PKSD Handling Several Lawsuits Against Mt. Carmel Nursing Home
Greenfield Mount Carmel Health and Rehabilitation Center, which has been cited for 35 care violations this year, is now in compliance with state regulations.
But the states largest nursing home is fighting allegations of substandard care made in seven lawsuits, including six filed in the past six months.
The Journal Sentinel reported last month that Mount Carmel had been issued 35 citations nearly matching the 40 violations it had been cited for all of 2009.
In one case, staff repeatedly reported seeing a resident for more than 10 hours, even though he had fled the facility and was arrested for prowling.
Having responded to the citations, Mount Carmel is now in compliance with state regulations, according to Beth Kaplan, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The seven pending lawsuits, however, allege that Mount Carmel chronically is understaffed and that residents in the 473-bed home at 5700 W. Layton Ave. are not getting adequate care.
Staffing Levels Criticized
Kindred Healthcare, the Louisville, Ky., company that owns Mount Carmel, simply is trying to maximize profits, said Jeff Pitman, a Milwaukee lawyer whose firm is handling four of the seven lawsuits.
It costs to put (staff) on the floor, he said.
The Milwaukee County Circuit Court lawsuits generally allege that lack of care led to an injury or condition for an elderly resident that resulted in death. One suit accuses Mount Carmel of keeping staffing levels that created recklessly low nurse- and nurse aid-to-resident ratios.
Milwaukee attorney Patrick Sullivan, who is defending Mount Carmel in four of the lawsuits, said state investigators exonerated Mount Carmel in one of the cases and that his initial review of another case indicates Mount Carmel met the required standard of care.
He said the other two cases he is handling are new, and he has not had time to review them.
Sullivan said the recent surge in lawsuits against Mount Carmel is at least partly the result of plaintiffs attorneys filing more cases against all nursing homes.
I think the plaintiffs lawyers see this as a very lucrative field, he said.
Among the allegations in the lawsuits:
- Lack of care led Vicenta Hernandez, 94, to suffer a fall and broken hip, which resulted in her death in November 2007.
- Mary Eva Richey, a one-month resident, developed multiple pressure sores that led to her death in January 2009.
- Edmond Strehlow, who lived at Mount Carmel for 3 1/2 months until April 2007, suffered multiple pressure sores that led to his death.
Richard Abel of Muskego said he visited his late wife, LaVerne, five days per week at Mount Carmel and that staff often ignored her pleas for help in getting to the bathroom and failed to keep a brace on her knee. Abel said he complained to staff and their supervisors on the floor, and then to administrators.
They said, Well look into it, but nothing ever happened. Nobody ever followed through on anything, he said.
Mount Carmel nearly was shut down by state regulators 12 years ago.
In 1998, the state revoked the license of Vencor Inc., Mount Carmels owner at the time, after discovering serious and widespread health violations. Benedictine Health System of Minnesota took over management.
In January 2009, Kindred Healthcare, a successor of Vencor, resumed operation of Mount Carmel. After operating with a probationary license for one year, Kindred was given a full license in January of this year.
The citations issued this year include allegations that Mount Carmel:
- Failed to provide appropriate supervision and assistive devices to five out of 10 residents identified by the nursing home as being at risk for falls.
- Failed to assess and treat pain, depression and other problems experienced by a 51-year-old woman who speaks Spanish and who had part of her right leg amputated last December.
- Did not treat 16 of 32 residents reviewed in a manner that maintained their dignity.
Lawsuits Pending Against Mount Carmel
Families on the following dates filed lawsuits alleging substandard care of these relatives, who later died:
June 22: Vicenta Hernandez, two-year resident, died at 94 on Nov. 2, 2007. Suit alleges that broken hip Hernandez suffered Aug. 20, 2007, led to her death.
June 3: Wardean Colbert. Details not available.
May 4: Irvin Wesolowski, 1 1/2 year resident, died at 90 on May 17, 2007, after a fall.
Feb. 25: Fatahy Agayby, 1 1/2 year resident, died at 69 on Jan. 13, 2008. Suit alleges death was result of pressure ulcer.
Feb. 19: Mary Eva Richey, one-month resident, died Jan. 13, 2009, after developing multiple pressure sores.
Jan. 6: Edmond Strehlow, 3 1/2 -month resident until April 20, 2007. Died after developing multiple pressure sores.
July 18, 2008: Agripina Gerena, 15-month resident, died at 93 on March 14, 2006, after suffering subdural hematoma a head injury that leads to blood filling the brain in a fall six weeks earlier.
Source: Milwaukee County Circuit Court records