Care­taker ac­cused of abuse of 67-year-old

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Local - By Linda Trischitta Staff writer

A care­taker duct-taped the mouth, hands and feet of a 67-year-old de­men­tia pa­tient to si­lence and re­strain her at an as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­ity, Boy­ton Beach po­lice say.

Phygelle Bru­dent, 44, ad­mit­ted to in­ves­ti­ga­tors that she took the pa­tient to an­other res­i­dent’s room, tied her waist to a chair with cloth pa­jama pants and taped her hands and feet against the chair, an ar­rest re­port said.

It hap­pened July 3 at the Re­gal Park As­sisted Liv­ing, a fa­cil­ity at 1708 NE Fourth St., po­lice said. The pa­tient was not iden­ti­fied.

Bru­dent told po­lice she ap­plied tape to the pa­tient’s mouth to pre­vent her from scream­ing, as she was un­able re­main quiet. Bru­dent said she was frus­trated that the woman could not keep quiet and she had other pa­tients to care for, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

A sec­ond care­taker, Lashron Wil­liams, 52, told po­lice she saw the woman with duct tape around her mouth, and re­moved it to give her sleeping pills. She also re­moved a small por­tion of the tape that bound the woman’s body.

Wil­liams told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that she dis­cussed with Bru­dent that ty­ing the pa­tient to a chair was wrong, but didn’t re­port the in­ci­dent.

Both em­ploy­ees were in a Palm Beach County jail on Fri­day, each fac­ing charges of false im­pris­on­ment and el­derly abuse. They’re ac­cused of in­flict­ing phys­i­cal and psy­choloto

gi­cal in­jury on the woman, who was “not alert to time, place and the year,” po­lice said.

A third em­ployee of the fa­cil­ity is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a pos­si­ble sus­pect in the con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Boyn­ton Beach Po­lice spokes­woman Stephanie Slater said.

An of­fi­cer saw ev­i­dence of the il­le­gal re­strain­ing of the pa­tient, but that ev­i­dence was not de­scribed in po­lice re­ports. At one point the chair was tilted back against a bed, mak­ing it “very un­safe” for the pa­tient, po­lice said.

Bru­dent and Wil­liams are be­ing rep­re­sented by the Palm Beach County Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice, which said it does not usu­ally com­ment on pend­ing cases. On Fri­day, the of­fice de­clined to com­ment about these two de­fen­dants.

The in­ci­dent had been re­ported to the Florida Depart­ment of Chil­dren & Fam­i­lies, which on Fri­day said it was work­ing with po­lice.

“The al­le­ga­tions re­gard­ing this vic­tim are rep­re­hen­si­ble and DCF has opened an adult pro­tec­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” it said.

Also re­view­ing the case is Florida’s Agency for Health Care Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which li­censes and in­spects such fa­cil­i­ties, a spokes­woman said. An in­spec­tor vis­ited Re­gal Park As­sisted Liv­ing on Fri­day, she said.

Re­gal Park is a 90-bed, for-profit fa­cil­ity. Dur­ing the past four years, AHCA has cited Re­gal Park As­sisted Liv­ing seven times for its record keep­ing and pa­tient care, de­fi­cien­cies that were promptly cor­rected, ac­cord­ing to records. Over those four years, the state has not taken any emer­gency ac­tions against the fa­cil­ity or any le­gal ac­tions that would in­clude fines, a spokes­woman said.

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