News 2 I-Team: Video shows verbal abuse at Mount Pleasant assisted living facility

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCBD) — A Mount Pleasant assisted living facility is facing lawsuits after an incident was caught on video. The video was sent to Snap Chat and is now being used as evidence in the lawsuits.

The short video shows how two staffers at the assisted living facility, Sweetgrass Court, interacted with residents Betty Dick and Florence Evans.

A Mount Pleasant police report says the video was taken on March 20, 2017. The report, though, was filed on March 23.

“I saw it one time,” said Bobby Dick. “I’ll never look at it again.”

Bobby Dick didn’t know anything about the Snap Chat video, which shows his wife being taunted, until the day after he buried her.

“Somebody from over at Sweet Grass called my daughter and said there was a video of that thing, and they would send her a copy of it. So, she did, and they showed me that thing. It wasn’t pretty,” Dick said.

The morning after the video was captured, Dick says he got a call from Sweetgrass staff saying his wife was having severe stomach issues and needed to go to the hospital. Management also told him there had been an incident.

“[Management] said she was verbally harassed by a couple of our employees. She said some bad things were said. She didn’t tell me everything that had been said, but she said, ‘I fired them;” said Dick.

Betty Dick died days after going to the hospital.

Jocelyn Evan’s mother, Florence, was also in the snap chat video. Jocelyn Evans saw the video before Sweet Grass staff ever told her about the incident.

“I went in and I asked the manager, ‘Well, you know, I’ve been hearing things that my mom might have been involved in an incident.’ Then they said, ‘Your mom wasn’t really involved’. My mom was very much involved,” said Evans.

“Someone mentioned to me they didn’t do anything intentional. The girls thought they were just being funny,” said Evans.

The incident’s police report says that both staff members involved in the verbal harassment said they did it because they thought it was funny. The report says they were fired.

Nate Hughey is representing Evans and Dick in their civil cases in Charleston County.

“We were appalled at what we saw in the video,” said Hughey.

Hughey argues that the staff at Sweet Grass Court did not comply with regulations set by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“When they apply to get a license from DHEC, one of the things they have to do is say they’ll comply with our state’s regulation, and that requires … Looking out for the personal safety of the residents, also making sure all the employees are knowledgeable of the regulations and capable of providing humane care,” said Hughey.

The I-Team found DHEC’s report about the incident.

Someone submitted the complaint on April 4. DHEC made and unannounced visit and investigated on April 11. The report says the facility, “did not submit a written report of its investigation of a serious accident and/or incident to the Department within five days of the occurrence of the serious accident and/or incident.” It also says Sweetgrass Court management did not report the incident to the South Carolina Long-Term Ombudsman Program. The report also says the facility did not comply with the current laws and regulations concerning resident care. Sweetgrass Court’s plan of correction is pending.

In response to the lawsuits, Five Star Assisted Living, the corporate owner of Sweetgrass Court, released this statement:

“At Sweetgrass Court, we hold our employees to the highest ethical and professional standards. Upon learning of the incident involving two of our staff members, we immediately undertook a thorough internal review, alerted the proper authorities and have cooperated fully with the investigation. We do not condone this behavior and the employees involved have been terminated. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing outstanding care for our residents.”

DHEC encourages anyone who suspects elderly abuse at an assisted living facility to report it to the agency. You can do so on DHEC’s website

Those researching assisted living facilities can do so by searching the company’s court records. Click here to search Charleston County’s court database.

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