MOUNT VERNON — It’s now happier days for Helen Dickerson, age 96, who was recently moved from her apartment in Newark to a new home here in Mount Vernon. The move was prompted after what her two great-nieces call a case of neglect. This case sheds some light on a sobering reality as June has been declared Elder Abuse Month.
Dickerson had been living in an apartment building for more than 40 years and had been receiving routine care from a home health care provider four times a week including daily visits from a nurse to administer medications and a lunch every weekday from Meals on Wheels. Great-nieces Cheryl Moore and Debbie Comston would periodically check in on Dickerson. In recent visits, the pair discovered many things they found alarming — Dickerson not receiving proper meal or medication and a bed bug infestation— which prompted them to move Dickerson here to Mount Vernon.
Moore said they tried to talk to the nurse about the problem with bed bugs, but was told, “No, everything is fine.” But Moore told the News that when giving Dickerson a bath, “The bugs would just fall off her body.”
When the apartment owners were notified of the bed bugs, they reportedly took measures to rid the bugs with a spray treatment. “They told us to go back in and wipe everything down. And when we did, they (bugs) were crawling up the wall,” said Moore.
A case of neglect was also apparent as Moore said the apartment was filthy and had bed bug feces covering numerous items around the apartment. Bug bites were also appearing on Dickerson’s legs. “Had they been bathing her like they were supposed to, they would have seen the bug bites,” said Moore. “They were supposed to feed her, bathe her, do her laundry and clean her apartment.”
Moore also claimed that the apartment owners even accused Dickerson of bringing in the bed bugs herself. Furniture and clothing items had to be thrown away because of the infestation.
Other instances of neglect were also becoming apparent. “Her doctor said she was losing too much weight,” said Comston. Dickerson, who is legally blind, was reportedly tired all the time and had no strength.
After a second unsuccessful spraying of the apartment, Moore and Comston had enough and decided to move Dickerson to Mount Vernon. “It was too much confusion,” said Dickerson about living in her apartment complex.
“She’s now eating and drinking well and is sleeping only at night,” said Comston of Dickerson’s progress.
Dickerson said she is feeling good for a 96-year-old lady. “I eat pretty good,” said Dickerson. “I like my coffee.”