A Jefferson County woman has been charged with endangering elderly residents at a group home in Morristown after police said they discovered nine residents were living without heat for several days.
Whitley Jade Gilbert, 27, faces nine counts of neglect of an elderly or vulnerable adult.
10News obtained nine complaints, one for each of the elderly residents Gilbert is accused of endangering.
According to the complaints, Gilbert owns and operates the Southern Care Group Home in Morristown which serves as an assisted living facility for elderly people.
On Jan. 2, Morristown Police learned that the residents had been living in the home without heat for several days. Police say the temperature outside that day was 20 degrees. Inside the home, it was just 50 degrees.
In an interview Tuesday, Gilbert disputed the charges and placed the blame for the lack of heat on the owner of the building.
"Them trying to charge me with neglect, absolutely not," Gilbert said. "Every single one of those patients absolutely love me and know they are very well taken care of."
Gilbert leases the building from a landlord. She said the heat was cut off after the owner, who usually pays the bills, neglected to do so. She said she has never been responsible for paying the propane bills but did so after the heat went out to try and get it to come back on.
She was out of town for the new year and was not able to get the heat turned back on for a couple days. Gilbert said the temperature in the house was not in the 50s, as police say. Gilbert said there are portable heaters throughout the facility that were turned on immediately after the heat went out.
"When the gas ran out at 1:43 p.m. on Monday, we kicked all the heaters up to high," Gilbert said. "It raised the temperature up to 67 degrees."
The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services regulates and licenses businesses like this one. They said this facility was not licensed with them and they will conduct an inspection of the facility.
Gilbert appeared in court in Hamblen County Monday morning. She has been released from jail after posting a $315,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 7.