An incident between a 29-year-old nursing aide and a 90-year-old nursing home resident with dementia concluded with bruises for the resident and charges for the aide. The Syracuse resident conflict has been the subject of a month-long investigation by the Syracuse police department and on Dec. 4, 2019, spokespeople from the police department and Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing Center shared the accounts of the events with reporters from Syracuse.com.
According to the police, the Syracuse resident conflict originated on Oct. 19 between an unnamed resident with dementia and Caia Williams, the nursing aide. Details of the inciting events are unclear, but witnesses say that Williams struck the dementia-stricken resident with a wet cloth that subsequently left bruising across the resident’s face.
Over a month after the Syracuse resident conflict, police arrested Williams on Nov. 25. Williams was charged with a class A misdemeanor for endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree, as well as a second-degree harassment charge. According to Syracuse police spokesperson Officer Joe Commisso, the injuries suffered by the resident were not severe enough to warrant felony assault.
Although police offered a potential scenario which may have led to the Syracuse resident conflict, including the victim being combative due to confusion related to her dementias, they also digressed that their investigation was commenced almost a month due to Bishop conducting its own internal investigation. Other delays in arresting Cania Williams included locating and interviewing witnesses, the grandson of the victim, and Williams herself. A spokesman for the Bishop Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Jason Newman, told reporters that Bishop cooperated with police.
In the immediate aftermath of the Syracuse resident assault, the unnamed woman was taken to Upstate University Hospital and was briefly treated and returned to Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, while Cania Williams and two other now-exonerated staff members were put on suspension. Following her suspension, Williams resigned.
On Dec. 3, after being formally charged for her part in the Syracuse resident conflict, Cania Williams entered a not guilty plea in Syracuse City Court and the case is expected to go to trial. Jason Newman also informed reporters that following the Syracuse resident conflict, Bishop has re-educated its staff members on proper protocol for reporting abuse, identifying abuse, resident rights, and proper care and handling for residents with dementia.
For more information about physical abuse and potential recourse for physical abuse in nursing homes, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Physical Abuse Page.