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Virginia DSS finds numerous staffing, personnel violations at Brookdale Midlothian

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Bills from Brookdale Midlothian continue to pile up at Carol Garbo’s home months after she removed her mom from the assisted living facility.

“This is one that came a couple weeks ago, they are just tacking on late fees now,” Garbo said. “I'm still not going to pay it, I don't feel I need to... this isn't my responsibility, and the investigation backs it up.”

Garbo is talking about an investigation by the Virginia Department of Social Services that cited Brookdale Midlothian for seven different violations all related to staffing and personnel issues at the facility.

Carol Garbo

Carol Garbo

Brookdale Midlothian is one of more than a thousand senior living communities owned by the nation’s largest senior living provider: Brookdale Senior Living.

“I’m thrilled to see all of this stuff, I'm really glad that the department of social services went ahead with everything and they validated my concerns,” Garbo said.

Virginia DSS conducted its investigation after Garbo filed a complaint with them about a lack of staffing at Brookdale Midlothian, and she sat down with us to show us photos of her mom who suffers from dementia.

“This is a picture of mom, you can see the nose is smashed, so is the forehead, the mouth is cut up,”

“This is a picture of mom, you can see the nose is smashed, so is the forehead, the mouth is cut up,”

She said they were taken after her mother fell more than 12 times in the facility in less than 11 weeks, which required five visits to the ER.

Two former Certified Nursing Assistants at Brookdale Midlothian also told us about major staffing issues at the facility.

“Finally there was someone who listened, and you folks listened too, so thank you,” Garbo said.

The investigation shows a DSS inspector visited Brookdale Midlothian two different times, and found the facility’s administrator failed to oversee the day-to-day operations, the facility failed to implement actions to prevent falls and the facility failed to have sufficient staff to maintain the well-being of their residents.

Brookdale Midlothian

Brookdale Midlothian

In fact, one staff schedule cited in the report shows three staff vacancies during one shift.

The investigator also found one resident’s falls happened on a week with at least six direct care staff vacancies.

Garbo said that resident was her mother.

“I kept thinking, can this be right? You know inside, I knew it was wrong, but I didn't know if anybody would do anything about it,” she said.

CBS 6 visited Brookdale Midlothian’s Executive Director Jeff French for a second time to talk about the violations, but once again he referred us to corporate.

Dana Schroering, a Senior Communications Specialist in Marketing at Brookdale Senior Living, sent the following statement:

"The safety and wellbeing of our residents is something we take very seriously. We are working with the Virginia Department of Social Services on a plan of correction. We are in the process of reviewing community systems and retraining associates. We look forward to welcoming the state back into our community to review changes and verify we are meeting the standard of care our residents expect and deserve."

Garbo said she is just happy the facility will have to make adjustments.

“I’m glad something has come out of it, and I'm hoping changes can be made, and the remaining residents will see a better quality for their life,” Garbo said.

Brookdale Midlothian

Brookdale Midlothian

Still, she hopes state legislators will consider changing regulations that only require assisted living facilities to provide two direct care staff members in a dementia unit, no matter the number of residents.

“They should look at some of the things regulated with nursing homes and see which of those can be adapted for assisted living,” Garbo said. “You got to do the right thing and you have to do it for the right things and your family should be right there at the top and my mom is, she is my hero.”

The state will determine over the next 4 to 6 weeks what, if any, sanctions should be imposed on Brookdale Midlothian.