Evacuate From Ike? Let's See, Go To A Hotel Or A Nursing Home Shut Down For Code Violations?

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Hurricane Ike was a time of coming together, where folks dug deep to lend a helping hand and neighbors acted, well ... neighborly.

But not everyone, according to one Galveston County woman.

Estelle Reeves is suing her former employer for allegedly firing her following the storm after she says she discovered her bosses at an Island nursing home stuck patients in a building that had been shut down because of code violations as a way to save a few bucks.

The lawsuit, filed in Galveston County state district court, accuses Christopher Barcelo, a principal at Baywind Village nursing home, of canceling hotel reservations in Luling that had been made for patients in case an evacuation was ordered.

Instead, Barcelo and his relative, Cecil Barcelo, argued over whether to cancel the reservations and then eventually decided to move patients to a facility they owned called Tuscany Village, which the state had shut down due to code violations, according to the lawsuit. Not only did the Barcelos move patients into the building after it had been closed, but the facility was also in a mandatory evacuation zone, Reeves claims.

At one point prior to Ike, Reeves claims, Christopher Barcelo told her not to tell anyone inquiring about Tuscany Village that it had been shut down, but rather that "it would be up and running soon."

Reeves "was terminated in part," it says in the lawsuit, "because she had witnessed Defendants argument over terminating the reservations and knew that the Defendants recklessly placed patients at the Tuscany property in order to save money needlessly exposing the patients to severe injury or death."    

Reeves attorney, Robert Clements, tells Hair Balls that he's trying to determine whether any patients are upset over where they were moved to.

As for Reeves, Clements says she is now a stay-at-home mom. But not by choice.

"She wants to work," says Clements, "but at this point, what with the economy and everything, she's not been able to find anything remotely close to what she had."

Hair Balls left a message for the Barcelos at Bayland Village but it has not yet been returned.

-- Chris Vogel

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