An article in the My Palm Beach Post reports that a resident at the Lakeside Health Center in Palm Beach, Florida died a painful death after nursing home staff left her outside in the searing sun and heat. Eva Mae Rhodes, 98 died two weeks after the incident. According to the article, at the time of the incident, she was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center:
with a temperature of 103.2 degrees, suffering from heat stroke, severe dehydration and second-degree burns on her shoulders, arms and mouth, an investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families concluded inadequate supervision was to blame. After Rhodes died two weeks later, the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner listed her cause of death as “hyperthermia” caused by exposure to the sun and heat.
She was left unattended in the heat and sun, and died from the nursing home’s neglect. The article reports that there was little accountability by the nursing home staff. It reports the following:
According to the DCF report, no one knows how long Rhodes was left outside. One worker said she noticed Rhodes sitting on the patio at 11 a.m. At 12:37 a.m., paramedics were called after she was brought inside, near death.
“Her shoulders were sunburned and blistered,” DCF investigator Janice Elliott wrote. “They are horrible. She fainted and she was unresponsive when she was found.”
Now that we are at the height of summer, and the temperatures in Ohio peak, it is extremely important to discuss cases of neglect such as this. It is important to ask questions of the nursing home staff and administration. Questions regarding outdoor policies and keeping your loved one hydrated as summer temperatures rise.
Neglect Prevention: Get Involved and Do Not Take Excuses!
What I have seen is that the more involved the family—the more they visit, see, report, complain, discuss, request, even pester—the better the care that resident receives. But no matter how attentive a family, a true system-wide understaffing will catch up to almost any resident eventually.
When visiting with a loved one living in a nursing home, watch for signs of nursing home neglect, emotional distress, sudden or unexplained decline, changes in health, repeat issues like UTIs or pneumonias. Communication between family members and nurses can play a critical role in elder resident care in an understaffed nursing home.
Cases such as this are often surrounded by excused from the nursing home. According to the article, Lakeside, which is owned by a gigantic corporation called Life Care Centers of America, offered a pathetic excuse for this poor woman’s horrific death:
When interviewed, Amy Saayman, executive director of Lakeside, said Rhodes, who used a wheelchair, was capable of going and in and out by herself. Further, Saayman suggested, Rhodes’ health problems may have been an allergic reaction to something paramedics gave her on the way to the hospital.
The family’s response to the nursing home excuse according to the article is as follows:
Victim is a 98-year-old female suffering from advance dementia, physical limitations and the infirmities of aging which impedes her ability to provide for her own care and protections,” she wrote. “Victim is nonverbal. Victim requires full assistance with (activities of daily life).”
Families should be able to trust the care facility to properly care for their loved one, but often, this is not the case. If your loved one has physical and metal limitations, do not let the care facility put them in situations where they do not know how to get to safety or cannot communicate that they are uncomfortable. The nursing home’s response in this article is ridiculous!
The failure to keep residents safe that can be potentially deadly is a systemic failure, where most aides and nurses are missing something every shift. This can be because they are too short staffed, over worked, and under paid to get to everything (or not even given the information they need to know to provide adequate care).
That does not make it right, but it means the nursing home corporation is to blame, putting its profit over resident safety.
If you have questions regarding nursing home neglect, you can visit my page dedicated to nursing home neglect here.
If you believe that your loved one has suffered from neglect at the hands of their care facility, please feel free to contact me. I will review your case and help you hold the nursing home accountable for neglecting to properly care for your loved one. You may comment below or complete this confidential form here.
You can read the full article here.