Detroit Nursing Home, Medical Director/Co-owner, and Director of Nursing Will Go on Trial in Death of 78-Year-Old Nursing Home Resident, Announces Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox
Lansing, MI - Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that a Detroit nursing home, its medical director/co-owner, and the director of nursing were bound over as charged and will go on trial regarding the death of a nursing home resident and the abuse of vulnerable adult residents.
"This tragic incident never should have happened," said Cox. "Facilities and their employees have a fundamental obligation to protect the residents that they care for. I will not sit idly by and watch this abuse go unpunished."
Parkridge Associates, formerly d/b/a Northland Nursing Center; Patrick Charles, M.D., 55, Parkridge Associates' Medical Director/co-owner; and Kathryn Gillis, R.N., 56, Director of Nursing; each have been charged with one felony count of Involuntary Manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine, and four felony counts of Vulnerable Adult Abuse-2nd degree, which carries four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Defendants were bound over by Judge Marylin E. Atkins in Detroit's 36th Judicial District Court on January 24, 2006. Judge Atkins found that there is sufficient evidence for this matter to proceed to trial in Circuit Court.
Charges of Involuntary Manslaughter against the Detroit nursing home, its medical director/co-owner, and director of nursing were originally filed on April 21, 2003, following an investigation into the heat-related death of a 78-year-old tube-fed female resident. On February 9, 2005, four additional charges of Vulnerable Adult Abuse-2nd Degree were filed against each Defendant.
Cox alleges in the complaints that in June 2001 Defendants failed to ensure the residents' safety in hazardous temperature levels, failed to adequately monitor and assess the condition of residents, failed to initiate evacuation procedures, and allowed internal body temperatures of some residents to reach as high as 107 degrees.
Facilities statewide, including Parkridge Associates, formerly d/b/a Northland Nursing Center, received an alert entitled "Recommendations To Health Facilities For Handling Heat And Humidity In Summer Months," which cautioned about heat-related medical emergencies and necessary steps to prevent deaths, especially among the elderly.
Cox further alleges that the facility's air conditioning system was not functioning, the facility's windows did not open, and there was a lack of fans for residents to use when temperatures in Detroit reached 87 degrees F on June 13, 89 degrees F on June 14, and 90 degrees F on June 15, 2001. On June 14, 2001, several of the nursing home's seriously ill residents identified as being "at risk for dehydration" began experiencing life-threatening problems as a result of the high temperatures. As medical director and treating physician, Dr. Charles was responsible for the proper care and treatment of the patients. One resident was found to have a temperature of 107 degrees F and Dr. Charles prescribed Tylenol(R) and ordered the resident to be transferred to the hospital. Before E.M.S. arrived, the victim was found unconscious and unresponsive with no vital signs. The medical examiner concluded that the death was caused by prolonged exposure to excessive heat. As Director of Nursing, Karen Gillis was also responsible for the proper care and assessment of the patients. Three other vulnerable patients were transferred to the hospital for serious heat-related conditions.
A criminal charge is an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
To report Medicaid provider fraud or patient abuse in a resident care facility in Micigan, call the Michigan Attorney General's 24-hour Hotline at (800 24-ABUSE [800-242-2873]); e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; or visit the Michigan Attorney General's Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/ag .
January 25, 2006