My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Foundation Aiding the Elderly, Sacramento, CA, USA
I contacted Carole Herman after my mom died in an assisted living facility in Michigan. She probably spent an hour on the phone with me and couldn't have been more genuinely interested, sympathetic, and helpful. She stayed in touch with me while I obtained what little information I could from local government agencies. When we lost our wrongful death lawsuit a few weeks ago, I emailed her about the outcome. I wasn't surprised when she quickly responded to my email. She was the only person who responded to emails I had sent with regard to our latest update--losing our case. She was definitely the most helpful in the initial phase of our investigation, too.
My mom died after eloping from her facility (American House Westland-Venoy, "AH"), falling in a drainage ditch, and breaking her hip. A hip fracture was covered up, and it wasn't until after she had died and I had obtained a copy of the x-ray film that we saw she had suffered a hip fracture in her fall. A portable x-ray machine had been brought in, and the family was told there was no evidence of fracture. We also learned that visiting physicians at the facility had been seeing her for almost the entire two years she was at AH and had been prescribing multiple anticholinergic medications that had caused cognitive decline. At the time, when we wondered why there had been such a change in Mom's cognition, we were told that her "dementia" (initially confusion related to previous medications) had worsened, to the point where they felt it necessary to approach my sister and market hospice placement for mom as a way to "get her mind more active." We were told this was a "different kind of hospice" and not end-of-life care. These statements were also later made under oath in the way of a deposition, where the attorney I had hired for our wrongful death claim had the opportunity to question her. When Mom eloped and fell and had pain, the hospice company treated her for her "terminal illness," putting her on two opioid medications for the pain related to her terminal illness. She was highly sedated and unable to eat or drink for almost four days, and that was the cause of her death, as determined by the medical expert who testified at our trial. That was the first time we learned of her true cause of death, and it was quite distressing. The cause of death stated on her death certificate was "failure to thrive" and "advanced dementia." There was no mention of her fall in the "Injury" section. LARA (Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) found no violations of the Public Health Code, related to the physicians who had been treating Mom without the family's knowledge. They also said that applied to the hospice nurse, hospice company, and the facility and that it was not necessary to investigate them. My local ombudsman thought the comment including the "facility" was odd because LARA has no jurisdiction over unlicensed assisted living facilities. One of the pictures I have attached--the one where Mom is blowing out the candles on her birthday cake--was taken just four months before she died. This is a woman who was said to have "advanced dementia" by the hospice company. The picture that includes just me and my mom was taken at the World War II Memorial. I had put iron-on pictures of my dad on our T-shirts, along with his name and "World War II Veteran" because he had wanted to go to the memorial but died a few months before it opened. One picture is my mom and dad and all their children. And the last one was taken on one of their anniversaries. I had made a "Just Married" sign for the back of my husband's old car, and we drove them around in it.