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Elderly Cleburne couple reunited after being split up by social workers

Ethel And Don Henry Reunited After Forced Separation

Married 67 years, Ethel and Don Henry were reunited after a forced separation by Adult Protective Services.
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Married 67 years, Ethel and Don Henry were reunited after a forced separation by Adult Protective Services.

Ethel and Donald Henry, the elderly couple who had been separated since December by state officials, celebrated a homecoming in their old apartment on Thursday.

The Henrys, with the help of their grandson, persuaded state officials to allow them to live together again as they have for 67 years.

“We’re glad to be together and it’s good to see her home,” Donald Henry, 85, said by phone Friday evening. “We’re doing all right now. I hope all this stuff will fade into the past. I hope so because she’s had some terrible memories of this.”

Ethel Henry, 83, has mild dementia and other health problems, but her husband argued that he had been providing her care.

The state’s Adult Protective Services intervened in their life, and a caseworker obtained a court order that required Ethel Henry to be moved to a skilled nursing facility because of concerns that her medications were not adequately being monitored and that she was at risk of falling.

Before she could return home, some changes had to be made to the Henrys’ apartment.

I believe we have addressed everything that the court was concerned about.

Grandson Zachary Griffin

At a court hearing in March, their grandson, Zachary Griffin, 37, was appointed Ethel Henry’s guardian. He was required to installed a camera system in their apartment that Griffin can monitor with his cellphone or laptop.

Ethel Henry must wear a fall-alert device equipped with GPS software that Griffin can monitor.

An inside door-locking mechanism was installed so Ethel Henry cannot wander outside without anyone knowing. And the Henrys will have regular visits from home healthcare workers to help monitor her medications and general health, Griffin said.

“I did what I thought I should do to address every concern of the court,” Griffin said. “And I believe we have addressed everything that the court was concerned about. Everything is working pretty good.”

How it started

Donald Henry said his wife began complaining of stomach pains and feeling faint on Dec. 10, so he took her to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, where she stayed the night.

When he returned the next day to take her home, Henry said, the hospital staff wanted to keep her another night. But he said his wife wanted to go home, so the hospital staff began preparing her discharge paperwork.

As he brought his car to the hospital entrance to pick her up, Henry said, he was met by Cleburne police.

Officers were called because Donald Henry had threatened hospital and Adult Protective Services staff, according to Detective Kelly Summey, a police spokeswoman.

Adult Protective Services also obtained an emergency order for custody of Ethel Henry, telling a judge that Donald Henry had threatened to shoot and harm staffers with the agency, the hospital and the nursing home.

Donald Henry said he plans to try to change the law that allows the state agency to get emergency orders on the word of one person and instead to require a thorough investigation before caseworkers can remove an elderly person from his or her home.

“There is a coalition of us that will try to make sure they cannot just come grab someone at will like they did us,” Henry said. “It takes away your rights.”

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

Adult Protective Services said her husband, Donald Henry, threatened a social worker and could not care for his wife.

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