Judge clears nurse in elder abuse
The prosecution of a nurse in connection with an alleged elder abuse could have had a chilling effect on caregivers across the state, according to the owner of Carson Valley Senior Living.
All charges were dropped at a Jan. 5 preliminary hearing against nurse Kay Anderson, who a doctor testified was a compassionate professional.
“There’s no evidence, no slight evidence, no marginal evidence, no credible evidence, under any circumstances, that this is criminal conduct,” East Fork Justice of the Peace Tom Perkins said, according to a transcript of the hearing. “…Elderly people fall. People who are in assisted living, the reason they’re there is because they need assistance. Sometimes you can surround them with multiple people and they still fall.”
Darryl Fisher, who is president of parent company Mission Senior Living, said he’s never seen a case go so far with so little.
“The charges against Kay were egregious and unfounded,” Fisher said. “We offered the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney access to our community to talk with our team members and to view the entire surveillance video. Had they taken the time to complete a thorough investigation, this case would never have been brought before the judge.”
Prosecutor Erik Levin said he reviewed hours of video and interviewed employees before going forward with charges.
Fisher said that when the incident was first reported on July 14, 2017, he ordered an investigation by personnel working outside the home. Another investigation was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers on three related complaints.
“After an extensive investigation, Anderson and Carson Valley Senior Living were cleared of any hint of abuse or neglect,” Fisher said.
He said that the Nevada Department of Elder Protective Services determined the case didn’t merit further review, and that the internal investigation agreed.
He said Anderson remained employed at the home the entire time, and that his company paid for her defense, and would have done so through to the trial, if there had been one.
A physician who worked with Anderson in around 100 different sessions, Dr. Carl Heard, testified on Anderson’s behalf.
“Kay is one of the most committed, capable, compassionate professionals that I’ve worked with,” he said. “I would say that of the nurses I’ve worked with, Kay is of the highest order.”
Fisher said that if Anderson could be accused of abuse based on the evidence presented, then no caregiver is safe from prosecution.
He said that if he’d believed a crime had been committed, he would have not hesitated to fire Anderson and allowed the case to take its course.
The resident involved in the case arrived on the afternoon of July 14 and was at the home for about four hours, Fisher said.
Both Fisher and attorney Ron Cauley said a video of the incident actually helped clear Anderson, something Perkins agreed with, according to the transcript.
“It’s problematic to me to see the care that was rendered before and after this snippet of seconds here falling below any standard of services,” Perkins said in his ruling. “There’s nothing (Anderson) could have done to prevent her from toppling over on the tile and falling down … right there on the video where we see it. ”
Perkins said there was “no theory of this evidence that would support a finding that there is probably cause to believe a crime was committed.”
The judge further ordered that if Levin sought to file charges in district court, that Anderson not be required to answer an arrest warrant.
“You’ll have to provide them with notice and give her a chance to be heard without going through the process of being locked up again,” he said.