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Hoosiers Live at the Mercy of Nursing Homes

Defenseless Hoosiers in Allen County and across Indiana have no one to look out for them. They are forced to live at public expense in nursing homes //or in the community without any money or family of their own. They often suffer from dementia, mental retardation or another condition that impairs their judgment or ability to communicate.

Health care experts agree that their numbers will explode as baby boomers age.

There is only one state-funded program that is assigned to help at least some of this population, but they have 134 on its waiting list. The director of that program locally, Ruth Anne Sprunger, said, 'We get calls all the time from nursing homes and hospitals, looking for a guardian for someone.' However the Mental Health Association’s program is limited to those who’ve lived in state institutions and since its funding was cut last year, she turns them away.

One of such people who have been turned away is a profoundly retarded woman – unable to speak – who gave 'written consent' for a medical procedure that carried the risk of perforating her digestive tract, according to state records. Although the nursing home where she lives, Byron Health Center at 12101 Lima Road, is supposed to provide her with music, exercise and other activities, state health inspectors found she was restrained in her bed for up to eight hours a day.

Her nursing home has been unsuccessful in their efforts to find her a guardian. At the county-owned Byron Health Center, at least 10 other residents are in the same situation.

In Byron Health Center her care plan said that she 'would benefit from a guardian to assist with decision-making,' besides which she 'needs regular monitoring by her health-care representative.'

In June, the state cited Byron for not finding the woman a guardian. In the nursing home’s written rebuttal, administrator Peter Marotti contended no guardian could be found, and no money was available to pay for o
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