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Indiana health officials are considering placing a nursing home’s license on probation after a resident with Alzheimer’s disease accidentally died last month at the nursing homre, according to an Associated Press news report published in the Indianapolis Star.

The Indiana State Department of Health also wants Bradner Village Health Care Center to hire a registered nurse consultant and a licensed administrator consultant for 40 hours per week, the agency said Monday.

Nursing home staff found the body of Clarence B. Elliott, 76, about 3 a.m. on Feb. 15 outside a locked door of the home on a night when temperatures fell below zero. An autopsy determined the man had died of hypothermia.

Following a survey days after Elliott’s death, the health department charged Bradner Village with violating state rules. The survey found the home had failed to watch Elliott over a five-hour period on the night of Feb. 14 and failed to prevent his unsupervised exit from the building into a snow-covered courtyard.

The investigation also determined that a certified nursing assistant responsible for the 10 p.m. bed check did not enter Elliott’s room, which was in the secure area of the home, the news report said. A second assistant responsible for a bed check two hours later entered every room but Elliott’s.

Bradner Village has made several corrections, including firing two employees, Eric Walts, part owner and executive administrator of Bradner Village, said previously. It also installed a video surveillance system and a second alarm on the doors Elliott used to leave, he said.

It shocks me that a nursing home that would take in Alzheimer’s patients or people with dementia would not have a surveillance system in place and alarm on the doors. These are safety standards that should be part of state requirement to operate a nursing home. It should be made part of the permit process.

In my opinion, this nursing home deserves to be put on probation. A 76-year-old man, incapable of caring for himself, froze to death at their doorstep. And they had no idea. This is one of those types of cases that my partner and I get more juice out of. Where a corporation, charging a bundle for taking care of the elderly, blows it and it costs a life. In this case, I’ll bet when the attorney representing the family gets into this nursing home’s records, he’ll find dozens of cost cutting and cost saving steps this corporation routinely take, that puts their elder charges at risk. Looks like a “punitive damages” case to me.

When you’re looking to place a loved one in a nursing home, always look for telltale signs of neglect. Here are some pointers I found at the Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Resource Center’s Website:

Physical neglect: disregard for the necessities of daily living
Medical neglect: lack of care for existing medical problems
Failure to prevent dehydration, malnutrition, and bed sores
Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter
Unsanitary and unclean conditions Infections
Failure to protect from health and safety hazards
Poor access to medical services
If you have experienced such a tragedy, contact me and find out what your rights are.

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