Senior citizen care facility responds to police allegations - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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Senior citizen care facility responds to police allegations

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The owner of Loving Care Senior Citizen Home says she did nothing wrong after police shut down the facility last week.

Sheryl Drakeford is out of jail and cleaning up at her now-empty facility after being charged with Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Disabled Persons and Operating a Personal Care Home Without a License. She claims her patients were happy and well-taken care of, but police are telling a different story.

Two months ago Columbus police first began investigating the Loving Care home, where they found that patients were being sent to an unlicensed facility when they reached capacity. Drakeford says, "We just take the person's word for what they're saying, that they're licensed, and it just so happened that this particular place was not licensed and we were not aware of it."

Drakeford denies the police charges that patients were crowded in the home, finding places to sleep on the floor and couches, and being fed food infested with rust and roach droppings. "We did not have anybody sleeping on the floor," she says. "Everybody had a bed to sleep in, and the food was great. In fact, we were told we have one of the best menu programs in Columbus because we serve good food."

Abraham Maynard lived in Loving Care for two years. He was the youngest resident and says he was shocked when the facility was shut down. "They gave me the correct diet food," he says. "They fed me correctly. I lost 100 pounds here, and my life was changed, and my life was saved just because I was turned over to Loving Care. I had a place to stay. I had three meals a day."

Sgt. Mark Richards heard something different from the residents he spoke with. "They really were telling some of the investigators that they enjoyed moving to another facility where they were being fed better," he says.

He was at Loving Care the day of the site inspection and he says he didn't see evidence of a balanced meal plan. "All I saw when I was there was jellied cranberry sauce, some canned fruit apples like what was used in making pies, and thousands of bags of beans," he says.

Sgt. Richards says the exploitation of the elderly is a trend that needs to be stopped, and the investigation goes further than Loving Care. He calls this bust the tip of the iceberg, and there will be more arrests and charges to be filed in the coming weeks.

He adds that elders are being taken advantage of both financially and physically in some cases. "Without the family knowing or doing any investigation into the background of a facility," says Sgt. Richards, "a lot of these individuals fall prey to people who probably try to build an income off the backs of some of these elderly adults."

The 16 people who were living at Loving Care are being placed at other local facilities through New Horizons and their individual case workers.

Sgt. Richards and his team are currently taking tips about abuse of the elderly. You can call the state hotline to report abuse at 1(866) 55AGING.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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