Thomas Havelka died on April 11, 2017 after choking at Braeview Care & Rehabilitation Center in Euclid, Ohio. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligence, recklessness, fraud, and misleading advertising.
According to the lawsuit, “Providence Healthcare Management, Inc. … is an Ohio for-profit corporation that … provides nursing services to more than 20 nursing home facilities throughout Ohio and Kentucky, including at BraeView.”
The lawsuit further adds that, “Providence uses its for-profit model to manage nursing homes … throughout Ohio and Kentucky, including:
- BraeView (Euclid, Ohio);
- Kirtland Rehabilitation and Care (Kirtland, Ohio);
- The Briarwood Healthcare Center (Stow, Ohio);
- Valley Oaks Care Center (East Liverpool, Ohio);
- Glenwood Care and Rehabilitation (Canton, Ohio);
- Jackson Ridge Rehabilitation and Care (Canal Fulton, Ohio);
- Cambridge Care and Rehabilitation (Cambridge, Ohio);
- Logan Care and Rehabilitation (Logan, Ohio);
- Winchester Care and Rehabilitation (Canal Winchester, Ohio);
- Pickerington Care and Rehabilitation (Pickerington, Ohio);
- Woodview Care and Rehabilitation (Columbus, Ohio);
- Lebanon Health Care Center (Lebanon, Ohio);
- Pleasant Hill Care Center (Piketon, Ohio);
- Vanceburg Rehabilitation and Care (Vanceburg, Kentucky);
- Frankfort Care and Rehabilitation (Frankfort, Kentucky);
- Stanford Care and Rehabilitation (Stanford, Kentucky);
- Green Hill Rehabilitation and Care (Greensburg, Kentucky);
- Hillcreek Rehabilitation and Care (Louisville, Kentucky);
- St. Matthews Care Center (Louisville, Kentucky);
- Westport Care Center (Louisville, Kentucky); and
- Clifton Oaks Care Center (Louisville, Kentucky).”
The lawsuit states that Thomas Havelka had a memory disorder called dementia that affects about 5.3 million people in the U.S. who are over the age of 65. He was 68 years old.
Dementia is caused by any one of a number of disorders that affect memory, behavior, thinking, and the ability to perform activities of daily living. It is more of a category of disorders than a specific disease.
As a result of this memory disorder, Thomas had a condition that makes it difficult to swallow. This condition is called dysphagia. Many people with dementia have this condition.
In addition to having swallowing problems, people with dementia often can’t remember what foods they can eat safely and what foods present a choking hazard. This is caused by the memory disorder itself.
The lawsuit alleges that Braeview knew Thomas Havelka suffered from dementia and swallowing problems and Braeview was required to provide him only with foods that did not present a choking hazard and to monitor and supervise his eating to ensure that he did not choke.
According to the allegations in the lawsuit, however, on April 10, 2017, several hours after dinner should have concluded, Braeview and Providence’s staff placed Thomas Havelka at a table in an unsecured dining area where he was provided access to foods that could cause him to choke. At approximately 8pm on April 10, 2017, Thomas Havelka began choking. He was pronounced dead at a hospital several hours later.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office concluded that Thomas died from choking on food at BraeView.
According to the lawsuit, “BraeView and Providence solicited patients with dementia and publicly advertised themselves as full providers of memory care, including holding BraeView Manor out as ‘Creekside Memory Care,’ in an effort to attract nursing home residents with dementia and other memory disorders.”
The lawsuit also states that “in an effort to persuade the families of patients with memory care disorders to become customers, [Braeview and Providence] make promises to the families of such potential residents that they will provide a level of care that they know they are incapable of providing.”
For example, the lawsuit outlines how Braeview advertised itself as a memory care center that was ideal for patients with memory disorders like dementia. However, the lawsuit also states how Braview and Providence had a poor record of staffing with Medicare. As illustration, Braeview received only a 1-star rating from Medicare for staffing using the system that Medicare uses to rate nursing homes. This is the worst rating possible.
According to the lawsuit, this is a classic example of understaffing to maximize profits.
The lawsuit was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland, Ohio. The lawsuit was filed by Michael A. Hill and William B. Eadie, nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers.
Eadie Hill is continuing to investigate additional claims and cases at nursing homes managed by Providence Healthcare Management in Ohio and Kentucky.