The phone rang shortly before Christmas in 2014.
When Maya Fischer answered, a nurse from the nursing home where her mother had been staying for more than a decade was on the other end of the line. In her Minnesota home, Fischer braced herself for difficult news.
“When you receive a phone call from the nursing home, your first thought is that … my mother has passed,” Fischer said.
The news was indeed troubling, but it was not what she expected.
“I was not at all prepared for the call that I received. … The call that my mother had been a victim of a sexual assault in her nursing home,” Fischer said. “For me and my family, it’s been devastating.”
Fischer testified in front of lawmakers in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. The US Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to discuss reports of abuse and neglect in some nursing homes nationwide and what can be done to protect those of all ages at risk of abuse.
“My final memories of my mother’s life now include watching her bang uncontrollably on her private parts for days after the rape, with tears rolling down her eyes, apparently trying to tell me what had been done to her but unable to speak due to her disease,” Fischer said in the hearing, referring to her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease.
Along with Fischer, Iowa resident Patricia Blank testified about how she is the daughter of a nursing home neglect victim, Virginia Olthoff. In a news release on Tuesday, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office noted how the nursing home where Blank’s mother resided and died “received the highest possible ranking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality of resident care, though it had been fined for physical and verbal abuse a year before Olthoff’s death.”