with the rise in our elderly population and the expanding need for elder care, too many elder care facilities are popping up with insufficient training and staff to cover their needs.

Sadly, this situation recently arose in Napa, where Golden LivingCenter is being sued for elder abuse. The suit arose from the arrest of one of the facilities nurses, Ronald Mesia Moralde, for possession of prescription medications belonging to the residents.  In addition to stealing prescriptions medications, the nurse also acquired at least one resident’s private information, leading to identity theft concerns.

The suit is being brought by Joann Travella, a 72-year-old former resident of LivingCenter. Her claims include elder abuse, as well as negligent hiring and supervision. Travella contracted a serious, yet preventable infection by failing to follow the doctor’s orders, failing to provide treatment and failing to appropriately evaluate Travella’s condition in a timely fashion.

According to other victims at LivingCenter, Moralda refused to administer medications for hours after they were requested, and believed that their medications were stolen.  Health inspections also revealed that additional residents were not treated in a manner that respected or enhanced their dignity.

With stories such as this, we must ask - how can we protect our loved ones from this type of neglect and abuse?

While nothing is certain, there are some steps we can take to ensure our loved ones will be cared for in a manner that we would want them to be treated. Before choosing a care facility, consider:

  1. Talk to the staff – do they have time to talk? Are they friendly and welcoming? What type of training do they have?
  2. Observe the residents – do they look happy? Engaged with one another? Are there activities for them to do?
  3. Observe the facilities – do they appear freshly cleaned? Do they seem secure and safe?

Once you’ve chosen a facility, there may be signs that it’s not the best place for your loved ones. Some things to look for include:

  1. Changes in behavior – are they becoming withdrawn?
  2. Unexplained bruises, welts or other injuries.
  3. Signs of neglect such as bedsores, weight loss or uncleanliness.

If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected or abused, the first step is to remove them from the environment and provide appropriate help. The next step is to call Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning.  Attorney Julie Fiedler is both an expert in elder law and a retired nurse who understands the physical and emotional aspects of elder care.  Call today at 925-224-1185 to schedule a consultation.


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