A nursing home in Iowa is the subject of two lawsuits filed by the families of two residents who died while in their care. The nursing home neglect lawsuits claim the facility and caregivers abused and neglected residents prior to their deaths.
Timely Mission Nursing Home in Buffalo Center, IA is the named defendant in both of the lawsuits. Here is what we know about the circumstances leading up to these tragic events.
First Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit
The most recent lawsuit filed against Timely Mission relates to the death of Virginia Olthoff, who died in February, 2018. Olthoff’s death and the death of another unidentified Timely Mission resident on the same day prompted a fine from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in August, 2018. The fine was in excess of $77,000.
In the case of Olthoff’s death, the state report says that she was “crying, moaning, screaming, and bleating,” and only gave her nonprescription pain medications despite her obvious suffering. The nursing home waited three hours to call an ambulance despite her deteriorating condition.
The report also suggests that Olthoff was dehydrated and may not have had water for several days prior to her admission to the hospital. Timely Mission caregivers could not take an accurate blood pressure reading for hours before they finally arranged for an ambulance. She died at Timely Mission after returning to the facility the same day she went to the hospital.
Olthoff’s family is seeking an amount in damages to be determined by medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and punitive damages.
Second Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit
The other lawsuit was filed by the family of Darlene Weaver, another resident at Timely Mission. Weaver died in June, 2017, and the family filed suit that same November. The lawsuit stems from allegations that Timely Mission should have transferred the resident to a higher level of care because of her symptoms. The family says she died because caregivers failed to escalate her care in a timely manner.
With shockingly poor communication, Timely Mission also failed to update Weaver’s family about the deterioration of her condition. The lawsuit goes on with more allegations:
- Care workers failed to notify Weaver’s physician
- The facility failed to monitor her properly
- The facility was too understaffed to provide adequate care
According to the Globe Gazette, court documents show the Weaver family is asking the jury for an award of several million dollars in damages not only to compensate for their costs, but also to punish the facility for their negligence.
Neglect that Leads to Death
As for the other resident who died on the same day as Olthoff, reports suggest the resident was in shocking physical condition, showing classic signs of nursing home neglect, such as weight loss and unresponsiveness.
Timely Mission denies any nursing home neglect or wrongdoing. However, Iowa state officials have investigated the facility 19 times in the five years prior to Olthoff and Weaver’s deaths.
A History of Neglect at Timely Mission
In addition to the fine already mentioned, CMS fined the facility $57,960 after an inspection prompted by a complaint showed a staff member yelling and swearing at residents, refusing to care for them, and “yanking” them by their arms and legs. The facility fired the abusive staff member.
The previous 18 investigations did not prompt enforcement action from CMS. The facility’s administrator claims the prior investigations either did not reveal any deficiencies or revealed only minor infractions. The administrator claims these previous investigations only served as a tool to bring Timely Mission “back into substantial compliance with program requirements.” Somewhat callously, she made the same comment about the investigations following the deaths of Olthoff, Weaver, and the unidentified resident.
When asked for a comment on the lawsuits and allegations of nursing home neglect, Timely Mission replied: “We place the utmost importance on the well-being and safety of those in our care. Our staff understands their great responsibility and focus on maintaining an outstanding and comfortable living situation for our residents. As a result, we are in complete compliance with state guidelines.”
Serious Care Deficiencies Nearby
Nursing home neglect is by no means a problem particular to Iowa. It is a long-standing issue of national concern. In their investigation of the allegations at Timely Mission, however, the Globe Gazette discovered a string of serious deficiencies identified by CMS at three other North Iowa nursing homes in the last three years.
Though the severity of the infractions varies somewhat, CMS considers each one to be serious.
Riceville Family Care and Therapy Center
Fined $11,513 in 2016 after a resident under medical orders to be on continuous oxygen died in the facility. The investigation determined the nursing home administration failed to properly train and educate their employees on the use of portable oxygen tanks. The lack of oxygen likely contributed to the resident’s death.
O.O.F. Home and Community Therapy Center in Mason City
Faced heavy fines for resident elopement problems. The I.O.O.F. paid a total of $13,650 for two separate incidents in 2017 of residents with cognitive issues wandering away from the facility. In the first incident, a resident wandered away during a group outing. Staff found the resident outside a nearby cement plant. The second incident involved a resident in the memory- care unit who eloped from the I.O.O.F. facility into the courtyard. This incident occurred after dark, in December when there were inclement temperatures.
Chautauqua Guest Home #2 in Charles City
Had problems involving residents with memory issues getting out of the nursing home. The facility faced a $6,500 fine after an investigation in 2017 showed that a resident escaped from the home and wandered a few blocks away.
Permitting elopement is a very serious form of nursing home neglect. It fails to uphold a resident’s basic right to be protected from harm. Sadly, with rampant understaffing in nursing homes nationwide, elopement is more common than anyone would care to imagine.
Has Someone you Love Suffered Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect comes in many heartbreaking forms. If someone you love has suffered from abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to learn more about how to protect them. At Nursing Home Abuse Center, we can help you find out exactly what is happening and how to make sure your loved one is safe. If abuse or neglect are occurring, we can help you build a case against those responsible.
If you have any concerns about nursing home neglect or abuse, schedule a free consultation with our nursing home abuse lawyer. To get started, call 1-800-516-4783, or fill out the online form on our website for more information.