The Gary, Indiana Post-Tribune ran several articles recently about the demise of Northlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home that was so consistently negligent in its patient care that the Indiana State Department of Health first suspended its license and ultimately issued an emergency closure order. As a Pennsylvania nursing home negligence lawyer, I was glad to read that authorities took action to save patients from being abused further, and I hope that the patients who were harmed are able to recover.
The Post-Tribune recounts a number of horrible instances of abuse at the nursing home. Mary Ann Jackson, 51, was at Northlake because she had suffered a stroke. She came to the nursing home with one bedsore, but during her stay, it spread to become a massive sore across her legs and buttocks. Jackson's sister said that when family came to visit her, staff members would bandage Jackson's sores to make it appear as if she was recovering, when in fact she was getting worse. "Nearly her whole behind was gone," said Shelli Jackson, Mary Ann's sister. "You could see the muscles and ligaments down to the bone. Her bedsores were so bad she was stuck in a fetal position with her legs glued together." A state inspection of Northlake found that the nursing home had failed to alert Jackson's doctor to problems such as her high blood pressure, heart failure, vomiting and significant weight loss.
After just one month in the nursing home, Mary Ann was transferred to a hospital and the family was advised that both of her legs needed to be amputated. The family refused and moved her to another hospital, where staff recommended that Mary Ann go into hospice care. The family chose not to follow this advice either. Miraculously, Mary Ann is recovering. "She's much better now," said Shelli. "Her minor bedsores are healing and she'll need skin grafts. She talks. She doesn't have renal or heart problems, but she's still struggling with the changes and she'll need wound care for the rest of her life. The good news is they said she'd be dead in a month and it's been four months."
Mary Ann finally transferred to Lawrence Manor Healthcare Center in Indianapolis. Rick Lipscomb, director of social services and admissions there, was horrified by Mary Ann's condition and said that he had never seen a case like hers in his 21 years in the field. "She had one foot in the grave," he said. "I don't know how she didn't die. I've seen animal carcasses on the side of the road that looked better than when she arrived here from another nursing home. ... People should go to jail for what happened to her." Sadly, Mary Ann's case was just one of many stories of abuse and neglect in the Post-Tribune's articles about Northlake.
Pennsylvania nursing home patients and their families should take note of stories like this. As a Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer, I know from experience that families of nursing home abuse victims can sometimes find out about their loved one's suffering only after it has gone on for quite some time. Mary Ann's story shows us that episodes of horrible nursing home abuse can sometimes be followed by a patient's recovery, but she will still need care for the rest of her life. Victims of similar abuse can recover the expenses of that care, plus damages for their physical and emotional injuries, by filing a lawsuit that holds nursing homes and staff members legally responsible for their actions. If you or a loved one has experienced abuse at the hands of a nursing home, please contact Rosenbaum and Associates for a free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer by calling 1-800-7-LEGAL-7 or email us through our Web site.