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Woman Dies in Hospital After Being Left With Two Broken Legs on Nursing Home Floor

One more nursing home nightmare occurred last week, this time in Oregon.

In the fall of 2006, Linda Ober was rushed to the emergency room from a Portland nursing home. She lived one more day.

At the Gateway Care and Retirement Center, she was “dropped” by aides while being moved from a wheelchair to her bed. She lay on the linoleum five days with two broken legs before an ambulance came to take her to a hospital.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by her daughter against Gateway contends nursing home workers ignored her mother’s cries for help. Instead, workers told her she hadn’t fallen but was having a nightmare.

Three former Gateway employees were criminally accused of failing to summon help for the 60-year-old former resident. Suzanne Ruddell and Verna Heide were indicted in February, 2008 on charges of felony criminal mistreatment in the death of Ober. Court documents in Multnomah County Circuit Court allege that Ruddell and Heide “did unlawfully and knowingly withhold necessary and adequate physical care and medical attention” from Ober. Both face trial in June. Police also are looking for ex-Gateway worker, Cammy Nye, who was indicted on accusations of misdemeanor reckless endangering.

Court indictments came 15 months after Ober’s death and two months after Ober’s daughter filed the $3.5 million lawsuit.

In January, the federal government cited Gateway 13 times for violating resident care standards. Of Oregon’s 138 nursing homes, 124 received federal citations for lack of care.

In January, Gateway Administrator Rick Harding said the lawsuit’s allegation that Ober was “ignored although she was moaning in pain” was totally false. He said he talked with Ober just after the accident and she did not say she was in any physical discomfort.

In an unrelated incident, a lawsuit filed by ex-Gateway employee Melissa Muir contends the nursing home was “hostile toward her” after she reported patient abuse and neglect to police just two weeks after being hired. Muir’s suit claims Gateway purposefully changed her work schedule so it conflicted with her other job’s hours, forcing to resign at Gateway.

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