Here are some of the stories of patients served by our VEPT program. Given the sensitive nature of our work, we have not provided the names of patients and have altered these stories so they are unidentifiable.
Ms. I, an 84-year-old woman, was brought to the emergency department (ED) by EMS with injuries. The ED team was concerned that the injuries may have been from assault by her adult nephew, so VEPT was consulted. She shared that her nephew, who has struggled with mental health issues, has been living with her for the past few months since he was released from jail. Ms. I shared she has a good relationship with her daughter and son-in-law, who live nearby.
The VEPT medical provider recommended additional radiographic and laboratory tests, and pictures of the injuries were taken. VEPT social work collaborated with the Victim Intervention Program (VIP) to provide emotional support. During her brief admission, the VEPT geriatrician / in-patient medical provider followed the case to support the primary team. VEPT SW also coordinated services and care with her outpatient medical provider, New York Police Department (NYPD), and the District Attorney’s (DA) office. An Order of Protection was issued, and Ms. I was educated on how to enforce it. Ms. I was offered discharge to shelter or with other family, but she wished to return home and had the capacity to make that decision. Additional home services were offered. With her permission, referrals were made to the Witness Aide Service Unit (WASU) and Safe Horizon’s Criminal Violence Advocate Program (CVAP). The VEPT social worker also involved the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) to ensure follow-up in the community.
The case of Ms. L, a 79-year-old woman, was initially referred to VEPT on a Friday evening by a social worker from a community organization. There was significant concern that Ms. L was being neglected and financially exploited by her adult son, with whom she lived and who was the Power of Attorney. The social worker had been working with Ms. L’s daughter, who had taken Ms. L from the home for a short visitation to secure an Order of Protection for Ms. L so that he would not have to return to the home. Notably, both Ms. L’s son and daughter had applied for guardianship, and the matter was pending. Unfortunately, court had closed before a judge had an opportunity to hear the case. Our team spoke with the social worker and then with Ms. L’s daughter, explaining the VEPT program.
On Saturday, Ms. L’s daughter brought her to the ED for evaluation, where she received a VEPT consultation. Though with dementing illness, she was able to clearly and consistently report that she did not want to return into the care of her son and did not want her son to visit in the hospital. She was admitted to the hospital for safety and for additional evaluation. We blocked her information and alerted security to ensure that her son wasn’t able to visit. Our team spoke with her physician and with the NYPD Domestic Violence Officer who had recently visited the home and was familiar with the case. NYP legal services was involved in assisting us. Ms. L changed her Health Care Proxy to her daughter during the hospitalization. Ms. L was discharged to a shelter with a plan to resolve legal issues and establish a more permanent housing solution.
Mr. J was initially referred to VEPT by NYPD Domestic Violence Police Officers who had seen a VEPT presentation at a training session. These officers had conducted a home visit and were concerned that Mr. J, a 78-year-old man, was being neglected, verbally abused, and financially exploited by his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Mr. J’s apartment was infested with cockroaches, cluttered, and only moldy food was found in the refrigerator. Mr. J’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter reportedly took him frequently to the ATM to withdraw funds for their own use but did not provide for Mr. J’s basic needs.
These NYPD officers activated VEPT from Brooklyn, and Mr. J was transported to NYP/Weill Cornell by EMS. Dr. Rosen met the NYPD officers and Mr. J in the ED, and Mr. J was admitted to the hospital. Mr. J’s name was changed to prevent his daughter-in-law and granddaughter from finding him. He was seen by the geriatrics consultation team and followed closely by VEPT social work and medical providers during his hospitalization. As he had dementing illness and wasn’t able to make decisions on his own, VEPT assisted the hospital in petitioning for him to have a court-appointed guardian. Mr. J was discharged to the Weinberg Center, a shelter for elder abuse victims, with a plan for Adult Protective Services to collaborate with the guardian to protect his assets and facilitate a safe transition back to the community.