Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nurse's aide accused of abusing elderly woman

 By Don Lehman The Post-Star |

JOHNSBURG -- A certified nurse's aide was arrested Thursday on charges that accuse her of abusing a 98-year-old woman at Adirondack Tri-County Nursing home, officials said.
Brenda L. Hayes, 48, of Pottersville, was charged with misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and willful violation of health laws after an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office, police records show.
The victim was a resident of the home who suffered from dementia, according to court records.
Hayes was charged in connection with an incident that a registered nurse witnessed at the nursing home on July 27, according to court records.
According to an affidavit given by a nurse manager, identified as Lisa LaFountain, Hayes was heard yelling at the resident, and when LaFountain went to investigate the yelling, she witnessed Hayes grabbing the woman by the arms and pulling her as she sat on a toilet.
The victim suffered bruises to both arms, according to court records.
Hayes had alleged the woman spit on her, and she told LaFountain, "No one has the right to spit on us," according to court records.
Hayes was arrested by State Police and was released pending prosecution in Johnsburg Town Court.
Hal Payne, administrator of the home, said Hayes was suspended within an hour of the incident and was formally terminated on Aug. 4. The state Health Department was notified immediately, Payne said.
"This is not acceptable behavior and will not be tolerated," he said.
The victim continues to live at the home, he said.
Hayes has been a state-certified CNA since 2001. Despite the five-month investigation and arrest, Hayes continues to be registered with the state as a certified nurse's aide.
The state website registry lists her last employer as Adirondack Tri-County Nursing Home.
Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, said a CNA can have his or her certification taken away for disciplinary violations.
"If she is convicted, it will be reflected in the registry," he said.
The state's CNA registry can be found at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ABC 4 investigates dangerous hospital bugs

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Our exclusive ABC taking action 4 you investigation is uncovering new information about your safety inside hospitals. Dangerous viruses and bacteria infect 1.7 million patients and kill 99,000 people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least one-third of these deaths are preventable, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"This is a huge public health problem," said Deputy State Epidemiologist, Rachel Herlihy.

ABC 4 easily found the national figures, but this information is not available for Utah's medical centers. Only hospitals administrators and Utah's Department of Health have access to the number of patients who get sick and die from bacteria and viruses in medical centers.

Chest pains forced Michael Barker to the emergency room July 29. Open heart surgery with six by-passes saved his life. "The surgery went great. I had superb care during the surgery as well as after," said Michael Barker.

Despite the high quality of care something went terribly wrong during his recovery in the intensive care unit. "That afternoon before I was supposed to go I started having chills and fever," said Barker.

Tests revealed a potentially deadly prognosis and it had nothing to do with the open heart surgery. Somehow the microscopic bacteria, commonly known as MRSA, entered Michael's body during his intensive care recovery.

"They supposed that it may have come from the IV. I don't know that anybody really knew...they just say they basically felt that MRSA's throughout the hospital. They haven't eradicated it and so it may have been on somebody's clothing," said Barker.

His recovery took two months, powerful antibiotics and costly bills. On average healthcare-associated infections or HAI's increase a patients medical bill by more than $45,000.

Michaels story is not unique. Hospitals are ideal breeding grounds for drug resistant bacteria like MRSA because they're full of patients on large doses of antibiotics. "Healthcare-Associated Infections, I think, have been an under recognized problem," said Herlihy.

She says a growing number of state lawmakers across the nation are passing laws requiring hospitals to make HAI's public information. Five years ago six states required hospitals to publicly report HAI's. As of May 2010 the number has grown to 27. Utah is not included.

"Don't you think disclosing this information especially listing the hospitals and their HAI rates would improve safety for patients?" asked ABC 4's Noah Bond. "It's difficult to say. The data is still really out on that. This field is pretty new," responded Herlihy.

A nearly 50 page document titled "Lessons from the Pioneers Reporting healthcare-associated infections" confirms doctor Herlihy's reservations. It concludes page viii, "data collected so far are not sufficient to fully determine the laws' effects. As data accumulate, the incoming information will let researcher examine the effectiveness and consequences of different variations of healthcare-associated infection reporting laws."

Herlihy says it is risky to compare hospitals with completely different specialties, patient populations and unique situations. She fears making the information public would discourage hospitals from recording HAI's at all.

Her explanation is not good enough for hundreds of patients who enter Utah hospitals every year because the Federal Government is gave Utah $200,000 to prevent HAI's and because Utah's Health Department is already tracking and sharing this information with hospital chief executive officers, chief medical officers and nursing directors.

Herlihy says hiding the names of hospitals prevents unfair comparisons, but some patients would like to see a day when hospitals can somehow standardize the way HAI's are recorded so that HAI rates could be reported the public.

"It would probably motivate them perhaps to do a better job of solving their problems, said Barker.

Lawmakers on the Healthcare System Task Reform Committee are not aware of any bills pushing for hospitals to publicly report HAI's. About three years ago lawmakers said they wanted to make the information public, but Utah's Association of Hospitals stopped the legislation.

Lawmakers like Senator Peter Knutson would like to make HAI's public information. He thinks making the information public would push hospitals to save even more lives.