Assisted-Living Facility Worker in Florida Arrested for Repeatedly Beating a Handicapped Patient; Implications for Veterans?
by Sally Writes
Elder abuse is horrifying with statistics indicating that 1 in 10 seniors experience a form of exploitation. Unfortunately, the majority of abuse or neglect cases that take place in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities are not reported which means that there could be more elderly people out there suffering from mistreatment via mental and physical abuse to willful deprivation and financial manipulation. The latest incident that grabbed headlines was the beating of an elderly or disabled person by an assisted-living facility worker. 21-year old Raven Sonota Eduardo, an employee of the Loving Care Nursing Home of St. Petersburg, Florida, was arrested on charges of abuse or neglect of an elderly person. The facility initiated the investigation, according to reports.
“On January 29th, we got a call of a worker at an [assisted living facility] abusing one of the patients. We responded, we were able to view video and establish probable cause to a lady for hitting one of the patients with a hollow leg brace repeatedly,” said PD Public Information Officer Rick Shaw of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The arrest report indicated that the unnamed/unidentified victim tried to escape from the ALF worker, but did not manage to do so. She reportedly followed him, grabbed his shirt, and kept on beating him.
Eduardo initially said that she was being attacked by the patient and that she was only defending herself. However, the video proved the contrary.
Rene Bird, who is the administrator of the nursing home, said they notified police after surveillance video showed Eduardo beating the resident. Bird said that caring for seniors and handicapped residents is a passion she shares with co-workers. After watching the assault on the screen, some of them were moved to tears. The facility then called Eduardo on the pretext that they need her to work an extra shift. When she arrived, the police were there ready to cuff her.
Police take the matter seriously and are investigating the possibility that there may be other victims of abuse at the facility. As such, the case is assigned to a detective in their special victim’s unit. Shaw said, “…if anybody out there feels that they may have a relative or loved one that might have been abused by this lady — please contact us.”
Eduardo is booked into the Pinellas County jail and held on a bond of $50,000. This is not the first time that the ALF worker has trouble with the law. In July last year, she was arrested by (Largo) police for resisting an officer.
The Other Side of the Coin
While these stories of elder abuse are shocking and paint a poor picture for anyone considering a care home environment, this is not the norm. In the majority of assisted living facilities, the care provided to seniors is exceptional and families can feel safe in the knowledge that their relatives are well-cared for. It is also advisable families visit their prospective care facilities and research the assisted living facility online in advance to get a feel for the place and to ensure both the potential resident and family are fully comfortable with the environment.
Many veterans are, or will soon become, elderly. In a VA system overwhelmed and constantly under scrutiny for malfeasance, examples like the ones that just happened in Florida will doubtless occur–and indeed already have occurred--in VA hospitals and other places where elderly and vulnerable veterans seek care.
Help When you Need it
There are criminal penalties for abusers who victimize the elderly or older adults. Each state has its own resources and the National Center on Elder Abuse has a directory listing for information on helplines and referral sources. You can also check out this helpful guide for further information and assistance.