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Gregg County JP's family alleges nursing home abuse

By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com
Nov. 4, 2013 at 10 p.m.

The daughter of a Gregg County justice of the peace, who was shot in March, has filed a complaint against his nursing home alleging the facility's negligence led to her father's recent hospitalization.

Judge Sam Lawson entered The Clairmont Longview on Aug. 2 after spending months in rehab at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where he received care after the shooting left him a paraplegic.

Lawson's wife Ina Lawson, 71, was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after police said she she shot her husband in the back as he tried to flee through the kitchen to the laundry room at her home in the 2400 block of Pam Street.

When police arrived at the couple's home, they found Sam Lawson suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

In a written complaint, Susan Drayden claims the negligent behavior of the staff at Clairmont Nursing Home has "contributed to additional medical emergencies/conditions that have resulted in two surgeries and a host of unforeseen expenses."

Staff at The Clairmont Longview said Monday they could not discuss Drayden's allegations, but Melody Chatelle, a spokesperson for the facility released a statement saying, "We take great pride in the quality of care we strive to deliver on a daily basis, and regret that a member of this family is upset with care allegedly received at our center, although we respectfully disagree with the overall characterization of that care.

"Although commenting on the specifics of this matter would be inappropriate, as we are bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to maintain the privacy of patient information, we are comprehensively reviewing the concerns and will report and investigate them with the goal to resolve those concerns.

"We are certainly available to visit with members of this family as they wish, and we wish the resident the very best in the resident's new surroundings. We will continue to work hard to provide a high quality of care for all of our residents, and we take great pride in our long-standing service to the people of Longview and surrounding areas."

"State inspectors came out Wednesday and Thursday and did not substantiate any of the complaints when they left," Chatelle said during a phone interview Monday afternoon.

Cecilia Cavuto is a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the agency that inspects and investigates nursing homes. She said the department cannot release any information regarding investigations into The Clairmont Longview until those investigations are complete.

"Complaints are confidential by law," Cavuto said. "Once we have investigated the complaint, our report is public."

Drayden said she filed her complaint with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services after a bedsore sent Lawson to the hospital, where he had to have emergency surgery.

"He had a bedsore that covered his entire buttocks area. (The doctors) didn't know if it was deep enough to where it had reached the bone. It was so deep he needed a colostomy because feces could infect the wound. (The doctor) said it could become septic and kill him," she said.

That was Sept. 23, Drayden said, and Lawson remains hospitalized.

On Sept. 25, Clairmont was cited for failing "to make sure that the resident with pressure sores receives appropriate treatment and services" and failing "to establish and maintain an infection control program," according to citations documented on the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services website.

Cavuto could not confirm whether the citations were related to Lawson's stay at Clairmont.

The most recent comprehensive inspection of Clairmont was conducted Sept. 19, at which time inspectors found 15 deficiencies regarding federal standards, according to the site.

The website shows the department substantiated four complaints in 2012 and six complaints so far this year. The state average was one complaint for each of those years, according to the website.

The most disappointing aspect of Lawson's time at Clairmont, Drayden said, is that his stay left him much weaker than he was when he entered the facility.

Lawson has no function left in his left arm and has lost more than 75 percent of the function in his right arm, according to Drayden.

"He can't even pick up a phone to call me," she said. "This man has been in the public eye for my whole life. The dignity he lost in that place. They treated him like an animal. It's absolutely unacceptable. He pays $3,700 a month to be treated like a dog."

Drayden also alleges the facility failed to provide Lawson with a sling to help mitigate "excruciating pain" in his right arm, did not bathe him for a week and failed to adequately change his catheter, which caused a urinary tract infection, according to her written complaint.

"Clairmont needs to be held accountable for their actions," she said.



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