An agency in Missouri that is commissioned by the federal government to protect the disabled is investigating allegations of abuse and neglect involving a 37-year-old Normandy Nursing Center resident.
Shawn de Loyola, executive director of Missouri Protection & Advocacy Services, confirmed that the organization is investigating allegations of abuse and neglect regarding the nursing home and the resident's court-appointed guardian.
The resident's sister, Crystal Miller of Big Rock, Tenn., said she contacted the agency after her brother John Patrick Maloney was brought by ambulance Sunday to St. Mary's Health Center dehydrated, malnourished and in respiratory and renal failure.
Miller, a nurse in Tennessee, said her brother's ventilator was nearly turned off Monday due to instructions relayed from his guardian that he not be resuscitated or intubated. But she said a St. Mary's physician intervened at the family's request.
A hospital spokesman said Thursday that Maloney was in critical condition when he arrived and that his condition had since been upgraded to serious.
The doctor Miller credits with intervening to keep Maloney alive, Dr. Stephen Osmon, could not comment due to patient-privacy laws, the spokesman said.
Maloney's guardian, Cape Girardeau Public Administrator Phyllis Schwab, did not return calls. Her attorney, Chris Weiss, said he could not comment on the matter or any details about the guardianship.
"We think she does a fine job in representing her wards," Weiss said. "She works hard to try to keep their best interest in everything she does."
Miller said that hasn't been the case with her brother. She said she's furious over his treatment at Normandy Nursing Center and with the guardian's failure to identify problems there.
"This man was in 24-hour nursing care, and he was not taken care of," Miller said.
She said her brother, who is epileptic and developmentally disabled, looks as if he has lost nearly 100 pounds in the three years he has been in the Normandy home. One of his big toes is blackened with infection and appears to not have been treated, she said.
Miller said she hasn't been allowed to visit her brother at the home due to a major family rift. She said her mother is deceased. Her father, now a prisoner in Tennessee, made her brother a ward of the state without letting anyone else in the family know.
"This is the first time I have been allowed to see him in two years," she said.
Kerry Kaufmann, Normandy Nursing Center's chief administrator, said Thursday that the home — a secure skilled-nursing center at 7301 St. Charles Rock Road — had done nothing wrong.
"The resident is very sick, but he's been very sick for a long time, and if the family actually saw him and had interaction with him, they would know more about him," Kaufmann said. "This is a family that has not seen the resident in over a year. There is a public administrator for a reason."
Kaufmann said the guardian, Schwab, came to see Maloney monthly or every other month and that she was "very involved" with his care.
Miller disputed that. She said nursing home employees have said Schwab does not visit. She added that relatives in the St. Louis area had visited Maloney several times and expressed concern over his living conditions.
Miller said she and a handful of Maloney's relatives have a meeting with a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services investigator today.
The center has been investigated before. In 2009, a 46-year-old mentally ill resident, William Christopher Jones, was found to have died from a morphine overdose despite the fact he wasn't prescribed the drug, or any other opiate, and was not known to seek out drugs.
Normandy police and county and state officials investigated the death and looked into a second incident two months later involving another mentally ill resident found to have opiates in her system. But how Jones ended up with a fatal amount of morphine in his body remains a mystery.
The federal website — medicare.gov — gives the nursing home a two-star rating, meaning "below average." Medicare uses a five-star scale to rate homes and takes into account inspections, staffing and quality measures.