Sunday, May 17, 2009

OR: Death Prompts Adult Foster Home Complaint

POSTED: 4:08 pm PDT May 14, 2009
UPDATED: 4:53 pm PDT May 14, 2009

SALEM, Ore. -- A neglect complaint has been made at a local adult foster care facility that may have ended in a 94-year-old woman's death.

Salem police confirmed that a relative found Eleanor Demsky badly burned at Amazing Grace Adult Foster Care last week.

They said she was taken to Emanuel Hospital in Portland where administrators said she died.

Salem police confirmed that they have an ongoing investigation on the case. A friend of the family said Demsky died Wednesday night after falling on a heater at the adult foster home.

Thursday afternoon, workers at Amazing Grace Adult Foster Care refused to talk to FOX 12 regarding Demsky's death. But a family friend said Demsky had just moved into the Amazing Grace Adult Foster Home May 8 and was only there one night when she fell on a heater at about 3:30 a.m., laying on the heater long enough for her nightgown to catch fire.

The friend also said that when an on-duty aide found Demsky she put new clothes on the woman and put her back in bed.

Demsky lay in pain for six hours before a family member discovered her, called police and took Demsky to Emanual Hospital's Burn Center in Portland where she died Wednesday night, the friend said.

The allegations against Amazing Grace and its operator Sherry Jemison were a shock for Ruth Keller, whose husband, Frank, spent two years there.

"That's beyond my comprehension because Sherry is very conscientious," Keller said.
She said her husband received excellent care.

"I would go over and see him and he had his own room I would say, 'Are you ready to go home?' he would say, 'Let's give it another month,'" Keller said.

The Oregon Department of Human Services has seven substantiated adult foster care complaints against Jemison who Keller said runs Amazing Grace. At least one of those complaints is for corporal punishment. The agency is also investigating this current allegation of neglect.

But the case was a huge surprise for Keller who had nothing but positive words for the home.

"They treated him. He loved it. I can't understand that," Keller said.

Salem police wouldn't release any information on the case and said it's unclear if anyone will face criminal charges.

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