An aide at an assisted-living facility in Hatfield Township has been charged with the death of an Alzheimer's patient from burns inflicted when she fed him steaming-hot cereal, Montgomery County officials said yesterday.
Alvador Thompson, 55, of East Walnut Street in Hatfield Township, was charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter in the Oct. 23 death of Ronald Myers, 79, at the Cambridge Brightfield facility.
The feeding incident occurred Oct. 8 but was not reported immediately to authorities, officials said. A half-day elapsed before Myers received hospital treatment; he then stopped eating and died because of the scalding, court papers said.
Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman said that six weeks ago, charges of reckless endangerment and neglect of a care-dependent person were filed against Thompson in the incident.
Authorities amended the complaint Monday after further investigation, Richman said. The most serious is the neglect charge, a first-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Doris Brake, Myers' daughter, called Hatfield Township police Oct. 9 to report her father's being burned. Myers, who could not talk, was under Thompson's care in the Alzheimer's wing of the facility at 1800 Walnut St. He paid $2,830 a month for 24-hour care, the affidavit said.
An employee told investigators that Myers put out his arm to stop Thompson from feeding him the hot Cream of Wheat that morning, "but she kept feeding him anyway," the affidavit stated.
Myers sustained second-degree burns on his tongue, lips, the roof and sides of his mouth, and down his throat, the document said.
"Mr. Myers was placed in a facility like this in order to live out his final days with dignity and in peace. For a caretaker to have so recklessly inflicted this kind of pain on him is reprehensible," Richman said.
Thompson was fired from her job at Cambridge Brightfield, Richman said. She had worked there since March 20, 2008. After her arrest, she was released on $5,000 bail.
Thompson could not be reached for comment. A man who answered her home phone said she was at work. Thompson has no prior criminal record.
Stacey Witalec, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Welfare, said this was "the third incident of failure to provide proper care" at Cambridge Brightfield since July.
The violations entailed two incidents in which patients were found unresponsive and taken to a hospital, and the feeding incident, Witalec said.
The violation for the unresponsive patient found at the facility in July caused the state to revoke a provisional license, according to department records. No new residents could be admitted after Feb. 13.
"The facility is still operating, pending an appeal, with a provisional license," Witalec said. Inspectors check on the 113 residents each week, she said.
Dale McCullough, vice president of marketing for Cambridge Brightfield Associates L.P., said that Thompson was trained in proper feeding methods and that the facility cooperated with investigators.
"Thirty percent of assisted-living facilities have some sort of licensing issue," McCullough said. "We have residents who are very happy there. Our staff is so dedicated that it would be a tragedy to paint the place with a broad brush."