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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Assisted living facilities are designed to help those who need round-the-clock care live a comfortable life. Sadly, some facilities aren’t quite up to par and the residents within can experience neglect and even abuse. Such is the claim in a pending lawsuit filed by one woman’s family. The lawsuit states that Marie-Rose Demkowicz fell at least 14 times during her stay at Sunrise Assisted Living in Willowbrook.
Demkowicz entered the facility after she had fallen in her home and broken her hip. A multiple sclerosis patient who used a wheelchair, Demkowicz needed assistance with everyday activities including using the bathroom. Her daughter, Stefanie Lopez-Demkowicz says that during her mother’s stay at the facility, staff did not respond quickly, so Marie-Rose would wheel herself to the bathroom and attempt to use the bathroom on her own. But, Stefanie says, “They would find her in the bathroom on the floor.” During one visit, Stefanie tried the call alert button herself to see what the reaction time would be, and found it to be over 20 minutes. Demkowicz’s son, Daniel, said that sometimes staff would reset the call button after they initially came to the room, but would tell his mother, “I’ll be right back,” only to disappear for “another 20 minutes.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the facility failed to take necessary care for preventing bed sores, causing Marie- Rose to develop a Stage IV bed sore that became infected and required surgical treatment, “all of which caused or contributed to causing her death.” The law states that Stage 3 or Stage 4 bed sores require the resident to be transferred to a nursing home for skilled care, yet Marie-Rose was kept as a resident for seven months. Her family says the reason for not transferring Marie-Rose was money—in Demkowicz’s case, more than $5,000 a month.
Daniel Demkowicz said, “The care that she needed, she wasn’t getting. And that’s what I thought we signed up for. And it makes you angry.”
There are 19 Sunrise facilities in the Chicago metropolitan area, including one in Gurnee that faced a lawsuit over a patient who was left on an empty oxygen tank on multiple occasions over six weeks, who later died of respiratory failure.
Debra Feldman, an advocate for geriatric patients who declined to comment on specific facilities, said, “There are good and bad assisted living facilities,” and that it’s important for loved ones to visit them and look for problems. She suggests loved ones to check, “Are there behavior changes? Are they getting out to activities? Are they eating? Are they clean?” and that if there are any noticeable issues, to report it to the nursing staff.
If problems persist, it’s important not to ignore them and hope they’ll go away. Instead, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer or nursing home neglect attorney. Nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers may have information you don’t, including prior history of a facility’s abuse or neglect complaints, and they’ll know the best ways to approach a case such as this one.
For quality legal representation with a nursing home neglect or abuse case, contact Malman Law today.
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