DADE COUNTY, Ga. - A nursing home director in northwestern Georgia was charged with cruelty after a sheriff said authorities discovered that the facility didn’t have working air conditioning and had only one staff member looking after residents.
Dade County deputies arrested Kent Allen Womack on Monday night, news outlets reported. The 55-year-old was in custody at the county jail, and Sheriff Ray Cross said more charges are pending. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
Authorities reported to Woodhaven Senior Living in Trenton after receiving a call from a family member about the residents, who are between 61 and 97 years old, being evicted and having an hour to pack up their belongings.
Deputies who went to the nursing home learned that one staff member — who wasn’t a trained nurse — had been watching the residents for 32 hours straight, according to news outlets. Every other employee quit because of the conditions.
It was also discovered that the air conditioning in the building only worked near Womack’s office.
"Once you first walk in the door, you can tell there was no air at all. It was so hot in there. We checked the temperature in one of the air units in there and it registered over 100 degrees," Cross said at a news conference Tuesday.
The sheriff said Womack smelled of alcohol when he arrived at the facility. Cross asked if he had been drinking, and the nursing home owner responded, "I didn’t drive here." Authorities found two small bottles of alcohol in Womack’s pocket, Cross said.
Nine patients were taken to other facilities. Two were hospitalized, and Dade County Detective Chad Payne said they were in good condition as of Tuesday morning.
Lois Sharp’s father was in the facility, according to WTVC-TV. She said he’s an Army veteran and has Alzheimer’s.
"How could he do these old people like that? My dad’s 83 years old. He don’t deserve this," she told the station.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case.
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