Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – As more people are reporting potential problems with abuse at local nursing homes, our I-Team was invited to a training session Wednesday to help first responders and law enforcement officers spot potential problems as well.
It’s important to begin with two reminders: one, abuse isn’t always obvious, and two, there aren’t many checks and balances in place, often leaving our loved ones even more vulnerable than they already are.
It was something we wanted to see for ourselves, so one of our photographers went on an undercover visit to meet with Glenn Parsons at a PruittHealth facility.
“One day, I stayed wet about 9 hours,” Parsons said. “That’s why I called police.”
North Augusta Department of Public Safety took a report, but it’s listed as “info only.” There was no investigation.
Across the river at PruittHealth Augusta Hills, another family believes their loved one suffered in silence.
A stroke took Laura Bulloch's speech. A pressure sore took her life. She was only 56.
"When the coroner's called out, it's the last straw,” Coroner Mark Bowen said. “We'd rather catch it before and let that person try to have a quality of life through the end of life."
Bowen did not investigate Bulloch's death, though. State law requires coroners to investigate "suspicious" and "unusual" deaths, but the nursing home listed it as "natural."
“There is no real checks and balances going on,” District Attorney Natalie Paine said.
It's why Paine and Bowen hosted C.A.V.E. training. C.A.V.E. stands for Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly. And those crimes aren't just prevalent in Augusta.
Representatives from Hephzibah Police, Gold Cross, Richmond County Marshal’s Office, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Burke County, the GBI, and the Columbia County Sheriff's Office all showed up to the training.
“You'd be surprised at the people that are calling to, you know, report or ask us to help or look in on a case,” Bowen said.
Bowen says workers at nursing homes are even starting to reach out to C.A.V.E. Families began reaching out to our I-Team more than a year ago.
"Yes, and putting that resource out there telling people, ‘Hey, even if you're not sure, call us,’ has exposed a lot of under-reporting,” Paine said.
It’s that reporting that could save lives.
It may be too late for Laura Bulloch, but it’s not too late for Glenn Parsons and his daughter.
That’s why the people who attended the training are working to be your loved one’s voice, too. And they hope you hear them – loud and clear.
Abuse doesn't just have to be physical; many times it's financial.
Paine says ask your loved one for a copy of bank records. It's important to keep an eye on withdrawals -- even small ones like $50 here $100 there. She says those are often the biggest red flag.
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