Family says 94-year-old woman with Alzheimer's was beaten at SA memory care facility

Woman left facility in Aug. 2018 with bruises, large infected gashes

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter, Josh Saunders - Photojournalist, Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator

When Linda Smith agreed to take her grandchildren to New Orleans late last summer, she grappled with what to do with her aging mother, Mary.

Mary, at the time 94 and in the late stages of Alzheimer's, can be combative, according to Smith, who said she eventually chose to take her mother to Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills, a memory care facility in the 10100 block of West Military Drive.

"I went out on my own and found this beautiful place," said Smith. "Have a good time but know she was getting good care and knowing that she might even like it there."

Four days later, in mid-August, after picking up her mother, Smith said her opinion changed completely.

"The first thing that came out of my mother's mouth when she got into the car with my husband and I was, 'One of the workers didn't like me and she slapped me as hard as she could against my face,'" Smith recalled her mother saying.

Although Mary's face showed no signs of injury, much of her body did.

Her family shared pictures of her showing large bruises on her arms and backside as well as large, infected gashes on her arm and leg.

The open wounds had been treated with butterfly stitches.

View a slideshow of Mary's injuries below.
WARNING: THE SLIDESHOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES THAT SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND DISTURBING.

**If you're having trouble viewing the slideshow, click here.

Smith said Mary's physician was forced to lance the gash on Mary's leg, drain the infection from it and prescribe antibiotics.

When Smith reached out to an administrator from Autumn Leaves, she says she was given several versions of what happened.

"She said, 'You brought her in that way.' And I said, 'Oh no, you know I didn't,'" Smith said.

"If I had brought her in the way that she looked, if you saw the pictures, they would have called the police and I would be in jail for elderly abuse."

Later in the conversation Smith said the administrator blamed the large leg wound on Mary's pants.

The administrator then said Mary had gotten combative with one of the workers and was injured while being restrained, according to Smith.

Autumn Leaves officials did not respond to requests for an interview for this story.

It remains unclear why staff at the facility treated Mary's wounds but did not inform Smith what happened to her mother.

A spokeswoman for the facility's Irving-based ownership group released the following statement:

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. At Autumn Leaves, the safety and care of our residents are always our top priority. We are aware of the family's concerns, and are cooperating fully with Texas Health & Human Services. Because this is an active investigation, we are unable to provide additional information at this time.

The incident serves as another example of the secretive nature under which Texas medical facilities are able to operate.

While the Texas Health & Human Services Commission has agreed to release reports related to inspections, assessments and self-reported incidents at Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills, it is attempting to block records related to Mary's incident, claiming that information is confidential by law.

State records show the facility has no health or life safety deficiencies on file.

A spokeswoman for health and human services said it had no violations during a March 3 visit from a state inspector.

State officials have not said if the facility self-reported Mary's injuries.

A San Antonio police spokeswoman said the criminal case is pending further investigation because investigators were unable to determine if a crime occurred or if Mary injured herself.

Smith said her mother's deteriorating ability to speak has made it next to impossible for her to identify who injured her.

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