Disabled man says Richmond nursing home threw him out

Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Steven Brown says medical professionals put his life in jeopardy when Bonview Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Richmond, threw him out on the street.

On Your Side Investigator Diane Walker continues her look into the allegations, including what Brown says happened to him last year.

Bonview isn’t commenting except to say it’s not at liberty to discuss patients and says they’re focused on keeping patients safe and protected during the pandemic.

Walker started investigating Bonview last year after several people called her about problems that they say they reported but couldn’t get anyone to take action. Walker has the findings of an unannounced Medicare-Medicaid investigation confirming some complaints Brown told her.

Resident #6 was in “immediate jeopardy,” wrote the state - discharged against his will, in an unsafe manner despite his pending appeal. Resident #6 is Steven Brown in the state’s October 16, 2019 inspection.

“When you go through something like this, it’s kind of horrific,” Brown said.

The legally blind Navy veteran, diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis, relies on a rollator to steady his steps and keep from falling says when Bonview evicted him, he lived the first day and a half homeless inside a Walmart.

“It was very shameful so you kind of try to blend in,” Brown said.

Walker sat down with Steven in his extended stay motel room last year after that eviction, but many months would pass before the state investigated what Steven says happened when John Bernadyn, the former Executive Director, was in charge.

“I was in the hallway. They walked up to me. He said, ‘Mr. Brown, today you have to get out. After discussing it with my team, you have to go right now,’” Brown said.

A group of seven he says confronted him aggressively, even the business office manager had words.

“She’s standing in the door of the room saying, ‘we don’t want you here... Why won’t you just leave’...She said, ‘I can guarantee you this tomorrow, I’m going to call the police. They will get you out of here,’” Brown said.

“And you left that day?" Walker asked.

“Yes. In the rain, pouring down,” Brown said.

“They didn’t care about where you were going? Did they make arrangements to send you someplace else?” Walker asked.

"No. No, Ma’am,” Brown said.

He filed complaints with Bonview, its owner Consulate Healthcare and the state telling their investigators the same accounts he told NBC12.

“Why did John [Bernadyn] put you out in the rain?” Walker asked.

“He targeted me because of things I would say. Things that were wrong,” Brown said.

Steven says he advocated for his dying roommate and always spoke up when he thought the nursing home was slipping. He says they grew tired of him complaining and evicted him on a made-up allegation that he was threatening to staff.

“I’m not a profane person. Because I’m 6′4”, 340 pounds, extremely dark. OK, I’m the boogie man," Brown said.

The unannounced Medicare-Medicaid investigation found that Steven was not a danger to anyone and his June 2019 discharge was a life-threatening violation. In the report, the Director of Nursing admits a person thrown out the way Steven was - could bottom out - could die.

According to the report, Steven left with a male friend and did not disclose where he was going. He was discharged with no glucometer, no physician’s evaluation, no reason for discharge, no staff signature and with 50 tablets of Lorazepam, a controlled narcotic. Also in the report, Steven called back asking for help with his medications. Employee P told Steven it was not her area and she did not document or follow up with anyone else at Bonview about his request for help.

The report states Bonview offered to readmit Steven four months after his eviction. He said no.

Bonview was also cited in the report for contacting Social Security and becoming the payee without Steven’s permission causing him to lose his apartment and belongings because he couldn’t access his own money. Bonview refunded him, but by then it was too late.

“They had taken control of my check. My Social Security. I didn’t even know they were getting that. They had changed me from physical therapy to long-term. I didn’t even know this,” Brown said.

While it’s impossible to undo what was done to Steven, he still worries about others. One former resident in particular.

“There was a man in there. He died. He died. I was in the building when it happened. The CNA’s got fired. They tied him to the bed because I guess they got tired of him falling or getting up. Tied this man to the bed...You don’t tie a dog to nothing. That dog has life. You are going to tie a human being to something? What’s going on in your mind?” Brown said.

Walker started digging through inspections during the time Steven was at Bonview and found the March 1, 2019 inspection. A nurse discovered Resident #1 restrained to his bed on Feb. 15 with sheets tied around his waist and to both side bed rails. The inspection says the nurse and former executive director reported it to the Board of Nursing and fired the two CNA’s who did it - one says not to harm him but because she couldn’t get work done when he wandered the halls.

Resident #1 was 75-year-old Clifford Wayne Amos, an Alzheimer’s patient who died six days after he was restrained. The report does not mention Amos' death but says after he was untied, he was “immediately assessed and no physical or psychological changes were noted.” Walker also found his family and spoke with two members who say they are saddened and hope it never happens to another family. They say Bonview told them he had been restrained but Amos' family thought another patient had tied him up - not two certified nursing assistants.

“It’s like you’re just concerned about one thing, which is the profit. You don’t care how many falls. You don’t care how many deaths. You don’t care how many situations that you contribute to...Based on my experience, it was deplorable. It was disgusting. What I’ve seen when family members are not around. What those people go through in there. It’s disgusting,” Brown said.

Steven is homeless. Walker spoke with him just a few days ago. That night he says he was sleeping in a friend’s car. The Navy veteran says he could not afford the hotel room long-term and shelters don’t take blind people.

Also, the former executive director called Walker once after he no longer worked for Bonview. The two agreed to meet but John Bernadyn did not show up for that meeting. Again, Bonview and Consulate Healthcare have declined to comment. There are state and federal laws that govern discharge and restraining patients.

Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Submit a news tip.