FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 21, 2010
CONTACT: HOLLY L. PEFFER,
P.O. Box 206 A, Derrick City, PA 16727
CONGRESSMAN URGES INVESTIGATION INTO PA WOMAN'S DILEMMA
BRADFORD, Pa. – U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (Rep.-7th District) is urging the Pennsylvania Department of Aging to investigate how a longtime Bradford resident has been held for nearly three years in an assisted-living facility in Florida against her wishes and those of her loved ones.
Rita Denmark, 79, who suffers from age-apparent dementia, is under a court-appointed Florida guardianship. However, she is a resident of Pennsylvania, and neither she nor her family wants her in Florida.
In a letter dated Jan. 12, 2010, Sestak urged Acting Department of Aging Secretary John M. Hall to “please also investigate this matter, since the question of residency appears to be an issue." Sestak further asked that he be informed of developments in the matter.
After exhausting her personal financial resources for legal fees and travel over the past three years, Denmark’s daughter, Holly L. Peffer of Derrick City outside Bradford, contacted the Congressman for help this month.
Peffer, herself certified by the National Guardianship Association Inc., said “There are currently pending motions and notices before both the Pennsylvania and Florida courts” arguing that the Florida court had no jurisdiction to appoint a guardian for a Pennsylvania resident.
A member of the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, Peffer said of the situation: “I would not wish this nightmare on my worst enemy... I would have never thought this could happen to an individual in this country."
“It has been quite a learning experience, and when the Congressman’s letter arrived in my mailbox on Saturday my heart was filled with joy to know that my mother really does matter.”
Peffer said she has come to realize that her family’s situation is only one, of thousands of cases in the United States where guardianship of an elderly person appears to benefit only a professional guardian. It appears, these professional guardians are accountable to no one. Currently legally prohibited from contact with her mother, Peffer says she and other friends and family are sincerely concerned for Denmark’s health and well-being under this guardian's care for a variety of reasons, including conditions found during on-site visits to the facility where Denmark is being held and whether that type of facility is appropriate for Denmark at all.
Now, however, Peffer hopes that the attention from Sestak and the Department of Aging will see her mother home by spring.
PLEASE NOTE: Peffer has detailed records of the case history, and may be contacted for further information or interviews at the phone or addresses above.