A photo of an elderly woman slumped over a desk at her nursing home has caused outrage across the internet with people calling the facility’s actions “absolutely despicable”.
Julia Wiggins posted the photos to Facebook on Tuesday showing 80-year-old Esther Brown “face down into a soft pillow gasping for breath and strangling on her own saliva” at her care home in Canton in the US state of Ohio.
Ms Wiggins said when she and Ms Brown’s son found the woman in the corner of the nurses’ station, the 80-year-old’s son began to cry out, “That’s my momma”, and they hurried over to her.
“Upon hearing her son’s voice she tried with all her might to raise her head,” Ms Wiggins explained.
Ms Wiggins claimed they were yelling for help for five to 10 minutes before someone came to assist them.
The woman’s son, James Brown, told the local CBS-affiliate WOIO the family had filed a complaint with Altercare Nobles Pond, where his mother is a resident.
Altercare Nobles Pond said in a statement to WOIO it was informed of a family complaint on February 15.
“We have followed the protocol established regarding any allegation, including immediately reporting the concern to the Ohio Department of Health and completing an internal investigation,” the statement read.
Altercare Nobles Pond’s executive director added staff had been in contact with the Brown family and Mr Brown had been visiting daily.
“The resident is in no distress and remains well cared for by the Altercare Nobles Pond team of dedicated professionals. She is comfortable and safe,” they said.
The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Ageing are reportedly looking into the allegation against Altercare Nobles Pond.
Beverly Laubert, state long-term care ombudsman with the Ohio Department of Ageing, called the photo “very disturbing” and “worthy of an investigation” in a statement to WOIO.
“Absolutely despicable,” one person commented on the photo, adding their family also had a bad experience at the Canton facility.
“That’s wrong, they should be closed down,” another person said.
In her Facebook post, Ms Wiggins urged people with family members in nursing homes to keep tabs on them often.
“People please keep a close check on any of your loved ones if they are in these places,” she wrote.
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