Last week's passing of Joseph Judd at the age of 84 might be seen as the end of a sad story that, for nearly two years, has swirled around the handling of his case by Gloucester nonprofit Senior Care Inc., and the state's Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
But Judd's death, attributed to renal (kidney) failure with an underlying cause of diabetes, according to the death certificate, should certainly not slow or stop any investigations into allegations of his mistreatment raised by his family and even a couple of his caregivers.
The truth is, Judd's passing should only bring a new beginning and fresh sense of urgency to finding if and how our systems of elder care let him and his family down. In that vein, it's encouraging hear state Sen. Bruce Tarr note that at least one reform spawned by this sad saga — the establishment of a community ombudsman — may take effect this week, and that the state Inspector General's office is looking into the case.
There is no question that SeniorCare — a private nonprofit corporation based in Blackburn Industrial Park that receives some $9 million annually in taxpayer dollars through the state's Elder Affairs Office — provides many good services for our Cape Ann seniors.
But SeniorCare's handling of the Judd case has been troubling since the day in June 2010 that the Gloucester great-grandfather was rushed from McPherson Park to Addison Gilbert Hospital with a blood glucose reading of 671. That's more than five times the usual level for confirming a case of diabetes, and medical records viewed by the Times have shown Judd was diagnosed with diabetes in 2001 and prescribed a treatment plan. But nothing shows that Judd was ever checked or treated for diabetes while living at McPherson under the health care management of SeniorCare from 2007 to 2010.
That's just one of the allegations raised by Judd's grandson Vito Loiacono, other family members, and at least two whistleblowers who challenged SeniorCare's case management — and lost their jobs after doing so.
We'd like to think the Inspector General's office and others on the state level will answer those questions someday soon. Indeed, it would be good if Joseph Judd's legacy can be a set of health care reforms that demand more accountability from those who care for our elders.
The truth is, neither he nor his family were served by the system in place now — and no one else should have to face these obstacles again.