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CHICAGO — One day after disturbing allegations of elder abuse at a nursing home on the city’s North Side prompted family members to seek answers, a former employee is speaking out about her experience.
Annette Zegarra worked as an office manager for Foster Health and Rehabilitation Center for nine months until she was fired a few weeks ago. Zegarra told WGN she knows 69-year-old James Crowder, who family says was abused at the Budlong Woods-area nursing home.
“When they sent me the video and I saw his pictures, I broke down in tears,” Zegarra said. “I never expected him to look the way he looked.”
Crowder, a military veteran, was found on the floor with no clothes by a woman visiting her mom at the rehabilitation center. He was injured with a gash on his head and his foot bandaged up.
“She heard this man crying out. She went to see and who she saw was my brother,” Patricia Crowder-Howard told WGN on Monday.
“Laying on the floor, no clothing, food thrown at him, bleeding, that’s no way for anybody to be treated,” Crowder’s niece Shondra Banks added.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Family alleges elder abuse of loved one at Foster Health and Rehab Center
Zegarra says the disturbing images show that Crowder’s condition worsened at the rehabilitation center.
“They ignored a lot of the complaints. A lot of them,” she said. “When he first came in, he was able to walk with his cane. He was able to wheel himself. I feel like the neglection that they’ve been giving him throughout the months that he’s been there, that’s why he’s looking the way he’s looking now.”
The nursing home owner addressed the allegations on Wednesday, telling WGN that a full investigation will be conducted. No further comment was provided.
“When a resident comes in and only wants to talk to me and be like ‘this person whacked me on my head,’ or ‘this person pushed me threw a tray at me,’ after so many, don’t you think it’s a concern?” Zegarra asked.
Crowder’s family said that staff at the facility haven’t been helpful and made several excuses.
“They claim he couldn’t get up. They claim this is the way he wants to be on the floor. Who wants to lay on a cold floor? He was lying in feces, urine, everything,” Crowder-Howard said on Tuesday. “This is how we found him last night.”
Crowder was taken to another area hospital Tuesday afternoon at the behest of the family. Zegarra says Crowder may not be the only one being mistreated, however.
“Check on your family members,” she said. “Check if they’ve got bruises, check on their financials, check on their credit card statement, check everything.”