Woman held in hospice facility against her will

Marian Leonard before (left) and after (right) she was forced into hospice care. Her eye is now swollen shut and she is heavily sedated.

BIRMINGHAM, AL: Life Legal is working with the daughter of an elderly Alabama woman who has been forced into hospice care against her will. Nancy Scott contacted us in despair after she learned that her elderly mother, Marian Leonard, was transferred to hospice even though Marian is not terminally ill. The state of Alabama placed Marian in protective custody and appointed a third-party guardian to take over Marian’s care after erroneously believing Nancy moved her mother to home care against a doctor’s recommendation.

Ms. Scott says she had the “full permission and blessing” of the doctor to move her mother from a nursing home in Tennessee back to the family’s home town in Alabama.

The court-appointed guardian transferred Marian to Diversicare of Riverchase over Nancy’s strong objections. The facility has a rating of 2.8 out of 5 stars on Google, with reviewers saying the facility is “filthy,” “deplorable,” “non-responsive,” and “incompetent.” Even former employees say nurses are “horribly inept.”

Nancy has reported that her mother is not being given sufficient food and that the guardian had authorized Marian to be given antipsychotic drugs, including Haldol, even though Marian has no history of mental illness.

When Marian was first placed into the guardian’s custody, she could walk, was energetic, and was able to eat a regular diet. Now, she is bedridden, lethargic, and suffers from bed sores. 

The guardian has not permitted Nancy to visit her ailing mother for nearly a year. Nancy had to secure the services of a local attorney just to obtain restricted visitation. She is only permitted to see her mother twice a month for one and a half hours per visit.

The last time Nancy went to see her mother, Marian pleaded with her to take her home, saying, “If you don’t get me out of here, they’re going to kill me.”

Journalist Terri LaPoint has written extensively on “medical kidnap” cases and recently visited Marian at Diversicare. LaPoint reports that Marian asked for Nancy and does not understand why she has been separated from her daughter. “Marian Leonard deserves to spend her last years near family and enjoy their care and company,” said LaPoint. “Instead, she has been placed under the ‘protection’ of a stranger and is faring far worse under state care than she ever did with her daughter. When the state can sever deep family bonds with a stroke of a pen and place innocent people in harm’s way against their will, the state has too much power.” LaPoint’s most recent observations about Marian’s care are available here.

“We are appalled that Alabama’s Department of Human Resources would consign an elderly woman to a facility against her will and then allow her condition to deteriorate so rapidly,” said Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “Life Legal will do whatever is in our power to ensure that Marian Leonard receives the care she needs, including frequent visits from her daughter.”

Life Legal is considering Nancy’s legal options at this time.