Team 10: East county woman demands state investigate nursing home where her mom got scabies

Claims mom gave up on life because of intense itch

SANTEE, Calif. - Jennifer Willis had tears in her eyes as she described her mother as a beautiful person.

"She had a wild personality. She was always laughing," said Barbara Braun's youngest daughter. But that changed after the 92-year-old developed a nasty rash.

“We just kept going in and telling my mom 'stop scratching, stop scratching, you’re making yourself bleed,'" said Willis, who now knows her mother's rash was scabies.

Willis knows how painful scabies are, because she told Team 10 she and several other family members got infected after visiting her mother's room in a local nursing home.

RELATED | Team 10: Scabies outbreak reported at local nursing home

Braun lived in the nursing home for seven years before she died Feb. 2 at the age of 93.

Willis claims her mother would have lived longer if it hadn't been for the scabies that not only ravaged her body, but wore her down to the point that she no longer wanted to live.

"This drove her to give up," said Willis. "I don’t know medically if scabies can kill you, but I know emotionally it drove my mom crazy to the point where she wanted to die and she wanted to give up.”

Health officials say scabies is more of a nuisance than a public health threat. It's caused when microscopic female mites burrow into the skin to lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, there are even more scabies mites repeating the process.

Willis had no idea her mom had scabies.

She told Team 10 the nursing home treated her mother  for scabies in September of 2015, but the itch never went away. As the months wore on, the itching continued, Willis said. She claims nursing staff at the facility told her the rash was a reaction to the medications Braun was taking.

It wasn't until days before her mother died that Willis learned from a Hospice nurse that her mom's body was covered in highly contagious scabies.

The nursing home quarantined Braun's room, but Willis said it was too late. She claims that she and a half dozen other people who visited her mother already had the painful itch.

“She couldn’t even talk. She couldn’t tell you where it hurt, she couldn’t tell you what she wanted," Willis recalled, with tears streaming down her face. She says her mother stopped eating, lost weight, and looked more like a skeleton than the joyful woman who raised her.

“This is a painful thing. When I had this it was painful, and I cried for my mom. I cried so bad thinking about what my mom went through. It was horrible," said Willis, who said her sister is still fighting to get rid of scabies.

Willis said she has no animosity toward the nursing home staff, but she wants to make sure other residents don't suffer the way her mom did. She told Team 10 she filed a complaint with the California Department of Public Health.

A CDPH spokesman could not confirm whether an investigation is underway, so Team 10 is not naming the nursing home where Willis alleges her mom contracted scabies.

“I want them to get rid of it. I want them to clear it up, and I want them to get a protocol, some way to deal with it, and some way to quarantine it so that they don’t have people coming in and out and giving it back to these people," said Willis  "These patients need to be taken care of."

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