By Michael Cuneo —
FAYETTEVILLE — Meghan Aguilera received a call in July of 2020 that no one with an elderly parent or grandparent wants to receive: her grandfather, Kenneth Broady, was the subject of abuse by a staff member at Heartis Assisted Living facility located in Fayetteville, Georgia.
She was told that the incident was reported to the state and local authorities, who eventually told her their investigation showed no foul play.
“I had no reason to doubt [Heartis],” Aguilera said of the phone call she received from the assisted living facility. “I had no reason to doubt the police. I thanked them for being thorough with it.”
However, something didn’t feel right to Aguilera, and after Broady passed away just a few weeks later, she knew there was more to this story.
The events that led to Broady’s passing were discombobulated and unclear to Aguilera. Just two weeks after receiving a phone call from Heartis that Broady had been abused, she was called again, this time with a much more severe report.
“Heartis called me at 11 p.m. and said, ‘hey, your grandfather was walking around alone in the hallway, and he fell. He broke his nose, and we have to call an ambulance.” Aguilera said.
Broady was transported to Fayette Piedmont Hospital, where Aguilera received another phone call. She was told that he had a broken neck and needed to be transported to Grady Hospital in Atlanta. Forty-eight hours later, he was dead.
In November of 2020, Aguilera stumbled across a Department of Public Health report on assisted living facilities throughout Georgia. She looked for Heartis and found a report about Broady that told a completely different story than what she was initially told.
“Based on record review and interview, the facility failed to ensure each resident was free of physical abuse for 1 of 3 sampled residents.” findings from an investigation by the Department of Public Health into Aguilera’s grandfather’s case read.
According to the report, “a review of [Broady’s] police report showed “simple battery by intentionally causing physical harm by picking [Broady] up and dragging him/her by his/her belt.”
Aguilera was shocked, particularly because up until this point, she was under the impression that a full investigation from police showed that Broady wasn’t the subject of intentional abuse.
“The police report is drastically different from what we were told. It said he had bruises all over him and that he was screaming for help. We didn’t know any of that.” she said.
According to the full report from the Fayetteville Police Department regarding the incident, an employee of Heartis says they heard Broady screaming for help before seeing two fellow employees dragging the man across the floor by his foot.
“[The reporting employee] advised that she was in the storage closet getting items when she heard Mr. Broady scream and yell for help. [The reporting employee] advised that she looked outside of the closet and found Mr. Broady on the ground in the doorway of his room on the floor.” part of a two page police report from the Fayetteville Police Department reads.
The report further details that the reporting employee saw two of her co-workers dragging Broady by the foot before she instructed them to get a wheelchair.
This information was entirely unbeknown to Aguilera, who was now starting to question everything.
According to Aguilera, Broady’s death certificate listed COVID-19 as the primary reason for death and a broken neck as the secondary reason. Because of this, legal counsel informed her that the likelihood of her winning a wrongful death lawsuit was extremely low.
“It’s never been about the money to us. We don’t care. That has nothing to do with any of this. I just want people to know about this. This happened right in the middle of cute little Fayetteville.” she said.
Aguilera’s lasting sentiment is not focused on hate for assisted living facilities. Instead, she wants to bring awareness to the faults throughout the system.
“I want people to know to be very cautious with these facilities. There are great people who work in healthcare for older people. But I think being really vigilant is so important for the families to do.” she said.