CLEARFIELD – A caretaker has been accused of assaulting an elderly resident of a local nursing facility.
Chance T. Myers, 27, of Morrisdale has been charged by Officer Zachary S. Cowan of the Lawrence Township police with neglect of care-dependent person, strikes/shoves/kicks or attempts/threatens care-dependent person, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, all misdemeanor offenses.
Myers was arraigned at 11:45 a.m. Thursday by Magisterial District Judge Mike Morris. Unable to post $50,000 bail, he was incarcerated in the Clearfield County Jail. Myers is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
The charges stem from a report of abuse at the Mountain Laurel Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center that was received March 1, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
When Cowan began his investigation, he spoke to the registered nurse supervisor who said an 85-year-old woman resident told her a caretaker at the facility had hurt her.
The victim alleged that she had her foot stepped on, was grabbed by her neck, had her head pushed on and her walker was flipped upside down in an effort to make her fall.
She said she was told this abuse had occurred the previous night or the night before, but that the victim also said it’d been ongoing for approximately one month.
She said after receipt of the report, she observed bruising on the victim’s neck, foot and chest, and emergency services were contacted to transport the victim for a medical evaluation.
Cowan also spoke with a staff member who had discovered the victim’s injuries. She said a male certified nursing assistant was responsible for taking care of the victim, and she identified him as Myers.
The RN supervisor also confirmed the victim’s caretaker was Myers, and indicated he’s had multiple allegations since he started working at the facility, but he’s “always been found innocent.”
The staff member said when she asked how the bruising occurred, the victim described how Myers grabbed her neck with his thumb being under her jaw and with his hand being wrapped behind it.
When asked about her bruised foot, the victim told her she’d asked Myers not to step on her foot, then he intentionally did. The victim confirmed information provided by the medical staff, saying “this guy scares and hurts” her.
Cowan said the victim had “fresh” bruises that were dark purple in color, and her left foot appeared swollen and severely bruised, as well.
He said one bruise extended down the back of her neck on her left side, and two smaller bruises were located on her chest. He took photographs to document the injuries.
Later, Cowan spoke by phone with the nursing director who had made contact with Myers to notify him of his suspension since he was scheduled to come into work.
She said anytime he was met with allegations before, he immediately denied wrong-doing. This time, she said he repeatedly stated “uh” and stalled when asked to answer to his actions.
Eventually, she said that Myers did deny the allegations, and she had since written a statement concerning their interview. She indicated she would provide it to Cowan.
She said the county’s Area Agency on Aging had been notified of the reported abuse, and either she or the CCAAA would provide any necessary hospital records once the victim was discharged, and she’d prepare other related paperwork and statements for him.
Upon review of collected information as part of his investigation, Cowan learned the victim frequently needed assistance and used her call bell. However, it was found her use of her call bell had declined with the onset of the alleged abuse.
It was found that during Myers’ interview with the facility’s director, he allegedly admitted to having answered the victim’s bell with and without assistance from other staff. Medical records also showed the victim’s injuries included bruising, the affidavit states.
During an interview with Cowan and Police Chief Doug Clark on March 12, Myers reportedly appeared nervous and scared; he avoided eye contact on several occasions.
Initially, he claimed he didn’t assist the victim very often or alone, but then changed his story saying he had and regularly.
He also claimed he’d never stepped on her foot, and that he’d assisted her with getting into bed but had help.
Then, he admitted he had assisted her with getting into bed alone, but when he demonstrated his procedure, it reportedly didn’t make any sense to police.
According to Myers’ demonstration, he only had control of the victim’s legs and let her upper torso fall freely onto the bed. When asked if this was a proper form of assistance, he agreed that it was not.
Cowan said he continually made attempts to deny he had cared for the victim alone, even though he admitted that he had both prior to and the date of her injuries.
After being told the victim had identified him, Myers reportedly had no response until saying he felt concerned and wanted to request an attorney.
The interview was then terminated, even though Cowan said it was “apparent” he had information concerning the injuries the victim had suffered under his care.
On March 14, Cowan conducted a follow-up interview with the victim, who corroborated her previous story a second time. When asked about the identity of her caretaker, she gave a description but said she no longer sees him there.
While there, she asked to get into bed and a nurse came in to assist her. The nurse explained that the victim is normally in bed and uses her call bell when she needs to use the restroom.
Cowan remained in the room to observe the nurse assist the victim into her bed. Afterward she said the victim is able to get herself in and needs minimal help.
A final interview was conducted with the victim on April 10, and her story hadn’t changed at all from her previous statements, according to the affidavit.