Family wants changes after Alzheimer’s patient’s death

85-year-old Kathryn Brackett froze to death after wandering away from home

Kathyrn Brackett
An undated courtesy photo of Kathryn Brackett.

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Mike and Amy Brackett want people to know that although their mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s in an assisted living home, she was a vital, vibrant person with a family that loves and misses her.

“It was not her time. She wasn’t ready to go yet,” Mike Brackett told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday.

Two caregivers at Crystal Springs Assisted Living are now facing charges after Kathryn Brackett, 85, was found dead last fall outside the facility along 68th Street in Gaines Township.

Mike Brackett said that before her death, his mom was still able to go with him and his wife to movies and on other outings and still had a sense of humor that included teasing her son.

But she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and had wandered away from her home a few times. That led the family to look for a facility with locked-down units where she would be accounted for.

“Every time you’d go out the doors, the alarms sound and stuff like that, so it was kind of nice to know that we think that she’d be safe there,” Brackett said of Crystal Springs.

Crystal Springs facility in Ganes Township
A sign greets visitors to the Crystal Springs facility in Gaines Township. (Oct. 28, 2016)

In October 2016, Kathryn Brackett had been at the home for only eight weeks when her son got an early-morning call that something was wrong and he needed to get there right away.

“And when I walked through the door, I saw the sheet over my mom and… oh, man,” he said.

“I just can’t even express the grief that we’re going through and the disbelief still,” said his wife, Amy Brackett, who added that she still has trouble sleeping.

Kathryn Brackett had last been seen around midnight Oct. 27 and had frozen to death after wandering off in the freezing rain.

The Michigan Attorney General has issued felony charges against two employees in the case: 21-year-old Yahira Zamora is charged with second-degree vulnerable adult abuse for allegedly resetting an alarm door without checking to make sure all the residents were there. Denise Filcek, 45, is charged with falsifying medical records about checking on residents.

>>PDF: State investigation into Brackett’s death

Denise Filcek
A 2016 mug shot of Denise Filcek from the Kent County Correctional Facility.

While the Bracketts are glad to see someone charged, they want more than just to see someone go to jail.

“What happened to Mike’s mom was 100 percent avoidable and it can’t happen again. Things need to change,” Amy Brackett said.

They think that the problems are not isolated to Crystal Springs and start with the fact that employees are underpaid, overworked and undertrained.

“The people they employ should be treated better,” Amy Brackett said. “They were very understaffed, often, that was a huge red flag and that’s why we were in process of moving her out.”

The Bracketts have also filed a lawsuit against the facility, joining the family of Marjorie Meyering, a resident who was allegedly abused by a staff member.

The Bracketts say they plan to be in Kent County District Court on Thursday when the suspects are arraigned and plan to attend all the hearings until the case is resolved.