By Terri LaPoint
UPDATE June 27, 2019 – Life Legal Defense Foundation has become involved with Marian Leonard’s case. Here is a link to their press release:
June 25, 2019
A trip to the hospital resulted in an elderly Alabama woman being taken away from her family and placed under a court-ordered guardianship with strangers. Under this guardianship retired schoolteacher Marian Leonard, or “Mrs. Gregory” as she is known by her former students, was forced onto Hospice and placed into a nursing home against her wishes and those of her family.
Her health has deteriorated drastically since then. Those who knew her before are shocked at her present condition.
Marian Leonard just wants to go home. Her family is fighting a costly battle to get her back, but the forces holding her captive are strong and powerful.
She thought she had planned ahead sufficiently. Almost 30 years ago, she had papers drawn up outlining her wishes. The documents were updated in 2006 and again in 2015. Each update reaffirmed that she assigned Power of Attorney, medical and durable, to her daughter Nancy Scott, who is also a retired schoolteacher and writer.
The mother and daughter have always enjoyed a close relationship. The documents demonstrate that Marian expected her daughter to make decisions in accordance with her wishes in her sunset years.
It was not enough. A lifelong bond has been dismissed with a stroke of a judge’s pen.
Mrs. Leonard is now under a guardianship by the Department of Human Services (DHR) and Jefferson County Probate Court Judge Alan King. Instead of honoring her plan to have someone she trusts oversee her care, strangers now control her medical care, her finances, and her life.
This includes the power to force her into Hospice care, although she has no diagnosis of any terminal illness. DHR and Judge King placed Mrs. Leonard into a for-profit nursing home, Diversicare of Riverchase, stating that she is not to leave Jefferson County.
The judge has ordered her to remain in Birmingham, a four hour drive away from her home in the “wiregrass” area of South Alabama. This means that most family and friends are unable to visit her, including her son Mack Gregory, who was seriously injured when his car was rear-ended in 2014. Birmingham is simply too far for him to travel under his medical condition.
The state guardianship also includes the power to restrict Mrs. Leonard’s daughter from visiting her or from hiring caregivers to sit with her and ensure that Marian is being properly cared for. From August 2018 through May 2019, Mrs. Leonard was forbidden to have any visits from Nancy, the very person she had chosen to be her voice and advocate.
Those visits have only recently been reinstated. Nancy Scott was permitted an hour and a half visit, supervised, on June 7. The court has now granted mother and daughter two such visits per month. A social worker must be present, and Nancy is not permitted to speak freely to her mother to explain why she hasn’t been there to see her or to tell her why she cannot go home. This is difficult for both mother and daughter on what has always been an open and honest relationship.
How have the basic human rights to family relationship been swept aside so easily?
Hospital Visit for a Fever Changes Everything
In December of 2017, Marian was admitted into a nursing home in Westmoreland, Tennessee, for physical therapy following a fall and broken hip. Her daughter wanted to bring her closer to home so she could be nearer to family.
On January 25, 2018, a staff member at the nursing home arranged for an ambulance service to transport Marian to a hospital in nearby Gallatin to be evaluated to see if she was able to make the trip to Alabama.
A thorough exam showed that she was stable enough for the journey in her daughter’s car to south Alabama. The doctor wrote in the records:
[Nancy] clearly has her mother’s best interest in mind, has arranged care to help her manage her. This is all very appropriate.
Nancy later found out that she was accused of taking her mother out of the Westmoreland facility against medical advice. The records clearly indicate that this is not the case.
Nancy decided break up the long trip to south Alabama with an overnight stop at a Birmingham hotel. Instead of pressing on their journey the next morning, Nancy brought Marian to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham because she was running a fever.
She was admitted to St. Vincent’s for what should have been a brief hospital stay for a urinary tract infection and mild flu symptoms.
Instead, to Nancy’s shock and dismay, the hospital and DHR petitioned the court for guardianship of Marian Leonard. They asked Judge Alan King to set aside her Power of Attorney and Living Will documents.
When Marian left the hospital in April 2018, Judge King ordered that she remain in Jefferson County, which is a 4 hour drive from her home near Dothan, Alabama. She was placed by her guardians into Diversicare nursing home and forced onto Hospice, even though there is reportedly no terminal diagnosis – a basic requirement for Hospice.
Seized, Based on the Word of a Felon
Life-changing decisions have been made about Marian Leonard’s fate which appear to have originated by the word of a woman who is now a convicted felon.
It was only after her mother was shuttled away to Hospice care by DHR and a guardian that Nancy Scott learned that there was a report stating that Marian had “End Stage Alzheimer?s [sic] Disease.”
This was surprising to Nancy because, though her mother is very elderly, her mind was always clear. She had never had a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In fact, as recently as 2016, Marian was evaluated by an Emory University psychiatrist and a neurologist who determined that she showed no signs of Alzheimer’s.
She did, however, have a urinary tract infection (UTI) by the time she reached Birmingham. An odd but well-documented symptom of UTIs in senior citizens, but not younger people, is confusion and other symptoms of dementia. (Source.) An elderly person with a UTI may appear to have dementia or Alzheimer’s, when in reality, the confusion is simply related to the UTI. This could very well explain why she was thought to have Alzheimer’s by the time she arrived in Birmingham.
The supposed diagnosis was included in a three-page “Prehospital Care Report” that originated from the nursing home in Westmoreland, Tennessee. It was signed by two crew members of the ambulance service, as well as by a woman named Lisa Fuller, listed as “Healthcare Provider” on the report.
The report also contains other erroneous information. Nancy says that when she saw the report, she spoke to several nursing home employees, including a social worker. No one recognized the name “Lisa Fuller.” They said that no one by that name worked there.
Lisa Fuller’s signature also appears as the Emergency Department RN on a report from the Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin. The signatures are identical. Nancy learned that the hospital did not have an employee by that name. Fuller also did not work for the ambulance company.
Puzzled, Nancy Scott googled “Lisa Fuller.” She says she immediately recognized the woman in the picture that came up as someone that she had seen on her mother’s hall at the nursing home numerous times. Nancy always noticed the woman dressed in scrubs because she didn’t smile and she seemed cold and distant.
Lisa Fuller was indicted in 2016. She was convicted of felony fraud in October of 2018. (Source.)
It is on the basis of records signed by Lisa Fuller that doctors at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and subsequently DHR social workers and a Jefferson County judge, determined that a woman had end-stage Alzheimer’s, a senior citizen who presented with the confusion that often normally accompanies a UTI.
The picture painted by information from Tennessee was that of a woman with terminal Alzheimer’s disease, being taken hither and yon by a daughter who may be off her rocker herself, who took her dying mother out of a hospital against medical advice. There is ample evidence that this entire picture is wrong. However, this is the scenario that was presented to a judge – a person entrusted with the power to make monumental life-or-death decisions which impacts entire families.
Shocking Deterioration in State Care
Marian Leonard has always been known to be clean and well-groomed. She loved having her hair fixed. Before the former English teacher went into Diversicare, she enjoyed sitting in the recliner and reading books. She used to enjoy traveling with her daughter, who shared her love of literature and writing.
Now, she is unable to get out of bed. Despite her repeated pleading to sit in the recliner, she was forbidden to do so, even when she had assistance and supervision available.
The family friends who have visited Mrs. Leonard at Diversicare have described the senior’s condition as shocking and overwhelming.
Several people have expressed concerns that Marian Leonard is not being fed adequately. She is described as being skin and bones. According to multiple reports, staff will tell them that she had eaten all of her food. Yet when the visitors offer her food, she usually devours it. She often seems very thirsty when they come.
According to one affidavit:
Every time I have visited Mrs. Leonard at mealtime, she has eaten everything on her plate and appears to be hungry each time.
I recently visited Marian Leonard to see for myself. What I saw was heartbreaking.
I arrived shortly after lunchtime to find one of Mrs. Leonard’s friends feeding her scrambled eggs and grits that she had picked up from a local restaurant. The friend told me that a staff person said that she had eaten “100% of her lunch.” So how was this thin, frail woman then able to eat an entire plate of scrambled eggs and grits so shortly after eating lunch?
I introduced myself as a friend of Nancy’s. Immediately she asked where her daughter was and how she was doing. Her love and concern for her daughter was apparent.
Over and over she told me that she wants to go home.
Mrs. Leonard is clearly hard of hearing and doesn’t see well. At one time she had glasses and hearing aids, but they are missing now. Apparently, the court-appointed guardians have not seen the need to make sure that they are replaced.
The friends have reported that, though Marian Leonard is quite elderly, she is still alert and aware of her surroundings when she isn’t “drugged up.” One says:
She is very much in her right mind.
One family friend told Real News Spark that it appears that Marian’s face and hair are not being washed regularly. One of her eyes has been matted shut for at least six weeks. It appears to be infected and oozing. The friend washes Mrs. Leonard’s face and applies warm compresses to her eye when she visits, but her eye seems to be getting worse. It was not this way as recently as March 2019.
There was a bedsore on her foot on May 4. It was still there as of June 17. A wound nurse came into Marian’s room on June 17 while I was there, gave her a cursory glance, and declared,
She doesn’t have any wounds on her.
Here are photos of Marian’s foot, showing that there is clearly a wound present:
A family friend notified Real News Spark on Monday that there is another bedsore on her thigh.
Marian’s left wrist was bruised and swollen on June 17.
Instead of acknowledging and appropriately treating the wounds, the staff are reportedly giving pain medications and psychotropic drugs. Some of these drugs put her to sleep, and others are mind-altering, making it easier to give the impression of dementia.
“Where’s the Dignity and Honor?”
That is what one of Marian Leonard’s friends asked me when I went to Diversicare. She told me:
She doesn’t deserve this.
Former Alabama State Representative Mary Sue McClurkin is another long-time friend of Marian Leonard. “Mrs. Gregory” was one of her schoolteachers in south Alabama. I asked her assessment of the allegations in this case. She expressed deep concern for Marian’s well-being and said:
I don’t think there’s any way that Nancy would have abused Mrs. Gregory.
Marian’s health has declined, and she is elderly. However, she does not have a terminal illness.
Never in their worst nightmares did Nancy Scott think that her mother would be treated this way in her later years.
Ideally, she would like to be able to take her mother out of the Diversicare facility that has a number of poor reviews by current and former employees (Source), and take her to a nursing home much closer to her mother’s hometown where she and other friends and family can visit regularly. Last year Nancy found a highly-recommended 5-star nursing home in the wiregrass area that agreed to accept Marian.
At the very least, Nancy would like to be able to pay caregivers to sit with her mother as she has done in the past, but Jefferson County will not allow her to do so. If Nancy were permitted to hire a caregiver, she believes that her mother would not be so neglected because there would be more accountability.
The most discouraging aspect of all this–the sheer apathy that pervades our culture–so many people act as though they may be thinking that this would not be happening to me because I would handle my affairs properly–this wouldn’t be happening to these people if they had planned, prepared, etc., etc….
Mother’s durable and medical POAs from 1991 through 2016 show that she gave thought and action to take care of putting people in place (family) who would help her when the time came that she could not do for herself. And in the instant, with the stroke of a pen, this judge set all that aside, disregarded her wishes and ordered her into hospice.
Dr. Thompson, one of mother’s doctors at St. Vincent, a hospitalist told me, “If you don’t like the idea of hospice, then blame the judge; that’s whose idea this was.”
She fears for her mother’s safety:
My mother would be no worse off if she were in a padded cell in Bejing, China, Cuba, or somewhere in the Middle East. Her Durable POA [Power of Attorney], medical POA, and Living Will, in place for years, have been swept aside as though they never existed.
My mother is clearly being held against her wishes.
Marian Leonard deserves to spend what time she has left surrounded by the love of her family and friends, not isolated from all that she has held dear during her life.
The Alabama legislature recently passed a strong pro-life bill, protecting the lives of unborn babies. Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law. The lives of our elderly citizens like Marian Leonard deserve protection as well.
Alabama Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner represents the district where Marian (Gregory) Leonard is currently being held. He may be reached at 334-261-0892 or contacted here.
Representative David Wheeler is the House representative for that district. He may be reached at 334-261-0439 or contacted here.
Representative Dexter Grimsley represents the Henry County district where Marian Leonard and her family are from. He may be reached at 334-261-0513 or contacted here.
Nancy Scott’s prayer for her mother is that she will not die in the nursing home where she has been isolated from everyone who she knows and loves. She prays regularly that her mother “will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” This concept is found in Psalm 27:13.
Psalm 27:12-13 reads:
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Father, we pray for Marian Leonard. We ask you to intervene on her behalf. Open the eyes and hearts of those who hold the power over her life. Cause this nation to recognize the value of life at all stages of life. Expose the enemy that divides and separates loving, caring families. Refute every false witness that has risen up against this family.
Lord, we ask for mercy for Mrs. Leonard, as well as for her children Nancy and Mack, and the rest of their family. Allow them to be able to spend quality time together before she goes home to be with You, Lord.
We declare and proclaim Your Word with Nancy — that Marian Leonard WILL see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
We ask this in the mighty name of Jesus. Thank You, Lord.
For more background on Marian Leonard’s story, see:
For more on the medical kidnapping of senior citizens, see: