Who’s Watching Mom?

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Mother’s Day was celebrated Sunday, but for one south Florida daughter it was a day of anguish and loss. Like many children with aging parents, her choice to have her mom cared for in an adult living facility came with the hope she would be better protected than living on her own or with family.  What happened, she says, was unimaginable for her. Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen takes a closer look.

It was an evening Darlene Meadow says she can’t forget. She had raced to a hospital ER where her injured mother, Maxine Silverman, awaited her. She entered and says she nearly went into shock.

“They had to hold me up. She looked so, I thought she was beaten, I didn’t know what happened to her, like some horrible traumatic injury. Bruised all over. It was unbelievable,” Meadow recalled in speaking with Gillen in the school teacher’s South Florida home.

What happened to Meadow’s 94-year-old mother, a resident at an assisted living facility on a sprawling Lauderhill campus, and the condition she was found in more than a block and parking lot away from the entrance of where she lived, according to reports, is difficult for her daughter to describe.

A Good Samaritan discovered her mother bleeding on the street and called 911. While rescue crews were rushing her mom to the hospital, Meadow  believed Silverman  – who suffered from dementia, confusion and often used a wheel chair – was safe and cared for inside the ALF.

Meadow called the ALF, The Bridge at Inverrary, as soon as got word from the hospital, Florida Medical Center. The FMC said that her mom was hurt and being treated.

She recalled to Gillen a phone call to the ALF she says still haunts her.

“I said this is Darlene Meadow, I’m calling about my mother, Maxine Silverman, and I just got a phone call from FMC that she’s in the hospital. And the lady said, ‘Oh no! She’s eating dinner. And the way it is when you are there, if you turn your head a little bit you could see the dining room right there.’”

Meadow says she persisted – pushing for proof her mother was at the ALF eating and okay. She says she was next connected to another staff member at the ALF.

“And the lady said, ‘She is not in the hospital and you don’t know what you are talking about!  She’s not in the hospital!’”

She tried over and over to secure proof her mother was okay.

“I said, ‘I just got phone call from FMC.’ She said, ‘You don’t know what you are talking about and she hung up on me,’” Meadow recalled. “Yes, I was, you know, I was shocked.”

“This is one of the most egregious, outrageous cases that I have personally handled. It is shocking,” said Meadows family attorney Michael Brevda, who specializes in representing the elderly in residential care.

“She needed help walking and she needed supervision. She was not supposed to exit this place without assistance and the defendant’s chart reflects that. Despite having that increased need for supervision, the system totally failed Maxine Silverman.  She was able to wander out – not impeded  by the staff and end up down the street by the shopping center bleeding by the roadside. Egregious,” claims Brevda.

Racing to the hospital to see her mother, Meadow says she repeatedly called the ALF back and ultimately was told by staff that her mother had reportedly fallen in the parking lot of the facility, which Meadow says is not true.

“In my opinion, it’s one thing to allow somebody to fall repeatedly. It’s another thing to allow them to wander out in a demented state in a wheelchair and go significant injure themselves down the road. It’s a different level to then misrepresent the location of a missing resident to the residents’ family. This is a different level of violation. That shocks the conscience,” added Brevda.

Meadow says she believed she made it clear in conversations and documents with The Bridge at Inverarry that her mother, who she says was easily confused, was not to leave the facility’s property on her own.

“Absolutely,” says Meadow.

She says that her mother had fallen multiple times at the ALF so she paid for a private aid for extra assistance. She says she repeatedly asked the facility staff if her mother should be transferred to live at the nursing home on the property given her condition.

“I said, ‘Does my mom need a nursing home?” Meadow told Gillen.

Ostensibly, the nursing home would have provided more assistance. But she says management kept assuring her it was not necessary.

“No she did not need a nursing home,” she says was the opinion of staff she met with.

CBS4 has been trying to look into what protocols and system of surveillance the facility has to know if a resident has wandered out of the facility and property that abuts a very busy street.

Is there tape showing how Mrs. Silverman left the property? Was she in a wheelchair or pushing one? Who was watching?

Meadow says there was a red flag raised weeks before. She says her private duty aid was concerned after spotting an elderly resident who lived on her mother’s floor lying on the ground in the back of the parking lot between cars.

“He was lying right next to a big tire of a car. Just down there like that.  She saw him there so she ran in got a pillow for his head and then they contacted but they didn’t even know he was out there,” says Meadow.

State records speak to another alleged incident where a resident with Alzheimer’s was found walking on the road next to the facility.

CBS4 requested an interview with the facility to discuss Meadow’s case and the larger questions raised about supervision and surveillance.

CBS4 News requested an interview with a representative of the facility to discuss the Meadow case and larger questions raised about supervision and surveillance. The general manager told Gillen a statement would be released to CBS4. It reads as follows:

“At The Bridge at Inverray, residents are our highest priority. There is a current lawsuit against our community by a family member of a former resident. Due to HIPAA laws and the ongoing lawsuit, we are unable to go into details regarding the care of a resident. These laws are in place to protect our residents, and that is exactly what we strive to do each and every day.” –Bruce Berth, Excutive Director

Darlene is suing the ALF, including over how she believes her mother was not properly cared for.

Attorney Brevda said, “The estate contends that the traumatic and preventable injury was a legal cause of Maxine Silverman’s death.”

CBS4 again reached out to the facility for an interview but received no response.

Meadows says friends and family are supporting her in not just moving on.

“You are not doing it for Maxine, you are doing it for all the other people and it’s true. And one day it could be you, that’s the truth. I wanted her message to get her story to get out there. I wanted us to have a little respect. We are more than just a number and this should not have happened. That’s what I want and that it doesn’t happen to someone else,” says Meadow.

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