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
  • blood drive.jpg Give Blood

    Give Blood

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man arrested in Valdosta drug raid

    Man arrested in Valdosta drug raid

    August 1, 2014

  • Taiwan Gas Explosions_Stew.jpg Gas explosions in Taiwan

    At least 24 people were killed and 271 others injured when several underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan’s second-largest city overnight, hurling concrete through the air and blasting long trenches in the streets, authorities said Friday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration Overload_Roge.jpg Immigration courts speed up children’s cases

    Immigration courts are speeding up hearings for the tens of thousands of Central American children caught on the U.S. border after criticism that the backlogged system is letting immigrants stay in the country for years while waiting for their cases to be heard.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Extra jurors seated for long Ga. salmonella trial

    After three days of jury selection, a panel with plenty of extra members was seated Thursday to hear the case of three people charged in connection with a deadly salmonella outbreak traced to a southwest Georgia peanut plant five years ago.

    August 1, 2014

  • Liberia West Africa E_Roge.jpg Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for patients and others exposed to the disease.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Roge.jpg U.S., U.N. announce deal on Gaza cease-fire

    Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning Friday, during which time there will be negotiations on a more durable truce in the 24-day-old Gaza war, the United States and United Nations announced Thursday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Congress_Stew.jpg Congress oks VA, highway bills, not border measure

    Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break after failing to agree on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking illegally to the United States.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wisconsin Unions_Stew.jpg Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds union law

    The fight over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signature policy achievement, a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public employees, ended Thursday with the state Supreme Court declaring it to be constitutional.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1714, Britain's Queen Anne died at age 49; she was succeeded by George I.

    August 1, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results