Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

July 3, 2013

Ga. Alzheimer’s center raided; 21 workers charged

COMMERCE, Ga. — More than 20 employees of a Georgia assisted living center for people with Alzheimer’s disease face dozens of criminal charges after state investigators raided the center on Tuesday and uncovered allegations that employees had mistreated patients, authorities said.

The charges stem from a three-month investigation of Alzheimer’s Care of Commerce, a facility about 65 miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials said.

Agents executed a search warrant Tuesday morning to gather evidence at the center. Officials say the probe revealed allegations of physical abuse — such as staff members hitting patients and throwing water on them. Charges filed against the 21 employees include cruelty to people 65 or older, and involve accusations of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

Eleven employees were being held in the Jackson County jail as of Tuesday evening, and the facility’s owner had yet to surrender to authorities, GBI spokesman John Heinen said.

Twenty-seven people were being treated at the facility when authorities executed the surprise raid Tuesday, Heinen said. Three of them were hospitalized and Heinen did not have details on their medical conditions Tuesday evening.  

State officials launched an investigation into the facility after multiple complaints were made by relatives of residents and employees, Heinen said. He added that the initial complaint was filed by an employee.

“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,” the GBI said in a statement.

GBI agents said they also learned that patients were being cared for by people with prior felony convictions that include voluntary manslaughter and identity theft.

An August 2011 inspection report from the Georgia Department of Community Health listed five violations that state inspectors found at the facility — including workers not being subject to criminal background checks. An October 2011 report said state inspectors found no violations at the facility.

It’s unclear if employees with criminal backgrounds were hired at the facility after the second report was issued.

Department of Community Health spokeswoman Pam Keene said the agency had been working with law enforcement before Tuesday’s raid and had conducted its own investigation of the facility in late May.

“Following the May 21 investigation, DCH monitored the facility on a daily basis until the facility was in full compliance,” Keene said in a statement. “The department continued to work with law enforcement and other state agencies so each could fulfill their responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents.”

Keen said the department will continue working with authorities throughout the investigation.

Three Alzheimer’s Care of Commerce residents have died since January. Heinen said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s chief medical examiner is re-examining the residents’ medical records to determine if any additional investigation is necessary.  State officials didn’t indicate there was anything suspicious about the deaths.

Telephone messages left at the center by The Associated Press Tuesday morning were not immediately returned.

The facility’s owner, Donna Wright, was also 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 statute, authorities said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wright had an attorney.

Authorities coordinated with social service agencies to place residents in alternate homes, Heinen said.

---

Associated Press writer Jeff Martin contributed to this report.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

    Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah agreed Wednesday to form a unity government and hold new elections — a potentially historic step toward mending the rift that has split their people between two sets of rulers for seven years.

    April 24, 2014

  • Obama administration weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer.

    April 24, 2014

  • Earns Facebook_Stew.jpg Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

    Facebook’s earnings nearly tripled and revenue grew sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Georgia Gun Bill_Stew.jpg Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

    Criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, Georgia took a big step Wednesday toward expanding where licensed carriers can take their weapons, with the governor signing a law that allows them in bars without restriction and in some churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clemson Spring Game F_Stew.jpg Clemson’s Swinney won’t change after complaint

    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he wouldn’t change procedures after the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter of complaint expressing concerns about the football program’s connection to the coach’s Christian religion.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1800, Congress approved a bill establishing the Library of Congress.

    April 24, 2014

  • Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • ‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in South Sudan, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results