To anyone observing James Dempsey’s room after his death, it might have looked like the nurses did everything they could for the dying man, according to court documents.
The broken oxygen canister had been replaced, life-saving measures had been performed and his chart indicated the 89-year-old patient had healthy vital signs, an indictment said.
But the chart was falsified, authorities said. And the aid administered to the World War II veteran by Loyce Agyeman and Wanda Nuckles didn’t happen until after he’d laid motionless at the nursing home for about 30 minutes.
The women at Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center had tried to make it look like they tried to save Dempsey’s life, the indictment said, but a video obtained by WXIA-TV in 2017 — three years after Dempsey’s death — would show that the victim was neglected and even laughed at as he struggled for his next breaths and became unresponsive.
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Now, former licensed nurse practitioners Agyeman and Nuckles, along with certified nurse assistant Mable Turman, are charged with concealing Dempsey’s death. Agyeman is also charged with felony murder, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Dempsey had complained about his heart the morning he died, the indictment says. His chart said that he should be sent to the hospital if he was experiencing chest pain. But Agyeman didn’t call 911 or let a doctor know about Dempsey’s pain, the indictment said. She also failed to assess his vital signs — only taking his blood pressure —and didn’t give him his prescribed medication, according to court documents.
The scene was caught by a camera hidden in Dempsey’s room by his family, WSB-TV reported. They had been nervous about Dempsey’s stay at the facility and wanted to keep an eye on him, the news station said.
The video shows Dempsey gasping for air and repeatedly calling out “help me,” after pressing a button to call a nurse. About eight minutes later, a nurse finally entered the room, the Washington Post reported. But she only adjusted Dempsey’s bed and inspected some tubes around his neck before turning off his call light and leaving him alone, the newspaper said.
The video shows Nuckles and another woman enter the room as Dempsey is dying. Someone flipped the man’s sheet up, and someone lowered his bed, but no one is seen doing CPR.
The indictment says none of the women did CPR or anything to help the man. As Dempsey lay unresponsive, the women were trying to get Dempsey’s oxygen machine to work, and that’s when laughter could be heard in the video, WXIA-TV reported.
Turman replaced James Dempsey’s pillowcase, placed his glasses on his face and wiped his mouth, the indictment said.
A spokesman for Sava Senior Care, which owns the facility, told the news station last year that it was "saddened by the events.”