Six employees of a nursing home and a contract nurse in Ohio have been charged after the death of one patient and the neglect of another, state officials announced Thursday.
“This man literally rotted to death,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said at a news conference. Yost says three of the workers have been charged with involuntary manslaughter: two from the nursing home and the contract nurse.
The patients were residents at Whetstone Gardens and Care Center in Columbus, Ohio.
In February 2017, the first patient developed serious wounds on his body progressing to gangrenous and necrotic tissue, the attorney general said in a statement. Despite the medical emergency, nurses allegedly failed to take medically appropriate steps that could have saved his life.
After being admitted to a hospital, the man died five days later on March 5, 2017, from septic shock, a result of the wounds. In a second case, the indictment says nurses falsified a patient’s medical file and forged signatures about treatments she never actually received.
“This case goes to the heart of protecting the unprotected,” Yost said in a statement. “These victims were completely dependent on others for day-to-day care, which their families trusted Whetstone Gardens to provide. Instead of providing that care, evidence shows these nurses forced the victims to endure awful mistreatment and then lied about it.”
The three nurses charged with involuntary manslaughter are Sandra Blazer, Jessica Caldwell and Kimberly Potter. The patients were not named.
In all, the six employees and the contractor were indicted on a combined 34 charges.
Nursing home spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch, when reached by phone Friday, told USA TODAY that four of the indicted employees have since been fired and the two others suspended.
“Whetstone vehemently disagrees with any suggestion that employees of the facility caused the 2017 death of a patient who was transferred to the hospital five days before passing away,” Stubenrauch said in an email. “As to the allegations of forgery and neglect by former employees regarding a second individual, these issues came to our attention two years ago during an annual Department of Health survey and were immediately addressed.”
He also pointed out that it was the employees – not the nursing home – that had been charged. The nursing home remains open, and its website Friday said that “every Whetstone associate upholds a commitment to ensure that you or your loved one has the opportunity to enjoy the best possible experience.”
Contributing: The Associated Press