Prosecutors indicted Steven Hitchens, 58, owner of the Autumn Healthcare of Zanesville, on 39 criminal counts which include two counts of Medicaid fraud, one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and dozens of counts of forgery, the Zanesville Recorder reported.
The indictment accuses Hitchens of operating a facility that provided substandard care for many residents and forging documents to cover up the neglect. The facility itself has also been charged with at least 17 counts separately from Hitchens’ charges.
Administrators at the facility had no comment about the allegations.
The investigation into Autumn Healthcare began in 2012 after authorities received complaints from friends and family of residents. As part of their investigation, authorities used footage from hidden cameras placed in some of the resident’s rooms.
According the Zanesville Recorder, the hidden cameras revealed that Autumn Healthcare employees routinely withheld nutrition, medications and care from residents. The indictment also alleges that staff members covered up the substandard care and neglect by forging documents.
Hitchens owns several long-term care facilities throughout Ohio, but only Autumn Healthcare is facing criminal indictments. No staff members have been charged and prosecutors would not go into specifics about the neglect.
Hidden cameras played a big role in this investigation and helped authorities stop the pattern of neglect in this particular case. These cameras, commonly referred to as granny cams, can be a valuable tool to catch elder abuse and neglect.
There have been a number of high profile cases of nursing home abuse and neglect in which prosecutor used footage from hidden cameras to charge and prosecute nursing home staff and administrators.
Granny cams can be controversial and are forbidden in some states. So, when an individual suspects their elderly loved one is being abuse or neglected, they should consult with a nursing home abuse attorney before utilizing one of these cameras.
If the laws in the state you live in allow hidden cameras in nursing homes, you must first speak with the administrators of a facility. In some cases, nursing home administrators are more than happy to allow families to use hidden cameras so they can let go bad employees.
If the use of a hidden camera is forbidden in the state you live, there are other ways to determine if your loved one is being abused or neglected. First a family must speak to their loved one and ask them directly if they are being abused or neglected, or both. If they are then it is time for a family to speak with the nursing home abuse attorney to see what steps they should take next.
Some victims of nursing home abuse and neglect are entitled to compensation for their medical bills and their emotional distress. To determine this it’s crucial the victim and/or their family consults with an elder abuse attorney.