Family Pursues Legal Options After Removing Loved One from Elder Abuse Situation
A 96-year-old patient in a nursing home in Tennessee was removed just days after she was admitted, because her family members suspected serious elder abuse and neglect.
Gertrude Moore was the elderly patient at Moraa’s Home for Seniors in Collegedale, TN. She was admitted in mid-February, but a few days later, when her great-granddaughter Haley McDonald came to visit, she pulled the patient out of the home again, on suspicions of elder abuse.
McDonald said that she noticed a great difference in her great-grandmother on just her first visit. The woman’s hygiene and demeanor had both changed drastically.
Her second visit, however, led her and her grandmother to remove Moore from the home. McDonald and her grandmother Heidi McFarlend visited Moore and watched as the primary caregiver for both Moore and Moore’s roommate hoisted an elder woman out of her wheelchair, and throw her onto the bed.
“I started crying, and I didn’t even know the lady,” McDonald said. “Gertrude speaks German, and so my grandmother told her in German right then that we were going to get her out.
“I wanted her out of there. I said I don’t want to leave her there. I’ll go up there and pick her up myself, she’s not staying there and getting abused,” McDonald explains.
Moore was removed to a nearby hospital, where physicians found that she was severely dehydrated, had a urinary tract infection, and that none of her prescribed medications were in her system. The doctors also found bruising on Moore’s ankles and legs, which is a classic sign of elder abuse in nursing homes. Moore said that one caregiver had shaken her legs.
“She had bruises on her,” McDonald says. “There were finger prints by her knees.”
“Mother complained to me quite a bit about what was going on at night when they were put to bed,” says McFarlend.
Allegations of Elder Abuse Lead to Police Investigation
When Moore was removed from Moraa’s Home, both Adult Protective Services and the Collegedale Police Department began to investigate the nursing home for potential elder abuse. They found that two patients had previously been removed for similar suspicions, including allegations that the patients were not receiving proper medication while at the home.
Moraa’s Home is licensed as a “home for the aged,” which in Tennessee specifically means that residents are ambulatory, mentally alert, and able to take their own medication.
The six women living at the nursing home, however, were completely unable to take care of themselves. None of them were ambulatory, two had Parkinson’s Disease, and others were in various states of dementia.
“These people could not feed themselves. They definitely could not medicate themselves,” said Collegedale Police Detective Kat Cooper.
None of the three workers at the nursing home were trained to take care of patients with such constant needs. One of the owners, Agnes Machoka, was licensed as a nurse’s aide in Tennessee, but she was the only one qualified to give any sort of medical care. The other two employees – co-owner David Machoka and employee Margaret Adhiambo – were unlicensed.
All three were arrested and charged each with two counts of physical abuse and gross negligence, and six counts of willful abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
All three made bail on Tuesday, March 5th. The remaining six residents in the home were removed by their families, although officials would not state whether the home was under continuing investigation or was being shut down.
“A lot of these families, they don’t want to think their loved ones were abused or neglected,” said Cooper. “At the same time, it’s also really scary for them to think, ‘What are we going to do now? How are we going to care for them? Are we going to be able to find another facility? Most of the families were in a panic.”
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Concerns About Elder Abuse
If your loved one currently resides in an independent living facility, assisted living facility, or skilled nursing facility, and you suspect that their care is inadequate or intentionally malicious, you may have a case of elder abuse. While elder abuse law can seem complex, it is clear that such treatment is unacceptable and you are well within your rights to remove your family member from that situation. You should also contact a lawyer immediately. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the painful emotional situation you are in, and we are here to help. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.