The family of Don Brown, who was part of the team of attorneys that successfully appealed the infamous Clarence Brandley conviction says in the end it was Mr. Brown who needed someone to save him, but it didn’t happen.
Family and friends turned out Saturday to stage a peaceful protest across the street from Willis Nursing and Rehab on North Danville Road where they say Don Brown’s treatment was “neglectful and abusive,” and resulted in his death.
According to his daughter Celia M. Brown, Mr. Brown was taken to Willis Nursing & Rehabilitation, following surgery to repair a broken hip. Prior to that injury, Mr. Brown lived alone and was very independent. He drove and made a daily trip to the Kettle to argue politics with his buddies. He was transferred post operatively to the nursing home for 20 days of rehabilitation, which was covered by Medicare. Celia Brown said her father was there a total of two weeks and one day, during which time he had highly infected wounds left uncovered and unaddressed.
“As the wounds multiplied, the wound care nurse told me she had no idea why he would have new wounds appearing each day,” Celia Brown said. “A pressure sore on his heel was miniscule when he arrived there but then proceeded to literally eat his heel, undressed and laying directly on the wooden foot board of his bed, oozing all over the wood and the bloody infected sheets.”
“He fell out of the bed on his surgery hip and no one called our family or told friends,” she said. “His friend reported when he arrived that he had fallen and said ‘the bitches were about this close to whipping’ him.”
“They conveniently forgot the x-rays after the fall on the day of his orthopedic appointment to remove staples and would not allow the family to come and retrieve them for the surgeon’s review, so the staff drove the films down to the office instead,” Celia Brown said.
She claims her father “received little meaningful physical therapy or rehabilitation to help him recover from his surgery” and regain his independence and “received little nutrition and even less hydration, resulting in loss of muscle and loss of weight, precipitating into a yeast infection in his mouth that looked like white nodules and raw meat in the back of his throat.”
Celia Brown said the facility addressed that issue by stating Don Brown was “unable to swallow confirmed by a test one the day before he died, so weak and dehydrated, his kidneys shut down and then resulted in a complete digestive systems failure.”
“He was brought food he could not eat because the staff did not provide him a way to chew his food, since his dentures no longer fit due to the rapid weight loss,” She said. She said. “He was forced to remain in urine and fecal matter, while dining with his friend in the dining room even asking to be changed and cleaned before proceeding with the meal, only to be declined by the staff, saying that they could change him after lunch.”
“He was a proud man and was completely embarrassed of the odor and the circumstance but helpless to defend himself,” Ms. Brown said. “On weekends, he laid in bed naked except a diaper drugged and sedated with the staff saying that it was the weekend, he just may want to relax.”
“As time progressed even amid sometimes stern protests from friends and family, he developed bed sores and wounds all over his body which staff did nothing to prevent, remediate or treat. Wounds were left exposed to germs and infection, getting bigger, deeper, and more painful by the day.”
According to Mr. Brown’s daughter when the hospital assessed his wounds they said that they needed to be reported to the state agency for the Aging and Disabled. His coccyx/tailbone was protruding through a wound they the home told the family was unstageable. She said the treating doctor told her it was a stage 2, but the hospital told her with bones protruding it was a stage 4.
Ms. Brown said her father’s hospital blood work indicated gross infection and also septic conditions which means your blood is infected, as well. Attempts to treat him with fluids and antibiotics were unsuccessful because the failed system could not metabolize the IV medications, she said.
Mr. Brown died September 6th, 2010 in Conroe from pneumonia that had gone untreated.
“His death was not peaceful, and he died in pain suffering from the abuse, injuries and outright neglect he received in the nursing home,” Celia Brown said.
One of the most ironic moments in this family’s battle was when Ms. Brown said they pleaded with the social worker at the home regarding his treatment and she was told that the treatment was unacceptable but it was unfortunately a matter of “black and white.”
She said that she tried to explain to the staff that Mr. Brown was a civil rights advocate, not a racist and certainly he and his family needed to be treated with better care. She said that even with sharing his history with him, they “just don’t get it.”
“I can tell you this is one instance where pictures do tell the story,” Ms. Brown said. “They are graphic and taken the day after he left the nursing home care.”
Don Brown started in Texas City as a chemist, went through law school, served on the Texas House of Representatives and then continued practicing law for 33 years. In 1980, Clarence Brandley, a black janitor at Conroe High School was accused of raping and killing a teen. Don Brown was part of a team that appealed the conviction showing evidence had vanished, stories had changed and indications of prejudice against Brandley. A new trial was ordered and charges were dropped. Brandley was free after after almost a decade on death row.
Mr. Brown’s family says his life ended with an undeserved death sentence when he was placed in Willis Nursing and Rehab.
Calls to the nursing home were not returned.
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