Caretaker pleads guilty to neglect

A caretaker who failed to get needed medical help for an elderly man has pleaded guilty in Bartholomew Circuit Court.

Teresa S. Wade, 57, of 625 N. National Road, plead guilty Monday to one count of neglect of a dependent causing serious injury as a Level 3 felony. In exchange for her guilty plea, two lesser but similar felonies were dropped by the prosecution.

Under terms of the plea agreement, the prosecution agreed to a maximum sentence of no more than eight years. But if Wade had been found guilty of all three original felonies, she could have received more than 24 years in prison.

The charges go back to December 20, 2018, when Wade’s elderly male client was admitted to Columbus Regional Hospital, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

The physician treating the elderly man had expressed a concern of abuse or neglect because the patient had severe bedsores, Williams wrote.

Wade told hospital staff the man had developed bedsores approximately two weeks earlier. But an examining physician said the severity of the sores looked like he had suffered for several months, the affidavit stated.

When the deputy tried to speak to the patient, he was unable to communicate. Instead, he just kept still in a fetal position, Williams wrote.

“I personally observed … large open wounds on his body,” the deputy wrote in the affidavit.

The defendant, who said she had cared for the man since he suffered a 2017 stroke, became the legal medical representative for her client on Aug. 1, 2017, making her responsible for his day-to-day care, the court document stated.

She further explained her client had lived with her and her ex-husband, and that she was the payer for his Social Security check, the affidavit stated. She said she was aware of the sores and understood he needed to seek medical care.

But Wade said at one time that she didn’t seek that care due to a lack of transportation, according to the affidavit. At other times, she blamed her client because she claimed he didn’t want medical help, the deputy wrote.

Wade eventually admitted her client could not care for himself and was dependent upon her for his care, the affidavit stated.

“(Wade) acknowledged she should have sought medical care for him months ago when the sores began developing,” according to the court documents.

The defendant was not formally charged for the 2018 neglect until July of last year, according to online court records.

The first time Wade was arrested for neglect of a dependent goes back to April of 1993, those records state. One year later, she received a one-year suspended sentence. But when Wade was arrested again in November, 1998 for neglect of a dependent, she served three years in prison.