Officials investigate 81-year-old woman's death after her stay in Brevard County nursing home

Doris Martin was evacuated from Merritt Island during Hurricane Irma

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - Two government agencies are investigating after an elderly women died following a stay at a Brevard County nursing facility.

Doris Martin, 81, was only supposed to be at the home a few days but had to be evacuated from her daughter's Merritt Island home because of Hurricane Irma.

But shortly after returning, she passed away.
 
"Her frail body was just traumatized," daughter Debra Burleson told News 6. "This is sad but she looked like she had been run over by a vehicle."
 
Burleson said she likes to think of happier times before her mother's last days.
 
"Suffering like she did, I know she was ready to go home to Jesus," Burleson told News 6 investigator Louis Bolden.
 
Martin was already in hospice care at Burleson's home, but when Hurricane Irma raced toward Brevard County, mandatory evacuations meant Martin needed a safer environment -- "making sure that she had power for oxygen or power for her nebulizer."

Hospice care was able to get Martin into Vista Manor in Titusville.
 
Two days after being at Vista Manor, Martin was rushed to Parrish Medical Center after falling out of bed, records show.
She had trauma to her left lower leg and foot, according to records, and a laceration over her eye.
But Burleson believes there's more to it.
"So you're not buying that all of this bruising came from falling out of bed?" Bolden asked.

"No," Burleson said. "She's even fallen in our driveway in the morning when she went to get the paper on concrete and she didn't look like this."


Vista Manor did not have power when Martin was discharged from the hospital, according to the report. So she was transferred to West Melbourne Healthcare for a few days before returning home.

But Burleson said she believes whatever happened to her mother happened at Vista Manor.
"It was definitely a case of neglect," Burleson said.
 
Burleson asked Titusville police to investigate.
 
In a report, Vista Manor employees said Martin was considered a "fall risk" so her bed was lowered to the lowest setting when she was admitted.
 
But another employee said Martin didn't look great when she got there.

The same employee commented she didn't think Martin would make it through the night based on her condition.

Titusville police closed its criminal investigation concluding Martin's injuries were a result of her “falling from the bed and not from any physical abuse at Vista Manor.”

"Do you think your mother would still be alive had she not gone to that facility?" Bolden asked.

"I think she would be," Burleson replied. "Our loved ones need to be taken much better care of."'

Jennifer l. Trapp, Vista Manor vice president of corporate communications, told News 6 that the facility's "top priority is always the privacy and well-being of our patients and residents. Therefore, we will not comment on allegations or release information that would in any way jeopardize the privacy of those entrusted to our care.

Burleson has hired a private pathologist to do an autopsy and those results still are not back.
 
The Florida Department of Children and Families and The Agency for Health Care Administration still have open investigations.

Burleson said she is considering a civil suit.

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