Home health aide caught sleeping on job instead of caring for sick child, mother says

Mother says caregiver left son, 6, unattended

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Trish Armand tried frantically to wake up the woman hired to care for her 6–year-old son, but it did not work. "I literally had to shake her because she was in such a deep sleep," said Armand.

Armand, of Palm Beach Gardens, said she was getting out of the shower on Thursday afternoon when she heard her son, Mikey, shouting from his bed.

The caregiver placed in Armand's home to care for Mikey was not helping. "I saw the aide stretched out on the couch with her feet up passed out," said Armand.

Mikey suffers from a rare disease that eventually leads to organ failure. He was not expected to live past the age of five, but celebrated his sixth birthday recently.

"He needs to be happy right now," said Armand. "Just try not to think about what will be."

A single parent and unemployed, Armand needed help with Mikey's care. Through Medicaid, she was able to have an in-home health aide for eight hours per week.

The service was funded by taxpayer dollars. Armand does not believe that it was money well spent. "They don't take the time to screen these people to see exactly what their qualifications are."

Alan Lycan, President of Mega Nursing Services, Incorporated based in West Palm Beach, provided a written statement about what happened at the Armand home.

"Our company apologizes to the Armand family for this incident," he wrote. "It is our policy that any certified nursing assistants placed through our agency are duly licensed, qualified and skilled in their trade."

The company said that the caregiver is no longer working for Mega Nursing Services, Inc.

Lycan said there were no prior complaints about the employee and that future disciplinary action would be up to the Florida Department of Health.

Mikey is doing fine for now, but Armand says that darker days for her terminally-ill son lie ahead.

Armand, meanwhile, has just gotten a new job and is in the process of hiring a full-time nanny to care for Mikey.

She says the incident should be a wake-up call to all parents.

Below is the written statement from Alan Lycan, President of Mega Nursing Services, Inc.:

Our agency was horrified when the clients called and let us know that the worker was asleep on her couch, that she would be waking her and telling her to leave the home. The client then emailed us a photo of the worker sleeping on a couch. This worker made only one visit to the client's home, was replaced by a different worker, and removed from further service provisions in the community. This case has ended due to the expiration of Florida Medicaid authorization. We do not have a statement from the worker as to what occurred and can only verify what the client has stated and the photos that we have received.

As we remind all of our clients, whenever there is a problem, let the agency know immediately as was the case here. Additionally, there are many agencies in the State of Florida that may be able to help or respond when problems arise.

Our company apologizes to the Armand family for this incident. It is our policy that any Certified Nursing Assistants placed through our agency are duly licensed, qualified and skilled in their trade. This worker is Florida State licensed through the Agency for Health Care Administration as a certified nursing assistant. We have had no previous complaints about this worker who has serviced our clients since June 11, 2012.

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