I-TEAM: State, local investigators serve warrants on personal home care chain where two died
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - State and local officials have served search warrants at two long-term care facilities, including one where two people died last month.
The GBI, the DPH Ombudsman, Burke County, Richmond County, the district attorney’s office, and Gold Cross were all at three First Love Personal Care Home facilities on Tuesday for what they called “Operation Love.”
According to officials, those warrants are related to an investigation into evidence of financial fraud.
Investigators say they found much more than they expected -- nine residents living among bed bugs and filth at the Milledgeville Road location. The refrigerator was also padlocked. They also found two small girls, daughters of one of the workers, living there too. They arrested the mother of the children, Andrea Myers, on outstanding warrants. She was also an employee of the home.
CAVE Investigator William Loomer says they only had one option: to shut it down.
“The fire department had come out here earlier in October and identified a number of issues. They came back out to support us today and realized none of those issues had been rectified," Loomer said. “Nothing’s been done.”
At the second location on Old Savannah Road, the CAVE team did not find any patients inside but searched the property. They found four other children and a woman living in an outbuilding on the property. It’s unclear who or why they were living there.
“We have nine clients in here paying $1,500 a month each -- give or take a few,” Loomer said. “That’s a lot of money they’re making. So when you walk in and see the filth, the bed bugs, padlocks on the refrigerator, they’re locked out of food that they are essentially paying for, it’s disgraceful. They deserve better.”
Two people, 84-year-old Georgia Blount and 75-year-old Sylvia Reid, died at the Wrightsboro Road home back in October. Four others were also hospitalized.
While autopsies are still pending on Blount and Reid, it appears extreme heat was a factor. Code enforcement officers recorded 135 to 140 degrees coming from the vents inside the facility.
Officials quickly moved to shut down the Wrightsboro facility days after the fatalities.
An I-Team investigation found dozens of violations at three of the homes owned by the people who operate First Love on Wrightsboro, Milledgeville, and Old Savannah Road. Many of those violations involved the safety of the facilities. We also found untrained and uncertified staff working in the facilities.
The owners of the three facilities did not speak to investigators. They, instead, lawyered up.
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