WWII veteran begged caretakers for help in Georgia nursing home before dying, feds say
The Charlotte Observer March 17, 2022
BROOKHAVEN, Ga. (Tribune News Service) — Three former staff members at a Georgia nursing home pleaded guilty to their accused roles in the death of an elderly patient.
The charges against the two former nurses and one former nurse aide stem from the 2014 death of James Dempsey, 89, who was a patient in their care at Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center in Brookhaven, a city about 10 miles northeast of Atlanta, according to DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston.
Evidence shows that the workers failed to “provide timely and necessary medical assistance, ultimately resulting in Dempsey’s death,” according to a news release.
Dempsey was a World War II veteran, according to local outlets including The Atlanta-Journal Constitution and WSB-TV. McClatchy News has reached out to the Brookhaven Police Department for further information.
A hidden surveillance video placed in Dempsey’s room revealed he was suffering from respiratory distress and continually called out for help the day of his death, authorities said.
On March 15, former nurse Loyce Pickquet Agyeman, 67, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, neglect to an elder person and concealing the death of another, the district attorney said. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.
The next day, Wanda Nuckles, 65, also a former nurse, pleaded guilty to concealing the death of another and was sentenced to a year in prison, according to the release. Mable Turman, 66, who was a certified nurse assistant, pleaded guilty in February to charges of neglect of an elder person and concealing the death of another. As the “least culpable” of the three, Turman was sentenced to five years of probation, the district attorney said.
‘Stop pushing the call button’
The day he died, Dempsey complained of chest pain and said he couldn’t breathe, but Agyeman told him “there was nothing wrong with his heart and to stop pushing the call button” before leaving his room, according to the district attorney.
When Dempsey called for help again, Turman is accused of arriving in his room 24 minutes later.
By that time, officials said, Dempsey was unresponsive.
Turman called Nuckles and Agyeman into the room, officials said, but neither of them attempted to revive the patient. Agyeman and Nuckles only began performing CPR an hour after Dempsey stopped breathing in a “ruse for the emergency service personnel‘‘ who had just arrived on the scene, according to the district attorney’s office.
Dempsey’s son had set up a camera after Dempsey told him that personal items were being taken from his room and that he often had to wait for help, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Video surveillance reportedly revealed Dempsey pressed the help button from his bed six times on the day he died. Video shows him yelling “help” repeatedly while pointing at his heart, according to WSB-TV.
“We would have just thought it was natural causes and everything was done that should have been done and he passed away in his sleep,” his son told the TV station in 2015.
“This is a landmark case for the State of Georgia and for DeKalb County,” Boston said in the March 17 release. “As a result of this case, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that families have a right to install video recording equipment in their loved one’s nursing home spaces.”
©2022 The Charlotte Observer.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.