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A nursing assistant from the Parkside Manor assisted-living facility in Kenosha, WI., has been fired for taking a video of a virtually naked 93-year-old Alzheimer’s patient and sharing the file on Snapchat.
In recent months an unsavory trend has emerged involving nurses taking photographs and videos of elderly patients and sharing the files on social media networks. The images and videos show patients in various states of undress, performing degrading acts, or posing in compromising positions.
An investigation conducted last year by ProPublica revealed the extent to which this is happening across the United States. Reporters discovered 35 separate cases had been reported, although numerous others have more than likely taken place.
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Snapchat was found to be the most popular site for image and video sharing, although it is far from the only social media network used for sharing degrading and demeaning images and videos of patients.
The latest case involved a video of an Alzheimer’s patient who was recorded sitting on her bed wearing only a bra. Grace Riedlinger, 21, admitted taking the video without consent and sharing the file online. She is reported to have told her employer that the patient was “giving her a hard time getting changed over for bed.”
She said she took the video because the patient was “was playing tug of war with her and she thought it was funny.” The video was uploaded to Snapchat and was shared with her friends for a period of 24 hours via the “story” section of the website. One of Riedlinger’s Snapchat friends reported her to Parkside Manor after seeing the video and an internal investigation was launched into the incident. That incident resulted in Riedlinger losing her job.
A criminal complaint has now been filed against Riedlinger in Kenosha County. She has been charged with a felony for taking a nude photo without consent. Riedlinger told Parkside Manor’s executive director that she understands that the act was “immoral and very terribly wrong.”
Rebecca Dutter, Kenosha County Adult Protective Services Coordinator, said of the incident, “We’re just devastated over here. It’s such a horrific thing for someone to do.” She pointed out that if anyone discovers any case of abuse they should report the matter to Kenosha County Adult Protective Services. A compliant can be made anonymously and Adult Protective Services will act on all reports. She said, “We can never release the person’s name… I want people to feel able to call us.”
Court Commissioner Jon G. Mason said that the incident was “one of the most disgusting cases I’ve heard in a long time.”
Riedlinger has been released on $10,000 bail. She has been forbidden from contacting the complainant, visiting Parkside Manor, and from setting foot in any nursing home or assisted living facility. Riedlinger could potentially face up to three and a half years in jail if convicted.