MADISON — Some 20 family members held placards and protested just outside Watrous Nursing Center to bring to light what they consider ill treatment of the matriarch of their family for several hours on Sept. 12. The distressed family also called 911 at one point.
The Baldoz family’s concerns include the family being denied visitation rights to the resident due to COVID, who they say has been taken off her medications, while at the same time is not being properly fed or cared for on a day to day basis, they claim.
For some five hours, the protesters held signs with messages such as “Respect Not Neglect,” Save Our Grandma,” “Whatever Happened to Humanity,” as cars drove by the Neck Road facility beeping and stopping in traffic to talk. The family members stood on the property line of the facility.
Early in the protest the family placed a 911 call to the Madison Police Department to get the grandmother transferred to an emergency room for an independent medical evaluation. An ambulance arrived, along with a Madison police officer, but left empty because the nursing home would not release her, according to her son, Al Baldoz. The family does not have conservatorship rights, he noted.
Al Baldoz said he and his wife, Cherie, had an early afternoon meeting with the director of nursing and a social worker to discuss his mother’s care but that meeting abruptly ended when family members began protesting outside the facility.
“I pleaded with her not to do so (end the meeting) and knowing we weren’t going to get anywhere I had to call the police department, via 911, and ask for independent confirmation of my mom’s health because I wanted a second medical opinion, from an independent doctor, because I don’t think she’s in the condition that she (nursing home staff) is stating she is in,” Al Baldoz said.
Apple-Rehab, the parent corporation for Watrous Nursing Center, commented via email.
“Watrous Nursing Center rejects the allegations that were asserted against our staff that work tirelessly to protect and care for all of its residents,” wrote Karen Donorfio, vice president of operations for Apple-Rehab.
“The facility has followed all appropriate protocols regarding resident care and visitation and has been in contact with the Dept. of Public Health regarding these concerns,” she added. “We continue to work with and abide by the wishes of the court appointed conservator.”
Al Baldoz said he has sent messages to various state agencies including Department of Health Services and the long term assisted living ombudsman for the region and had not heard back from them.
However, later Al Baldoz, and Cherie Baldoz, were allowed to visit the 70-year-old resident.
After the visit Al Baldoz said his mother was sleepy, but he was glad to be able to see her.
“It was a poor visit and it was very quick,” the resident’s eldest son said. “We said, ‘We’ll only make it 15 minutes.’”
Al Baldoz explained his sister had been his mother’s conservator after it was discovered his mother was making “bad decisions living on her own, wandering off and those kinds of things.”
He added that after his sister “pushed some of her treatment and some of her caregivers pretty hard and they pushed back by having her removed legally because she was putting too many demands on them and they said she was being irrational.”
Al Baldoz plans to begin legal proceedings “to at least get co-conservatorship so my family has some say” and said he is currently working with his court appointed lawyer to get her discharged and have her come home.
He added, after seeing his mother and talking with the facility administrator, “We’ve run out of options, but the legal recourse, really.
“I’m just a little let down because I thought our discussions were going to go somewhere earlier,” he added.
Baldoz said his mother does have health issues, but he is concerned about the care she is receiving.
“We don’t think that she’s receiving enough attention that she could be receiving,” he said.
“Mostly it’s just the quality of the last few days,” he added, saying that she is currently on hospice care. “It makes it easier on the family when we come to visit her and she’s the best she can be at that moment and we sort of rest when the time comes.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.