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Court docs: Mother, son used dog gates and bungee cords to keep patients in bed

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HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (November 23, 2015) – A mother and son face neglect of dependent and criminal recklessness charges after warrants were served at the Greenfield health care facility where they work.

Shawn Kearns faces five counts of neglect of a dependent and three counts of criminal recklessness. Her son, David Kearns, faces two counts of neglect of a dependent and one count of criminal recklessness.

The mother-son duo runs a company called Kearns Comfort Care in the 600 block of Green Meadows Drive in Greenfield.

According to court documents, patients in their care had been locked in their rooms and their beds were surrounded by dog gates and held in place by bungee cords to keep patients in their beds.

Shawn allegedly told police that the dog gates were in place so the patients didn’t fall out of their beds.

Additionally, court documents show that Adult Protective Services found a patient under the bed in a wet diaper and surrounded in a puddle of urine.

Court documents also say that the patients didn’t receive prescribed medications and one patient didn’t have her required oxygen.

Family members showed up at the facility Monday afternoon to find their loved ones weren't there, and instead they were in the hospital.

“I’m really shocked to learn about the allegations and everything. We assumed she was okay," said Robin Richey.

Richey's aunt had been living at Kearns Comfort Care for more than one year. She, along with five other patients, were taken to Hancock Regional Hospital for treatment while family members find another place for them to stay.

“We are now in the process of helping them find a new home that will deliver great care to them," said Rob Matt, Hancock Regional Hospital Chief Coordinating Officer. “We will begin and have begun to identify which nursing facilities in the community have the capacity and could possibly take these folks," he added.

Greenfield police said the investigation began just a few days ago when they received a complaint about the conditions. Police have not responded to calls previously at this residence. State health records show the business hasn't been previously investigated by health department officials. Police said they wanted to remove the residents while the investigation continues.

“We felt that it was a time to get the patients out of there and get them checked," explained Major Derek Towle.

Adult Protective Services Investigators said Kearns Comfort Care is not a licensed home health care provider. Investigators said the businesses isn't necessarily required to have a license, and providers are not required to be medically trained. Police, the Hancock County Prosecutors Office, and APS investigators are still looking into if there is a "loophole" in licensing required by the state department of health.