Five employees of a nursing home in Haifa were arrested Sunday on suspicion of abusing patients after an investigative report was aired on Israeli television.
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On Saturday night, Israel Channel 2 television broadcast a story that included film of the suspects hitting and verbally abusing residents of Neot Kipat Hazahav.
Four of the employees, who are suspected of abusing patients in their care, were ordered Sunday to remain in custody through Tuesday. The fifth suspect, a head nurse at the institution, was released to house arrest. She is suspected of failing to report the abuse.
The managers of the nursing home were summoned for a hearing later Sunday at the Health Ministry, after which the ministry said its officials would determine the measures needed to guarantee the welfare of the institution’s residents.”
The Health Ministry said it would increase its supervision of nursing homes. Ministry officials said that likely measures included the installation of security cameras, the addition of inspectors and carrying out more surprise inspections.
The Channel 2 report showed attendants changing the diapers of patients late at night and leaving them in their wheelchairs for five hours, until breakfast was served.
A number of the attendants could be seen punching patients, banging their heads into a wall and cursing and threatening them.
The report claimed that one patient at the home died after an attendant disconnected her oxygen and feeding tubes. The feeding tube was used because the woman had refused to eat for two weeks.
According to the investigative report, Neot Kipat Hazahav had received good ratings from the Health Ministry after a surprise inspection of the facility about a year ago.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said he was shocked by the pictures broadcast in the report.
“We must act immediately to prevent such cases. I have instructed to immediately implement steps to increase supervision on all institutions,” Litzman said.
The health minister added that he would not hesitate to close down any nursing home in which similar incidents occurred.
In a statement, Neot Kipat Hazahav said the findings presented in the report were difficult and sad, and that after learning of them the institution filed a police complaint against the employees involved and summoned them to a hearing.
“We established an internal investigative committee and asked the Health Ministry to conduct an independent inquiry of its own,” said the nursing home.
With ministry approval, the facility said, the institution will begin installing security cameras throughout the facility, including in the rooms of patients whose families agree to the measure.
Neot Kipat Hazahav said a general staff meeting will be held Monday in connection to the incidents.
According to the nursing home, the incidents that were in the Channel 2 report all occurred in a single department, one of 12 in the institution.
Neot Kipat Hazahav said that it has been in contact with the families of all the patients who were involved, that it had briefed them and intended to work with them with full coordination and transparency in order to correct the injustice.
A spokesman for the Israel Police said that additional evidence has been gathered in the case and that other employees of the nursing home had been interviewed.
The police said they will conduct the investigation fully in order to bring to justice all those involved in the affair.