By: David Wilcox
The Auburn nursing home where a viral video of a sleeping nurse was recorded in March has been issued citations by the New York State Department of Health over the incident.
Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 85 Thornton Ave. was cited for failures to administrate efficiently and to keep the 37 residents in the nurse's care free from neglect, according to a report.
The report, dated April 14 and posted to the department's website this week, also sheds light on the nurse's behavior up to and including the night of the video, and the center's response to it.
The March 26 video showed a licensed practical nurse at the 92-bed center slumping at a medical cart and swaying, apparently asleep on her feet. Days later the video was posted to Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 2.2 million times since. According to the department's report, the nurse blamed her posture on "disturbing news" she had received over the phone minutes prior.
The center's administrator, Judson MacCaull, told The Citizen on Monday that the nurse is no longer employed there.
The nurse, who is not named in the report, began working at Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Feb. 16. The report documents several instances of her appearing drowsy, arriving late and spending hours in the bathroom or her car during work, as well as broken lines of communication between administration, supervisors and staff as her behavior received increasing attention.
The first major incident described in the report took place March 4, when the nurse was suspected of working under the influence by another staff member. They called the center's assistant director of nursing to come back to observe, but the nurse left before they arrived. The staff member also called 911 due to the nurse's inability to drive, as she was "barely even coherent to walk."
When the director of nursing asked the nurse about the incident days later, the report said, she blamed migraine medication. She was then placed back on the work schedule. During an interview in April, the director told the Department of Health they thought the staff member who called 911 was being "dramatic," then clarified that "they meant to say (the staff member) did the right thing."
The assistant director, however, told the department "they should have questioned more people and handled it in the wrong manner."
"There was no documented evidence an investigation was completed to address the concerns as reported," the report said.
March 4 was the first of many times the nurse was relieved of medication cart duty. On March 20, she was found sleeping in her car. Administration "counseled" her for sleeping issues, the report said, and told her March 16 to stop working double shifts. But she continued to, logging six through March 27. Administration told the department they didn't know why she worked past her scheduled shifts.
The nurse also worked eight days in a row leading up to March 26, the night when the video was recorded, administration noted.
Before being sent home that night, the nurse was observed "on the floor crawling around, reaching around for things that were not there." One staff member said she was "worse than normal and something was definitely off." After working, she sat in her car for hours. Residents complained about its headlights and its horn repeatedly sounded, "as if they were falling asleep and hitting their head."
However, when asked about the incident by the director of nursing, the nurse blamed a "disturbing phone call" she received for her drowsy appearance in the video. She was putting her head down at her cart in response to the call when she was recorded, she said. The director of nursing said they believed her explanation, and that the nurse "followed directions and spoke clearly" an hour earlier.
A resident corroborated that account, telling the department the nurse gave them medication after the video was recorded and seemed OK. The resident thought the nurse had a headache when she slumped over. But when she called 911 that night to transfer another resident, her responses to the operator were slow and delayed, the report said. She was also confused when EMTs arrived.
MacCaull declined to elaborate on the center's response to the video, saying only that it "addressed the matter ... and has fully cooperated with investigators from the Department of Health."
While the video prompted anonymous staff members and the public to contact the department, the center itself reported the video because it showed the legs of a resident, the report said. The staff member who recorded the video, Certified Nursing Assistant Alexxis McNeil, told The Citizen she was informed she would be fired because it violated HIPAA. She decided to quit instead.
McNeil said she posted the video on Facebook after showing it to the center's administration because they weren't taking action fast enough.
"A lot goes swept under the rug that no one will speak on or share because they're afraid of losing their jobs," she said.
Another staff member told the department they were instructed by the center's administration to refrain from saying they suspected the nurse was under the influence. The director of nursing said they never suspected her of substance abuse, the report said. An audit of the center's medication records during the nurse's employment showed all narcotics accounted for and "no discrepancies."
The Department of Health told The Citizen it has imposed a direct plan of correction and a directed in-service training based on the citations, and that the center must be in compliance by June 13.
The department noted that it does not disclose any enforcement decisions, such as fines or other discipline, until they are final.
Full Article & Source:
Auburn nursing home cited by state after sleeping nurse video
State investigating video of sleeping nurse at Auburn nursing home