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Elderly Care Home Sued After Napa Woman Dies

Aug 20, 2004 | NapaNet Daily News

John Harrington claims the care his mother Jean received at the Napa La Homa Guest Home assisted living facility caused her to die.

Jean Harrington was once one of a handful of people staying at La Homa in Napa, which is listed under the California Assisted Living network as holding about six residents at maximum capacity. Now the circumstances surrounding her death are the subject of a lawsuit filed with Napa Superior Court. John Harrington is suing La Homa for wrongful death.

"While in defendants' care, Jean Harrington fell on multiple occasions receiving multiple bruises to her body and fracturing her shoulder," his court compliant reads.

By failing to care for her injuries as they should have, Harrington said staff at the home in effect helped her to die, and that La Homa managers should have hired more competent workers or at least properly trained the ones they had. Harrington is also suing for elder abuse and negligence, among related claims, but has not specified the amount of the damages he is seeking.

This is one of a few lawsuits involving care facilities for seniors in Napa County:

Pleasant Care Convalescent Hospital of Napa was sued by Tammy Rackham and Kenneth Fansler over the death of their brother, John Fansler. In court papers filed last month, the pair charged that fraud, negligence and abuse contributed to their brother's death in 2003.

In another case, Pleasant Care filed suit against the state because the facility claimed California Department of Heath Services inspectors were wrong when they reported the facility endangered the lives of two residents in 2002. The state fined Pleasant Care $40,000 for the violations.

Department of Health Services issued a citation against Napa Nursing Center last summer, claiming a man whose identity was not released was put at risk of injury or death due to mistakes in his care. Napa Nursing Center sued the state late last year to have its name cleared and the citation lifted. It claims its former resident was not in serious danger.

The state and an organization called the Napa County Long-term Care Ombudsman Program routinely inspect nursing and assisted living homes on a regular basis, talking with residents and watching things like how food is served and bathroom needs are met.

Sometimes, they find employees that ignore residents' calls to help make it to the bathroom and other sorry sights such as bed sores on patients who haven't been turned over. The volunteers also find that some homes are working hard to keep their facilities good places to stay. Many homes are pinched by falling Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursements. In the last few years the state cited several of the nursing homes in Napa County for one infraction or another.

Harrington's lawsuit does not mention any state report on the incident. The two parties are scheduled to meet in January.


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