Lois Moreland, an 88-year-old Missouri woman suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, died in a Missouri nursing home after being left alone in a whirlpool bath for eight hours. Ms. Moreland, who had been married for 59 years and a stay-at-home mother for most of her life, lived at St. Sophia Health & Rehabilitation Center in Florissant, Missouri since March of 2013. Ms. Moreland suffered from Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, heart disease, hypertension, muscle weakness and difficulty walking.
At about 8:30 p.m. on the evening of March 22, 2016, a St. Sophia nursing assistant helped Ms. Moreland into a whirlpool tub for her nightly bath. Ms. Moreland’s help never returned. It wasn’t until 4:30 a.m. the next day that the nursing assistant remembered taking her to the shower room hours earlier. Ms. Moreland’s dead body was found in a tub of cool water with the whirlpool jets still running. The pull cord she could have used to summon help was dangling against the wall and beyond her reach.
According to an investigative report by the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), Moreland’s doctor said it was unsafe to leave her alone in a bathtub for more than 30 minutes because of her declining mental and physical health. Her psychiatrist said she should not have been left unattended for longer than five to 10 minutes.
According to the same report, on the night of Ms. Moreland’s death St. Sophia only had one nurse, two certified nursing assistants, and a medication technician to care for 35 residents. The investigation also found that the assistant who helped Ms. Moreland into the tub had a history of “negligent behavior towards residents” and reported to investigators that he felt “overwhelmed” by the workload at St. Sophia. After Ms. Moreland’s death, government inspectors determined that residents at the facility were in immediate jeopardy, the most severe status given to nursing homes.
On July 5, Ms. Moreland’s son, Steven Moreland, filed a lawsuit in St. Louis County, Missouri Circuit Court against St. Sophia alleging that the nursing home’s negligence caused his mother’s suffering and death and that St. Sophia put profits above health care by deliberately understaffing its 240-bed nursing home. Steven Moreland’s lawyer, David Terry, stated:
When there are not enough staff members to care for residents, it creates an environment where employees are trying to do too many things that they forget about putting a resident in a bathtub and end up leaving her there for over eight hours.
He said Lois Moreland was “unable to comprehend her circumstances or fend for herself because there were not enough employees to meet the needs of each resident. And as a result, Lois Moreland paid the price.”
This tragic story has become increasingly more common over the last few years. Lawyers in our firm are fighting to protect the safety and rights of elderly and infirmed Americans who reside in nursing homes across the country. Our nursing home lawyers represent the victims or families of those who have suffered death or serious injury because of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you have suffered serious injury, your loved one had been catastrophically injured or died, or you have any questions about nursing home abuse and neglect, contact Chris Boutwell, a lawyer in our firm, at Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com or by phone at 800-898-2034.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch