Abuse Allegations Leveled Against Nursing Home Worker

Wednesday, April 11th 2007, 10:10 pm
By: News On 6

There is an arrest warrant out for a Tulsa nursing home worker. Prosecutors believe Paula Drew is responsible for second-degree burns on two patients in her care. News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports that investigators say the patients were burned because they were left in a scalding shower.

The affidavit describes two men's painful ordeal. Large blisters and burns on the face, neck and stomach with skin peeling away. Papers show the victims are blind, mentally handicapped and schizophrenic. Both had to be taken to the hospital from the Green Park Nursing and Rehab Center. Investigators say the men were left in showers too hot to for anyone to tolerate.

"They were incapable of meeting their needs or removing themselves from the circumstances of being under this scalding hot water, so obviously the injuries are fairly severe," Tulsa County prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler said.

A nurse employed by the state checked the temperature in the showers. She says it registered 126 degrees, 11 degrees hotter than the maximum temperature allowed in a nursing home.

Kunzweiler says the incident at this facility is just another example of how the disabled and elderly become easy victims of fraud and abuse.

"On a daily basis, I can read reports in which our senior citizens or vulnerable adults are being taken advantage of because of their circumstances,” he said. “People who are stealing their identity, people who are exploiting their financial resources, people who are using them to get access to medications and drugs."

Kunzweiler says the hardest part of this case is the handicapped men won't be able to testify for themselves.

"I have to rely on circumstantial evidence to make this case,” he said. “I'm not going to have a witness who can walk into court and say, 'This is what happened to me.'"

Green Park's administrator didn't return our calls. An administrator did tell the “Tulsa World” back in March that the employee responsible for the burns was suspended.

Paula Drew faces two felony charges of caretaker neglect. If convicted, she could spend up to 20 years in prison.

Read more about the Green Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

11/22/2000 Board Suspends Tulsa Nursing Home License

9/23/2004 Consumer Group Cites 40 Oklahoma Nursing Homes

7/27/2006 Claremore Man Charged With Caretaker Exploitation

3/6/2007 Nursing Home Under Investigation