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I’m writing this journal entry on Christmas Day 2009, which marks my first Christmas since my wonderful mother passed away on January 1 of this year. What I’m about to share is enough to make me very angry (what happened to my mother just  before the last Christmas before her death) and if it doesn’t make you feel angry, sad and/or frustrated — I believe it should!  Just my opinion…your mileage may vary.

Two years ago (2007), during the first Christmas season that my mother lived at a nursing home in Bedford, Indiana, she asked me to buy her a “Santa hat”.  Sure enough I found a large supply to choose from at the Walgreen’s near where my mom was living.  I bought it and she sure enjoyed wearing it!

On Thanksgiving day 2008, while visiting my mother in Bedford, I searched for and found her beloved “Santa hat” in one of her dresser drawers.  A few weeks later, closer to Christmas, I went to fetch it for her to wear — just to discover that it had disappeared!

My mother’s roomate at the time was not ambulatory and couldn’t even reach the dresser drawer where my mom’s hat had found a few weeks earlier.  So her roomate could not have stolen the hat.

My mother was also non-ambulatory at the time her hat came up missing.  So she could not have misplaced her hat.

Interestingly, one of the male nurses aides was found wearing an identical “Santa hat” soon after.  When I asked, he said it was his property (it certainly could have been)…and of course none of the staff knew where my mother’s hat had gone.

Around the time I found my mother’s hat on Thanksgiving one of the nurse’s aids was fired for walking off her shift while under the influence of alcohol.  NOTE: She wasn’t fired (per management) for coming on dute while “under the influence”!  Instead she was fired for leaving in the middle of her shift.  The same CNA was also accused by at least a couple of co-workers of stealing there property, including an item that was owned by the facility’s administrator.  So, I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that this same nurses aid (who was also suspected just before she was fired for damaging some of my mother’s property) COULD have stolen the missing Santa hat.  Obviously, I’ll never know who stole the hat, but all evidence points to a nursing home staff member.

Whomever stole my mom’s Santa hat (and anyone else who would steal the property of a nursing home resident) are absolute scum!!!  I know, as a Chistian, my mother would want me to forgive the person who stole her hat…I hope I can someday soon.  But right now it makes me really, really mad to think that a nursing home staff member victimized my mother!  And I know from other people’s storys that my mother isn’t the only nursing home resident who has had their property stolen (let alone damaged) by nursing home staff.  It isn’t fair!

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Let me begin this journal entry by admitting the obvious: I’m not only telling my story here, but I’m also telling the story of a wonderful woman, my mother: Joann G. Poland.  She passed away on January 1, 2009 and I believe that the cause of her death was directly related to nursing home neglect.

My mother died as the result of complications caused by aspiration pneumonia.  On the Monday before her death (she died on a Thursday), she vommitted almost non-stop for nearly 10 1/2 hours!!!  What caused the vomiting that lead to the aspiration pneumonia?  SEVERE BOWEL IMPACTION!!!  What caused the impaction?  Nursing home staff that (for reasons of laziness and/or malice, I don’t know which) failed to properly chart her bowel movements for likely nearly two months! Make no mistake: Tracking bowels movements is one of the most basic things a nursing home is required by law to do on a daily basis! To not do so is clearly criminal!

My wonderful, courageous mother: Joann Gay Maria Morris Poland

R.I.P.: Joann Gay Maria Morris Poland December 9, 1929 - January 1, 2009.

I write this journal entry on Tuesday, December 8, 2009.  Tomorrow (December 9) would be my momma’s 80th birthday if nursing home neglect hadn’t claimed her life.  She is survived by me, as well as her twin brother, a sister-in-law and a niece.  I would loved for my momma to have lived at least long enough to celebrate her 80th birthday with my wonderful Uncle Joe.

Momma, I love you with all my heart and I miss you more than you  could ever know!

Your memory continues to be an inspiration to me. What nursing homes did to you was criminal and in your memory — as I promised you the day before you died — I pledge to continue to work and pray to make positive changes take place within the nursing home industry so that NO other nursing home resident need ever suffer like you did because of unsepakable nursing home neglect and abuse.

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