Nursing home owner charged with cruelty over residents’ living conditions
The air conditioning was broken, and there was only one staff member for nine residents
TRENTON, Ga. (WTVC) - A Georgia nursing home owner is in jail, charged with cruelty to people over the age of 65. Investigators say the patients at the facility were living in temperatures higher than 90 degrees, with just one overworked staff member to look after them.
Lois Sharp is still in shock over the allegations. Her father, Lee Watson, has Alzheimer’s and was one of nine seniors living at Woodhaven Senior Living in Dade County, Georgia.
“How could he do those old people like that? My dad’s 83 years old. He don’t deserve this – and an Army veteran on top of it,” Sharp said. “To know my dad stayed here for three days in over 100 degree temperatures, it just breaks my heart.”
The Dade County Sheriff’s Office says there was only one staff member on duty when deputies responded to the facility Monday evening. That staff member, not a trained nurse, had been looking after patients for 32 hours straight.
In addition, the air conditioning was only working in one part of the building. One thermostat read over 100 degrees.
“We had one elderly gentleman there that was vomiting, we assume, because of the heat. It was just so miserable in there,” Sheriff Ray Cross said. “And you’ve got the owner down there in an air-conditioned office, that’s what infuriates me.”
The nursing home owner, 55-year-old Kent Womack, was arrested. He is charged with cruelty to persons over the age of 65, with more charges pending.
Amy Bowers used to work for Womack at Woodhaven but left in 2018. She was devastated to hear about the recent living conditions.
“He’s not normal to me, I guess you could say. He’s money hungry, always out for himself, basically,” said Bowers of Womack. “I feel so heartbroken for all those residents. I really do. It hurts my heart.”
Cross says the conditions at the facility came to light after his office learned almost all of Woodhaven’s staff had quit Monday. Investigators were also called by a family member, who had been told that the residents were being evicted and had “an hour to get out.”
Sharp also was informed her father was being evicted. She says Womack told her he’d sold the building.
“I’m thinking, ‘OK, if you sold it, you had to know you was gonna sell it. So, why didn’t you notify families ahead of time, so they could have went and checked all around and found some place to put them?”
The whole situation has left her heartbroken.
“But see, Daddy couldn’t tell me, ‘Ya know, Lois, something’s not right here,’ because of his mind,” Sharp said.
Of the nine residents at the facility, six were taken to another facility. One went home with family, and two were taken to the hospital. As of Tuesday morning, those in the hospital are doing OK, investigators say.
The sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at the facility Tuesday.
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