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Photos of elderly woman face-down in pillow at Canton nursing home sparks investigation

Posted: 11:00 PM, Feb 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-24 00:01:02-05
Altercare Nursing home
Altercare nursing home

CANTON, Ohio — A Canton family filed a complaint with a nursing home after finding their loved one face-down in a pillow, allegedly alone and neglected at Altercare Nobles Pond.

Esther Brown, 80, was found gasping for breath, according to her son James Brown. A photo was posted on Facebook and has been shared more than 20,000 times.

The family's pastor, Julia Wiggins, took the photo. She and Brown's son found the woman in the corner of a nurses station and the two immediately started calling for help.

"We couldn't tell that it was a human. I thought it was a cat that they had brought in," Wiggins said. "The length of time that we spent banging, screaming and looking for assistance, she never came."

The woman was in the nursing home for rehabilitation, learning how to walk again after a stay in the hospital. The photo was taken only days after her stay at the hospital.

The family filed a complaint with the nursing home.

News 5 reached out to the Altercare Nobles Pond and received this statement:

On February 15, 2019, the Altercare Nobles Pond facility was made aware of a complaint regarding a patient. Upon receiving the complaint, the facility immediately reported the concern to the Ohio Department of Health. A representative from the Ohio Department of Health was on site at the Nobles Pond facility Feb. 21 and 22 to conduct an investigation. This afternoon, Altercare Nobles Pond received the preliminary report from the Ohio Department of Health, which states that the complaint was found to be unsubstantiated. The report will be reviewed by the Akron district office of the Ohio Department of Health. Additionally, the Ohio Department of Health made no citations related to the complaint. Altercare Nobles Pond has built a strong reputation for delivering high-quality patient care, as evidenced by its Five-Star rating by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as its American Health Care Association (AHCA) silver award for “Achievement in Quality.” The resident remains well cared for by the Altercare Nobles Pond team; she is comfortable and safe. Our team remains committed to providing compassionate, professional care to all residents.
Lisa Werstler, Alterare Integrated Health Services

The family has decided to keep her in the home through the duration they've paid for. Until then, it's constant love and high hopes for her last week.

"She's going to get through, because I'm going to get through. God will get us through, and we're coming through," Brown said.