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MA Nursing Home Death Raises More Questions About Facility’s Safety

Last month we wrote about the rise in safety and health violations at several Synergy Health Center-owned nursing homes in Massachusetts. One of the facilities in particular, Woodbriar Health Center in Wilmington, has been cited by state inspectors for multiple problems since it was purchased by Synergy. The problems include substandard care resulting in bedsores and medication errors, and issues with the facility itself, including crumbling plaster and broken tiles in almost half of the inspected bedrooms. Up until this point, the violations have only resulted in citations and some controversy. However, a recent violation may have led to the death of 83-year-old Woodbriar resident, Mary Meuse. Contact a Boston Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today.

On Christmas Day, one of Woodbriar’s certified nursing assistants used a mechanical lift to transition Meuse from her bed to a wheelchair, without the help of another staff member. In doing so, the employee violated an important safety rule. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at least two people are required to safely operate most mechanical lifts. When the 21-year-old aide attempted to move Meuse onto the lift, the patient fell to the ground, breaking both legs. Despite the severity of her injuries, and the fact that Meuse was on blood-thinning medication for a heart condition, she was not sent to a hospital until the following day. Unfortunately, it was too late. Meuse, who was bleeding internally, died in the hospital on December 27.

Wilmington Facility Understaffed Since Opening

Synergy owns 11 facilities in Massachusetts, several of which have received citations since the company began buying MA nursing homes in 2012. Nursing home licensing laws in the state have changed drastically over the last year. However, when Synergy applied for Woodbriar’s license, it received little public scrutiny. Woodbriar is one of four Synergy-owned nursing homes that most likely would have been denied a license under the current, stricter licensing regulations.

Since Synergy’s purchase of Woodbriar last March, the facility has been understaffed, according to two former employees who asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions. In addition to this most recent tragedy, Synergy’s nursing homes have been cited for many other potentially-life threatening violations. These include poor infection control, inadequate training, and unhygienic practices, among other concerns.

According to the father of the nursing aide involved in Meuse’s accident, Woodbriar was understaffed on Christmas Day and his daughter had to work because the nursing home was desperate for staff. In fact, the young woman was asked to work a second shift immediately following the first. However, she was traumatized by the accident and left work at 3 p.m. In addition to the excessive hours, the young woman’s father said that she was also asked to care for more patients than is typical for a normal shift.

Woodbriar’s Serious Fall Injuries Nearly Twice State and National Averages

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,800 nursing home residents are killed in falls every year. However, Woodbriar’s record of falls resulting in major injuries is almost twice that of the state and national averages. According to reports, between October, 2014 and June, 2015, about 5.9 percent of Woodbriar’s residents suffered a major injury after falling, compared to only 3 percent of statewide nursing home residents.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers Serving All of Massachusetts

If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a loved one in a nursing home, we can help. While most nursing home facilities take excellent care of residents and patients, exceptions do exist. Unfortunately, our elderly loved ones are often especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect. They may be unable to report abuse due to physical limitations. Sometimes they keep quiet out of fear of retaliation or punishment, or because they think their loved ones will get mad or not believe them. If your loved one is in a nursing home, talk to them often about the level of care they are receiving. Inspect the facility when you visit – do residents look happy, does the facility appear clean and comfortable, is food nutritious, are mealtimes social events? At Altman & Altman, LLP, we have been protecting the rights of abuse and neglect victims for over 50 years. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.