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I-Team: Workers At Amesbury Nursing Home Say Residents Are Being Neglected

AMESBURY (CBS) - Some staff and residents at Vero Health and Rehabilitation in Amesbury are sounding the alarm about what they say is poor quality of care.

A health care provider who didn't want to be identified told the I-Team, "I wouldn't be here talking to you if I didn't think it was neglect. Sometimes all day they don't get meds they are supposed to get."

Tina Gerald is a longtime resident who says, "it's not safe. If you were to fall something happen to you. You might not be found an hour, two or three hours."

Both say the facility is routinely understaffed – with one nurse and one aide for nearly 50 people. Sometimes the same nurse is running from floor to floor, creating what they say is a dangerous situation for residents who are unable to care for themselves and need help.

Staffers and patients have called both 911 and the Department of Health many times pleading for help. Just last month on June 10, state inspectors came out to the facility to investigate after getting a complaint. Workers say they had hope that things would change after inspectors spoke to both nurses and residents, but they tell the I-Team nothing happened.

Workers say the facility is notified when the state is coming to inspect the home. During the June investigation, a caregiver told the I-Team she told a female inspector the nurses schedules might look like they had plenty of help, but it had names of employees covering shifts that no longer work there.

"I told her these bogus names on the schedule was done intentionally," she said. "For your benefit because you work for the state and knew you were going to be looking at the schedules."

She went on to say the greatest fear is that "someone will die because of it."

The Department of Public Health tells the I-Team the homes are not notified about investigations.

On March 31, inspectors found the home failed to maintain a resident's safety and cited it as deficient.

And on June 11, the DPH began another investigation when the facility was found to be deficient. That investigation is ongoing.

Vero Heath is the same company that owns Vero Health and Rehabilitation of Watertown, which was the subject of two I-Team reports - where families claimed their loved ones were neglected and possibly abused.

We contacted Vero for those stories and this one. A spokesperson for the Maryland company said it does not comment on facilities, staff, residents or operations.

For Tina Gerald, who has lived at the Amesbury home for 14 years, she just wants to get the care she is paying for. "We need to be treated like people, we're human beings," she said. "They say they care but if they did care, they wouldn't let the people who live here suffer."

The DPH says the facility has not been fined for the recent deficiencies, but the home was assessed a federal fine of nearly $45,000 by Medicare, which rates the home as below average. We are told that penalty was paid.

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