Bed sores. Deep tissue injuries. Weight loss. These were health deficiencies Stephanie Matlock Fouts said her mother, Nancy, had when examined at a hospital after she was transported last month from Crystal Health Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Tavernier. 

Recently, Matlock Fouts filed complaints with the Agency for Health Care Administration and Florida Department of Health, alleging negligence by the facility over the care her mother received. Her 81-year-old mother has been a resident at the facility on Plantation Key for 3-½ years. Everything in the way of care was going fine when the COVID-19 pandemic brought a rise in cases, shaky communication between the facility and loved ones and rising concerns over care. 

Matlock Fouts said the issues started on Aug. 12 when her mother, who resided on the facility’s second floor, fell out of her bed. No injuries were sustained at the time, but another fall occurred 16 days later that led to a pelvic fracture. Nancy was subsequently brought down to the first floor for rehab, which Fouts said she was fine with. 

During Facetime calls between Aug. 28 and late September, Matlock Fouts began to notice that her mother wasn’t looking well. Fouts questioned staff, who assured her she was fine, in good health and in good spirits. It wasn’t until Sept. 28 that Matlock Fouts and her husband noticed a serious problem over her appearance. 

“She was basically sitting there in a zombie state,” she said. “She was incoherent. She was a vegetable.”

That night, Matlock Fouts was informed that her mother was vomiting. She asked the nurse how much she weighed. Fouts was told 123 pounds. 

“She had been 141 pounds in June, July and August,” she said. 

The following day, Sept. 29, Nancy was transported to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital in Homestead after she was found to have gastrointestinal bleeding. It wasn’t the only issue Nancy had, as Matlock Fouts said her liver enzymes and kidney enzymes were elevated. She had renal failure. Her weight? One hundred pounds. 

Matlock Fouts said her mother has a pressure injury stage 2 to the sacrum, which is an open ulcer, or bed sore. She also has deep tissue injuries to her heels and elbows. 

“The nurse showed me, when you push on the skin and it doesn’t have any color and it doesn’t come back to peakedness, it means it’s because those limbs were sitting in a position and never moved. Basically, my mom sat in a bed from Aug. 28 when she fractured her pelvis to Sept. 29 and was starved, dehydrated, malnourished and left to just basically die.”

Staff told Matlock Fouts during a meeting that her mother was eating 50% of her food. Her husband and she didn’t believe that to be the case. 

“She lost 43 pounds,” she said. 

The Weekly reached out to the facility owner, Ira Chafetz, for comment on Oct. 8. No response was received as of press time. 

Matlock Fouts isn’t the only one who’s sounding the alarm regarding care inside the facility. Three cases are currently pending in Monroe County Court against Crystal Health Health & Rehabilitation Center for nursing home negligence. 

A case filed in April by family alleges that staff and employees failed to develop adequate care, monitoring and treatment provided to Fyrn L. Babbe in order to prevent her from suffering falls and unexplained injuries. The complaint also says the facility failed to provide adequate and appropriate nutrition, fluids and hydration. In addition, the complaint says the facility failed to maintain records which contain sufficient and accurate information to justify the diagnosis and treatment and to document the results.

Another case filed in court by Evelin Meltz on Aug. 18 regarding the care Felipe Jesus Diaz received at the facility alleges similar failures. He died at the hospital on April 21.  

And a third complaint was filed by Joseph Pinder in late September, alleging similar failures by the nursing center in care given to Roberta May Pinder. 

Crystal Health Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is run by Emerald Healthcare. Located at 48 High Point Road in Tavernier, the 120-bed nursing center saw its first positive COVID-19 case in May involving a speech pathologist. Days later, a state strike team entered to conduct testing on the 150 staff and residents. 

On May 25, it was reported that a 91-year-old female resident of Crystal Health & Rehab Center passed away from COVID-19. However, the Florida Health Department reported that test results on a 101-year-old female and an 87-year-old female, who both passed away at the facility, were negative for COVID-19. 

Issues at the facility, from communication to care during the COVID-19 crisis, drew scrutiny from family members who demanded answers to their loved ones. Officials including U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell also paid a visit. The congresswoman was allowed into the facility by then-administrator Ruth Robinson during a May 19 visit. She was subsequently tested, and her results were negative.  

Taking over as facility administrator is Trevor Matchim, who replaced Robinson in July after she was fired. Since his arrival, communications regarding the nursing center have improved with periodic updates on its Facebook page. As of Oct. 12, the nursing home reported no positive cases among its staff and residents. Two positive residents were transferred out to the hospital. 

Matlock Fouts said her mother was able to sit up in a chair with assistance on Oct. 13. She said she’s hoping to get her released from the hospital soon. 

“We are just monitoring the blood levels and some other issues, but I am optimistic,” she said.

Jim McCarthy is a Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.