'Absolutely despicable': Photo of elderly woman face-down in pillow at nursing home sparks outrage

Esther Brown, 80, was found “ face down into a soft pillow gasping for breath,” according to her pastor’s Facebook post. (Photo: Julia Wiggins via Facebook)

A photo of an elderly woman slumped over a desk at her nursing home in Canton, Ohio, caused outrage across the internet, with people calling the facility’s actions “absolutely despicable.”

Julia Wiggins, a local pastor, posted the photos to Facebook on Tuesday showing 80-year-old Esther Brown “face down into a soft pillow gasping for breath and strangling on her own saliva,” she wrote. Wiggins said when she and Brown’s son found the woman in the corner of the nurses station, Brown’s son began to cry out, “That’s my momma,” and they hurried over to her. “Upon hearing her son’s voice she tried with all her might to raise her head!”

Wiggins claimed they were yelling for help for five to 10 minutes before someone came to assist them. The woman’s son, James Brown, told the local CBS affiliate WOIO that the family has filed a complaint with Altercare Nobles Pond, where his mother is a resident. 

Altercare Nobles Pond said in a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle that it was informed of a family complaint on Feb. 15. “The resident is in no distress and remains well cared for by the Altercare Nobles Pond team; she is comfortable and safe,” the statement read. “Our team remains committed to providing compassionate, professional care to all residents.”


Dear Facebook family and friends, this is how we found our dear Mother Esther Brown at the nursing home for…

Posted by Julia Wiggins on Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Aging are reportedly looking into the allegation against Altercare Nobles Pond. Beverly Laubert, the long-term care ombudsman with the Ohio Department of Aging, called the photo “very disturbing” and “worthy of an investigation” in a statement to WOIO. However, Altercare Nobles Pond said in its statement that the Ohio Department of Health’s preliminary report found the complaint to be “unsubstantiated” and made no citations.

Absolutely despicable,” one person commented on the photo, adding that their family also had a bad experience at the Canton facility. 

That’s wrong they should be closed down,” another person said. 


In her Facebook post, Wiggins urged people with family members in nursing homes to keep tabs on them often.

People please keep a close check on any of your loved ones if they are in these places,”  she wrote.

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