The state of New York has reached a settlement agreement to resolve claims involving chronic problems nursing home neglect that has occurred over a period of years at one facility, which is commonly referred to by staff members as “The Bronx Zoo”.
The claims were brought against the state by three families, who say loved ones were beaten, denied food and provided poor medical care for years. The families indicated the state knew about problems at the Union Avenue IRA nursing home since at least 2014, but failed to act swiftly to address the problems.
According to the lawsuit, staffers referred to the facility as “The Bronx Zoo”. Some of them punched disabled residents, slammed them into walls and spit on them, the lawsuits claimed. However, even after officials in the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) were told about the incidents, they failed to take action.
One resident, who is developmentally disabled and legally could not consent to sexual activity, was even diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in 2004.
According to a report published by the Times Herald-Record, the settlement involves a $6 million payment to three women who are non-verbal, disabled, and still live at the facility. It also requires Union Avenue IRA ownership be transferred to a not-for-profit agency.
While the settlement does not require staffers accused of nursing home abuse and neglect at the facility to admit guilt, they are barred from the property and from making contact with former patients. However, they could seek jobs at other nursing homes.
A state investigation appears to have confirmed that the staffers, who were state employees, gave patients black eyes, pulled their hair, physically abused them, made them take cold showers, gave them the wrong medications and falsified medical documents, the state never filed any criminal charges. OPWDD’s own investigation verified that the assaults had occurred.
The lawsuit claimed six staff members and eight supervisors were involved in the assaults, while the District Attorney’s office declined to file charges OPWDD indicated it put the staff on administrative leave and is taking disciplinary actions against them.