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Former volunteer lashes out at nursing home over mother’s treatment


77 year old Ruth Jones was a patient at the Laurellwood Nursing Center in St. Petersburg for 3 years.  

She suffered from Alzheimer’s. 

Osteoporosis fractured vertebrae leaving her in constant and severe pain.

Her daughter Cindy Harris volunteered at Laurellwood until an illness in 2018 kept her away for a few months.

When she returned in August, patients she knew told Cindy that her mother cried all the time.   

Cindy provided 8 On Your Side records that show, 2 months earlier, in May, a doctor at Laurellwood discontinued Ruth’s pain killing drug, Percocet, the only pain medication that really helped her.

“They never informed me that they were going to withdraw that medication,” Cindy said.   “77 years old and they let her pain get so bad that she had to holler for an entire day and night, it’s inhumane.”

According to Cindy, Laurellwood insisted that she take her mother to a doctor where she could get a new pain medication prescription.

Unable to sit up, Ruth made what turned into a grueling trip by ambulance.

“She was crying all the way up to the office on the stretcher, she was in so much pain,” Cindy tearfully explained.  “Every time I think about it, my heart hurts for her.”

The pain management office Cindy and Ruth went to didn’t have a bed to accomodate Ruth.  

Ruth was in such agony the doctor recommended she be taken to a hospital emergency room.

There, hospital staff discovered a bed sore.  

“Nursing homes have an obligation to provide patients the best care possible,” Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care said.   

Lee, the former Ombudsman for the state of Florida points out that nursing homes must also make sure that patients do not endure hardships when seeking assistance.

If there was no bed at the pain clinic to accommodate Ruth, Brian Lee says it is obvious the nursing home did not help coordinate the visit and was not looking out for the patient’s best interests.

Earlier this month 8 On Your Side profiled Tonya Baker’s complaints about Laurellwood.  

Tonya showed us pictures of her father’s bed sore.

She complained to the Department of Children and Familes, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration and Elder Abuse.

DCF confirms it is investigating Tonya’s complaints.

Once Ruth was stabilized at the hospital in August, she returned to Laurellwood for another two months.

On the day she was moved to hospice, Cindy says she learned that Laurellwood had run out of Percocet a week before. 

“They didn’t notify me,” Cindy added.  “I had no idea.”

I reached out to Laurellwood this morning.  

The telephone rang and rang, no one picked up.

Later in the day I was told no one was available to answer my questions.

Ruth moved to hospice in November and passed away 3 days later.  

“I told my sister,  after what I saw, don’t ever let me go into one of these homes, don’t let it happen,” Cindy explained.  “If I’m an Alzheimer’s take me down the street and let me walk into traffic. I would never want to go through what she went through.”

If you know of something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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