LAKESIDE — After Julie Bell endured a week of her father being hospitalized, she now says he was not properly fed while being housed at The Haven of Lakeside Skilled Care and Rehab Facility over Thanksgiving weekend.
Bell’s father, 87-year-old Thomas E. King, suffered severe internal bleeding on Saturday, Nov. 20, and drove himself to the hospital. He was admitted as a patient and it took doctors six days to figure out what was causing the internal bleeding, according to Bell.
Bell, who lives in the Phoenix area, came to Show Low to help care for her father.
“He had been in the hospital for six consecutive days without being bathed. This was mostly due to his inability to move, stand or walk on his own. He lost strength and muscle tone in both legs, ankles, hands, and shoulders. Initially, he was diagnosed with internal bleeding in his small intestines. He had lost 2/3rds of his blood,” she wrote in a letter to the White Mountain Independent.
After five days in the hospital, doctors determined what was happening inside his digestive tract, according to Bell.
“Finally, on Thursday, Nov. 25, he had a procedure, upper GI endoscopy, very successfully discovered ulceration in his stomach and not in his small intestines. The next day, he was released to The Haven of Lakeside for physical therapy to strengthen his arms and legs,” she wrote.
According to his daughter, King was discharged and transferred to The Haven of Lakeside Skilled Care and Rehab Facility on Friday, Nov. 26, at 4 p.m. He had still not received a bath, according to Bell.
“I was told upon arrival, my father would be bathed on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, the next morning. This never has taken place up to the composing of this letter (sent Sunday Nov. 28),” she wrote.
This is where Bell describes an even more disturbing incident.
“On Saturday, Nov 27, while in the Haven of Lakeside the nursing staff were going up and down the hall delivering dinner to the five patients on his wing. One attendant stuck his head into my father’s room and told us they ran out of food and needed to go back to the kitchen to fix my father his dinner,” she writes.
Bell said 20 minutes later a staff member arrived with “a Styrofoam food container with a stale hamburger bun with a tablespoon of potato salad in the center, broken potato chips and watered-down grape Kool-Aid.”
Bell said she was shocked that such poor-quality food was served to residents of the nursing facility.
“I asked the employees of the Haven, ‘What is this, Is this his dinner? Tell me what is this!’ The employee stated, ‘it was potato salad.’ I told him my father was not going to eat that, the meal was not suitable for him or anyone else! I am heartsick and disgusted at what was served.”
Finally, someone from the kitchen arrived in King’s room to explain the situation.
“The cook was sent into our room…he explained his reason for preparing such a horrible meal. The cook stated, ‘The food truck expected to deliver food for all the patients had not delivered any food to the Haven and had run out of food to serve the patients in this facility.’ They made do with what they had in the kitchen, which was assorted bread, potato salad, chips and Kool-aid,” Bell said.
She added, “Not only did my father not get food, the lady across the hall didn’t. I asked her what she was eating for dinner and she looked at me and said, ‘They told me I’m am having a turkey sandwich.’ I said, ‘May I open your sandwich with a spoon and fork?’ I opened it up and she had the same dollop of potato salad between her two slices of bread that my dad had between his two slices of hamburger bun. She had a different type of potato chip than my dad but they both had Kool-aid. Who serves an adult Kool-aid? They couldn’t explain why they didn’t have food other than it didn’t come. If I were in charge, I’d be getting my credit card out and go down and buy some damn food and give everyone the food. This is unacceptable,” Bell said.
The following morning, according to Bell, staff brought her father breakfast, but he refused it. Bell said they attempted to serve him about two teaspoons of scrambled eggs, a cinnamon roll about three inches round and cold watered-down coffee.
Bell said that she was concerned that her ill father could be harmed by the poor-nutrition meals since he just was hospitalized.
“I cannot believe a nursing facility serving so many residents and community members, served this type of crap in place of a nutritious and balanced meal. My understanding is that my father is to receive the food listed on the menu I was given. My father did not receive the breakfast, lunch or dinner that is expressed on the menu,” Bell wrote in her letter to the Independent.
On Sunday after the “food-shortage” event, Bell said she prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for him at his home and brought them into Haven.
“I cooked here at the house. His breakfast was scrambled eggs with a little bit of cheese on it and toast. I made a fruit salad,” she said.
Thomas E. King is an Army veteran and he served in Vietnam.
“He has many medals and many decorations. He and my mother travelled all over the world. My mother became an Army wife when they were 19 or 20. She passed away in 1996 when she was just 59. When she died he moved up here to Lakeside. He’s made his home up here. Fishing, hunting and everything he loves to do is here,” his daughter said.
Phone calls and messages from the Independent to the director of The Haven of Lakeside Skilled Care and Rehab Facility and their parent company, Health Group Management (AKA Haven Health Group), headquartered in Phoenix, went unanswered.
The company owns and operates 19 facilities in Arizona.