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Ageism and Elder Abuse

This Is What Ageism and Elder Abuse Looks Like

My Father’s Passing and Neglect

On Sunday March 26, 2023, my father Victor Scillieri passed on. Saint Joseph’s Hospital (Wayne, NJ) literally lost him. The mishandling of my father’s passing is inexcusable, and the dismissal and cruelty displayed in his death by a hospital who ironically uses the name Saint Joseph, a compassionate man and the saint of the dying, is not lost on our family. He died in the arms of Mary and Jesus. My father died alone because the overnight doctor and the doctor who took over for him aggressively lied that he telephoned us five times on March 26 at 3:30am as my father was failing and three times at 6am when he passed. They did not consider the phone records would show the blatant lies.

My Father’s Body in Missing

My son and cousin went to the hospital at noon to visit him and were told my father was discharged to me, his daughter. The social workers had already informed me that my father was being transferred to Hospice on Monday. My son called me, and I jumped out of the shower and called the number the hospital lobby receptionist gave my son to track down his grandfather on his own. I was transferred all over the hospital. One of the hospital’s representatives, yelled at me that I was nasty and hung up on me. I tried to explain to her that I jumped out of the shower and had a river of shampoo running down the carpet and she was on speaker but most important my 96-year-old father was missing, and I was getting very worried. I was continuously transferred and told my father was transported to hospice but that was scheduled for the next day. For close to an hour my son was told by the hospital’s front desk in the lobby to call around the hospital on his own, figure it out and gave him a useless phone number. The receptionist explained the patient log indicated he was discharged.

At one point, my son got through on the phone to the fifth floor Nursing Station where my father had been and the fifth floor Nursing Station told him, “We are on the phone with your mother.” and hung up on him. They were not on the phone with me.

From home, I called the local police and my son relayed to the Lobby receptionist that the police were on their way. That was when the receptionist finally called up to the fifth floor Nursing Station and security. The fifth floor finally said that my son could come up. I want to emphasize no one did anything to help until the police were notified. The floor doctor explained to my son, “Sorry, your grandfather expired. He passed at 6am and the staff tried to call your family, but no one answered the phone.” My son began to walk away but went back to the doctor and asked, “Where is he?” The cold response was, “He is in the morgue.”

The Nightmare Begins in a Public Hall

I arrived at the hospital and the fifth-floor doctor and nursing supervisor came down to meet with me in the public hall. They claimed at 3:30am the overnight doctor unsuccessfully telephoned me five times. When the fifth-floor doctor started his shift at 7am (as far as I know) along with the nursing supervisor, they both claimed the hospital tried to call three times at 6am when my father passed. To address the phone calls, they claimed to have made – they are not on my iPhone’s missed calls register plus they confirmed that the hospital called the correct phone number and showed me their records. They did have my correct phone number.

I explained, “We would have liked to have sat with him as he passed and said good-bye.” At least now we would like to say good-bye, but they explained it had to be in the morgue because I was past the four-hour window to view my father in his room. Also, since time cannot be rewound, we would not be able to be with him as he drew his last breath. Well, I was not past the four-hour window because we were just notified. Think how sad it all is – he had passed at least seven hours earlier and no one cared who had made their careers caring for the ill. Was he scared? Did he feel abandoned? You cannot realistically nor accurately answer those questions. My daughter and I live four miles from the hospital and could have been there in less than ten minutes. My son was in from Stony Brook, Long Island and my sister from Ohio were all staying at my home; we could have been there. But you would have to have cared about a dying man for that to happen.

The doctor was very cold and insulting. He kept insisting they called and I kept showing him my phone and angrily he said, “That is Thursday!” I had to explain to look at the recent calls. His response, “I do not want to see your phone, again!” I asked the doctor and nursing supervisor, “If you were in my shoes, you would not feel very good about this situation and the fifth-floor doctor shot back, “You came in here all hot!” I responded, “Really? You lost my father, let him die alone and did not tell us he passed.”

I kept asking to see the CEO and president of St. Joseph’s, but they repeated the tired old script that there were other people to talk to me first. My sister joined us, and we spent four and half hours in public hallway being re-victimized by the hospital with people walking through us and stepping over my daughter who was sitting on the floor sobbing through this.

The nursing supervisor returned with another doctor, and she was “sorry” but continued with the nonexistent phone calls and we must see him in the morgue. We go nowhere fast.

The nursing supervisor brought the clinical director who arranged for us to view my father in a private room with a priest.

Four and a Half Hours Later

Before she could say a word, I calmly and directly said to her, “Do not mention phone calls that never happened because we can easily have Verizon pull up the phone records to confirm Saint Joseph’s never called. We were not there when my father passed nor notified that he had passed on. If they had followed their own protocol, they would have sent the local police to my home. So now, we will call the police desk and find whom the officer was that was assigned to come to my home and did not.” The clinical director responded, “There is no need to do that.” I said, “because your hospital did not do that.” I continued, “My late dog had a mast cell tumor that took over her body and I recommend that you call Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls and they will teach you how a loved soul passes humanely, not the way you did it. If you are pro-life and will not give a morning after pill to a rape victim, then you have to be compassionate for a 96 year old dying man. My grandparents came from Italy and Sicily, my father was a War World II veteran; he was part of the designs for the Naval guidance systems that protect this country and the NASA guidance systems. That is patriotic which you also fall short with your poor treatment of him. We have been re-victimized over and over because of this hospital’s errors, lies, nothing can push back time and we cannot sit with him as he passes. You could have called, and we could have entered through the ER to his room in the middle of the night, but that is not what happened. You have all been lying, and liars are the bottom of the gene cesspool with no respect for whom they are speaking nor for themselves. I still want to speak with CEO and president because this is his fault. He is the leader of the hospital and when his staff fails – he fails and when the staff succeeds – they succeed. A leader takes responsibility and gives credit.” She managed to get hold of a senior vice president, chief nurse executive and he telephoned me while I was in the hospital and again the next day.

The First Promise of an Investigation – March 27

He claimed to have opened a full investigation to investigate the situation. He will contact me when it is over. At the end of the day, what does that mean? Nothing because below I explain, he never opened the investigation. When then Verizon bill cycle ended, I pulled up the phone records and Saint Joseph’s Hospital never called as they claimed. Not only did they lie but think about it two doctors lied and one aggressively re-victimized us. THIS IS AGEISM AND ELDER ABUSE.

The First Follow Up Call – April 28

On April 28, 2023, I tried to follow up with the hospital because no one called me as promised with the results of the investigation. The same representative answered the phone; I asked for the senior vice president, she told me she never heard of him. I asked her for the CEO and she asked me, “What did I want to discuss with him?” and I asked her, “What is your job title?” She did not answer, and we repeat this and rather than transfer me to his office, she hung up on me a second time. When I tried to call back, I could not get through but when I used my daughter’s phone I did get through (the other phone still could not get through) to a different representative and the senior vice president was employed at the hospital and I left a message. No surprise, he did not return my call. You would think they would be happy I was not an attorney.

Returned Calls – May 1 and May 2

On May 1, I received a call from Patient Care, and she was unfamiliar with the case and the call “mysteriously dropped.” On May 2, another call comes from Patient Care, and they will mail me a letter of acknowledgment that they are starting an investigation because the March 27 investigation never happened. As of May 8, no letter has arrived, and I cannot get through to anyone. Here is the twister, I did not receive a letter of acknowledgement from March 27, anymore than I received results of the promised investigation.

Follow Up Call – May 9

On May 9, I finally get in touch with the woman who was sending the acknowledgement letter and she explained to me that they cannot control the post office’s delivery of the letter. I insist they email me a copy; she explains that would be hard. Finally, she sends it to me and my favorite line, “I am sorry our services did not meet your expectations.” Really, losing a body, needing the local police to sort out the mess, not notifying us my father was failing or passed or sitting in a public hall for four and a half hours.

First Meeting – May 10

This will bring to mind Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.”

Finally, on May 10, we have a Webinex meeting with the senior vice president, chief nurse executive who had claimed an investigation started on March 27 (WAIT FOR IT). With him is the vice president of Quality, Patient Safety and Patient Experience. Have you ever heard, “the letter is in the mail?” Well, it was not. The investigation that was promised on March 27, that never happened… Happened!!! The finding – the hospital phone log shows the calls BUT VERIZON does NOT show the calls. They are sorry BUT and when there is a BUT and an excuse the sorry is diluted. Well, the investigation was opened or reopened, pending whom you are talking to and will be in May 17. Yes, it is past May 17 and nothing.

Our Reality and Your Reality If We Do Not Address Ageism and Elder Abuse

We are having a very hard time with the nightmare your hospital intentionally created for us. My daughter had an appendectomy in the middle of April at a compassionate and caring hospital– Chilton Hospital, and it was disturbing that as wonderful as everyone was, we found ourselves distrustful and nervous. We are in a desperate situation that she needed an appendectomy, but we saw the underbelly of hospitals at Saint Joseph’s in Wayne. My daughter who has the complications of kidney reflux and asthma caused me to feel a tight ball in my gut until I brought her home. The visceral and residual damage we live with right now is horrific. (I realize as a published writer, that I am using nightmare, horrific and horror, quite a bit but it fits our experience from Saint Joseph’s Wayne.) My father lived with me, and we do not go near his room where he was loved because no matter how you look at it, he was the victim of elder abuse and ageism in the hospital. Victor Scillieri was a child of Italian and Sicilian immigrants who learned English at five; he was someone’s father, son, brother, uncle, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, cousin; he was a World War II veteran; he was a college graduate from Fairleigh Dickinson; he was employed by Singer Kearfott BAE and involved with the Naval and NASA guidance systems, until his late eighties he ran the Wayne Senior Tennis League…to Saint Joseph’s Hospital, he was no one…just a dying old man.


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