GBI probes patient abuse claims at Alzheimer's center - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

GBI probes patient abuse claims at Alzheimer's center

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COMMERCE, Ga. -

The GBI is looking into claims of patient abuse at Alzheimer's Care of Commerce. Allegations include restraining patients with bedsheets and doubling up on diapers to limit numbers of changes needed.

Agents executed a search warrant Tuesday morning at the patient care facility located at 200 Bolton Drive in Commerce.

The owner of the facility, Donna Wright, is also being charged with cruelty to a person 65 years of age or older; and abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and failure to report under the protection of disabled adults and elderly persons.

The search warrant resulted from a three-month investigation into the facility stemming from allegations of abuse and neglect of Alzheimer's patients staying at the facility.  

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the GBI confirmed that arrest warrants are being executed against 21 past and current workers at the care center. They are facing more than 70 charges including cruelty to a person 65 years of age or older; and abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and failure to report which are charges under the protection of disabled adults and elderly persons statute.

Former and present employees have been interviewed and provided detailed information concerning abuse and neglect of patients at the facility.  

Information obtained through the investigation indicated that patients were restrained with bed sheets and subjected to inhumane and undignified conditions to include "double diapering", which is a practice whereby multiple diapers were placed on the patients at once to keep the staff from changing soiled diapers as often.  

There were accounts of physical abuse, such as staff members striking patients and throwing water on them.

The GBI said they also learned that patients were being cared for by people with prior felony convictions ranging from voluntary manslaughter to drug charges to identify theft.  

Unauthorized personnel also allegedly administered medications to the patients. A May 2013 audit also found that medication prescribed to patients were missing or unaccounted for.

Family members of some patients told FOX 5 that they never saw any abuse of their loved ones.

"I'm just amazed, shocked. They got excellent care and my mother-in-law is here now and she was at another facility where she didn't get nearly the care that she got here," said Gwen Ivester.

GBI said that state health officials were talking with family members to help get their relatives moved to a different facility.

"At the drop of a hat, they expect you to move them immediately, which I understand, but it's difficult because it took many months to find a place that  was happy with," said Gayle Meagher.

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