AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The grandfather of Olivia Gant is calling on the hospital which treated her to change its policies regarding reporting of suspected child abuse. The 7-year-old girl died in 2017. Her mother was indicted in her death in 2019 after suspected abuse was uncovered long after Olivia’s death.
In the first comments by a family member for television, Lonnie Gautreau told CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger he believes mandatory reporting laws that require health care professionals to report abuse were not followed.
“I want the truth. I want to know why nobody called and that policy the hospital had has to be changed. to protect other children,” he said.
Olivia was more than just a longtime patient at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She was a little star who helped raise money for the hospital through videos like one of her baking a cake played at a fundraiser.
“She was just a joy to be around. She was so energetic, so loving, caring and loved to play. She
loved life so much.”
Gautreau was Olivia’s grandfather. He called her “Livi,” and she called him “Paw Paw.”
He trusted his daughter-in-law Kelly Turner to care for her. He says he also trusted Children’s Hospital with her treatment.
Now, Turner is charged with murder, and Olivia’s family is seeking up to $25 million from the hospital and other providers over her death, detailed in a notice of intent to sue reported last November by CBS4.
Gautreau treasures his collection of videos he made of Olivia. In one, she plays “doctor” because he says that occupied so much of her life. Her mother took her, more than 1,000 times, to Children’s Hospital. Not wanting to impact Turner’s case, Gautreau would only say he wants justice to run its course for his daughter-in-law.
“We had no reason to not believe what Kelly was telling us what was going on.”
Turner is accused of claiming Olivia was terminally ill in order to gain sympathy and money for herself which led to what the family claims were numerous unnecessary medical procedures.
“She’d scream and fight, and say ‘I don’t want another owie,'” her grandfather recalled.
Children’s Hospital convened child protection teams and ethics committees to examine
Olivia’s case, but in the end went along with the mothers’ request to send her to a hospice. The Department of Human Services was not notified until another doctor became suspicious long after her death.
Gautreau said, “That would have saved her life. We’d have custody. She’d still be with us.
Her mother told everyone she was going to die, carrying out a ‘bucket list’ to become a policeman for a day, a firefighter and bat princess at a Make-A-Wish Foundation party.
“I’m not sure if Kelly or anybody else told her what a bucket list meant, but she wanted to be all those things she went through, and she was happy,” Gautreau told CBS4.
In the end, over one doctor’s strong objections, the hospital signed off on sending Olivia to hospice at the mother’s request.
“She convinced us it was the best, the doctors said it would be the best thing for her, and we had no reason not to believe we had one of the best freaking hospitals in the country,” the grandfather stated.
In another video, Olivia appeared rather well on the bus to the hospice.
Gautreau added, “She didn’t know she was going to die. She was happy to get out of that hospital get all those tubes out of her and feel like a normal child”
Once at hospice, she spent 19 days without food after her feeding tube was removed.
“She opened her eyes and looked at me and recognized me said, ‘Paw Paw, I’m hungry.’ She was hungry.”
Two days later she died. On Monday, Olivia would have been 11 years old.
It was not until two years later Olivia’s case was reported to authorities. That happened when Kelly Turner brought another daughter to the hospital claiming he had been treated for cancer in Texas.
The doctor checked there and found out it was a lie.
Children’s Hospital of Colorado told CBS4 it cannot comment given the litigation, but it plans to defend itself and “shares in the sadness of Olivia’s short-lived life.”