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Local nurse prosecuted under elderly abuse statute

March 27, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Local nurse prosecuted under elderly abuse statute

A former licensed practical nurse at Avalon Manor Nursing Home in Hagerstown was sentenced to probation Thursday for slapping a resident who has Alzheimer's Disease.

It was the first prosecution by the Maryland Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of an elderly abuse case in Washington County, said Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

In 1990, the fraud unit began investigating statewide cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes that receive Medicaid funding, Curran said.

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On Aug. 22, Carroll L. Beachley, 56, of 10420 Bailey Road in Hagerstown, slapped the face of an 87-year-old man who spit out medication Beachley was trying to give him, according to Washington County District Court records.

Beachley pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, records said.

District Court Judge R. Noel Spence sentenced Beachley to 18 months unsupervised probation and ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service, records said.

Beachley was barred from providing hands-on care to people for two years, records said.

The fraud unit investigates about 200 allegations of neglect or abuse a year at 254 nursing homes with 30,000 beds statewide. The unit has prosecuted about 60 cases, he said.

This was the first one in Washington County, he said.

Elderly abuse cases often are difficult to prosecute because of the victim's age and condition, Curran said.

"The dilemma really is you have strong suspicions but you can't prove it," he said. "At least our investigation lets everyone know we have a presence in this area."

The Maryland Department of Social Services recorded 13 cases of elderly abuse and 41 cases of elderly neglect in Washington County during the 1997 budget year.

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