Family member accuses hospital of abuse and neglect

NOW: Family member accuses hospital of abuse and neglect

A local hospital is accused of neglecting and abusing patients, including one patient with Parkinson's Disease and dementia. ABC57's Problem Solver discovered the hospital's Mishawaka location is facing serious allegations from one of its former employees.

Candace Greene says her father James Greene fell out of bed and had to be taken to the emergency room not long after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and dementia.

After James was evaluated, a doctor told Candace the only hospital in the state of Indiana that could help her father was Medical Behavioral Hospital in Mishawaka.

It’s a hospital which specializes in the treatment of patients with serious psychiatric events or neurological disorders.

On April 13, 2022, Candace drove through the night to get her father the help he needed.

"I feel terrible that I'm the person that drove him there you know, I had no idea what I was taking my dad to, I was just following a doctor's order," Candace said.

Candace claims her father was abused, neglected, and not properly medicated while in the care of Medical Behavioral Hospital.

James was a patient between April 13th and May 12th of 2022.

Days after being admitted he took his first of two trips to the emergency room.

The second time James ended up at the emergency room was because he fell out of his bed.

Candace said she was informed by the behavioral hospital staff he fell because the bed rail wasn’t up.

"He needed that bedrail up and to not have safety measures that that led to him going to the emergency room. I was not prepared for all of the injuries that I would see on my father's body or the amount of weight he had lost in just the few days that I had not been there," Candace said.

Before leaving St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Candace tried to keep her father from returning to the care of the Medical Behavioral Hospital.

She was denied by St. Joseph hospital staff due to a doctor's order from Medical Behavioral Hospital.

After James returned to Medical Behavioral Hospital, Candace said his condition continued to deteriorate.

"I saw the care firsthand that they would give the patients and it was horrifying. So, I knew that they weren't taking care of him," Candace said.

Candace says her dad lost weight, was left in soiled clothing with urine and feces, and had bed sores.

"They looked at the bedsore and it was just completely oozing green pus that hadn't been taken care of at all," Candace said. "My father had been punched in the face. When we asked about the you know, being punched in the face, what happened? They really didn't have an answer for us. They just told us that he got hit by another patient."

Candace took pictures to document the treatment her father was receiving.

Candace filed an official complaint with the Indiana Department of Health and Human Services.

She received this response:

"Medical Behavioral Hospital substantially meets the federal requirements. We are not implying that your complaint is not important, or that the incidents you describe did not occur. at the time of the IDOH’s investigation, the facility was found to meet our requirements under the hospital condition of nursing services."

ABC57 reached out to the executive director and CEO of Medical Behavioral Hospital to find out about Candace's dad.

Their lawyer replied, "they can't confirm or deny James Greene was ever a patient at the hospital."

We confirmed through a document provided by Candace, James was a patient.

According to records obtained by ABC57 News, the Indiana Department of Health and Human Services investigated Medical Behavioral Hospital in Mishawaka for an unrelated incident that took place in January of 2022.

They found a staff member allegedly punched a patient in the face eight times and choked them.

Section four of the report substantiates the complaint and refers it to the Attorney General's office.

The investigation didn't take place until three months later in April, and there is no way to know if that employee accused for the abuse still worked there when James Greene was a patient from April 13 to May 12, 2022.

ABC57 requested the conclusions of any reports forwarded to the Attorney General's office - from the Indiana Department of Health.

The request was denied because, "the data you requested is not being disclosed to you because it may be part of the investigative records."

ABC57 spoke with an ex-employee about these types of allegations, and what she observed first-hand during her shifts at the hospital.

Fearful of retaliation, she asked that we hide her identity.

She worked part-time to cover shifts at Medical Behavioral Hospital in Mishawaka because of staffing shortages.

Warmhold: It'd be fair to say that if somebody were complaining that their family member that was a patient there wasn't being changed or cleaned on a regular basis? That would be a fair assessment.

Former employee: There would be days where I mean, there could be weeks that somebody doesn't go doesn't get a shower, because there's not enough staff to give them a shower, you would have one tech, one aid to 22 patients for the day.

Warmhold: Did you ever observe patients with bed sores?

Former employee: Oh, yes.

She went on to say that she believes Medical Behavioral Hospital is focused on turning a profit.

The former employee says she left because she was miserable working for Medical Behavioral Hospital.

ABC57 reached out to Dr. Laura Mosqueda, the director of the National Center on Elder Abuse to get a better understanding about abuse, neglect and exploitation in hospitals.

Warmhold: Has there been enough studies into elder abuse in the hospital setting, and what are some challenges that somebody who would be looking to do an investigation into a hospital setting?

Dr Mosqueda: Lots of challenges with studying this, many of the people who are victims of abuse or neglect, have cognitive impairments, or in vulnerable state, so aren't able to really communicate clearly or aren't believed, once they do. Another issue within hospitals is it's hard to go and measure abuse and neglect.

Are bedsores on a patient always a sign of neglect?

"There's no specific timeframe I can give you because, you know, pressure sores are when there's damage, but basically, death to the skin and the tissue under the skin, and it can be so severe that it goes down to the bone. now, that sounds horrible, and it is horrible. and sometimes it happens despite good care or adequate care. and sometimes it really is signs of neglect," Dr Mosqueda said.

As for Candace, after spending 30 days at Medical Behavioral Hospital her father was released, only to pass away eight days later.

Candace believes it was the hospital's fault.

"I feel terrible that my father had to endure 30 days of torture and abuse, and then and then lose his life due to medical negligence, I believe," Candace said.

Candace is hoping that her story can help change the lack of oversight that neuropsychiatric hospitals receive.

Indiana has a health care facility complaint program through the Indiana Department of Health, but that may not be enough.

Your best course of action may be seeking legal advice, given the amount of paperwork and privacy laws in place.

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