A disturbing video taken in an Atlanta nursing home shows employees laughing while a World War II veteran in need of lifesaving services dies before their eyes.
The story is as heartbreaking as it is dramatic.
In the winter of 2014, 89-year old James Dempsey was preparing for a stay at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation. The octogenarian was a veteran of the Second World War. He’d raised children and survived the death of his wife.
For some reason, Dempsey felt uncomfortable in the nursing home.
Nervous, he told his son, who decided to outfit the elder Dempsey’s room with a hidden video camera.
While the family knew about the recording device, staff at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation didn’t.
When Dempsey died in February 2014, his son and surviving relatives reviewed the footage collected by the hidden camera.
Soon afterward, they launched a lawsuit.
The reason became apparent in court, as attorneys unveiled the recording to the facility’s nursing supervisor, Wanda Nuckles, who’d been on duty the night of Dempsey’s death. Nuckles regaled the court with a tale of how, after the ailing veteran pressed an assistance button numerous times and was found unconscious in his bed, she sprinted across the facility to help.
Nuckles said she and another nurse had desperately – heroically – tried to administer CPR to Dempsey, taking turns trying to resuscitate the frail man before he finally passed.
James Dempsey served his country in World War II. His family and friends thought he died of natural causes in 2014 at an…
But the footage showed another story, in which Nuckles and her colleagues ignored Dempsey’s repeated cries for help. It showed the man gasping for air as the supervisor and employees stood near the bed, not calling 911 until hours after he’d first called a nurse.
When Nuckles is seen pressing her hands down into Demspey’s mattress, another nurse can be heard laughing offscreen.
Afterward, Nuckles finally performed CPR – doing chest compressions for about one minute before stopping.
The family of James Dempsey sued the facility, with the video being shown in court.
Soon afterward, the Dempsey family settled, refusing to comment on the outcome or video. Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation tried to have the footage kept away from the media, but lost in a legal battle to NBC.
A spokesperson for the company which owns Northeast Atlanta told NBC she was “saddened by the events, which occurred more than three years ago” and has since worked to improve its service and commitment to patients.
When the Washington Post contacted the facility, a worker picked up the phone, saying they weren’t allowed to discuss the case with press.
Wanda Nuckles and the other nurses involved in the incident lost their medical licenses.