When Darlene Hicks checked into the Greenbriar Center on January 29, 2022, she began what she believed would be a relatively brief stay. Although she was at high risk for developing bed sores and pressure ulcers, she was otherwise in good health, and was only admitted for a round of short-term rehabilitation following a fall in her home.
On July 15, 2022, less than six months after being admitted, Darlene passed away.
According to the Complaint, her death was not only preventable, but was the direct result of negligence and recklessness on behalf of the Greenbriar Center and its parent company, Communicare Health Services. Greenbriar is a for-profit facility, which means that it is in its financial interest to minimize staffing and maximize the number of residents it accepts. It is our belief that this for-profit model resulted in Darlene receiving inadequate care and, ultimately, passing away. Far from enjoying the “supportive environment” and “excellent experience” that Greenbriar describes on their website, Darlene instead experienced what we allege was a shocking degree of negligence, leading to her rapidly diminishing health.
Eadie Hill is proud to be seeking justice for Darlene and her family.
A Shocking Indifference to the Wellbeing of Their Patients
Eadie Hill was honored to file a lawsuit against Greenbriar Center, Communicare Health Services, and Health Care Facility Management, LLC on behalf of the estate of Darlene Hicks. The facts as alleged in the Complaint are:
- In January 2022, Darlene Hicks was a healthy 65-year-old woman who expected to live a long life. On the 15th of that month, she suffered a fall in her home and decided that the best course of action was to enter a short-term rehabilitation program. Attracted by their claims of “personalized treatment plan[s]” and “ongoing relationships” between staff and patients, Darlene chose the Greenbriar Healthcare Center, where she was admitted on January 29th. This was to be a brief and pleasant stay, after which Darlene would return to her home and her family.
- Due to her fall, Darlene had several small wounds, but it is our belief that these wounds should have been easy to treat, and that, with proper attention, they posed no serious threat to her health. In fact, as we allege in our complaint, “the Facility was aware that Darlene was at a high risk for developing infections,” but only if staff did not follow their instructions. These instructions were simple, but extremely important: staff was to clean and change the dressings on her wounds daily, and turn or reposition her at least every 2 hours. Nonetheless, According to the Complaint, Greenbriar Center recklessly and negligently failed to follow these orders, and that by not doing so, they disregarded Darlene’s safety, health, and rights.
- The fallout was swift and tragic. On March 5, Darlene’s right thigh was observed to be deteriorating and experiencing heavy drainage. Her condition kept deteriorating to the point that, on April 13, Darlene requested to be transferred to an outpatient clinic to treat her wounds. We allege that the defendants refused to do so, despite clear signs of infection, until April 18th when they finally made a shocking discovery. Due to what we believe was a stunning indifference to Darlene’s wellbeing, she had developed necrotizing fasciitis, a very rare flesh-eating bacteria, as well as sepsis. By that point, it was too late to take action, and Darlene passed away on July 15th. As we allege in our complaint, “the death certificate confirms she died due to severe sepsis and necrotizing fasciitis she developed at the Facility.”
According to the Complaint, Darlene’s death was wholly avoidable and that only the negligence and recklessness of Greenbriar’s staff prevented her from making a full recovery and returning to her home and her family. Due to understaffing—a direct consequence of its for-profit model—we allege that Greenbriar was ill-equipped to care for Darlene. Far from enjoying the “calm and comfortable environment” promised on Greenbriar’s website, it is our belief that Darlene’s last days were filled instead with pain, neglect, and misery.
Although nothing can bring Darlene back, we are proud to be seeking some measure of justice on behalf of her family.
Courses of Action
The lawsuit we filed against Greenbriar Center, Communicare Health Services, and Health Care Facility Management LLC alleges the following courses of action:
- Medical Negligence and Recklessness. We allege that the defendants failed to provide proper care and treatment to Darlene and that their negligence was the direct and proximate cause of the injuries that she suffered.
- Wrongful Death. We allege that these injuries caused her untimely and wrongful death and caused her next-of-kin to suffer damages including mental anguish and grief.
- Nursing Home Resident Rights Violation. We allege that the defendants violated Darlene’s rights to a safe and clean living environment, to be treated with courtesy and respect, and to adequate and appropriate medical treatment, among other rights.
- Civil Conspiracy. We allege that the defendants had an express or tacit agreement to systemically understaff their facilities in violation of federal regulations and to defraud residents and their families by delivering wholly inadequate care.
Greenbriar Center is a for-profit facility which means that their primary goal is to earn money. The number one source of profit for health facilities is patients and the number one expense is staffing. Therefore, it is in a facility’s best financial interest to hire fewer people than are necessary to care for their patients. According to the Complaint, this is what happened in the case of Greenbriar Center and which led directly to Darlene’s death.
A Commitment to Justice for Victims of Negligent Healthcare Facilities
At Eadie Hill, our mission is to hold for-profit healthcare facilities accountable for unnecessary suffering and death. Whenever a nursing home or other healthcare facility puts profits above people, we are here to fight for justice for the families of the victims. According to the Complaint, too many people have suffered because of the for-profit model in healthcare facilities and we are committed to ending this abuse.
About Greenbriar Center
Greenbriar Center sells itself as a place that puts the needs of its residents first. But a closer look reveals a far different story. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Greenbriar Center was well below average in both staffing and health inspections, with the facility receiving the lowest “one-star” rating in each category as well as a one-star overall rating. This staffing issue, which we believe is a direct result of the facility’s for-profit model, was confirmed on Glassdoor.com by a nurse who currently works at Greenbriar. This nurse noted that the facility was “short staffed” and that “it could use more staff in all department[s].”
By cutting costs in order to maximize earnings, it is our belief that for-profit facilities like Greenbriar Center put profits above people. We allege in the Complaint that this dangerous set of priorities has caused the unnecessary suffering of far too many patients and, in this case, led to the untimely, tragic, and wholly avoidable death of Darlene Hicks.
Greenbriar Center AKA South I Leasing Co., LLC
8064 South Ave #1
Boardman, OH 44114
Communicare Health Services, Inc.
c/o Registered Agent:
200 Public Square, Suite 2300
Cleveland, OH 44114
Health Care Facility Management LLC, DBA Communicare Family of Companies
c/o Registered Agent:
200 Public Square, Suite 2300
Cleveland, OH 44114