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Nursing home targeted again in lawsuit

Patient developed wounds on both heels


by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Garden Valley Healthcare Center has been hit with another lawsuit.

Former patient, Delilah Counce, 70, of Riverside, entered the long-term skilled nursing facility located at 8575 N. Granby Ave., Kansas City in Platte County, on Jan. 5, 2018 to receive basic nursing and health care. During her residency, Counce claims she sustained injuries that caused her great physical pain and suffering.

Attorney Rachel Stahle said, “My client was in the nursing home for about four months and developed wounds on both heels--basically bed scores--for not having her heals offloaded.”

Stahle alleges the wounds became infected as a result of negligent care and treatment at the nursing home.

“She is alive,” says attorney Stahle, “A lot of heel wounds can kill a patient but that did not happen with her.”

When The Landmark asked Stahle if the incident occurred due to understaffing of medical personnel, Stahle said it is too early in the process to know for sure.

“I get a lot of clients saying that there was never anybody there but we don't truly get staffing information until we are further along in the legal process,” said attorney Stahle.

In many cases, Stahle added, she must obtain a judge’s order to find out exactly how many nurses and nursing aides work at the facility.

“But generally speaking,” said Stahle, “I think nursing homes are understaffed.”

When Counce entered the facility, the case says, she was in a “frail, defenseless and dependent condition,” relying on the nursing home for care and treatment.

As attorney Stahle explains it in a 10-page lawsuit, Garden Valley breached its duty of care by “failing to provide adequate supervision” and “implement interventions” in a timely manner after Counce complained of heel pain.

The lawsuit claims Garden Valley Healthcare Center “failed to follow standard orders and protocol” to prevent the development of pressure ulcers by failing to perform weekly skin checks and wound cleansing methods as ordered.

As Stahle tells it, Garden Valley should have known that its behavior “created a high probability of injury.” These injuries required Counce to undergo additional treatment and incur medical expenses.

The suit also accuses Garden Valley of violating the Omnibus Nursing Home Act, which was enacted to protect Missouri's most vulnerable citizens.

As the litigation process continues, Stahle said she will examine all the evidence and move forward with obtaining all the necessary documents to prove Garden Valley’s actions were “malicious and outrageous,” as the case alleges.

Counce is seeking compensation from Garden Valley and Health Facility Management for damages.

Last month, The Landmark reported on another lawsuit involving Garden Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. That case is a wrongful death case that alleges the nursing home breached its duty of care in “the administration of medications,” the “movement of their patients” and “standards for treatment.” In that lawsuit a patient’s daughter is seeking monetary damages for the death of her mother.