An Aurora whistleblower, Miaya Ramirez, has been blasting her former workplace, University Heights Rehab & Care, claiming that the facility has grossly neglected their residents. The nursing home has refuted the claims completely, but state records tell a different story.
According to the Aurora whistleblower, patients at University Heights were suffering from a variety of neglectful conditions. These conditions included not bathing residents, not feeding residents properly, and leaving residents in their room for extended periods. According to one account, a resident was found by their family in soiled garments in the exact same position as they had been left the previous evening.
While traditional neglect complaints are disturbing enough, the Aurora whistleblower also told The Denver Channel that she was asked to lie about staffing numbers on state reports. According to her account, Ramirez was told by the Director of Nursing to fill in people’s names in the staffing book.
Ultimately, Ramirez was fired as a nurse at University Heights for “operating out of the scope of care” with a resident. According to Ramirez, the resident had not had their bandages changed in such a long time that the doctor told her the wound had actually worsened. The Aurora whistleblower told reporters that she was ordered to keep the dirty bandages on the resident and when she changed them anyway, she was fired.
Vivage Senior Living, owner of the University Heights Rehab and Care has responded to the inquiry by stating that the Aurora whistleblower is just a disgruntled employee and the claims that she has made are completely unsubstantiated. In their words, they are a “compassionate organization with a lot of experience.”
Despite Vivage’s clams of compassion and experience, the Colorado Department of Public Health has documented incidents that seem to more accurately fit the narrative of the Aurora whistleblower. In the past year, the Department of Public Health has documented a series of instances of abuse and neglect at the University Heights facility.
In April, there were several complaints that corroborated Ramirez’s accounts of patients being left in their beds overnight or all day without receiving attention from the nursing staff. The month before, a resident issued a similar complaint of neglect, stating that his dressings were not being changed for his diabetic ulcer. Both of these stories seem to be similar incidents to the incidents which led to the Aurora whistleblower’s termination.
The Colorado Department of Public Health also featured incidents of gross neglect by the facility. In 2018, there was a report of a 61-year-old resident who fell out of a lift and had a brain bleed that was so detrimental that it “contributed to a decline in his ability to eat, drink and breath.” Other incidents include bone fractures from failure to properly transfer residents.
Ramirez told sources that the culprits are understaffing and lack of quality training that has led to the injuries and neglect at University Heights. Although the complaints lodged with the Department of Public Health outline fixes made through training or terminating employees, Ramirez stated that “[University Heights] will lie and cover up,” sharing an incident in which the Director of Nursing had doctored reports sent to healthcare providers to imply a regular schedule of care.
Although no major actions have been taken currently, the Aurora whistleblower’s story may draw enough attention to the issue that lawmakers will have no choice but to investigate the facility.
For more information about the dangers and solutions to nursing home neglect, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Neglect Page.