Gov’t-appointed ‘guardian’ forbids all contact with elderly woman at hospice, treats her ‘worse than prisoner’
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, July 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A government-appointed “guardian” has prohibited 103-year-old Marian Leonard, who has no terminal illness and is being held at a hospice against her will, from seeing any visitors.
“We are outraged at the guardian's treatment of Mrs. Leonard,” said Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director (LLDF) Alexandra Snyder. “The guardian – a complete stranger to Marian – has forced this elderly woman to spend the rest of her days in complete isolation, with no one to oversee her care. Marian Leonard committed no crime, yet she has been stripped of her of her civil rights and is being treated worse than a prisoner.”
The letter from the guardian banning visitors also instructs the hospice detaining Leonard not to allow anyone to photograph her. LLDF previously released a photo showing Leonard before and after her confinement began. Before she was forcibly taken to Diversicare of Riverchase, the hospice, Leonard can be seen smiling at someone dressed as Santa Claus.
The “after” photo shows one of Leonard’s eyes sealed shut and her looking helpless on a bed.
“When Marian was first placed into the guardian’s custody, she could walk, was energetic, and was able to eat a regular diet,” LLDF previously reported. “Now, she is bedridden, lethargic, and suffers from bedsores.”
The guardian claims visitation, even from her concerned daughter, “is not in the best interest of Ms. Leonard.”
When the friends asked the nursing home staff whether this is legal, they were told the home and guardian could “do anything they wanted to” because Marian is a ward of the state, according to LLDF.
“We are very concerned that the facility may be directed by the guardian to withdraw care from Mrs. Leonard,” LLDF posted on Facebook.
Third-party guardians such as the one appointed in this case are typically paid for through the ward's estate (the authorization for this comes from the state, not the vulnerable elderly person) and have the power to liquidate assets without permission from the ward or family members. In 2017, the New Yorker published a lengthy exposé on “how the elderly lose their rights” when courts arbitrarily and unconstitutionally seize senior citizens – often through legal proceedings that last only minutes – and assign them a “guardian” who has complete control over their assets, visitors, and healthcare.
One victim profiled in the New Yorker article was given Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia. Leonard’s government guardian has authorized Diversicare of Riverchase to administer that drug to the centenarian despite no history of mental illness.
“From the moment of conception until the moment of death, every human person has certain inalienable rights,” Father Terry Gensemer of the Charismatic Episcopal Church For Life (CEC for Life) told LifeSiteNews. Gensemer, an international pro-life activist, lives in Alabama.
“Right now, the state of Alabama is ignoring those rights for Marian Leonard, locking her up in a room where no one is allowed to see or photograph her,” he explained. “She has done nothing to deserve forced captivity and complete separation from her family, and state officials should be stepping in to aid Ms. Leonard and her family without delay. We are contacting the state representatives responsible for the districts where Ms. Leonard is being held against both her and her family's will, and we encourage other citizens to do the same.”
“That visitors have been banned, including her own daughter, is particularly distressing and also raises the question of how will the level of Marian's care be monitored to ensure that she is truly being treated well,” commented Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, Director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.
A 2018 federal inspection of Diversicare of Riverchase, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found that Diversicare of Riverchase “failed to routinely provide showers as scheduled to residents who required ADL (Activities of Daily Living) assistance.” It also was cited for violating a number of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
A 2016 inspection report found Diversicare of Riverchase “failed to ensure residents were informed of and invited to their care plan meetings” and was deficient at having a “program that investigates, controls and keeps infection from spreading.” The latter offense involved a staffer wearing soiled gloves while caring for a resident with incontinence issues, putting the patient at risk of a urinary tract infection.
A visitation hearing is scheduled for July 30. LLDF is asking those concerned to report Leonard’s mistreatment to the Alabama Adult Abuse hotline at 800-458-7214 and the Alabama Department of Public Health at 800-356-9596.