WATERTOWN (CBS) – Cell phone video shows on one night, there was no staff or security to be seen at Vero Health and Rehabilitation in Watertown, outside doors were left propped open with a towel and cardboard, a dirty restroom and a resident in a wheelchair all alone.
Heidi Rivers says her 54-year-old brother Erik who had Alzheimer’s was sent to the long-term care facility for hospice. When she went to visit him she says, “It was filthy, it was filthy, it smelled.”READ MORE: Man Tried To Abduct 16-Year-Old Girl In Falmouth, Police Say
But worse than that Heidi says, “he didn’t get any care. He got no care.”
Heidi’s son Matt described the condition he says he found his uncle in. “His tongue was black, his teeth growing inside of his cheeks. No one should have to go into a care facility and end up on your death bed with that bad of an infection.”
Erik’s family isn’t alone with their concerns. In February, the I-Team told you about Jean Donnelly who was injured at the facility. Her daughters told the I-Team she had a huge gash on her head and a black eye. When the police were called, the family says a nurse told them that their mother hits herself. Both women say Jean never did that.
The Middlesex County DA is investigating Jean’s case and others. Police say over the last 28 months, there were 383 calls to 911 from the home. Residents made some of the calls.
Matt says, “it is a place where something bad is going to happen at any moment.”READ MORE: Lawmakers, State Leaders Fight Over Drawing Precinct Lines
Medicare calls the quality of care at the home below average, and earlier this year, after finding deficiencies, the state twice ordered the facility to stop accepting residents.
“Yet nothing has been done,” Heidi Rivers said. “How did they get away with it?”
At the start of the pandemic, with cases rising, family visits halted and state inspections put on hold, Governor Baker signed an emergency COVID-19 law giving long-term care facilities protection from lawsuits, leaving families unable to sue for negligence.
“It’s absolutely time to repeal this law,” said Deidre Cummings of MASSPIRG, a government watchdog group. “The ability to hold institutions accountable is key to ensuring patient safety.”
For Heidi and her family, she believes the legislation should have never been passed.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus State Of Emergency Ends In New Hampshire
New York recently lifted part of its nursing home immunity law. WBZ contacted VERO Health and Rehabilitation for comment. A spokesperson told us that the company does not comment on their facilities or operations.