Travor Moore thought when he left his mother at Hapeville Manor Assisted Living Facility in December of last year that she would be safe from harm and receive quality care.
Travor, a 5th grade mathematics teacher, spends much of his
time working and taking care of his 66-year-old mother who suffers from
early-onset Alzheimer’s and is non-verbal. Travor had left his mother at
Hapeville Manor before with no problems, but this time would be different.
Jacquelyn Stafford would only be at the facility for about a week over the holidays, but when Travor arrived to pick his mother up on January 2, he noticed a large wound on her face. When he asked the facility’s administrator about the wound, he was told it was either rug burns or possibly a scratch from her glasses.
But the following day when Travor was giving his mother a bath, he noticed several other similar marks on her shoulder, legs, and hands – so he took her to the hospital.
Caregiver Intentionally Burns a Vulnerable Patient
BBGA Attorney Evan Jones filed a lawsuit on behalf of Travor and his mother on Wednesday, against Hapeville Manor Assisted Living Facility, INC, its owner Donovan Christie MD, and Anwan Wellness, LLC. The hospital had verified the marks on his mother were in fact burns from a cigarette.
When Travor again confronted the facility about the burns, staff admitted they were from a lit cigarette.
Britney Thomas was the assigned caregiver for Jacquelyn from December 31, 2018 to January 1, 2019. It was during her shift at Hapeville Manor that she burned the dementia patient by placing the lit end of a cigarette onto multiple places on her body. When staff confronted Britney about it, she denied doing it, but said “that lady is hard to deal with, and she is like a vegetable,” according a police report by the Hapeville Police Department. The facility’s manager, Chenevlyn Higgins told police that Britney was the only employee on shift during that time.
Britney Thomas was fired for the incident along with another employee named Whitley Brown, who worked the shift after Thomas.
A Thorough Background Check Could Have Prevented the Abuse
This was not Britney Thomas’ first incident at Hapeville Manor. She had been fired for earlier issues of neglect and misconduct, but when the facility underwent some management changes, Britney was rehired.
The lawsuit points out that Hapeville Manor failed to run a background check prior to hiring Britney, otherwise they would have discovered multiple prior convictions including aggravated assault, cruelty to children, making terroristic threats, a felony drug charge, and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.
Georgia law requires nursing homes and other long-term care
facilities to submit name-based background checks prior to hiring.
The lawsuit says not only was Jacquelyn Stafford intentionally burned on several areas of her body, but she also lost eight pounds during her brief stay at Hapeville Manor, causing her to become dehydrated and malnourished.
“Personal care homes, nursing homes, assisted living
facilities, and other long-term care facilities owe it to their residents to
act in accordance with the standard of care. They deserve also to be treated
with dignity and respect,” said Evan Jones. “For a caregiver to intentionally
burn a patient all over her body and face, and for the staff to then mislead my
client’s son and come up with an excuse that it’s a rug burn or scratch from
her glasses is just wrong, and it violates the laws and regulations that are in
place to protect our elderly and disabled loved ones from this type of abuse.”
Thankfully, Jacquelyn is healing and back in the care of her
loving and diligent son.
The “Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program,” a new Georgia law that goes into effect on Oct. 1, will require nursing homes and other long-term care workers to submit to more extensive background checks.