I found a strange twist to the guardianship case I’ve been following out of Sikeston.
One of Pauline Williams’ daughters takes her effort to bring her mother home public and now stands accused of violating her rights.
"I'm a law-abiding citizen”, Teala Mainzer tells me. “I mean, telling me I'm violating the law is serious."
Take a look at the picture posted with this story.
It shows Pauline Williams sitting in front of a banner made by her daughter, Teala Mainzer.
Williams is in a guardianship under the New Madrid County Public Administrator's office.
That elected official has control over her finances and her medical care.
"She has family”, Mainzer says of her mom. “She doesn't need a guardian. She doesn't need the state of Missouri to be footing her bill. I know my mother would want people to know. If she could give a voice, she would be doing the same thing I'm doing."
Along with the banner, Mainzer created a website titled, “Justice for Pauline”, where she documents her mother’s guardianship that began with the Scott County Public Administrator in April of 2014.
When Pam Dirnberger retired, Julia Dolan took over that position. Due to a conflict, New Madrid County Public Administrator Paula Scobey became Ms. Williams’ guardian.
Scobey is not happy with Mainzer’s very public effort to advocate on behalf of her mom.
"Probably about a week and a half or so before my mom was admitted to the hospital, I began receiving emails from her”, Mainzer says of Scobey.
I’ll get to that hospital stay in a moment, but first here's a look at one of those emails.
It has came to my attention that you created a web site entitled "Justice For Pauline". As Ms. Pauline's guardian and conservator, I am requesting that you remove all pictures of Pauline from this web site and to further remove Ms. Pauline's last name "Williams". This is in total violation of her Hippa Rights to use her name and post her pictures without her permission and in this case, without my permission as her guardian. Please remove her last name and pictures immediately.
Should you have any questions, please contact me.
As you can read, Scobey calls the use of Ms. Williams last name and pictures on Mainzer's website a "total violation of her Hippa rights".
Actually it's H-I-P-A-A, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
It prevents medical professionals from sharing your personal health information except as permitted or required by law.
"And I knew that was not the case, because I was familiar with HIPAA and I knew that I couldn't violate HIPAA", Mainzer tells me.
Mainzer says, when she asked the P-A to provide proof of the violation she got this email response.
Hippa Rights and the basic right to privacy. It is all over the internet so you will be able to look it up. I ask once again, please remove the pictures and your mother's last name. Thank you.
I called Paula Scobey to ask about not just the emails, but about a certified letter she mailed to Mainzer which refers to her ward's privacy rights and HIPAA rights and calls the website a "serious violation."
I checked with several local attorneys and learned that's simply not the case.
"Do you realize that's not true?" I asked Scobey.
"The people I've talked to say that it is", she responded.
Scobey also told me she did not ask an attorney before she sent the letter but "I've talked to different agencies."
The date on that certified letter, July 5, is important because one day earlier, Pauline Williams went to the hospital with an infection, and was diagnosed with a broken hip.
"She fell on the 24th of June. It was 11 days total before she ended up in the hospital", Mainzer says.
She believes her mom broke her hip when she fell at the nursing home where she lives.
On the phone, Scobey admits not knowing about the fall until July 4, but says "I had a meeting with the administrator and I was satisfied."
I talked to that administrator too.
He told me Ms. Williams did not complain of any pain for 3 days and was assessed numerous times.
He says no one knows how or when she fractured her hip, suggesting it could have happened on the way to or even at the hospital.
"Our most vulnerable citizens are the ones being harmed in these places. And the industry is not being held accountable”, says senior advocate Carole Herman.
Herman's Foundation Aiding the Elderly advocates on behalf of seniors nationwide.
Her California non-profit filed a complaint on behalf of Pauline Williams and Teala Mainzer with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
"I told them about the date she had the incident and that she fell”, Herman tells me. “And that she laid there in pain for 11 days and nobody diagnosed a broken hip. And I didn't think that the facility took the proper procedures."
"I just saw her”, Teala Mainzer told me recently of her mother. “She was in good spirits. She knew me, knows I'm her daughter, knows my name."
Mainzer's glad to see her mom feeling better, but she's still concerned about the emails and the letter from Public Administrator Paula Scobey accusing her of breaking the law.
"She should know HIPAA. She should know that I can't violate it. So, if she's sending this to me, is she sending it to other people?"
Mainzer's headed back to court at the end of August with a petition to terminate her mom's guardianship.
In the meantime, the nursing home administrator tells me, he's shared information about Ms. Williams' hip fracture with state investigators responding to Carole Herman’s complaint and feels confident they did nothing wrong.
As for the public administrator, I asked Paula Scobey to speak to me face to face, so the people of New Madrid County could here from her directly. She told me her reputation speaks for itself.
Have you had a loved one in a guardianship in Missouri?
What was your experience like?
Please let me know on my Facebook page or by email at email@example.com.
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