8News Investigates: Complaints continue at local nursing home

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Problems continue at a place entrusted to care for the elderly and disabled.

8News has learned that the issues at the Envoy of Westover Hills are bigger than a broken air conditioner.

On two occasions in the past three weeks, people were suffering without air conditioning on some of the hottest days of the year.

“This place needs to be shut down,” resident Lydria Reid said.

The health department was not made aware of the most recent problem until 8News called regarding complaints.

Now, residents are no longer keeping quiet about the problems at the facility.

“This place needs to be shut down,” resident Lydria Reid said.

Lydria Reid and Willie Boswell said they’ve had enough with the problems at Envoy of Westover Hills.

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“I’ve been complaining about inadequate towels and wash cloths to wash us,” resident Willie Boswell said. “I’ve even missed a couple of showers because the girl came in and said ‘Boswell, I can’t give you a shower now because we don’t have no towels or wash cloths.’”

Reid and Boswell said residents aren’t the only ones complaining.

“You got employees complaining to the residents,” Reid said. “I guess reaching out to see if somebody is willing to come out and speak for them.”

Reid said the problems persist because people are afraid to speak up.

“They’re scared that they’re going to get mistreated because of the way things are happening,” Reid said. “They figure they’re going to get put out and they don’t have anywhere to go.”

When residents and employees called 8News, we took their concerns to the office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The office serves as an advocate for the people who live there.

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State ombudsman Joani Latimer said fear of retaliation is an unfortunate but common situation.

“That’s prohibited by law and we can give assurance that we will walk them through the process,” Joani Latimer, of the ombudsman’s office, said. “The reality is, there is fear and you cannot absolutely guarantee that they’re not going to be some repercussions.”

Since June of last year, the ombudsman program has received 19 verified complaints regarding Envoy of Westover Hills. This includes four care issues: complaints involving a failure to respond to requests for assistance, medication, and or personal hygiene.

“They’re scared that they’re going to get mistreated because of the way things are happening,” Reid said. “They figure they’re going to get put out and they don’t have anywhere to go.”

At least ten additional complaints are still under investigation.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” Latimer said. “The little things, as we say. They can make a big difference when your life is confined to a fairly limited space and you’re dependent on other people to take care of your personal needs.”

A broken air conditioner has been Envoy’s most recent problem.

On July 27th, health inspectors cited the facility for failing to maintain a safe, comfortable temperature for residents. The temperature inside rooms ranged from 83 to 91 degrees. According to reports, workers didn’t even give some people fans to keep cool.

“So who is doing something wrong, me or them? Me for speaking against it or them for allowing it to happen,” Boswell said.

At last check, the air conditioning was fixed on Monday.

We reached out to the executive director of the facility for comment, but we have not heard back.

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This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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