Senior Sorrow: Elderly woman dies in care of assisted living facility

WSVN — It’s a difficult decision many families have to face: where to relocate relatives who can no longer live alone. Now a lawsuit against a local assisted living facility raises questions about the level of responsibility for those left in its care. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

Maxine Silverman lived a full and happy life. But even though she was 94 when she passed away, her daughter believes she could have lived longer.

Darlene Medow: "Maxine was a lively lady, even to her last days. She was a tough cookie that I loved."

Darlene Medow says dementia robbed her mom of the ability to live alone. She moved into The Bridge, an assisted living facility that is part of the Garden Plaza at Inverrary complex in Lauderhill.

Carmel Cafiero: "But, then, one day, Maxine left The Bridge on her own. She ended up down the street and on the ground when she fell from her wheelchair."

She was taken to a nearby hospital by fire rescue who reported to family that Maxine said she was going to visit her brother. He had passed away the year before. No one knows exactly what happened, but her injuries were substantial.

Darlene Medow: "I mean, she just looked like she was beaten or hit by, in a train accident. I mean, I was just shocked."    

Worse yet, Darlene says, at first, The Bridge did not even know her mom was missing.

Darlene Medow: "And the lady said, ‘Oh, no, she’s eating dinner ’cause that’s dinner time.’"

Darlene says she then told a nurse at the facility that her mom was actually in the hospital.

Darlene Medow: "And I said, ‘Yes, I just got a phone call,’ and she goes, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ and she hung up on me."  

Maxine spent weeks in the hospital and was never the same.            

Michael Brevda: "She never recovered from the fall and she died some months later."

Attorney Michael Brevda represents Maxine’s estate, which is now suing The Bridge, claiming negligence.

Michael Brevda: "This was a facility that accepted Mrs. Silverman as a resident, accepted payments from the government to take care of her and grossly failed in their care and treatment of Mrs. Silverman."

He says she should not have been allowed to leave on her own and backs that up with documentation. It’s an assessment form that indicates Maxine, "cannot vacate the premises without assistance." The Bridge’s attorney had no comment to 7News, but depositions in the case make the facility’s position clear.

Trudy Therre: "Do I blame Mrs. Silverman? I’m not blaming anyone. Mrs. Silverman made a decision to leave, and from what I could gather on that particular day, she was allowed."

The Bridge’s manager insisted the facility was not at fault.

Trudy Therre: "We couldn’t lock her in the building. There is nothing, I mean, I know what injury she sustained, so I am aware of it, and it is terrible … but The Bridge is not at fault for that."

Meanwhile, Darlene is facing the holidays without her best friend. Her mom’s purse still hangs on the staircase where Darlene put it the day Maxine died. She hasn’t been able to put it away.

Darlene Medow: "I know one day I will, but I just like it there. It’s like, OK, she’s there, just a remembrance of her."

Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

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