LEWIS CENTER, Ohio (WCMH) — A central Ohio woman wants answers and accountability after her husband died in a Lewis Center nursing home last year.
Luana Mowery filed a lawsuit against the home, its parent company, and a nurse claiming negligence and wrongful death following her husband’s death in May 2021.
Paul and Luana Mowery met at work.
“Both of us worked at the phone company. We got married in 1990, and both of us had been married before,” Luana said. “We were just really close. We liked to do the same things. We bowled and did everything together.”
Just two years after the Mowerys vowed to cherish each other, in sickness and in health, Paul suffered three strokes and an aneurism.
“He had no short-term memory after he initially got sick, but we did OK,” Luana said.
Luana cared for Paul at home for more than 20 years, but eventually placed him in a nursing home when she said, “He needed more care than I could give him.”
In 2019, Luana transferred Paul from the home where he’d been living to Capri Gardens in Lewis Center, which had just been built. She said she toured the facility and liked what she saw.
“I had considered the staff my family, and I trusted them to take care of my husband and keep him safe,” she said.
Luana said the staff at Capri Gardens communicated well with her initially, Zooming with her regularly to discuss Paul’s care as the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented her daily visits to the home.
Paul was placed in hospice care in January 2021. He died May 20.
According to reports from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a nurse went into Paul’s room to check on him at 6:45 a.m., toward the end of her night shift. The nurse reported that she removed his tracheostomy mask because it was soiled.
Roughly an hour later, a nurse from the day shift went into Paul’s room and found him dead.
“We don’t know how long it took him to die,” Luana said. “But I was denied the privilege of being with him when he passed, because of the way he died.”
Reports from multiple agencies are consistent in describing a death by suffocation because Paul’s tracheostomy tubing was on the floor, not connecting him to the oxygen he needed to survive.
While the nurse told federal investigators in June that she’d forgotten to replace the mask she’d just removed (and wasn’t sure why) and moved onto another task, a different report filed by the home with ODH states, “The director stated that (Paul) had the ability to displace the tubing.”
“It’s deplorable to me. I just can’t fathom why they would say that,” Luana said. “He couldn’t move. The only thing he did was open and close his eyes.”
Luana hopes this lawsuit filed against the home, parent company Foundations Health Solutions and the nurse will shine light on exactly what led to Paul’s death.
“I need to get justice for Paul. I want to make sure that no other family goes through what we’ve been through,” Luana said. “I knew he was declining, and it was only a matter of time, but just in the way he died is just hard for me to accept.”
According to CMS, Capri Gardens put staff through additional training and fired the nurse involved in Paul’s death the day after he died.
Clara Wukelich, Foundation Health Solutions’ Director of Risk Management, told NBC4 Investigates the company was unable to comment on pending litigation.
The nurse lost her nursing license and will need to undergo additional education and a mental evaluation if she wants to get it back.
NBC4 Investigates was unable to reach the nurse for comment.