REGISTER VIEWPOINT: System failed nursing home patient

What supposedly happened to a patient at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center is bad enough -- a man left incapacitated by a strok
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

What supposedly happened to a patient at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center is bad enough -- a man left incapacitated by a stroke is allegedly raped by a nurse -- but what little has been put together so far suggests a far broader problem.

The suspect, John Riems, has apparently worked at several nursing homes in north central Ohio during his two decades as a nurse.

And, according to Perkins police, he remembers details of 24 other molestations, and "recalls" molesting maybe 100 in all.

And co-workers have told this paper and other news organizations they remember occasions where he'd be alone in a room with a patient, behind a closed door, for long periods of time, and tell people who asked why it was none of their business.

Remembering that none of this has been proven to a court's satisfaction, we have to wonder why a pattern of behavior such as this, if true, went without apparent effective sanction for so long.

Whether Riems is innocent or guilty, what deserves to stand indicted -- with guilt certain -- is the attitude of looking the other way, of an unwillingness to make sure those with whom we trust the care of our frailest people are worthy of that trust.

Considering the apparent ease with which Perkins police obtained admissions from Reims -- within hours -- we wonder how willing those in charge were to even ask questions when it might have done good.

What happened to the patient at Concord Care is more than bad enough. The environment and attitude that allows such things to happen is even worse.

It's been carefully pointed out that people who do what Riems is accused of doing, are an aberration. We certainly want to believe the great majority of health care professionals are humane and caring. And we want to believe that majority would be just as interested in expelling the predators from their midst as the rest of us are.

The state of Ohio is responsible for overseeing the quality of care in facilities such as Concord. That group, and the nursing homes themselves, should be interested in all possible means of enforcing that oversight -- including cooperation state and local authorities.