Patient not at nursing home when she died
By Lea Ann Overstreet
Times Staff Writer
Aug. 22, 2002
The attorney for Elm Hurst Nursing Home revealed Thursday the patient who died, causing the Home and two administrators to be indicted, was not a patient at the home for the 4-1/2 months prior to her death.
Springfield attorney Clyde Richert, who will represent Elm Hurst's Board of Directors, said Lillian Hyde was discharged from the home May 31, 2001. Mrs. Hyde, 84, later died Oct. 4.
"There has been some indication she died at Elm Hurst," said Richert. "She died four-and-a-half months later after visiting hospitals and other nursing homes."
Hyde's death was the crux of Robertson County Grand Jury indictments for reckless homicide issued against Elm Hurst Nursing Home, administrator Jane Smithson and nurse Donna Henry, who serves as director of nursing.
"I think this will turn out down the road...not to be what it appears to be," Richert said.
The indictment issued by the Robertson County Grand Jury states that Hyde received poor care from on or about Jan. 1, 2001, to May 31, 2001. The court record states that upon her death, Hyde suffered from seven ulcers varied in size. One measured nine by nine centimeters and Hyde's spine could be seen through the opening.
Smithson and Henry remain in their job while the case is being decided.
"The Board believes that's the proper course to take," said Richert. "We believe they will perform their job."
According to Richert, Hyde was admitted to Elm Hurst Oct. 6, 1995. He says she left the home May 31, 2001, and was in and out of other homes during the time preceding her death.
Richert says Hyde was not under the care of Elm Hurst at the time of her death and the Home is "attempting to determine" what happened in the case.
"I'm not sure we know exactly why she was removed," said Richert. "She was quite ill, and quite ill for some time."
Hyde was bedridden for the last two years she was at Elm Hurst, which contributed to the chances of developing bed sores.
"Ulcers happen at all nursing homes," said J.T. White, the vice-chairman of the Elm Hurst Board of Directors. "The state comes in and asks who has ulcers and we show them. They (the state) continually want you to update ... we are continually improving the nursing home.
"We've got nurses that do nothing but take care of bed sores on every shift."
Neither Richert nor White would comment on any specifics of the case, but both agree that Elm Hurst and its employees will find vindication in the long run.
"The Home is conducting a thorough investigation and we have every confidence in the Home," Richert said. "It's important for the people in the community to feel the same way."
Elm Hurst received low ratings dealing with patient care prior to Hyde's death. The state inspected the Home May 11, 2001, and Elm Hurst received 10 health deficiencies.
One deficiency resulted in a three rating upon inspectors determining that the home failed to "give residents proper treatment to prevent new bed (pressure) sores or heal existing bed sores," the inspection report states.
Each deficiency is rated from one to four, four being the worst.
"Nurses fight this issue everyday. One bed sore may get better and by the next night it's bad again," White said. "You never know about a bed sore."
Smithson and Henry were arrested Aug. 5 and later posted a $5,000 bond. A court date has been set for Sept. 6. If found guilty, the employees could be sentenced to serve two to four years for the offense.
Elm Hurst Nursing Home, Inc., was created in 1962 as a Tennessee not-for-profit corporation. Robertson County owns the land and building the nursing home occupies. The county leases the property to Elm Hurst.