Legislators Skeptical of State's Handling of Elderly Woman

DECEMBER 29, 2005 - Posted at 3:28 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Legislators questioned a state agency today over its involvement with a 71-year-old who died a day after she was removed from filthy conditions in which she was living.

State officials told a legislative panel they are reviewing their procedures and training following the death of Shirley Chittum, a Bentonville woman who died December 3.

Chittum weighed 62 pounds when rescuers arrived.  Her 44-year-old son, Paul Chittum, was arrested on a felony charge of abuse of an adult.

Herb Sanderson, director of the Arkansas Health and Human Services' division of Adult Protective Services, told legislators that an official with his agency visited Chittum November 15 but did not report any problems with her living conditions.

Sanderson said the division is revising its training rules, identifying additional resources needed and forming a group to look at what changes need to be made in the agency's operations.

The protective services division is made up of 20 field workers and two supervisors, Sanderson said, and additional staff may be needed.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)