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Dementia patients were filmed fighting, with staff egging them on at Winston-Salem assisted living center, state alleges. 3 face charges.

Dementia patients were filmed fighting, with staff egging them on at Winston-Salem assisted living center, state alleges. 3 face charges.

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The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has barred a Winston-Salem assisted living facility from admitting new residents after finding multiple patient care “deficiencies.”

In June, police received a report of abuse at the Danby House assisted-living and memory-care facility on Burke Mill Road. The police department’s Criminal Investigations Division and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services began investigating, and determined employees at Danby House were allowing the residents to fight one another, and encouraging them to do so, police said. At least one employee assaulted one of the residents by shoving them, police said.

On Friday, Winston-Salem police announced three former Danby House employees are facing charges of assaulting disabled persons stemming from the June complaints.

On Oct. 2, police arrested Taneshia Deshawn Jordan, 26, of Clemson Circle, on a charge of assaulting an individual with a disability. A magistrate gave Jordan a $1,500 unsecured bond.

On Oct. 3, police arrested Tonacia Yvonne Tyson, 20, of Cedar Ridge Circle, on a charge of assaulting an individual with a disability. Tyson was released from custody on a written promise to appear in court.

On Oct. 10, police arrested Marilyn Latish McKey, 32, of Underwood Avenue, on two counts of assaulting an individual with a disability. A magistrate gave McKey a $1,000 unsecured bond.

According to arrest warrants, the three women are accused of assaulting two female residents. Arrest warrants allege that Jordan witnessed a co-worker assault one female resident and failed to stop the assault or report it. She is also accused of video-taping a fight between two female residents and encouraging the fight. Tyson is also accused of video-taping a co-worker assaulting a female resident and failing to either report the assault or stop it. She is also accused of witnessing a fight between two female residents and doing nothing about it, arrest warrants said.

McKey, whose first name is Marilyn in arrest warrants, is accused of recording an incident in which she pushed a female resident into a room. And she is accused of not doing anything about a fight between two female residents. The arrest warrants said all of these alleged incidents happened on June 19.

A spokesperson for Danby House said the three women were terminated in June when Danby House administration was first made aware of the allegations. A July 26 document from the NCDHHS — a Statement of Deficiencies — shows multiple issues with patient care at Danby House.

On Aug. 21, NCDHHS officials sent two letters to Charles E. Trefzger Jr., executive officer of Danby House, LLC, detailing the violations and ordering Danby House to stop accepting new residents, effective immediately, until conditions merited the suspension be lifted.

A spokesperson for NCDHHS said the suspension is still in place as of Oct. 11.

According to the statement of deficiencies, employees at Danby House were not properly trained or never underwent training, failed to administer medications to residents as prescribed by a doctor and found evidence that employees allowed, and in some cases, encouraged the residents to fight. The employees videotaped some of the fights because they didn’t like one of the residents involved.

In a statement provided by Danby House’s parent company, Affinity Living, LLC, the group said it has a zero tolerance policy for mistreatment.

“Danby House has a zero-tolerance policy for the mistreatment of those in our care and as such, McKey, Tyson, and Jordan were terminated immediately in June when community management was alerted to this situation," the statement said. "Administrators have been working closely with the Winston-Salem Police Department throughout its investigation to ensure justice is served. Additional staff training and a more rigorous vetting process for all new and existing employees at Danby House has been implemented. 

Danby House has undergone leadership changes in recent months, and we look at situations like these as opportunities to improve upon the high standard of care we provide for our residents.”

‘Punch her in the face’

According to documents from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, a staff member filmed as two women with dementia fought each other in one of their rooms. The women, identified in the documents as Resident 8 and Resident 9, fought in Resident 8’s room as three Danby House employees — who police identified as McKey, Tyson and Jordan — watched the fight and yelled encouragements at one of the women.

During the fight, the women fell on the bed, and Resident 9 continued to hit Resident 8 after the fall, according to the documents. In the video, Resident 8 is heard yelling “let go, help me, help me, let go,” while the staff continues to watch, according to the documents. At some point, one staff member tells Resident 8 to “stop screaming, (expletive),” according to the documents.

Resident 9 continued to hit Resident 8, and then began choking her. While Resident 9 choked her, a staff member is heard telling Resident 9 to “punch her in the face,” according to the documents. Another staff member asks to make sure someone is filming the fight, and asks if the staff member filming the fight will send the video to her.

Resident 8 tried to push Resident 9 off of her, the document says, but could not, and then attempted to bite Resident 9 while still being strangled.

Neither McKey, Tyson nor Jordan intervened at this point, but one of them said “you’re making her turn red” about Resident 9 strangling Resident 8. One of them yelled for their supervisor to come into the room. Eventually the two residents got off the bed and Resident 8 tried to push Resident 9 out of the room, but the staff told her “Don’t you push her.”

When the supervisor came in the room, she was smiling and didn’t ask about the fight and instead told Resident 8 to “stop” and that she better sit down and “go to bed,” according to the document.

Both Resident 8 and Resident 9 were in Danby House’s “Special Care Unit” because of their dementia, according to NCDHHS documents, and both women are described as being disoriented. Family members of both residents were contacted by Danby House’s corporate offices and the Winston-Salem Police Department about the incident.

A separate incident involved Resident 8 and another resident, identified in the document as Resident 10. On a separate occasion, Resident 8 pushed Resident 10 to the ground, according to the document. Tyson, McKey and Jordan were present for that incident, and one of them, identified in the document as “Staff A” yelled at Resident 8, shoved her forcefully into the room, shut off the lights and told her to go to sleep, according to the documents. The three women left Resident 10 on the floor until after Resident 8 had been pushed into her room. The documents don't specify which of the three shoved the resident. 

Staff members did not like Resident 8, with one of Tyson, McKey or Jordan telling police that Resident 8 was a “pain the butt,” and that’s why they recorded the videos, according to the NCDHHS documents.

Missed medications

Also in the July 26 NCDHHS Statement of Deficiencies is documentation that employees at Danby House routinely failed to administer prescribed medications to residents, and that facility employees failed to audit and review patient charts as is required by NCDHHS.

Of seven residents who had their records reviewed, six of them did not receive prescribed medications. Residents didn’t receive medications used to treat fluid build up, thyroid hormone deficiencies, neuropathic pain, depression, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

One resident diagnosed with schizoaffective bipolar disorder was supposed to receive medication for fluid twice a day, but for at least two months only received the medication once a day. At one point, during the month of June, the resident didn’t receive the medication for 17 days, according to NCDHHS documents.

When interviewed by the NCDHHS on July 26, an unnamed medication aide at Danby House said she “never noticed” the special instructions that the medication should be given twice a day. The resident did not suffer any adverse health effects due to the lack of medication, according to the NCDHHS documents.

Another resident, who had a history of hypertension and kidney failure, did not always receive their blood pressure medications, according to NCDHHS documents. Blood pressure medications were not appropriately administered for an additional resident who had a history of multiple strokes and hypertension.

“This failure placed the residents at risk due to medication mismanagement and was detrimental to the health safety and welfare of the residents... “ reads one of the NCDHHS documents.

Lack of training

In the same Statement of Deficiencies documents, the NCDHHS found that several staff members never completed required training.

Some staff members tasked with checking blood sugars and giving insulin injections had not completed the required “infection control training.”

Other staff members weren’t properly trained in how to administer certain medications, according to NCDHHS documents. Some staff had never completed general training requirements after being hired.



Journal reporter Michael Hewlett contributed to this report.


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