Commentary by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
Just as Child Protective Services and a judge have almost omnipotent, unchecked power to decide unilaterally that the relationship between a parent and a young child is not worthy of being preserved, Adult Protective Services and a probate judge have the same power to sever the relationship between an adult child and their elderly parent.
Sometimes the relationship has endured for longer than the judge and social worker combined have been alive, yet with the stroke of a pen, a senior citizen can be completely torn away from their own children.
The wishes of the elder can be completely ignored, and documents assigning power of attorney to a trusted adult child can become meaningless. Medical and financial decisions are placed into the hands of a court-appointed guardian who is often a stranger to everyone in the family.
Nancy Scott, a retired English teacher from south Alabama, wrote to Health Impact News describing the medical kidnapping of her 102-year-old mother, who is also a beloved retired schoolteacher known to her former students as “Ms. Gregory.”
St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) seized custody of Marian (Gregory) Leonard in February 2018. She is being held against her will, forced by a Jefferson County, Alabama, court into Hospice care, even though she has no terminal illness or disease. She is elderly, but her mind is sound.
Nancy has always enjoyed a close relationship with her mother, but she has not seen her since midsummer. At that time, Ms. Gregory begged to go home. She told Nancy:
If you don’t get me out of here, they’re going to kill me, and they’re going to kill you.
She is being drugged against her will and has told her daughter that she doesn’t want the drugs. There have been times that medical staff have said that Ms. Gregory had dementia, but Nancy says that this is because of the unnecessary psychotropic drugs that doctors put her on. When she was under care of doctors who removed the medications, her mental state drastically improved.
Ms. Gregory’s Story as Told by her Daughter
Here is their story in Nancy Scott’s words, written just before her visits were stopped:
My mother, a 102 year- old retired English teacher from south Alabama, wakes up every morning and asks, “When can we go home?”
And I tell her every day, “I’m working on getting us home.”
Home is south Alabama, known as the “Wiregrass.” My mother has been in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources since February 1, 2018. I now have a very good attorney, but the first attorneys I had, did absolutely nothing except take my money and never filed an appearance. I just hope it’s not too late.
Medical kidnapping usually involves a child or children, but in my situation, my elder mother—was kidnapped by the Alabama DHR. She was in St. Vincent’s Hospital for what would have been a 3-4 day stay because of a UTI and a mild case of the flu.
DHR issued a court order for “protective custody” on February 1, 2018, and stated in the order that she could not leave the hospital without a court order. I was not allowed to know what I was accused of because DHR sealed the records. One attorney I hired was also not allowed access to the records. The first GAL leaked some of the information to me along with other “grapevine” news.
I finally learned that I was accused by DHR of taking my mother from a facility against medical advice. However, I provided a report from a physician at a local hospital who had given me full permission—and his blessings—to take her out of the facility on the day she and I left.
[Note: documentation of this has been provided to Health Impact News.]
No allegations of abuse or neglect can be found in the (almost) five years I’ve been taking care of my mother. A couple of phone calls by DHR could have proven that I did not take my mother anywhere against medical advice (and never have). However, DHR jumped into the case. Now after spending several thousand dollars of the tax payers’ money, this organization is still trying to find something to justify the hasty, costly decision to take charge of my mother.
Since she has been in “protective custody,” my mother has gone from getting up every day, eating a regular diet, and sitting in a recliner, to being bedridden. She has asked to get up, but Hospice has said, “No.” She left St. Vincent’s with bedsores.
After the medication overdoses at this hospital, it’s a miracle she is alive. The doctors at St. Vincent’s assured me they were not giving her any medication—-she refused to eat or drink for one month and slept most of the time. After a family friend (another physician) came to the hospital to check on her, I learned what she had been given.
The hospitalists in charge of my mother’s care at St. Vincent’s had been giving her Scopolamine, the “date rape” drug, and then proceeded to label her as “demented.” They also gave her Haldol and Ativan (against my written request not to do so).
These doctors also gave her a cough medicine that she could not metabolize. The guidelines for avoiding such medications were in her hospital records, and I reminded them to check this medication against her medical allergies.
She almost died from the medicine mistake, and one hospitalist, Dr. Wheeler, refused to consult with an anesthesiologist regarding the best treatment for her to help her get over the mistake with the medicine. Dr. Wheeler told me, “No, because of her age.”
Probate Judge Alan King (Jefferson County, AL) appointed a conservator and a guardian (GAL) for my mother even though I provided documentation that I had not done anything against medical advice.
When Judge King issued an order after a March 20, 2018, hearing, neither my attorney nor I were allowed to receive a copy of the order for several weeks. The clerk at the probate judicial office told me that until the court costs were paid, we were not allowed a copy of the judge’s order. DHR was responsible for the bill, so getting a copy of the order was delayed almost a month while everyone waited for DHR to pay the bill.
Judge King also insisted that my mother leave the hospital under hospice care although she has no diagnosis of any terminal illness.
Prior to the hospitalization, she ate a regular diet, got out of bed every day (with the help of regular caregivers), and enjoyed having her hair done.
The Director of Nursing at the current facility told me that she had tried to get Hospice to agree to add a low dose of Zoloft for my mother at bedtime. Hospice told me that they were under strict court orders not to discuss any medication issues with me and refused to add the Zoloft even though she had been taking this medication for over 30 years.
Early on, my brother called the former GAL and told her that no one was able to look after the best interests of my mother any better than I because I knew all of her medical allergies and was extremely careful with her care.
In addition, the court-appointed Jefferson County conservator and St. Vincent’s social workers selected a facility in Jefferson County, a three-star facility, that always seems to be short on staff. The court refused to allow my mother to leave Jefferson County (Birmingham area).
The facility in Troy, Alabama, which I presented to hospital social workers as an option, much closer to her home and friends, has a five-star (Medicare rating) and is almost $2000/month less expensive.
Why all this taxpayer money to hold an old woman in “protective custody” and deny her God given rights to choose where she will spend her last days?
Bottom line—we have been through all this before……could some of the problem possibly be the 300 wooded acres in Henry County, Alabama, that my mother inherited from her grandfather during the depression?
In 2013, several south Alabama residents attempted to force a guardianship on her. I published an article about this incident in my blog in late 2013:
Forcing Guardianships on the Elderly: Keeping the Sharks Away–They’re Closer Than You Think
Excerpts from the blog:
My mother lives in a small town in southeast Alabama. In February 2013, she hired an attorney to complete an irrevocable trust for her estate, but he never completed the process. He insisted some land needed to be sold first, although he never looked at her bank statements. My mother’s monthly income is well above her living expenses. After a couple of months and no land sale, the attorney suggested a guardianship.
We knew nothing of what was in store for our family nor did we have any idea of the stress or the danger our mother would endure because of our naivety.
[Nancy elaborates on manipulative tactics that the attorney and a bookkeeper used to convince her mother that she didn’t have enough money to pay her bills. They believe that the bookkeeper was behind what happened next.]
[S]omeone filed for my mother to have a competency testing. With no notice, the owner of the assisted living facility told my mother that she was under a court order to have competency testing with a local doctor. My mother told us later that she had angrily told the doctor, “I know who is behind this.” She answered a few questions and demanded to be taken back to her facility.
A few days later, my son and I were with my mother on an outing. We noticed that mother’s speech was slurred. She also had difficulty standing, and her sentences trailed off in mid-sentence. After a quick family conference by phone, everyone suggested that she go home with me for observation. I went into the assisted living facility to pick up a few overnight items as I had many times in the past.
During the conversation [with an employee], I looked over the employee’s shoulder and saw the word Oxycontin 10 mg, twice daily and what appeared to be an increased dosage of NORCO. Frightened, I discussed my concerns with my mother and she agreed.
She said, “My head has felt funny, and I didn’t know why.” Suddenly, I knew what I had to do….
I drove away from the assisted living facility, [and] I knew I couldn’t turn back. I took my mother to a large medical facility out of town for a complete physical and mental evaluation.
The results astounded both of us. [She was fine.] She did not return to the assisted living facility. When she was not back by 9:00 the next morning, the owner of the assisted living went to the sheriff’s office and asked them to try to get my mother back. She is grateful to be with family and out of danger.
Signing While Drugged
The Probate Court continues to refuse to give my mother or me copies of the court documents that have been filed. During the weeks that my mother was on the large doses of narcotics, I learned that Lawyer #000 took several papers into her room, which she signed for Lawyer #000, and the assisted living owner witnessed.
When I told my mother about Lawyer #000 and the papers, she was horrified—-she remembers nothing of his visit because of the large doses of medicine being given to her.
As for my mother’s mental state, she has no difficulty remembering anything except what happened during those days she was taking the large doses of narcotics. A hair analysis confirmed both the NORCO and the Oxycontin.
She has no desire to return to a place she once called home. Her physical strength has returned, and she doesn’t speak with slurred speech now. She is enjoying reading a new Danielle Steel novel that I downloaded with Kindle on my laptop.
Read the entire blog entry here.
The article circulated through the Henry County Courthouse and the hearing was cancelled. I also published three other articles about corruption in Alabama, particularly south Alabama. Some of these articles included information about attorneys in the south Alabama area who tried to get my mother to sign her property over to them.
When will it end? My mother has lost almost four months of her life—possibly her last days. Who is behind all this? That’s a good question, and one that someone should investigate.
Concern for my Mother’s Well-Being
A representative of Southern Care Hospice told me today that they are not allowed to discuss any of my mother’s medication issues with me. On the first day with Southern Care Hospice, I gave the hospice nurse practitioner crucial information about my mother’s medication issues when he interviewed me.
Somehow the nurses who work with my mother never received that information. And the Director of Nursing at the facility did not get that medical information.
My mother is being treated as though she is not a person—-and I am definitely a non-person. In this situation, we have no rights—but no wrong doing has ever been shown.
Who can stop Alabama DHR? If Judge Alan King allows her to leave and go home, that’s fine. But these problems should not happen to anyone. How can a person, respected and loved as a teacher in her community, suddenly because she is old, become the pawn of powerful men and women?
How You Can Help #BringMsGregoryHome
Nancy Scott and her mother are frustrated that a court-appointed guardian/conservator is now calling all the shots for Ms. Gregory. Nancy told Health Impact News:
She’s got a FAMILY! She doesn’t need this.
They understand that she is elderly. Nancy wants her mother to be able to leave Jefferson County and return to a facility closer to her home in southeast Alabama of their choosing, not the state’s, where the family can visit and care for the woman who has cared for so many throughout the years.
Nancy fears for her mother’s life, as well as for her emotional health, as she is deprived of the love and care of her family:
I don’t want my mother to die this way.
Alabama Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner represents the district where Marian (Gregory) Leonard is currently being held against her will in a nursing home. He may be reached at 334-242-7892 or contacted here.
Representative Jack Williams represents the district. He may be reached at 334-242-7779 or contacted here.