An 80-year-old grandmother of 10 claims she was assaulted by a nurse at Alaris Health Care Center on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday started out like any other day for the octogenarian, whose primary residence is at the nursing home on East 43rd Street. At around 6 a.m. she reached for the nurse call button, pressed the switch, and requested help to alleviate some of the unbearable pain she was suffering through. An agitated nurse, who had just completed her morning rounds, came into the room.
During the morning checkup the elderly woman, who did not want to be named in this article, had requested painkillers, but because a doctor had yet prescribed the pills, the nurse denied the request. Suffering from intense pain the grandmother insisted on the painkillers, but the nurse did not budge. The octogenarian pushed the call button, the alert went off at the nurses’ station, but it was ignored. She pressed the button a second time, still no response. She tried again a third time, the nurses disregarded it; feeling extreme pain she cried out for help.
Hearing her cries for help, the annoyed and angry nurse walked into the room, and began to beat her. “She grabbed her by the hair and pushed her off the bed,” said Jeanette Robles, her daughter. “My mother stayed on the ground crying.”
Speaking through a translator the elderly woman – some of the bruising still visible under her eyes — recalled laying on the floor for about 15 minutes with a bloody nose, bruised bridge, and two black eyes. “No one came to check up on her,” said Robles. She crawled up to her bed leaving a trail of blood on the floor and on her clothing.
In the United States elder abuse isn’t uncommon. “Studies have estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of the elderly population have been abused, that may be as many as 5 million victims every year,” according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Half an hour after being assaulted another nurse came into the room, who cleaned up the blood spill and provided an ice pack to the battered grandmother. “They took a dirty pillow and took the pillow case and put ice in it to give it to her,” says Robles.
Robles says she learned of the horrific episode through a phone call from her sister. “We have to call the police and do a police report,” Robles recollects telling her sister. To verify the incident Robles called her mother at the nursing home. While on the phone attempting to pry details from her mother, she overheard one of the nurses saying “tell her you fell off the bed.”
The mother came clean and told her of the frightful experiences she had had at the center. “She had a problem with her prior to this happening, however she did not specify what that problem was because she was afraid,” said Robles. Her mother was attacked by the same nurse during last Christmas, but out of fear remained silent.
Realizing the wrong the nurse had inflicted upon her mother Robles called the police; officers from the Paterson Police Department responded to the scene at 1 p.m. on August 14th, 2013 and completed a report. Bert Ribeiro, lieutenant at the department said the case is “currently under investigation.” As the investigation continues the accused nurse has been suspended.
Francine Sokolowski, the health care administrator at the center, said in a statement, “Alaris Health at Passaic County is investigating each and every concern raised by the family and will work diligently with all investigative authorities.” Pressed for specifics and follow up questions Sokolowski declined to comment.
Reflecting on the ordeal Robles says: “We just don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”