A recent federal report has outlined several allegations of sexual and physical abuse against residents at the Sweet Brook Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Williamstown, Massachusetts. This nursing home ranks in the bottom 1 percent of facilities in the state.
In March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that Sweet Brook was in "immediate jeopardy" of losing its funding following a March 12 survey that detailed how the staff failed to prevent several incidents of physical and sexual abuse between residents from December 2018 to February 2019.
This "immediate jeopardy" classification was removed on March 31. However, the Department of Public Health moved to revoke the nursing home's license to operate only about a week later.
During that time period between December and February, Sweet Brook administrators contacted Williamstown Police twice to report alleged sexual contact between cognitively impaired residents. Both of these incidents involved the same "aggressor" resident. There was no documentation to suggest that the facility had assessed or monitored either of these cases after they were reported.
On April 19, the Department of Public Health issued an official notice of license revocation to Sweet Brook. The facility has 30 days from that notice to file an appeal.
In the fall of 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) placed the facility in "immediate jeopardy" after discovering dozens of incidents of patients being mistreated, abused, or neglected by staff members. Some of these violations included:
The CMS temporarily froze Sweet Brook's ability to accept new patients following the 2017 report. This freeze was lifted in November 2017. However, in March 2018, inspectors uncovered additional violations. In February 2019, the facility was put on a list of "special focus" facilities, comprised of less than 90 nursing homes that have shown repeated issues of poor care for residents.
Attorney contributor Kim Dougherty currently represents survivors of sexual assault in civil lawsuits. Here is Kim with some thoughts on the legal options available to nursing home abuse victims and their families:
Nursing homes that fail to keep their residents safe from abuse and neglect deserve to be held accountable for their negligence. The families of nursing home residents entrust these facilities with the care of their loved ones. Negligent care and the failure to prevent abuse are gross violations of this trust. In many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect, the victims and their families have grounds for a lawsuit against the facility.
If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you can learn more about your family's legal options by speaking to an experienced nursing home abuse victims lawyer.