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NEWS REPORT: Wrongful death claim against Community Care

Wrongful death claim against Community Care

By SAM STOCKARD
Published: April 19, 2016

A Rutherford County woman is suing Community Care of Rutherford County, claiming the nursing home's negligence caused her mother to fall and suffer serious injuries and pain until she died two months later.

Smyrna resident Teresa Owen filed the wrongful death claim April 5 in Circuit Court on behalf of her 85-year-old mother, Jean Marie Bucy.

"I just wanted the people to know, as far up the chain as I could go, what their lack of attention caused," Owen said.

The elderly woman was considered a high risk for falling, according to the lawsuit, and when Community Care staff members were using a lift with straps to move her from her bed to a "Geri chair" on April 12, 2015, the straps broke, causing her to fall to the floor.

Bucy suffered severe pain and bruises, head lacerations and lower leg abrasions, the lawsuit states, and was transferred to St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital. As a result of the injuries her overall health deteriorated until she died June 23, 2015, the lawsuit states.

"We filed this lawsuit because Community Care caused Jean Bucy to be injured," said Russell Lewis, the attorney representing Owen. "Her injuries were the direct result of improper management of employees and maintenance of equipment, nothing more and nothing less.

"A nursing home should be a safe place. State and federal regulations require this. Community Care was paid to meet the basic needs of Jean Bucy and failed to do so."

Medical bills totaling $30,000 mounted in direct relation to the fall, Lewis said, and Bucy's family also got upset because if felt the Community Care administration "really acted like nothing happened."

The family called a long-term care ombudsman with the state Commissioner on Aging and Disability, who visited the facility and ordered it to file a report with the Department of Health on Bucy's fall, according to Lewis.

Owen said she was "terribly upset" because her mother was "hurt so bad" and in such pain.

Senior citizens deserve to be treated with respect, and those who work at nursing homes need to understand their job is important, Owen said.

"They had just become too lax in their duties from the bottom to the top," she said.

Tennessee law would limit any damages awarded to the family to $300,000, according to Lewis.

Community Care attorney Josh McCreery could not be reached for comment.

The Community Care Board of Rutherford County recently hired Terri Bodkins to oversee the county-operated nursing home after former administrator Mark King resigned in March.

The 131-bed facility on County Farm Road on the south side of Murfreesboro also paid a $548,500 federal penalty in December 2015 after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited it with a civil monetary penalty for "immediate jeopardy" violations involving the way restraints were used on patients.

Payment of the fine did not come from Rutherford County coffers but from the nursing home, a nonprofit entity with operating revenue of $1.8 million.

The federal fine was levied six years after the state Department of Health lifted a suspension on Community Care admissions stemming from similar "immediate jeopardy" citations. In April through May 2009, surveyors investigated a complaint and found violations related to administration and performance, according to the state.

Sam Stockard can be reached at sstockard44@gmail.com.
http://www.murfreesboropost.com/wrongful-death-claim-against-community-care-cms-44176

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