Jenell Clark of Dallas has been struggling for months to gain attention to the plight of her mother, 86-year-old Mae Birks. Clark has contacted state and local health officials and even the Attorney General’s Office with information about how she says Birks has been treated in Texas nursing homes.
Now she’s brought her story to state legislators, testifying recently in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee in opposition to Senate Bill 6.
“I am here to share the horrors that my mother experienced under the care of three nursing homes in the past year,” she said. “Their actions could have resulted in her (Birks) death if I were not laser-focused on her care and wellbeing while shut out of the facilities due to COVID.”
Clark said her mother had been deprived of food and severely lost weight, developed a large bedsore that went untreated and led to muscle and bone damage. Unable to visit her mother for weeks, when Clark did see Birks, she found her with dirty and matted hair. “Her knuckles were severely swollen, her fingernails were overgrown,” Clark said. “Her hand is now irreversibly deformed.”
Clark said that her mother's neglect was so severe that medical providers recommended that she take her mother out of the nursing home and they helped her document her mother's situation.
Clark is among Texans speaking out against Senate Bill 6, which, as it is currently written, will extend liability immunity protections to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities – even facilities with track records of poor performance – for abuse, neglect, and even death.
“My mother has lived through horrific experiences,” Clark said.
AARP is fighting to protect the rights of nursing home residents and their families, including their ability to hold long-term care facilities accountable for harm, neglect, and abuse through the courts. Lawsuits are not a step lightly taken by residents or their families. These suits are exceedingly difficult to bring in Texas and are often the option of last resort.
AARP Texas is calling on Texas senators to oppose or amend Senate Bill 6 to protect nursing home residents. To take action, visit this AARP Texas action page.