BEAUFORT, S.C. (CN) - In separate complaints, two elderly women claim a nursing home employed an abusive caretaker who slapped one woman so hard it made her nose bleed, and "'washed' [the other woman's] vaginal area with toothpaste," and threatened to "choke her out" if the woman tried to prevent it.
The women, 93 and 79, say defendants Brookdale Senior Living and Southern Assisted Living employed defendant Sonia S. King at their Carolina House nursing home on Hilton Head Island. They say the Carolina House retained King even though she "was known to abuse the residents of Carolina House" and had been suspended for verbally abusing a senior resident.
Elizabeth O'Meara, 93, claims King slapped her while giving her medication, and threatened to force her to smell her own feces if she rejected the pills.
Both women say King abused them in December 2010.
"King slapped Mrs. O'Meara on the left side of her face while giving her medication, causing her nose to bleed," O'Meara says.
"Defendant King forcefully shoved Mrs. O'Meara's medication down her throat once Mrs. O'Meara had spit out the medication.
"Defendant King also verbally abused Mrs. O'Meara several times and threatened to force Mrs. O'Meara to smell her own feces.
"The abuse was witnessed and recorded by defendant King's co-worker, Shanda Young, who reported the abuse to the Carolina House Director of Nursing."
O'Meara says that before King abused her, King had been suspended from Carolina House "for verbally abusing a senior resident."
She adds: "Following an investigation by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, defendant King was arrested and charged with elder abuse."
Yvonne Carrie Pruett, 79, claims King abused her on the same day: "Defendant King jerked Mrs. Pruett from her bed by her arms, undressed her, placed toothpaste on a washcloth, and 'washed' Mrs. Pruett's vaginal area with toothpaste.
"Defendant King also verbally abused Mrs. Pruett several times and threatened to 'choke her out' if Mrs. Pruett attempted to stop defendant King from washing her with the toothpaste."
Pruett says this abuse was witnessed, and reported by the same worker who reported O'Meara's abuse.
Pruett adds: "Carolina House knew or should have known that subjecting its vulnerable adult residents with dementia, including plaintiff, to employees with a history of abuse would result in further abuse and severe mental and emotion distress and anguish."
The women seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery and unfair trade practices.
They are represented by Kelly Jolley with the McNair Law Firm, of Hilton Head Island.