LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky officials are asking nursing
homes to prevent cell-phone abuse by limiting their employees' use.
The Inspector General's Office of the Cabinet for Health and
Family Services made the request after an April investigation of
Bluegrass Care and Rehabilitation Center in Lexington. Staff
members attached sexually explicit lyrics to photos of residents
and sent them as text messages to other employees.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports documents show employees
recorded patients screaming or asking to use the bathroom and then
played a guessing game to see which resident was involved. Some of
the patients were not fully clothed when they were photographed.
Neither the residents nor the employees were identified in the
"We did not think things would get so far out of hand," an
employee who sent photos to 10 others told state investigators.
"We were just having fun. Everybody was on the cell phone 24-7."
In one incident, an employee took a photo of a resident entering
the bathroom. The photo showed the resident's exposed back, legs
and incontinence brief, which appeared to be wet. The staff member
attached the lyrics of a hip-hop song called "Stanky Leggs" to
the photo and sent it to a nursing assistant, the assistant told
Another employee recorded a resident with Alzheimer's disease
talking about having to use the bathroom, saying, "I gotta
doo-doo," and used it as a ring tone.
A licensed practical nurse who heard it said no one "acted like
it was a big deal."
Sherry Culp, executive director of the Bluegrass Nursing Home
Ombudsman Agency, called the cell phone incidents "bullying."
Signature Healthcare, the Florida-based company that owns
Bluegrass Care, has fired all employees involved in the incidents,
said spokeswoman Erica Staley.
The company prohibits cell phone use on its premises.
There are no laws in Kentucky regarding cell-phone use by staff
in long-term care facilities, so any action would be voluntary.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)