Charges filed: Hamblen County seniors without heat

Donovan Long # State

HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT)-- A Jefferson County woman was arrested for neglect of elderly and vulnerable adults at the southern care group home last Friday, according to Morristown Police.

Arrest warrants showed Whitley Gilbert was arrested for leaving nine elderly residents in the cold without heat for several days.

"It is absolutely ridiculous,"
said Gilbert.
"For one, I never neglect my patients; I sacrifice all my time to give them the best."

Gilbert said the gas was out for one day.

"Last time I checked there was 24 hours in a day, so from Monday to Tuesday,"
said Gilbert.

Gilbert claimed she wasn't at work the day the gas ran out. She told Local 8 News she was on vacation with her family.

"My workers called me,"
said Gilbert.
"There was nothing that I could do; I said just turn all the heaters up."

Gilbert said a physical therapist called police to the home last Tuesday. Officers said it was 50 degrees inside when they arrived and 20 degrees outside.

"When they turned all the heaters on high, it rose up to 67, 69 degrees,"
said Gilbert.

Gilbert said she didn't know the property owner let the gas bill lapse. She said he is the reason the temperature dropped inside.

"If I was responsible for it, the owner should have drew that up in the lease stating that it will be in his name, but the attendant still needs to pay it,"
said Gilbert.
"I don't have anything like that, it just says utilities."

Gilbert said money came out of her own pockets to pay what she called the outstanding bill and get the heat back.

She showed Local 8 News the invoices.

"These are invoices; This one is for [January 2] for 100 gallons, here is the owner's name for 100 gallons that we had to pay, still in the owner's name because we can't get it transferred to ours,"
said Gilbert.
"On [January 4] when we got back we paid, still in the owners name."

All nine residents are inside the facility, according to Gilbert. She said they never left and have no plans on leaving.

"I've talked with all of the patients, all of the patients families, and none of them are moving,"
said Gilbert.
"They are all happy."

Gilbert said caring for the elderly is her calling and insists she never turns a blind eye to their safety.

"We're going to fight it,"
said Gilbert.
"The truth will stand when the world is on fire."