Death of elderly at Grand Junction assisted living facility raises concerns

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KDVR) — An investigation into alleged elderly abuse continues in Grand Junction.

Charges initiated by Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser claim 86-year-old Hazel Place died after being left outside for six hours in triple digit heat on June 14 at the Capella Assisted Living and Memory Care Facility.

Three employees face one count each of negligent death of an at-risk person and criminally negligent homicide. This is part of an investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Grand Junction Police.

Reports like this heighten concerns about how to choose a safe care facility.

Doug Farmer, president of the Colorado Health Care Association and Center for Assisted Living told FOX31 the first step is to prepare before the need arises.

“Many families don’t do any kind of research until they’ve hit an emergent spot. It is really difficult to make such a big life decision in a really short period of time,” he said. Healthcare facilities and their records can be researched through the Colorado Health Care Association and at medicare.gov.

Farmer adds it is important to get references, talk to other resident family members and tour facilities to get a good look at the conditions. “You can ask the employees how do they fit in there, what is it that they love about their job,” he said.

The National Center for Victims of Crime reports 27% of complaints are about physical abuse, compared to 15% involving  gross neglect, and nearly 8 percent about sexual abuse and financial exploitation of families.

Farmer tells the Problem Solvers, it is extremely important to make it clear that you will be involved in your loved ones experience at a facility.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime those more likely to be abused include women, patients on Medicaid and those with Alzheimer’s and other mental health conditions.

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