Nursing Home Hazards: A WTOL11 Investigation - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Nursing Home Hazards: A WTOL11 Investigation

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – Robert Lawrence Coe served honorably in World War II, earning three bronze stars and returning home after the war.

Years after coming back to Toledo after his service, Coe died at the Swan Pointe Care Center in Maumee.  Because of a settlement, Coe's family cannot talk about the cause of his death. 

However, court documents accuse the operators of Swan Pointe of failing to "check batteries and functionality of alarms" on Coe's wheelchair waist belt restraints.  Coe died after his wheel chair overturned in a bathroom at Swan Pointe.  According to the documents, the chair's alarm did not sound because it was inoperable.  A coroner who examined Coe's body after exhumation ruled Coe died when his "neck was caught in the...restraint of the overturned wheelchair." 

The lawsuit accuses Swan Pointe employees of "lying, covering up, and hiding the true circumstances" surrounding Coe's death.  A report from the Ohio Department of Aging states an employee "confirmed she did not report to her unit manager that the waist belt restraint was around (Coe's) neck when she discovered him."

Officials with Swan Pointe decided to comment for this story, but court documents show Swan Pointe denied the allegations, calling them untrue.

After a settlement, the lawsuit against Swan Pointe was dismissed.

Medicare.gov routinely ranks nursing homes on a five-star scale, one being the worst.  According to government records and USA Today, Swan Pointe has been rated one star the past two years and got a two star rating three years ago.

Dustin Ellinger, Bureau Chief of Long Term Care Quality in Ohio, says the state receives a large number of complaints about nursing homes each year. 

"We have a number of tools that we use [to enforce nursing home regulations] including civil money penalties, denial of payment on new admissions, directed in-service training," said Ellinger. 

Beverly Laubert, a State Long Term Care Ombudsman, says there are three questions family members should ask a nursing home.

They are:

  • Does the facility have the same staff working with the residents?
  • Do they get to know the resident's preferences?
  • What happens in the first 24 hours of moving-in?

"Many of the person-centered strategies that we promote aren't all that difficult to do.  And aren't that expensive to do.  It really is about the culture of the home," said Laubert.

Click here for a list of Nursing Home Ratings by Medicare.gov as of May 2, 2012.

To find the Medicare.gov ratings for a specific nursing home, or search for those near you, visit http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/.

Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now.  All rights reserved.