Nurses and hospital staff are supposed to be in positions of trust. We are supposed to be able to trust them with our loved ones and ourselves.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
At an Alleghany nursing home, a licensed practical nurse has been charged with taking “explicit and private” photos of at least 17 elderly patients, in which some of them were nude. As if that was not enough, she texted them to a former coworker.
According to Alleghany police, these photos were taken between May of 2017 and August of 2018.
Ashley Ann Smith, the 30-year-old from Dravosburg, was charged with 30 crimes in connection with the photos as of Friday. These counts include invasion of privacy and abuse of care.
Smith worked at Kane McKeesport Community Living Center when she took the photos according to the criminal complaint. She was fired after the images were discovered.
The photos show patients in various states of undress when needing care and at least one video while having a medical procedure done.
The police said in the criminal complaint:
“There was a video of a medical procedure performed on one of the victims while the patient was naked. None of the photos or video appear to have any medical or lawful useful purpose.”
The complaint continued:
“The images are explicit and private, and some have the sole purpose to humiliate the patients.”
Smith is accused of sending 20 photos of 17 different patients to a former coworker, and the father of her child, Ron Whitaker.
Whitaker, 36, reported Smith to hospital leadership on April 5th and the police were immediately alerted.
He was not charged.
Frank Welker, Smith’s attorney, said his client turned herself in on Friday, but he had no other comment about the complaint.
“I haven’t read the complaint yet, and I will be better able to talk about it when I speak to my client. Right now, the Constitution affords her the presumption of innocence, and she stands firmly on that.”
Dennis Biondo, the executive director of the center, alerted patients and, when necessary, their families after the police were alerted and the patients identified.
Lori Rushe, who’s 90-year-old father was one of the victims, was alerted just a few weeks ago.
During interviews, she said:
“I think that’s pretty heinous. That is total elder abuse.”
“I could see that he could be easily manipulated, You’re taking advantage of people who don’t know their name, where they’re at or anything. That is so disturbing.”
Rushe noticed new signs on the elevator that warned against taking unauthorized photos of patients during one of her visits to her father, who suffers from dementia.
Until November, Smith and Whitaker lived together. A pending case against Whittaker states he was accused of assaulting Smith on October 24th.
Smith filed for custody of their daughter on November 6. On November 7, both parents filed a petition for a protection-from-abuse order against each other.
Whitaker filed his petition first, writing that Smith elbowed him, took his phone then got in his face.
“I slapped her.”
On the night he was arrested, Whitaker also stated that Smith threatened to kill him.
In Smith’s petition, she stated Whitaker lied to gain custody of their daughter and that he was actually the one who threatened her.
Smith is also charged with child pornography.
Among the photos of the patients were pictures of a 2-year-old girl. These photos were found when police were searching her phone for more photos.
People were rightfully outraged.
That's Terrible !!!— Michelle BUTLER (@Michell41342058) May 4, 2019
What is wrong with this girl?— firstname.lastname@example.org (@jfetchko22) May 4, 2019
This comes just weeks after reports a California hospital was filming patients in various states of undress from their anesthesiology carts.
It has to make you wonder if there will be a technology crackdown in medical facilities. One can only hope.