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GBI shuts down Alzheimer's care facility accused of abuse

1:34 AM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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COMMERCE, Ga. -- Family members huddled outside the Alzheimer's Care of Commerce facility, filled with fear and the frustration their loved ones could have been abuse.

PHOTOS | GBI shuts down Alzheimer's care facility

Most had only praises for the staff at the facility, despite a GBI investigation that has resulted in 72 charges against 21 current and former employees. 

READ | 2011 inspection report
READ | 2013 inspection report

The accusations range from abuse and neglect to financial mismanagement.  GBI director Vernon Keenan says in interviews with employees, he learned of case where patients had been restrained using bed sheets. 

Investigators say some residents were "double diapered" so that staff wouldn't have to change them as often.  There were also reports of hitting, choking and spitting on residents. 

The GBI says the state coroner is also investigating three deaths between January and March, to see if their care here played a role.

Investigators say after giving each of the current patients a medical review on Tuesday, three were taken to the hospital for treatment.  The remaining 24 residents will be released to family members, who will have to find them another place to live.

"It's like your child, you trust your children to caregivers and I trusted momma here.  I could have rest and peace about it," said Ann Gordon fighting back the tears as she waited for word on when she could see her 84-year old mother.

Not anymore.  Investigators say several staff members had felony convictions.

"There was one individual there that was convicted of manslaughter," said Special Agent Mike Ayers.

According to the GBI, the facility also hired staff members convicted of identity theft and drugs.

Gwen Ivester finds it all hard to believe.

"This place came highly recommended. It's not a place we drew out of a hat," she said.

Keenan said the GBI investigation started after a whistleblower contacted Commerce police about conditions at the facility in late March.

State inspection reports show in recent years there were questions about training and background checks, but until April no complaints about patient care.

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