Restraining order: Families take legal action against Port Arthur nursing home

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PORT ARTHUR, Texas - Family members of residents at the Lake Arthur Place nursing home are taking legal action, following what they call “inhumane" treatment during Harvey evacuations.

A temporary restraining order was granted against the nursing home, administrator Jeff Rosetta and the corporate office of Senior Care Centers on Friday. The restraining order makes sure information from computers, medical records, emails and text messages are preserved from the Lake Arthur Place nursing home. 

Tonya Petix said she decided to take legal action after she witnessed the horrible conditions at the nursing home when she went to check on her 77-year-old mother during the storm.

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She received a call from a nurse at 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 30 who told her flood water was starting to flood into the facility. She told her the residents were going to be evacuated and asked her if she could talk to her mother to calm her down.

A few hours later, Petix started to feel anxious, so she decided to travel by boat to get to the facility. Once she got in front of the nursing home, she had to wade through chest-deep waters to get inside.

“When you have a gut feeling something is not right, I had to act on that,” said Petix.

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“The water was very cold, it was just a surreal experience. It was hard to describe, but I can honestly say it’s nothing my mother would not do for me,” said Petix.

Once she went inside the building, she was horrified to see inches of water flooding the facility.

“There were just mattresses piled on mattresses with people laying on the mattresses with their hands hanging in the water with wheelchairs around,” said Petix. “It was inhumane. I've never seen anything like that.”

The most heart-wrenching part was when she was reunited with her mother, Rosaria Leboeuf, who was sitting in her wheelchair submerged in water.

Her mother suffers from Dementia, Parkinson's Disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, high blood pressure and other health issues.

“My mother cried. It was a heartwarming cry because it was security to her. I can’t say I didn’t cry either. It’s just a look you can’t imagine, and you don’t want to have to see on anyone you love or anyone at all,” said Petix. “I wouldn’t have had my dog in those conditions, let alone my mother or anyone’s mother.”

Petix said she believes her mother was sitting in her wheelchair in the water for about 19 hours. Her mother told her she only ate half a sandwich and drank a water bottle during that time period.

When Petix approached the staff to ask about the evacuation plans, she said they kept telling her the National Guard was coming and were referring her to the corporate office.

When she called the corporate office to ask about the evacuation plan, she was told the facility was fine and hung up on her.

"We trusted them, the facility, with the dignity and care of our family members. They failed us, and it was an epic failure on their part,” said Petix.

She said several volunteers and first responders from the Port Arthur Police Department came to help rescue the residents, but the administrator of the nursing home turned them away.

Petix was finally rescued with her mother by volunteers and taken to the Port Arthur Little Theater later during the day. When she arrived, she noticed her mother’s oxygen tank was running low.

Luckily, she said someone at the Port Arthur Little Theater brought several oxygen tanks to help out.

“There was an angel sent to the Port Arthur Little Theater who brought oxygen. Some heroic person really helped,” said Petix.

Right now, her mother is currently recovering at the Magnolia Manor in Groves.

“These elderly need a voice. Our generation, we are their voice,” said Petix.

She said she hopes to file a medical malpractice lawsuit with her attorney, Jill Pierce.

According to Pierce, three family members wanted the temporary restraining order against the nursing home.