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State Finds In Favor Of Paralyzed Woman’s Mistreatment Claims

By Jack Douglas Jr., CBS 11 Investigative Producer
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patient abuse State Finds In Favor Of Paralyzed Womans Mistreatment Claims

(Photo credit KTVT)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) –  Fatima Jalilian has a lot of fight in her … even lying down.

When she orders something to be delivered, she expects to get it, despite being paralyzed and dependent on others to help her following a car crash in Dallas 19 years ago.

So when several items she’d purchased over the Internet were turned away by a Fort Worth assisted-living facility, including needed medical supplies and even an inexpensive ring, Jalilian complained to the state.

Frustrated, she then called CBS 11 News.

“In my world, people don’t think it’s a big deal. But when that’s all you have to look forward to because … Even though I’m a woman, I don’t get to fix my hair. I don’t get to wear clothes. I don’t get to go out,” Jalilian said from her bed at Westchester Plaza.

Following an investigation by the state and by CBS 11, Texas health care officials concluded that there was “merit” to her complaints, saying her rights as a patient had been violated.

In a report obtained exclusively by CBS 11, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services said Westchester Plaza, just south of downtown Fort Worth, “failed to allow resident Jalilian to receive her mail” and “failed to provide a non-retaliatory environment through which resident Jalilian can voice grievances.”

But the state did not issue a citation against Westchester – the largest assisted-living facility in Texas – because it was voluntarily correcting problems.

Members of Westchester’s senior management disputed the state’s findings and said Jalilian was never mistreated.

“We certainly disagreed with the state in terms of the individual. That was hearsay,” said Jeff Bryant, senior property manager at Westchester.

Jalilian, who, at 38, has spent half her lifetime on her back, is not the first to complain about conditions at Westchester, state officials say.

They provided records to CBS 11 News that show Westchester has been cited at least 121 times for violating state regulations since new owners took over near the end of 2008. That is triple the amount of citations written against Westchester in the three years prior to the new ownership, the state said.

That jump in violations is “certainly concerning” and “definitely a situation that we want to keep a close eye on,” said Allison Lowery, spokeswoman for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, also known as DADS.

Westchester management said there is a reason for the increase in reported violations – and it’s not their fault.

“The overall population (for people on Medicaid) has gotten younger.. and, culturally, that younger population is much more demanding,” said Doug Sweeney, president of the non-profit group that owns Westchester.

Fatima Jalilian, finding strength in the wake of enduring tragedy, is glad she spoke up.

“I almost want to give up, but there’s something inside me … I can’t,” she told CBS 11 News. “There’s just a little something inside me that won’t let me.”

If you have a story you want CBS 11 Investigates to look into, email Jack at jdouglas@cbs.com

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