WNBC.com had a story about how a nursing home lied to a resident’s family regarding her death at the facility.  This typeof cover up oftens happens in nursing homes. The staff is typically the only ones who really know what happened to a resident.   The staff are worried about their job or are instructed by their corporate masters to mislead or cover up the neglect and abuse.

Olive Chase was 94 when she died at Sunrise at Fleetwood, an expensive assisted-living home in Mount Vernon, in February 2007.  The nursing home told Chase’s son that she had died in her sleep. The nursing home created an elaborate story that his mother had breakfast, was left alone at one point, and the aide returned to find she had died peacefully in her sleep.  The staff said Chase was sleeping at 7:30 a.m., but was "unresponsive" four hours later. Days after Chase was cremated, however, her family got a tip from someone with second hand knowledge of her death that the woman did not die peacefully.

Bob Chase, son of the woman who died, spoke with some of the staff and to the source who was the first nurse on the scene after his mother’s death.   The nurse saw Olive’s head caught between the bars of her hospital bed with her feet hanging off the side. The nurse said it appeared as if she struggled and then died of strangulation.

"Her tongue was protruding. It was purple," the nurse said.

The nurse said one of the maintenance workers then lifted Olive’s legs while she held onto one of her shoulders.

"We brought her up, laid her flat on her bed," said the nurse. "I brushed her hair. This nursing coordinator told us, ‘Don’t say anything.’"

The nurse said the last person to treat Olive for a bedsore raised the bed for the treatment but did not lower it after, despite instructions to do so. Olive was known to wander, the nurse said.

"We had a sign on the top of the bed, readily visible, stating to lower the bed at its lowest level when finishing care," the nurse said.

An anonymous call to the state Department of Health days after Olive’s death reported that the woman appeared to have died of asphyxiation after her head was caught in the bars, which triggered an investigation. The department concluded the caller’s complaint was valid. The department found that Olive’s body had been rearranged after her death, but it was not reported that way in Sunrise’s records.

3 Thoughts on “Nursing home covered up death of resident

  1. Dr. S. de Heinrich on February 21, 2009 at 4:35 pm said:

    I am not surprised by this sad case. Sunrise at Fleetwood is the kind of senior living facility you will want to avoid when placing a loved one in care. SUNRISE is a “for profit” organisation, and that is first and foremost in their priorities. The staff changes so frequently that no one has an overview of a resident’s history. Sunrise at Fleetwood accepted my sister in their Assisted Living department, fully aware of her physical and mental limitations. 2 months later she was given a babysitter 24/7 at a cost of $19 per hour, and we were told they would keep my sister only with ful time aides (which the administrator said at the outset would NOT be necessary.The wages of this round-the-clock babysitter brings the cost of my sister’s care from $6,000 to 26,000 per month! Thus they have used up all my sister’s estate, and when it is gone, Sunrise will not keep her. Our efforts, beginning months ago, to move her to another facility have been hindered by Sunrise’s refusal to turn over necessary medical records, always with some feeble excuse. They clearly intend to bleed her dry and then throw her out.

  2. That is outrageous. Have you contacted your local ombudsman? You should be able to get the records within 48 hours of a written request. Does she have a power of attorney?

  3. Sunrise is notorious for being a large, well financed, for profit institution able to HANDLE detractors. They have numerous complaints against them but the state does not seem willing or able to close them down because they are a private corp.. They accept people into one class of service such as “assisted living”, then when there is any difficulty they insist on “aides”, babysitters. These “aides” who do nothing, are supplied by another company operated by an affiliate of Sunrise. Interesting! Double dipping??!! There are whole blogs on the net about Sunrise.

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