Charges: Neglect, theft at adult family home in Marysville

Residents reportedly were found covered in their own urine and suffering from skin breakdowns.

EVERETT — A worker called the owner of a shuttered Marysville adult family home a “very, very bad lady.”

According to charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court last week, residents at Abode Senior Care family home reportedly had been neglected the care promised them, and were found covered in their own urine and suffering from skin breakdowns. They had been refused medications, denied food and water, and verbally and physically abused, wrote investigators with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Division. There reportedly wasn’t enough staff to care for residents, and what staff there was either were unlicensed or hadn’t gone through proper background checks. And allegedly more than $30,000 was withheld or stolen from residents and their families.

The owner and operator of the home, Savitri Devi, 56, of Covington, was charged last Thursday with six counts of reckless endangerment and four counts of theft.

After an investigation conducted by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, the state shut down Abode on May 14, 2018. The home had up to six residents that year. Two died during their stays, due to sepsis infections from bedsores that likely were preventable, charges say.

On the charges of theft, an investigator wrote that Devi withheld deposits and didn’t pro-rate rent after residents died, or after the facility was shut down. In one case, she allegedly also requested that a family pay more money so she could provide extra care to a resident. The family paid $11,000, but there was no evidence of any extra care being provided, prosecutors wrote.

Much of the information was corroborated by an unlicensed caregiver — the one who called the owner a “bad lady” — who was working at the facility while she visited from Fiji.

She gave examples of physical and verbal abuse. In one example, Devi had berated a resident for falling out of bed, and withheld his breakfast and left him lying in his soiled bedding as punishment, prosecutors alleged. In another instance, Devi allegedly threatened to call the police on a resident and kick him out of the home.

When state investigators visited the home in April 2018, the woman from Fiji was the only caregiver present, even though the state requires licensed caregivers to be around at all times. Devi, who also was a licensed caregiver, allegedly was gone that afternoon. The investigators tracked her to the Tulalip Resort Casino, where records suggested she was a “prolific gambler.”

At first, Devi allegedly told investigators her daughter was filling the role of caregiver that day. But the woman from Fiji reported that was a lie — the daughter had left earlier to go to school.

None of the caregivers working at the home, including Devi’s two daughters, had been through background checks, prosecutors wrote.

Furthermore, prosecutors questioned how much Devi’s daughters worked. In addition to their jobs at Abode, they both reportedly attended college, worked at Smokey Point Behavioral Health and spent about 163 hours a month as independent providers for an elderly man in Auburn.

According to time sheets, they would have been working over 20 hours a day, several times a month, prosecutors wrote.

The caregiver from Fiji told investigators that no one got up to move or turn the residents at night, when the daughters supposedly worked.

The family of one resident filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Devi last September.

The complaint called the resident’s stay at Abode a “hellish nightmare.” She had weighed 212 pounds when she was admitted in Dec. 2017, and had no documented history of wounds or bowel issues. She had dementia, but previously had been cooperative with care.

When she died five months later, the woman weighed 158 pounds.

“The dramatic and dangerous weight loss is directly attributable to the lack of care she received at Abode,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the woman had complications with bedsores and constipation during her stay. The resident had been taken to the emergency room in January 2018 for constipation and had been given medication and an enema kit in case the issues persisted. But even when the woman went nearly two weeks without a bowel movement, Abode had no documented history of her getting treatment.

By the end of March, the woman was put into hospice care. It wasn’t until then that a nurse discovered the resident had suffered skin breakdowns. And a hospice bath aid reported being appalled to find the woman in a pool of her own urine, on two separate days.

The resident died on April 11. She likely could have lived longer, the family claimed, had she not been the victim of negligent care.

“A reasonably prudent adult family home, operating under the same or similar conditions, would not have failed to provide the important care needed by” the resident, the lawsuit stated.

Devi never responded to the lawsuit. A judge ordered a default judgment, with damages to be determined at a July hearing.

An arraignment date for Devi’s criminal case has not been scheduled.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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