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Posted on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Ex-nursing home employees: We were fired for reporting maggots at Whitehall

By Cindy Heflin


Jeff Sainlar |

Three former employees of a Pittsfield Township nursing home where maggots were found on a patient have sued the nursing home and its parent company alleging they were fired for reporting patient abuse and neglect at the facility.

The three all worked as certified nursing aides at Whitehall Healthcare Center of Ann Arbor and were involved in the state’s investigation into the discovery of maggots in a patient’s genital area last summer, the lawsuit states.

One was fired after filing a complaint that brought the state to the facility to investigate a patient’s fall, the lawsuit states. Two others were fired after they and the employee who filed the original complaint told state investigators about the discovery of the maggots, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also alleges the nursing home tried to prevent employees, including two of the nursing assistants and a nurse and a nurse manager, from participating in the investigation into the maggot discovery by suspending them while it was under way, then firing them.

The facility also attempted to hide a resident’s fall and resulting injury from the resident’s family and the state, the lawsuit alleges.

Administrator John DeLuca, reached by phone Friday, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“I have no knowledge of it and no comment,” he said.

In an investigation completed in September, the state found Whitehall failed to provide appropriate hygiene and catheter care to a resident whose vaginal area became infested with maggots: failed to supervise two residents in wheelchairs, both of whom were injured as a result; failed to provide a sanitary, comfortable and orderly interior; failed to adequately monitor the fluid intake and output for a patient who became dehydrated; failed to maintain complete staff personnel files and complete required certification, license and background checks.

State officials have since said all the problems cited in the September inspection report have been corrected.

The lawsuit filed Nov. 22 by Nikenda Morton, Wanda Mosley and Latasha Bryant seeks relief under the state's Whistleblower Protection Act, asks for a jury trial and seeks unspecified compensatory damages for economic injury, including loss of employment, mental and emotional distress, humiliation, all attorney fees and court costs.

It names Whitehall and Coastal Administrative Services LLC doing business as LaVie Administrative Services and Shoreline Management Services doing business as La Vie Management Services as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges Nikenda Morton, who began working as a certified nursing assistant at the nursing home in March, was assigned last summer to watch a resident who was at risk of falling. Morton complained about the assignment because she had injured her wrist and was not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds. She complained that she would not be able to help the resident if she did fall.

The resident did fall on Aug. 10, 2011, and injured her foot, the lawsuit states. Morton reported the incident to her supervisors, but they told her not to write a report about it, according to the lawsuit. Morton then filed a complaint with the state about the incident, said Robert Fetter, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

The state came to investigate the complaint, and on Sept. 1, the investigator asked the director of nursing in Morton’s presence why there was no report on the incident.

The director of nursing replied she could not find one. Morton told the investigator she could not find one because the director of nursing told her not to write one.

Morton was fired the next day, the lawsuit alleges. The nursing home stated she was fired for leaving the dining room when she was told not to do so. The lawsuit alleges she had not been told to stay in the dining room and was fired for filing the complaint and participating in the investigation.

While the state was investigating the original complaint, Bryant and Mosley became aware of the discovery of maggots in a resident’s vaginal area. They discussed the issue with Morton and the three decided to bring it to the investigator’s attention, the lawsuit states.

Bryant and Mosley were the ones who cleaned the resident after the maggots were discovered, according to the lawsuit. Fetter said it was their job to shower residents.

Whitehall tried to hide Bryant from the investigators, the suit alleges. Bryant was suspended Aug. 27 for not providing her fingerprints to the facility and was not allowed on the premises during the investigation but participated at home, the suit says. She provided her fingerprints on Aug. 29, but was fired on Sept. 6, the lawsuit says.

Mosley was fired, the lawsuit alleges, after the nursing home received a copy of the state’s report on the investigation, which detailed the maggot discovery and other allegations of poor care and insanitary conditions and included a statement from Mosley.

The lawsuit also alleges that DeLuca was accused before of firing an employee for whistleblowing at a nursing home.

A lawsuit filed Sept. 28, 2008, by Sherzelle Woods accused Heartland Healthcare Center of Ann Arbor of firing her for complaining about racial discrimination and abuse and neglect of patients. DeLuca was administrator of the nursing home at the time. Fetter, who represented Woods in the lawsuit, said the case was settled out of court.

Fetter said it’s important for nursing home employees to be able to report problems. “We rely on these employees to make these reports …,” he sad. “The patients often can’t speak for themselves.”


Pattie Vandling

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

This is pathetic, you can report things over and over and nothing happens, it get swept under the rug, and the person reporting it ends up being the bad guy, when the CNA is the patients 1st advocate, that is our job, but when top management doesnt care about patient care, only $$ keeping the beds filled so they can get their bonus.

Darlene Brown

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

This place have always. had bad nursing directors. They had to police escort one of the directors off the premises about fifteen years ago. She was a wicked racist and imagine she was the directothe director over a nursing home. I am quite she reads these comments and know I. Am speaking about her. I just hope that at some point and time that someone will honestly respect and care for our elderly as they have done for us. I am glad someone had the courage to speak up and no be alienated by the director I hop the three win the lawsuit and whch clean their act up.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

My understanding is that all the nursing homes in the area are in the end owned by one of 2 families. Good luck with any change, and I'm confident that Snyder's cronies will get around to weakening whistle-blower legislation even further.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

This is so sad to think that the workers were trying to help the patients and they wre fired, the same thing happen to me, after I told about co-workers sleep during work time on the midnight shift and patients almost died at the University of Michigan Medical center Telecommunications department. Soon later after, I told, I was fired and the sleeping workers got promoted to manager and supervisor and they are still working and making alot more money. People wonder why so many people do not speak up at a job , well this is why, whey you try to help you are fired. Even when the patients need help at a nursing home to think that the owner would just fire them and not say thanks for tell me, I did not know, no he just fired them.

r treat

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Enough with the maggots! Every time I pull up the website I see another maggot article. This one happened to be above the shrimp on sale at a local store. I'm sure they appreciate the placement.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

Anger should be directed at the regulatory agencies that aren't doing the job of monitoring these care centers. This stuff happens because government employees are not held accountable. If inspections were made routine, without warning, and with proper follow up, these incidents would be far fewer.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

I'm stating a fact....who were the last inspectors, when, what findings were made? Why do you bring up more money right off the bat? I happen to think I'm not getting what I should be getting for the money I already pay. The evidence proves I'm offer nothing credible but are working on the assumption everything is fine and "we need more money for more inspections" which still doesn't address "accountability" which is the biggest fear of government employees. How about making the most of the inspections already being performed.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 11:01 p.m.

So you are demonizing government, are you willing to pay for more inspections?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

So, where was the Washtenaw County Health Department while this was going on? Waiting for employees to blow the whistle obviously isn't reliable enough. Aren't regular inspections made of these places? If not, why not? And if Whitehall is in the City of Ann Arbor and outside the scope of responsibility of Washtenqw County govrnment, perhaps we can sell some of that unwanted (and some think ugly) "art" our City Council is intent on buying with money that has been taken away from fire and police protection.

dading dont delete me bro

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

that place was gross 20 years ago...(alledgedly)


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.

We have corporate ways trying to run a nursing home. I guess this is why one really needs a large saving for their retirement. This kind of place is where you will end up if you don't save your money. Well, either that or some fly strips and maybe some OFF!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

Many people these days buy long-term care insurance to provide for such care in their old age.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

This is one more BIG reason that for-profit companies should not be in the health care business. In any industry, if the primary focus was always 'PREVENTION' and human services were run by not-for profit agencies, the greed factor could be eliminated and our care for our fellow human beings could be vastly improved.

Amy Major Eberflus

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

I worked @ Whitehall several years ago, before joining the Air Force, & the place was dirty, not well staffed & depressing then! I can only imagine what it's like now if there hasn't been any updates, better/more ethical staff hired, a thorough makeover, etc. done! What I truly feel sorry for are/were the many wonderful patients at Whitehall that had lead a happy, productive life and were now living out their last days in a dump! :( Soooooo sad! When I was a certified nursing assistant at Whitehall I had way too many patients & I know what hard work is, I spent 5+ yrs in the Air Force, got out, went to college & earned my bachelors' degree in the medical field, etc. I've worked as a nurse in the civilian sector for years now & still think back to my days at Whitehall & how unsafe it was for me to have the responsibility of so many patients!! I never had enough hours in my work day to thoroughly, ethically & safely take care of my patients, who are people's parents/grandparents/siblings/aunts/uncles/great-grandparents. etc.! Sad how bad businesses can make it in this world!!!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

My late brother and I had the privilege a number of years ago of visiting the oldest living member of my Dad's family, in residence at an assisted living apartment in a Boston suburb. Wonderful lady, bustling around, again the Jewish mother, brisket and potato's, "You aren't eating! Eat, eat!" and surround by the memorabilia of a couple together for more than half a century. A year later she had broken her hip and was confined to a bed with one nightstand, on which she was allowed TWO personal items. And they would be stolen. I was physically ill after seeing what had been done to her. Another cousin we visited was on a respirator at a county nursing home wjth post-polio syndrome and much better cared for. Did anyone know? Oh yes. The children who arranged for her to be warehoused, they knew, the state inspectors who came around every few months, THEY knew. Money was why, and money bought off official notice. That's why, if able, I'd bite a live extension cord before letting it happen to ME. God grant I can.

say it plain

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Thank you @Amy Eberflus for pointing out what happens at such facilities--the *administration* fails by trying to cut corners and that absolutely creates overwhelmed and necessarily 'under-performing' employees. The difference between such a situation at a restaurant and at a nursing home is that maggots in some poor woman's catheter is even more horrifying than if they'd appeared in a corner of a kitchen, and that the poor woman and others who are being so neglected stand a very good chance of dying or further deteriorating health-wise due to the systemic infections that will happen as a result of the establishment's negligence. That they tried to cover this up is *not* happens at such facilities often I'm guessing. We need to stop believing that it is only the medical 'superstars' of surgeons and drug-pushing pharma-physicians that are important to healthcare in this nation!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

THE LAWSUIT HEALTH CARE : In United States, we have established this tradition of lawsuits to resolve all kinds of problems. We have a duty to care of elderly people with very limited income. We want to change the situation by blaming each other and by filing lawsuits. Unfortunately, the situation will not change for any better unless we clearly understand the basic principles of nursing care. We want to bring improvements in the standards of providing nursing care by using investigating agencies and reporting incidents without trying to change our attitude towards the role of caring for a person who needs help because of age, disease, or disability.

Michigan Reader

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

The problem the nurses aides are resolving with the lawsuit is their own. Period. They aren't trying for better care for the patients; they've already tried that by reporting the violations and have been fired for that. Nobody is trying to change the situation by blaming each other and filing lawsuits. I'm sure that the aides would have preferred a different outcome than the one they found themselves in.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

It's so sad. My father worked in his retirement in janitorial services at Whitehall in the '70's and he was proud of how well the place was kept clean, and how (under the prvious ownership) well it cared for its residents. At the time it was quite expensive and took only a few Medicaid cases, however. It's sad to hear of this situation which seems to have developed under the present ownership. My prayers go out to all the patients there, and in other nursing hoomes.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

A scenario such as this should just not be happeining. It is sad, disgusting, disgraceful, and disrespectful to the elderly....who count on well intentioned folks to take care of them. The administration should be ashamed of themselves for any cover up . They should fired. Someday, they too will become elderly and would they like maggots crawling on their genitals?! The Nursing staff/assistants that reported the incident should be commended for doing the correct thing, I commend their actions. I wish them the best.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

As usual it isn't the (alleged) problem itself but the (alleged) cover-up.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

And, at the moment, the only thing that needs to be described as alleged here is the coverup. The state documented the presence of maggots on the patient.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

No, this time I'd say it's both.

Dan Pepper

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

While the thought of maggots on a living person's body invokes a revulsion-to-terror response, the maggots are part of the ecosystem and over the course of medical history they have been used for therapy: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 4:29 a.m.

Though this incident warrants disgust and revulsion. &quot;Sterilized&quot; maggots are still used to to eat dead tissue while causing no damage to living tissue. Leaches are still used today to for draining blood from head wounds.

say it plain

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

that is a very positive spin lol, and if it would say eat up all the virulently *bad* microorganisms that are no doubt *also* living on so many surfaces these poor patients are exposed to, that would be wonderful indeed ;-) I'm sorta doubting they are, though. Maybe someone can provide the relevant references for their utility in preventing the sorts of drug-resistant bacterial infections and even run-of-the-mill ones that get into catethers/tubes etc and *kill* patients, whose families are then told, well, she/he was old and unwell, so.... It is horrible how we have yet to deal with changing nursing practices and standards so that this is truly addressed, and administrators who have any history of actual *action* against them should be banned from continuing to work in the field, imho!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

Now that's a positive spin!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

I think for medical use it's supposed to be the right kind of maggots, i.e. from the right kind of flies?


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

This is totally disgusting -- in my opinion, businesses are more interested in making big profits at the expense of the elderly. Many times there are not enough staff to take care of all the needs of the patients. I would like to see more investigations into nursing homes to insure that our precious elders are being properly taken care of.

Fat Bill

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

@Basic Bob, it is imperative that managers verify the patients are receiving the proper care, is that not the basic premise of &quot;Supervision&quot;?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

I agree with you. There needs to be a set of higher standards. I believe the government should set up an organization that can ensure nursing homes follow these higher standards. Not only would it look after those who are powerless to help themselves, but it would create jobs as well.

Monica R-W

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6:17 a.m.

The point is that after they reported the nasty at best, conditions at Whitehall, they were terminated. That is in itself a violation of the Whistleblower's Act and I hope EACH of these ladies are successful in their claim. Also, if I had a loved one at Whitehall, they would have been moved after the WXYZ Channel 7 report about the Maggots. That's just disgusting.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

Carole, You're anger should be directed at the regulatory agencies that aren't doing the job of monitoring these care centers. This stuff happens because government employees are not held accountable.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

One could also think that some employees are more interested in getting paid than actually working, or filing complaints against management instead of attending to the care of patients. I don't expect the administrator to change catheters or look under gowns for signs of infection.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

I guess I would need to know why, if these folks were nursing help or nurses, that they didn't take care of the patient's problems themselves. Isn't that part of their job?


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

I don't know about the laws in MI, but when I was a CNA i another state it was the LPN or RN's responsibility to make sure catheters are regularly changed. It was against the law for CNA's to change them as it's a sterile procedure. The best the CNA's could probably do in this situation is try to keep the area clean, but if it's not regularly changed by a nurse , or other CNA's are neglecting to clean the area, then maggots could become a problem. It is ultimately the LPN's and RN's job to make sure the CNA's aren't neglecting the patients.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Maybe not, Elaine, if the situation was so drastic that it required procedural improvement. If I were the boss, I'd want to know why it happened and how to prevent it in the future. Routine procedures may not have been effective, and needed drastic improvement.