Residents families say closed home provided quality care

Wednesday, October 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- State officials who arrested the owner and an employee of the Leisure Living residential care home failed to take care of residents while the arrests were carried out, family members of residents said Tuesday.

Owner Jon M. Fleak, 58, was arrested Monday afternoon at the home and charged with a felony count of caretaker abuse and neglect.

An employee of the home, 47-year-old Patricia Anne Pettit, also known as Patricia Ann Edwards, also was arrested Monday at the facility and charged with a misdemeanor for failure to report abuse or neglect, a misdemeanor. Both Fleak and Pettit remained in jail Tuesday.

Two other employees, Tammy Lynn Dorris and Beverly Jean Seymour, also have been charged with failure to report abuse or neglect, records show. Neither was arrested.

Dale LaValley, whose mother had lived at Leisure Living for more than two years, said he was visiting her when Fleak and Pettit were arrested.

"They took him (Fleak) away, and in a little while they took the other worker, and more and more state workers came in. ... From 1:30 until 6, none of them (residents) had been offered a drink of water or asked if they needed to go to the bathroom or asked if they needed any medication," LaValley said.

Darren Burgess, assistant deputy commissioner of the state Health Department, denied those claims and said the decision to arrest Fleak and Pettit was made by police.

"We were quite diligent in our duty to make sure we got care to those people," he said. "This was a police action; it was not us.

They contacted us in advance so that we could be there to take care of it."

All 10 residents of the home had moved out by late Monday.

State inspectors cited the home with nine deficiencies, including failure to report the resident's medical problems "until symptoms were potentially life-threatening."

Unlike a nursing home or assisted-living center, residents at a residential care home largely must be able to care for themselves.

Workers prepare meals, do laundry and housekeeping and assist with medication and other tasks.

Despite the charges against Leisure Living, LaValley and other family members of residents praised the home for providing quality care.

Ann Smither said her mother-in-law lived in the home for about a year and that workers communicated with the family daily about her mother's medical problems.

"They fed them very, very well. They had delicious meals. ...

Each person was given a leather lounge chair that was kind of their own," she said.

"I saw nothing but kindness treated toward these family members."

Smither also said state workers did not begin caring for the residents immediately Monday, bringing hamburgers -- but no drinks-- for residents an hour after their scheduled dinner. She said her husband had to get drinks for the residents and state workers.

Gillian Rockwell, whose mother was also a resident at Leisure Living, also said the home seemed to do a good job.

"They took good care of my mother, and she's certainly not malnourished, and they were careful of giving her medication like they were supposed to," she said.