An assisted living company in Salem, Oregon, is being sued by family members of a 91-year-old patient who died after spending only one month in the company’s memory care facility. The $3 million wrongful death suit accuses employees of elder neglect and abuse.
The lawsuit, brought by the deceased’s personal representative, alleges that Helen Banks was allowed to fall three times within a four day period, and remained in a pool of her own blood once, with a broken elbow. The abuse, neglect, and mistreatment led to her death on April 5, 2018.
The company named in the suit is East Salem Assisted Living, LLC, doing business as Cedar Village Memory Care Community, a 24-bed facility located at 4452 Lancaster Drive N.E. Records at the Oregon Department of Human Services show that the facility has accumulated 16 substantiated reports of neglect and abuse since 2010.
Timeline of Abuse
The elderly Helen Banks was first admitted into Cedar Village Assisted Living’s care in August 2017 after falling at home. She was then transferred to the memory care facility owned by the company after she “began requiring a higher degree of medical care and supervision,” states the complaint filed by Gatti Law Firm on Aug. 29.
Not long after Banks moved into Cedar Village Memory Care Community, her health declined when her illnesses were ignored and Banks was left alone and neglected for hours at a time. Per the lawsuit, she did not receive assistance for daily living and bathing.
The legal complaint contains these details:
Helen Banks needed constant supervision, was struggling due to undiagnosed pneumonia, was neglected and left unattended, and tried to take a shower on her own. During the process, the unaided patient fell “forcefully” to the floor, receiving two massive gashes on her head. Banks was hospitalized for the injuries, then taken back to the care facility the following day.
With complete disregard for the patient’s trauma and head wounds, pneumonia, diminished cognition, and fragile condition, Banks was left alone again. The legal complaint says, “Defendants failed to provide any supervision, assistance, medical treatment, physical assessment, or intervention of any kind that Ms. Banks so desperately needed.”
A mere seven hours after returning to the facility, the patient was discovered in a pool of her own blood, writhing in pain on the floor from a broken elbow and lacerations on her arm. She was again hospitalized and then discharged on March 24, 2018, to the care facility. At this time, staff members were given explicit instructions that Banks must have line-of-sight supervision.
Unbelievably, just two days later, the elderly patient had a “third and fatal fall” at the facility due to inadequate assistance while moving. Her clavicle was broken this time, and Banks was again taken to the hospital. On April 5, 2018, Banks died from the injuries.
Records Falsified, Suit Claims
Attorneys for Banks’ estate accuse the care facility’s staff of wrongfully and negligently causing the woman’s death by failing to document her conditions, not properly supervising her, and allowing untrained and unlicensed individuals to have access to the patient “where they abused and neglected her.” The legal allegations also accuse the care facility’s management of falsifying notes in Banks’ chart and falsifying qualifications and licensing of employees. Such falsifications caused Banks’ family to wrongly believe staff members had undergone training and held licenses that said staff did not actually hold. In addition, allegations against the staff accuse them of allowing Banks to become malnourished by depriving her of adequate nutrition.
Lawsuit Specifics and Defendants
The suit asks for $1 million to cover medical economic damages, $2 million for loss of companionship, and not over $50,000 for funeral costs. Per Banks’ attorney, “(The family) will seek punitive damages as a result of defendants’ malice or reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to the health, safety, and welfare of others, including Helen Banks.”
Also named in the complaint as defendants are Frontier Management, the facility’s parent company, as well as Frontier’s President and CEO Greg Roderick. Upon request for comment, Mr. Roderick did not respond. However, a Frontier Management representative did respond by saying they have no awareness of any lawsuit. No one in management at Cedar Village responded to requests for comment.
According to the leading trade association serving senior living companies, Argentum reports that Frontier Management is number 19 in the list of largest senior living providers. The report further states that Frontier is based in Portland and owns over 6,300 units for senior living and over 2,100 units for memory care patients.
Multiple Violations at the Facility
Per the Oregon Department of Human Services, 16 cases of abuse and neglect have been substantiated at the Cedar Village Memory Care Community since 2010. A violation matching Banks’ case shows a resulting fine of $900 was levied. Investigators found that the center did not assess and intervene, thus the resident fell three times and sustained injuries. The investigators’ report says, “The facility’s failure is a violation of resident rights, is considered neglect of care and constitutes abuse.”
Other reports show that additional falls occurred there in 2018, and cases of sexual abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, mental abuse, and physical abuse were found to be substantiated. Additionally, DHS records show there have been 18 substantiated instances of licensing violations at the facility since 2010. Included are occurrences where suspected abuse was not lawfully reported, and in five separate instances, residents’ medication was not properly administered.
Do You Need a Nursing Home Attorney
If a loved one has wrongfully died due to negligence or abuse in a nursing home facility, the family should make contact with a highly skilled nursing home wrongful death lawyer who has experience in handling these types of claims.
- Whitney Woodworth. “$3 million lawsuit alleges elder abuse, wrongful death at Salem senior care home”, Statesman Journal, https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2019/09/04/lawsuit-alleges-wrongful-death-salem-senior-care-home-elder-abuse-oregon/2198576001/. Accessed September 4, 2019.