Families of Nursing Home Abuse Victims Ask, Are Fines Enough?
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Nov 14, 2014 in Nursing Home Abuse
After a beloved Michigan nursing home resident was killed while being transported to a doctors appointment by a caretaker in 2011, many are still questioning whether the fines assessed for nursing home negligence are just enough for the surviving loved ones.
Eighty-five-year-old Dollie McGrew, who was in a wheelchair, was not properly secured by staff on the 100-mile ride to visit her oral surgeon from Heartland Health Care Center of Kalamazoo. When the bus driver transporting McGrew hit a curb and popped a tire, the elderly woman was slammed into the ground inside the bus. She died painfully and abruptly.
The man driving the bus admitted her did not know how to strap McGrew into the bus because he had never driven a patient before. The driver was completely untrained.
McGrews cause of death was listed as sudden cardiac arrest caused by a fall from a wheelchair.
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After a lengthy investigation into the incident, the Michigan Bureau of Health Care Services Long Term Care Division found the homes practices to be deficient, and fined Heartland a mere $12,100. After determining that the companys behaviors and untrained staff put patients in immediate jeopardy, the fine seemed to be a shadow of what it deserved to be.
McGrews niece, Minnie Bynum, said, You make a mistake, you're supposed to pay for it. Her sentiments are echoed in the comments of many who have experienced similarly tragic circumstances.
Kalamazoo NBC affiliate Target 8 launched an investigation into nursing home deaths in Michigan after speaking with Bynum about the case. It uncovered 12 nursing home deaths within the past three years, with causes as varied as inadequate treatment of bedsores to failure to perform CPR on dying patients.
McGrews family decided that the fine decided by the state was not enough, and took Heartland to court. The home settled a lawsuit brought by the family for $900,000. Heartland refused to discuss the circumstances surrounding McGrews death, but did say it was an isolated event that had been addressed.
David LaLumia, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan, notes that the nursing home industry is a large system, and blames the sheer number of skilled hours provided in part for the amount of human error that can be expected to occur.
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