HAZEL GREEN, Ala.(WHNT) - State investigators say an assisted living facility in Hazel Green is on thin ice for revelations that some of its elderly residents were physically abused by a staff member.
The Alabama Department of Public Health has released a 68-page report on those abuse claims at Agape Village in Hazel Green. The report states a caretaker manhandled and beat four patients, acts that were witnessed by another staff member who failed to report it to management. The caretaker no longer works there.
According to the report, bruises, black eyes, and cuts were some of the injuries suffered. It also alleges administrators failed to report the suspected abuse to authorities in a timely manner once they did become aware of it. Dr. Walter Geary, spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Public Health, told WHNT News 19 his office has placed Agape Village's operating license on probation, with full cancellation of that license still possible.
"We sent a letter telling them that we have scheduled a hearing to revoke their license if need be," said Dr. Geary. "So license revokation is the ultimate threat that we have to achieve compliance with our rules."
Geary said the company that owns Agape Village dismissed the center's head administrator last month. He also said the staff member who allegedly abused the four patients is no longer an Agape employee.
"They [Agape Village] are in agreement that the previous staff were not following our rules," said Dr. Geary. "They've already made significant administrative changes at these facilities to remedy the problems related to the actual personnel they had in place."
Huntsville attorney Michael Timberlake is talking with one of the people the state believes was hurt at Agape Village II.
"It's horrible. The findings are really concerning as far as the residents and the jeopardy of the residents at the facility," said Timberlake.
Timberlake is still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but told WHNT News 19 he has an idea.
"What we suspect is physical abuse. We are talking about hitting people," said Timberlake. "We've seen bruises, lacerations, residents with black eyes and cuts over their eyes."
WHNT News 19 tried visited the facility to get a response from workers. A woman at the facility denied us access. She offered no response to our questions.
A doctor greeted the news crews outside the facility. She called her company's corporate office to get a response. The woman told us, "I don't know anything about it."
Montgomery-based Great Oaks Management owns Agape Village and 11 other assisted living facilities across the state of Alabama. WHNT News 19 attempted to contact managers at Great Oaks' corporate headquarters, but officials there were not available for comment.
You can find the report from the Agape Village II investigation or any other assisted living facility by clicking here.