In May 2018, a forensic pathologist revealed a Georgia nursing home patient died from an untreated scabies infection. He found millions of parasitic mites destroying the woman’s skin and essentially, eating her alive. He listed her cause of dea*th as “septicemia due to crusted scabies.” The woman, 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni died from the infection in 2015.

Years of Scabies Infections

It’s likely that the mites lived under Zeni’s skin for months or even years. Multiple times, state health officials were told that scabies was spreading at the nursing home. Even though they were told about the outbreak, health officials never checked out the facility in LaFayette, Georgia.

Shepherd Hills Nursing Home is where Mrs. Zeni moved into for care in 2010. She suffered from dementia.  Over the years, the Shepherd Hills Nursing Home had been accused of many health violations.

Zeni Lived “The American Dream”

Zeni worked in a naval yard during World War II and as a model in New York City when she was younger. Her daughter called this the “American dream.” Before she got married and became a stay-at-home mom, she also worked with Mike Wallace at a news station in Chicago.

Zeni died on June 2, 2015. In 2013, she got scabies at the facility. She told her daughter that the rash on her mom’s skin had been taken care of. She didn’t know it was scabies at the time. But the hospital staff did nothing to treat the infection or give Mrs. Zeni the care and treatment she needed.

“I would seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect,” said Dr. Kris Sperry, the chief medical examiner at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Lawsuit Filed Against Pruitt Health

Pruitt Health was sued by Mrs. Zeni’s daughter on behalf of her mother. But no one knows how this civil lawsuit will turn out.

A scabies infection spread to at least 35 patients at the facility between 2013 and 2015. Reports were sent to the state, but they didn’t respond. Instead of inspecting the building, health department workers sent the nursing home a guide on how to handle an outbreak of scabies. It’s not clear who looked at the manual or used the information inside. We do know that Mrs. Zeni passed away 11 days after that.

Rebecca’s Last Days

Rebecca’s last few days were the worst of her life. Mites had gotten under her skin, laid eggs, and spread to every part of her body.

It was so swollen that her hand turned black.

Hospital staff was warned to be careful around her hand for fear that it would fall off. Other parts of her body were crusted over, red, and raw.

“Her skin was breaking down at the very end.” Lance Lourie, a lawyer for the family, told PEOPLE magazine, “At that point she was really, really sick from it.” “The lawsuit is for money to make up for the terrible pain and suffering Ms. Zeni had to go through for no reason.”

What is Scabies?

Treatable scabies is a result of parasitic mites that burrow into the skin, lay eggs, and then emerge from the body. Scabies can be extremely painful and, in severe cases like Zeni’s, fatal if left untreated.

Lawsuits Filed Against Pruitt Health

Among the numerous law*suits filed against Pruitt Health:

  • In 2019, the Bulloch family of Augusta, GA filed a law*suit against the facility after their 56-year-old family member pas*sed away from untreated be*dsores. The la*wsuit uncovered more than a dozen similar cases at other Pruitt-operated facilities.
  • An Albany, GA, Pruitt H*ealth location was the subject of a 2019 lawsuit alleging staff failed to report se*xual ab*use after witnessing a resident assault a dementia patient.
  • In 2016, Eula Davis di*ed five hours after arriving at a South Carolina Pruitt Health facility after the woman fell out of a bed without the required safety railing.

Pruitt Health South Carolina received the lowest rating in both quality of care and hea*lth inspection ratings in June 2021. Similarly, Pruitt Health -High Point, received a total of 13 citations for various viol*ations, including one for failing to treat pressure ulcers on a p*atient.

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