An 86-year-old woman with dementia at the Westfield Center in Westfield, New Jersey, was discovered by her son with extensive bruising and a broken nose. This Westfield resident assault has now triggered a police investigation and a flood of similar stories from other residents and families who have seen similar abuses in the home.
Benny Gomez visited his mother in late September only to see her covered in facial injuries. When Gomez asked staff members what had happened to his mother, he was told that she had suffered a fall. After rushing his mother to the hospital, Benny Gomez shared his opinion of that explanation with ABC 13. In his words, Gomez thought the claim was ridiculous for the extent of her injuries, saying “She has double fractures in her face, . . . her nose is broken. She has stitches.”
In response to the publicizing of the Westfield resident assault, the Westfield Center released a public response stating it has a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of residence, reaffirming that the resident in question suffered a fall, and refuting the claims that she was abused as grossly inaccurate. The Westfield Center left nothing to the imagination, taking a firm line with the statement that “no resident was struck, hit or abused.”
The Westfield resident assault is not the first time reports of abuse have emerged from the Westfield Center. Even Benny Gomez’s mother has stated that she had been abused in the past, alleging that staff members were rough with her, even hitting her. With the increased publicity of the Westfield resident assault, the New Jersey Department of Health has gotten involved with the proceedings alongside the Westfield police in order to determine the substance of the claims.
In addition to drawing official concern, the story of the Westfield resident assault has also drawn the support of other families of residents at the Westfield Center. One man, Russel Schultz told CBS 2 about a large contusion he discovered on the side of his mother’s face. When he inquired about it to staff members he was told it was a bruise but could not get additional information as to what she hit when she fell or how she was allowed to fall so hard. Another man, Manuel Cruz, withdrew his mother from the Westfield Center two years prior to the Westfield resident assault. Although Cruz told sources that he never personally witnessed any physical abuse, he did share stories of how his mother was neglected, often being found in a wet diaper. According to Cruz, he could hear his mother yelling as soon as he entered the doorway and the entire unit smelled like urine.
Whether the Westfield resident assault and similar stories are the results of negligence or a genuine crime is currently unclear. At this time no arrests have been made and no formal discoveries have concluded. For more information about physical abuse and how to pursue an abuse case, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Physical Abuse.