ST. LOUIS – Mental illness is an emotional rollercoaster full of unpredictable ups and dark downs. A ride Erica Turner knows well.
“It gets so bad, she’s pulled out a butcher knife on me and turned around and cried and apologized,” Turner said.
Her sister’s breakdown could’ve been a breaking point but Erica Turner’s family ties are strong.
“She suffers from bipolar schizophrenia, mental retardation,” she said.
After years of counseling and case workers, a local organization helped place Turner’s sister in the Normandy Nursing Center on St. Charles Rock Road. During her stay, Turner says there was an inappropriate interaction between her sister and a male staff member.
“She asked him to get her some cigarettes and he stated, 'Well if you pull your pants down and let me touch, I’ll get you some cigarettes.’ She told me that she pulled her pants down and let him touch,” she said.
Turner says the incident was reported, investigated, and the man accused was fired. Fox 2/KPLR 11 found a similar allegation involving a different patient, in this report from the Department of Health and Senior Services.
State inspectors noted a complaint that a nurse “forced (a patient) to touch” him sexually. The record shows the nurse denied it but after an investigation, he was “terminated” for “unprofessional behavior.”
A month later, a male patient alleged he was slapped by a nurse. The nurse denied it but another patient reported he “saw Nurse T slap resident #23.”
These cases are just a snapshot of the allegations of inappropriate contact between Normandy Nursing Center patients and staff members. State records show complaints at the facility dating back at least a decade.
“How did this happen?” Turner said.
Despite an order stating her sister was not to have any contact with male staff or patients, Turner says her sister conceived this child with a fellow resident at the Normandy Nursing Center.
She says the child’s father was never identified.
“What if it’s a staff member and nobody knows that? Life goes on? He’s going to keep working? If it’s not and it’s a resident, it’s not fair to that resident. He’s sick as well. Mentally. Physically. It’s just not fair,” Turner said.
The state investigated and Turner shared a letter detailing their findings.
“They interviewed some of the employees there and they don’t find any mishaps. They won’t be held accountable for my sister getting pregnant there. Case closed,” she said.
Our investigation found complaints from another resident alleging a fellow patient “dragged her upstairs” and “forced her to have sex.” Inspectors noted the “facility failed to report the allegation,” “failed to thoroughly investigate,” and “failed to notify a resident’s court-appointed guardian.”
“I think it’s ongoing. I think when they find out, they cover things up,” Turner said. “Like my sister stated, she had sexual intercourse more than once that they weren’t aware of. What else don’t they know?”
And is the state doing its part to protect Missourians who can’t protect themselves?
“When situations like this happen, this is who we depend on,” Turner said. “This is who we call. It seems like we can’t depend on the state either.”
Normandy Nursing Center responded to our report with a statement that reads, in part, “To protect the privacy and dignity of our residents, we cannot comment on the care, health, or wellbeing of any current or former residents, that also includes responding to several-year-old false allegations of abuse."
The facility also addressed Erica Turner’s complaint, saying, "Normandy fully investigated the alleged incident in this report and collected statements from those involved. There was no finding of improper conduct or contact by Normandy or any of its staff members, which was also confirmed by state officials. Any implication or statement to the contrary is false and has no basis whatsoever."
Sadly, this story took another tragic turn after we interviewed Erica. She informed us the baby unexpectedly died Sunday. Her cause of death is unclear right now but the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office tells us there are no apparent signs of foul play. The baby would’ve turned four-months-old on May 23.
You can search Long Term Care Facility inspections on Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services search portal here.
You can also review Nursing Home rankings and compare facilities on the Medicare Website here.