Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 5, 2013

Clash over who speaks for patients

BELLAIRE — Lee Whipple and Penny Rogers want to advocate for patients with dementia at Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility, but they contend the facility’s top administrator shut the door to their nonprofit group.

“We want to speak for people with dementia when their families might be out of town or unavailable,” Rogers said.

But Marna Robertson, the administrator of the Antrim County-owned nursing home, said dementia patients already have advocates in another, long-standing group called the Meadow Brook Resident Council.

“To assume that family members aren’t participating is so incorrect and insulting to family members and guardians,” she said.

Rogers formed an advocacy group, Meadow Brook Family and Friends Council, in 2010 when her late husband lived there. He died in March 2011, but Rogers continued to serve as Council chair so she could speak for other dementia patients.

“I felt I was there all the time and could see things that were happening,” she said.

But Robertson said that once a person’s family member dies away or leaves, they “lose the right to have a say in the life of the facility.”

“That’s the right of the residents or their family members,” she said.

Robertson said in February she would recognize only the Meadow Brook Resident Council, comprised of residents or their legal representatives. All others must speak during a public comment before a meeting goes into closed session.

“Only my mother-in-law, who is 89 years old, can go into that meeting,” said Whipple, whose father-in-law resides at Meadow Brook. “They closed the rest of our family out.”

The two sides publicly clashed at a recent Meadow Brook board meeting.

Rogers believes the council deserves credit for Meadow Brook’s increase of quality rating. Over the years, she frequently complained about issues of hydration, infection control, and hygiene.

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