Families of Albert Lea abuse victims speak out

Published 1:53 pm Monday, October 25, 2010

By Sarah Stultz
staff writer

Family members of the residents who were abused at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea under the care of Brianna Marie Broitzman shared their feelings Friday in open court of how their loved ones changed during the time Broitzman worked at the nursing home.

Talking of the horror they felt after finding out about the abuse, five family members gave victim impact statements, explaining how their loved ones went from being loving and caring people affected by dementia to people who were tense, agitated and even combative under the abuse. Eleven victims impact statements were turned into Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab.

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Broitzman, 21, has been convicted of three counts of disorderly conduct by a caregiver — all gross misdemeanors — for her abuse as a nursing aide at the nursing home from January through May 2008. She is one of six young women who were believed to have taken part in the abuse.

Paul Blom, nephew of Sylvia Wulff, one of the abused residents, said his aunt was “tortured and tormented” under Broitzman’s care.

A Bricelyn High School graduated and registered nurse, Wulff worked for years as the Freeborn County Public Health nurse and had cared for people of all ages, Blom said.

“She would have and should expected the same level of care she provided in the community,” he said.

But that didn’t happen.

He said when the teenage nursing assistants were employed at the nursing home, his aunt’s demeanor changed to being tense and agitated, but when Broitzman was no longer an employee, her demeanor improved.

The last day of Wulff’s life was the same day Broitzman pleaded guilty to the three counts.

“It’s been a real trying time,” he said.

He noted he is trying to remember his aunt for the good times he shared with her and wished he didn’t have to remember the bad times.

Myrna Sorensen, daughter of victim Opal Sande, said she is still in a state of shock about the abuse.

“We are so angry,” Sorensen said, whose mother died over a year ago. “We have not been able to even grieve yet for my mother.”

She said when she would take her mother to the doctor, Sande would throw a fuss when the time came to go back to the nursing home. She became combative.

Sorensen also talked about bruises on her mother’s body that no one at the nursing home could explain, noting that she thinks the abuse started before January of 2008.