11 CALL FOR ACTION: Family sues Colorado Springs care facility

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - She used to be active and loved walking the halls. Now the daughters of Vera Geanetta say their 89-year-old mother is confined to a wheelchair and will never be the same.

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They're taking action against the operators of Mackenzie Place in Colorado Springs, filing this lawsuit for neglect.

Sandra and Vickie say their mother lived in the Memory Care unit at Mackenzie Place for close to a year. She suffers from dementia, but the lawsuit states she had no other known ailments until an incident with a medical technician.

In a statement to Colorado Springs police, the tech said he grabbed Vera's arm and heard a popping sound.

The lawsuit alleges the tech wrenched Vera's wrist so badly, it broke, sending her to the hospital and later on a downward health spiral.

Her daughter Sandra says, “When they asked the CNA about that, he finally 'fessed up and admitted that he did twist her wrist."

Sandra says they later learned the tech was working with an expired license. Four months later, he pleaded guilty to harassment, a misdemeanor.

The bad news for Vera is because of her age she couldn't undergo surgery to repair her fractured wrist. When she went back to Mackenzie Place, the family says it came up with a special care plan to accommodate her broken arm, but the lawsuit claims staffers didn't follow it, causing Vera to fall at least eight times, leading to a broken pelvis.

Sandra says, "After that, she was never able to walk again ... she's been in a wheelchair the rest of the time."

They’ve since found another Springs facility to care for Vera, but her daughters say her health has declined and her bills have almost doubled.

Attorney Matt Laird is representing Vera. He says, "It's clear that this has really sped up, unfortunately, Vera's decline. The twilight of her life is going to be spent in a wheelchair, when it shouldn't have been."

Laird goes on to say, “Families go to these places because they're professionals and they pay a large amount of money to get that care and they entrust that those people who are taking them on are qualified and can do what they profess they are able to do.”

Laird says the family hopes the operators of Mackenzie Place will take corrective steps so what happened to Vera won't happen to anyone else.

I talked to Michael Junot, the operations director for Mackenzie Place. He wouldn't comment on the pending lawsuit, only saying they quote “took appropriate action” after the incident. Junot says this facility has been here eight years and is home to more than 170 residents. He says last year it received four different local and national awards for its assisted living community.

We'll let you know what happens as Vera's case moves forward.

Finding the right facility for a loved one is difficult because there are so many considerations like price, level of care and personal choice.

Experts tell me it's important to visit care homes beforehand, when they know you're coming and when they don't.

Also, talk to patients and administrators and get outside input from those you trust.

Click here to visit the website for the Colorado Department of Health & Environment. The website lists complaints and occurrences that happen at care facilities and explains how they handled those events.