A 21-year-old nursing assistant was charged Wednesday with abusing 24 elderly patients at an Annapolis nursing home by hitting some and shoving others in wheelchairs into walls.
Michele Olee Graves, of the 1200 block Tyler Avenue in Annapolis, was arrested Wednesday. She was released yesterday after posting $25,000 bond. Her attorney said Graves will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
The charges come after a two-week investigation by the Annapolis police department. "This seems to be an isolated-type instance restricted to this particular woman," said police spokesman Dermont Hickey.
The investigation was set in motion after Helen Ray, administrator of the Annapolis Convalescent Center, located in the 900 block of Van Buren Street, found a large bruise on the shin of a 91-year-old patient. The patient told Ray she had been kicked by Graves, the charging document says.
In an interview, Charlotte Stouder, director of nursing at the center, said further investigation revealed a series of abuses that occurred from May 1 to Aug. 27 against 23 other patients. "Our staff began to realize we meant business, and they began to talk," she said.
Stouder declined to speculate further on why it took so long for these incidents to come to her attention.
Ninety-one patients live at the home.
Stouder said Graves was fired Sept. 5, soon after the first allegations of abuse surfaced. "Why would anybody wait? I wouldn't even let her (continue working) on the suspicion," she said.
Stouder said Graves had worked as a nursing assistant in other nursing homes before coming to Annapolis and had an excellent record. Her duties included general care of patients, from feeding them to changing their beds to keeping an eye out for changes in their conditions.
Gill Cochran, Graves' attorney, called the charges "a piece of s---" and said the $25,000 bond was "outrageous."
"They are a bunch of misdemeanors," he said. "Talk about a case of overkill. I don't know what her situation is. We are going to sit down and discuss the matter. There is an awful lot of smoke here."
Graves was charged with 20 counts of battery and four counts of vulnerable adult abuse, which means abusing people who cannot defend themselves.
The six-page charging document lists the abuses Graves is charged with, which include the following accounts: *Hit an 86-year-old woman with her fists and then shoved and roughly treated her.
*Threw an 81-year-old woman at least three times into her wheelchair, onto her bed and onto a toilet.
*Shoved an 84-year-old woman into a wall while she was in her wheelchair and hit the woman in the right eye with her hand, leaving a bruise. The charging document says it involved an argument over food.
*Threw an 84-year-old man onto his bed, picked him up "by the shirt collar, swung him around, slammed him onto his bed and then shoved him back forcefully in order to undress him."
*Threatened an 82-year-old woman that she would "chop off" the woman's limbs and use them to beat the woman's son.
*Shoved a 57-year-old woman until the woman's head and arms hit the bed rails.
Most of the charges involve Graves shoving or pushing patients and most involve more than one incident. The charging document says that every allegation has at least one witness.
"All acts were also described as having been committed with intentional and deliberate force, greater than the situation would have ever required," the court document says.