NewsThursday, Oct. 13, 2016
Springfield nursing home sued
State, feds levy big fines
A Springfield nursing home with a history of problems is facing a six-figure fine from the government and a lawsuit from the widow of a man who died after being thrown from a van’s faulty wheelchair lift.
After sustaining a broken neck when his wheelchair was catapulted from the lift at Lewis Memorial Christian Village on West Washington Street, Bob Folder was loaded onto a wheelchair without being examined for neck or spinal cord injuries and wheeled back into the nursing home even as his wife implored the staff to call 911, according to investigators with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the lawsuit filed last month in Sangamon County Circuit Court.
Folder, 77, died less than three weeks after the Oct. 21, 2014, mishap. He had been a maker of fishing lures used by anglers throughout the nation, including former President Jimmy Carter (“A fisherman’s friend,” Dec. 24, 2014). Folder died from respiratory failure caused by a broken neck, according to his death certificate.
Folder was admitted to the nursing home five months before his death after suffering a broken leg. His wife, Mary, was in the van when Folder was being loaded with the lift, which became stuck, according to court records. While the driver was calling for help, the lift sprang upward, flipping Folder onto the ground, according to the lawsuit and a report filed by investigators for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Folder’s wife asked the staff to call 911, according to her lawsuit, but nursing home employees wheeled Folder back into the nursing home, then transferred him from a wheelchair to a bed without checking to see if he had sustained a neck injury.
A nursing home employee falsely said afterward that Folder’s speech became garbled after Mary Folder pushed his head with her hand, according to the lawsuit, which accuses employees of conspiring to wrongly blame Folder’s wife for the tragedy and mislead government investigators in an effort to limit liability for themselves and their employer.
When a state investigator asked an employee why she didn’t promptly call 911, she answered that she first had to get Folder inside the home so that he could be assessed, according to a report posted on the Department of Public Health website. When asked under what circumstances the staff would call 911, the first nurse on the scene told an investigator, “We call 911 if there was a true emergency,” according to the report.
According to the lawsuit, it was obvious that Folder had suffered a serious neck injury, but he wasn’t taken to a hospital for nearly an hour, according to a nurse’s notes quoted in the report filed by state investigators. Twenty minutes after Folder was injured, an employee called a doctor, who said that he needed to go to the emergency room, the nurse wrote, according to the state report. Only then did the staff call for an ambulance, which arrived 45 minutes after the incident, according to the nurse’s notes quoted in the report.
The Illinois Department of Public Health issued a $50,000 fine over the incident after investigators found that the lift had broken parts and had not been properly maintained. The van driver told investigators that he’d had trouble with the lift before Folder was injured. The nursing home’s staff also didn’t respond properly after the mishap, the state determined. In addition to a state fine, federal regulators levied a $344,500 penalty, which the home’s owners have appealed.
A telephone message left at the nursing home was not returned.
The state has fined Lewis Memorial Christian Village four times since 2012 for violations of state law enacted to protect nursing home residents. The $50,000 fine for two violations of state law in the Folder tragedy came less than three months after the state issued a $25,000 fine after finding that employees didn’t take adequate precautions to prevent a resident with a documented risk of falling from falling down. The state levied a $3,300 fine in 2012 after two residents suffered falls. The home was fined $2,200 by the state last year after investigators determined that two residents suffered pressure sores because employees failed to follow policies and procedures designed to identify and treat pressure sores.
Contact Bruce Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.