Updated at 1:02 p.m. Sept. 25
WESTFIELD, NJ — Authorities are investigating claims that an elderly woman was severely beaten at a nursing home in Westfield.
Benny Gomez told TAPinto Westfield that his mother was hit in the head multiple times at the Westfield Center on Lamberts Mill Road, and while a spokeswoman for the facility said the woman sustained the injuries in a fall, police are investigating.
“My mother was assaulted numerous times,” said Gomez, a resident of Newark. “She tells me that they were rough with her. They hit her over the head with a hair brush multiple times.”
A spokeswoman for the Westfield Center, a facility of Genesis Healthcare, responded in a brief statement provided to TAPinto Westfield Tuesday.
“The safety and well-being of our patients and residents is our highest priority here at Westfield Center,” said Lori Mayer, spokeswoman for Westfield Center. “There was an incident at the facility involving a resident that resulted in a fall with injuries. In order to protect the privacy of the individual involved in this case, we cannot comment further on any specifics.”
Over the weekend, Gomez posted a photo of his mother to social media showing her severely bruised and bloodied face.
“This is the kind of care they provide to the elderly,” Gomez stated in the post, which has been widely shared. “They are negligent and abusive towards there patients, and I do not know how the state of NJ allows a place like this to operate.”
Police are looking into the situation, Sgt. Michael Walsh, a spokesman for the Westfield Police Department, said Tuesday.
“This incident is currently being investigated, and we have no further comments at this time,” Walsh said.
Inspection ratings for the Westfield Center posted on the federal website for Medicare Tuesday showed an overall rating of “below average” and a health inspection rating of “much below average.” By Wednesday afternoon, following publication of this story, the ratings were updated to show the overall rating at “average” and the health inspection rating at “below average.”
In both cases, the “staffing” rating and “quality measures” rating stood at “above average” and “average.”
The rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, is based on standards that include the care of residents, processes used to give that care and how the staff and residents interact, according to the website for the federal program.
“CMS uses this information to measure parts of nursing home care quality, like if residents have gotten their flu shots, are in pain, had one or more falls that resulted in a major injury, or are losing weight,” the website states.
State health department officials declined to comment.
"The Department of Health has no comment," said Donna Leusner, spokeswoman for the department.
Gomez expressed concerns about the staffing levels at the facility, and he said the conditions seen during state inspections are not reflective of what goes on every day.
“They know when they’re going to come,” Gomez said of inspectors. “And you’ll see a difference in the place. Everything is different, and the moment they leave everything goes back to normal.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect an updated rating from Medicare listed on the federal program’s government website. Above the story is an image of the rating seen prior to publication.