The Casper Star Tribune reported the settlement between SavaSeniorCare d/b/a Poplar Living Center and resident Gilbert Arellano. The lawsuit involved a facility employee driving a van into the blind resident standing near the curb waiting for a ride in March 2014. Arellano was knocked to the ground, and injured. The nursing home did not have someone stand with Arellano while he waited for his ride on the handicap ramp and the man was unable to avoid the danger himself because he is legally blind, the suit says. The suit alleges the facility failed to meet the legal standard of care because it is understaffed, did not accompany Arellano to the curb and allowed an employee to “negligently operate” a company van.
Since the incident, Arellano has had pain and numbness in his right arm. The amount of the settlement reached on Nov. 1 could not be disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement.
The suit also alleges that SavaSeniorCare, the company that owns the Casper nursing home, kept staff numbers low and didn’t adequately train employees to save money, thus endangering the residents. That allegation is repeated across many of the other lawsuits. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also cited Poplar Living Center for understaffing the facility.
According to its website, SavaSeniorCare operates more than 230 nursing homes across the country, including two more in Wyoming: Cheyenne Healthcare Center and the Sheridan Manor.
“The nursing home’s settlement was the most recent conclusion to six wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits filed against it in the last six years. Repeated inspections by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also detail a pattern of understaffing, improper care and unsafe building conditions.”
The facility is on the Special Focus Facility list that needs close monitoring because of a “history of persistent poor quality of care.” Inspection records show a pattern of the for-profit Sava nursing home failing to employ enough staff to keep residents safe, take care of residents who showed signs of depression and investigate complaints of neglect.
Improper wound care is repeatedly cited in the reports. The presence of pressure ulcers is an indicator of neglect and short-staffing. One resident arrived at the facility in January 2015 without any wounds but developed open sores on her buttocks and legs in March. The nursing home administrator told inspectors in January, “I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of staffing,” according to the agency’s Jan. 15 report. According to a March 2015 report, there were many nights where only one nurse and one nurse’s assistant were in the building to care for more than 100 residents — many of whom require assistance to use the bathroom and navigate other simple tasks.
The reports repeatedly note that the nursing home fails to adequately record, investigate and resolve complaints about living conditions. Residents who needed help using the bathroom reported they often waited long periods of time — sometimes up to eight hours — before they were taken to the restroom. One resident wandered the halls of the facility just after 8 p.m. March 29, 2015, with urine-soaked pants for at least 25 minutes before being helped.
Residents also told inspectors that the food served was inedible. A district manager who sampled a meal of steak and noodles also said the food was “not palatable,” according to the reports.
Families of previous residents have sued Poplar Living Center at least six times in the past six years alleging that negligence led to the death and serious injury of their loved ones. The nursing home settled four of those suits for undisclosed amounts and one is still ongoing.