Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced today that six employees of a Columbus nursing facility and a contracted certified nurse practitioner have been indicted on 34 charges, including involuntary manslaughter for allegedly neglecting two patients, including one who later died.
An investigation of Whetstone Gardens and Care Center on Olentangy River Road determined that one patient died as a direct result of neglect at the facility, while a second patient suffered physical harm because of inadequate care.
“This case goes to the heart of protecting the unprotected,” Attorney General Yost said. “These victims were completely dependent on others for day-to-day care, which their families trusted Whetstone Gardens to provide. Instead of providing that care, evidence shows these nurses forced the victims to endure awful mistreatment and then lied about it. This is gut-wrenching for anyone who has entrusted a care facility with the well-being and safety of a loved one.”
In February 2017, the first patient developed serious wounds on his body progressing to gangrenous and necrotic tissue. Despite the medical emergency, nurses allegedly failed to take medically appropriate steps that could have saved his life, according to Yost.
He died on March 5, 2017, from septic shock, a result of the wounds, officials said.
A Franklin County grand jury on Wednesday indicted three nurses on charges of involuntary manslaughter, gross patient neglect and patient neglect as a result of failing to get the patient timely medical treatment.
The three nurses are Sandra Blazer, Jessica Caldwell and Kimberly Potter.
The indictments also say nursing staff repeatedly documented treatments that were never provided to a second patient, who suffered physical harm as a result of the inadequate care.
Medical records for that patient contained false information and forged signatures of nursing staff. The investigation found that the patient’s medical file listed care occurring at times when she was not physically present at the facility.
As a result, five employees, including Blazer, were indicted on charges of forgery and/or gross patient neglect. All seven individuals were indicted in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the cases.
Whetstone Gardens and Care Center spokesperson Ryan Stubenrauch says the facility took steps long ago to remedy the issue.
“This is an incident that happened 2-years-ago. As soon as it was brought to our attention we took immediate steps to fire many of the employees who were responsible for many of these issues. And we have taken care from that date to this day over the last 2-years to ensure that nothing like this can happen again,” he said.
Anyone with evidence of additional neglect at the facility is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/ReportMedicaidFraud.