Ex-employee of Foster Health and Rehab Center speaks out amid elder abuse allegations

CHICAGO — One day after disturbing allegations of elder abuse at a nursing home on the city’s North Side prompted family members to seek answers, a former employee is speaking out about her experience.

Annette Zegarra worked as an office manager for Foster Health and Rehabilitation Center for nine months until she was fired a few weeks ago. WGN was told by Zegarra that she knew James Crowder, a 69-year old man who was allegedly abused at a Budlong Woods-area nursing facility.

“When they sent me the video and I saw his pictures, I broke down in tears,” Zegarra said. “I never expected him to look the way he looked.”

Crowder, a veteran of the military, was found naked on the floor by a woman visiting her mother at the rehabilitation center. He sustained a head injury and had his foot bandaged.

“She heard this man crying out. She went to see and who she saw was my brother,” WGN was informed Monday by Patricia Crowder-Howard.

“Laying on the floor, no clothing, food thrown at him, bleeding, that’s no way for anybody to be treated,” Crowder’s niece Shondra Banks added.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Family alleges elder abuse of loved one at Foster Health and Rehab Center

Zegarra says the disturbing images show that Crowder’s condition worsened at the rehabilitation center.

“They ignored a lot of the complaints. A lot of them,” She stated. “When he first came in, he was able to walk with his cane. He was able to wheel himself. I feel like the neglection that they’ve been giving him throughout the months that he’s been there, that’s why he’s looking the way he’s looking now.” 

WGN received the allegations from the nursing home owner on Wednesday. She stated that an investigation will be done. No further comments were made.

“When a resident comes in and only wants to talk to me and be like ‘this person whacked me on my head,’ or ‘this person pushed me threw a tray at me,’ after so many, don’t you think it’s a concern?” Zegarra asked.

Crowder’s family said that staff at the facility haven’t been helpful and made several excuses.

“They claim he couldn’t get up. They claim this is the way he wants to be on the floor. Who wants to lay on a cold floor? He was lying in feces, urine, everything,” Crowder-Howard stated Tuesday. “This is how we found him last night.”

Crowder was taken to another local hospital Tuesday afternoon at the request of the family. Zegarra suggests Crowder might not be the only one suffering from maltreatment.

“Check on your family members,” She said. “Check if they’ve got bruises, check on their financials, check on their credit card statement, check everything.”

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