Nursing Home Patient Found Dead in Stairwell, Coroner Orders Autopsy
The tragic story of Juanita Simmons is all too familiar in the nursing home industry.
The 85-year-olds younger sisters suspected she was suffering abuse and neglect at Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Center in Belleville, Ill., but the women did not have the legal authority to remove their sister from the home.
Despite pleading with the family member who did have the authority to move Simmons, the sisters were unable to help and Simmons remained a patient at the home until her death on March 12 when Simmons body was discovered at the bottom of a stairwell on the centers grounds. According to the report, Midwest nurse aides did call 911 for an ambulance but did not report the incident to police.
St. Clair County Coroner Rick Stone is now leading an open and active investigation into Simmons death.
Simmons sisters recall several red flags that may have indicated abuse as early as Jan. 2013, when one sister saw a nurses aide push Simmonss wheelchair down the hall with excessive force. Other distressing signs of Simmonss alleged abuse include a black eye and a mouth injury so serious it required stitches.
One sister said she saw firsthand how neglectful Midwests staff could be while visiting her sister last year. For hours, Simmons complained of needing to have her underwear changed, but her pleas for assistance were met with rejection from a staff member who claimed to be too busy to help.
Midwest has received 20 prior complaints that range from resident death after wandering away from the grounds to claims from a residents council that nurse aides hide their name tags and sleep during shifts. The residents also claim there are not enough staff members to adequately care for the 300-400 residents per hall.
We will continue to add updates as more details about this tragic story become available. If youve lost a loved one at the hands of abusive or neglectful nursing home staff, or if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, you have legal rights. A personal injury lawyer in Milwaukee at Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice is here to fight for you. Contact us today.