ZION, Ill. (STMW) — Nancy Rivera doesn’t believe that an abscessed tooth gave her 87-year-old mother a black eye or the severely fractured jaw that landed her in Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, but she says a nurse at a Zion care facility insisted that was the case.
As a result, Zion police are investigating the incident and Rivera has made a report with the Illinois Department of Public Health alleging neglect on the part of the Grove at the Lake Living & Rehabilitation Center in Zion, the Lake County News-Sun is reporting.
Rivera, an employee of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday she is making the case of her mother, Carmen Marrero, public to raise awareness of the vulnerability of elders and the need for families to closely monitor the care given at such facilities.
“This is not about money,” Rivera said. “This is about awareness for anyone with elderlies in a nursing home. I had to get involved.”
A woman who answered the phone at the Grove said the facility was not commenting on the matter, and a message left for the administrator was not returned.
Zion Police Deputy Chief Steve Dumyahn said Monday he could confirm that there is an active investigation into the situation.
Rivera’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease severe enough to require advanced care, and moved into the Grove three months ago.
She has been transported to Vista twice since then, and remains at the hospital following surgery after her most recent admission last Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Rivera said her mother was first taken to the hospital Aug. 5, after the Grove notified her she had fallen and hit her head. She was examined and released, and at the time, Rivera said she saw no bruising or other problems, but was angry her mother was transported only in a man’s T-shirt that did not belong to her.
Then last Tuesday, she was informed her mother had an abscess in her mouth and was taken to the hospital. Rivera said she rushed to Vista and found her mother with a black eye, bruising on her back and her jaw swollen due to being fractured in two places.
Rivera said the surgeon told her the injuries could not have resulted from an abscess, and were likely caused by a fall or other injury. Rivera then called Zion police, who sent out investigators.
Marrero had surgery to insert a plate in her jaw, and Rivera said from the hospital Monday that her mother was not doing well.
Community leaders and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have decried the incident, are asking for Illinois Department of Public Health intervention and held a prayer vigil in front of the Grove Aug. 15.
“We send a profound message to the Grove that substandard care, abuse and neglect of the elderly will not be tolerated,” said Julie Contreras, president of LULAC of Waukegan.
“LULAC has filed a complaint with Department of Public Health which will be investigated and the IDPH as a legal entity of our state will assure that our elderly family members are safe while in the care of nursing homes across the state of Illinois.”
Contreras said other families have come forward with similar allegations against the facility, including one that has filed a civil lawsuit against the Grove.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)