It is no question that recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the rate of nursing home abuse and negligence cases. In part, this is due to the powerful for-profit influence that dominates the industry, and no nursing home is immune. Crystal Health & Rehabilitation Center in Tavernier, Florida is now in the spotlight after numerous allegations of severe abuse and neglect have reached the media.
The Matlock Fouts Case vs. Crystal Health & Rehabilitation Center
Stephanie Matlock Fouts has brought a suit against Crystal Health nursing home on behalf of her mother, Nancy, due to the nursing home’s failure to properly care for her needs and subsequent misinformation regarding her health situation. Stephanie was in the habit of regularly video calling her mother, and she began to notice a gradual decline in how well she appeared on camera. A fall on August 12 that resulted in Nancy being moved to the first floor of the facility for rehab raised no real red flags, but a subsequent fall that resulted in a broken pelvis just 16 days later stirred Stephanie’s suspicions; nursing homes have a responsibility to mitigate fall risk and develop personalized plans that keep residents safe from consistent falls.
After these events, Stephanie began to notice her mother’s failing health during their regular video calls. Staff assured her that her mother was doing well and was even in exceptionally good spirits. However, by the end of September, it was clear that something was not right.
Stephanie noticed that her previously cognitively alert mother was now incoherent. She brought the issue up with staff and inquired about her mother’s weight. She was told 123 pounds, even though she had been 141 pounds just two months before. The next day, her symptoms had worsened, and she was transported to an emergency room for internal bleeding. When she arrived, it was discovered that the nursing home had been dishonest; her weight was just 100 pounds, more than 40 less than she had been just months earlier.
Upon admission to the hospital, a pressure sore—more often called a bedsore—was discovered on her tailbone, one of the most common locations. These injuries are always signs of neglect, because they are never caused by any medical condition. Bed sores only arise when a resident is left lying in the same position without being moved for a long period of time. They can become fatal if not treated, because the ulcer-like skin lesions are prime breeding grounds for infections like sepsis and MRSA.
Stephanie voiced her horror at the scene, saying, “Basically, my mom sat in a bed from Aug. 28 when she fractured her pelvis to Sept. 29 and was starved, dehydrated, malnourished, and left to just basically die.” The facility has not responded to requests for comment on the Matlock Fouts situation.
Further Lawsuits Against Crystal Health & Rehabilitation Center in the Florida Keys
Stephanie was not the first to bring a suit against Crystal Health for its unacceptable treatment of the elderly. Three cases are currently pending, with one from April listing a number of common complaints regarding abuse, such as unexplained injuries, falls, and malnutrition. Two other families reported similar situations with their own loved ones.
Management of Crystal Health was transferred in July of 2020, and the facility now posts more frequent updates to the public, such as on their social media pages. However, Matlock Fouts still cites the abusive treatment of her mother during the new administration as evidence that simply replacing management is not sufficient.
Nancy Matlock Fouts was able to sit upright in her chair on October 13, and Stephanie is hopeful that this will be a turning point in her care. At this stage, she is optimistic that her mother will make a full recovery and that Crystal Health will be held accountable for its inadequate care and outright deception.
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