Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Paralyzed Woman Develops Horrific Stage IV Pressure Sore Due to Neglect Suffered at Shafter Nursing Home

Shafter, Calif. — Margie Faye Shivers, an 80-year-old woman, was admitted to Golden Living Center – Shafter, a skilled nursing facility, for rehabilitation after suffering multiple strokes and a heart attack. She was paralyzed on one side of her body and used a stomach tube for nutrition and hydration. It’s alleged that during her approximately six-month stay at the facility, Shivers developed an infected Stage IV bedsore on her lower back due to staff negligence. The sore was so severe it tunneled through tissue, nearly exposing bone. According to the Complaint, facility staff hid the sore from Shivers’ family and doctor, allowing it to worsen. As a result of the facility’s alleged negligence, Shivers suffered painful and preventable injuries, and her physical condition has greatly deteriorated.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Golden Living Center ­– Shafter for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“During the course of Margie’s residency, the facility systematically and continuously ignored her known needs and wrongfully withheld services required by the standard of practice, as stated in our Complaint,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Unfortunately, this alleged negligence was not an isolated incident as the facility is repeatedly issued deficiencies by the Department of Public Health for failure to provide the patient care they are required to perform as a licensed health care facility. In fact, the facility’s Governing Body and managing agents have been explicitly aware of this ongoing dysfunction as they repeatedly signed a plan of correction each time a DPH investigation resulted in a citation. By signing the plan of correction, the defendants promise to remedy each and every deficiency found at the facility. Despite these promises, it appears the facility simply moved forward with their scheme to warehouse as many residents as possible for the sake of maximizing profit, with zero regard for the health and safety of residents.” 

Allegations and Background

In August 2018, Shivers was admitted to the facility for rehabilitation from Memorial Hospital ­– Bakersfield. She had recently suffered multiple strokes and a heart attack which left her paralyzed on one side of her body, and with swallowing difficulties that left her dependent on a stomach tube for hydration and nutrition.

From the time of Shivers’ admission through her discharge from the facility, she was particularly susceptible to the development of pressure sores, dehydration and infection due to her advanced age and pre-existing medical conditions. Her medical conditions left her dependent on facility staff for all the activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning her body, transferring into and out of bed, hydration, nutrition, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting and medication management.

The lawsuit alleges that the facility knew from Shivers’ preexisting medical conditions and its own assessments of Shivers upon her admittance that she was at high risk for bedsores, dehydration and infection. The suit states that these risks were clearly manageable through the application of fundamental nursing principles and safety measures that would be found in a quality skilled nursing facility. Unfortunately, it’s alleged that the facility failed to provide the basic nursing care that Shivers required and she developed a severe pressure sore on her sacral/coccyx area.

In December 2018, Shivers’ family discovered the pressure sore. By the time the family learned of the sore, it was the size of a lemon and was open and tunneling.

It is alleged that no one from the facility had told Shivers’ family or her doctor about the sore or what was being done to treat the wound, as they were required to do by law. State and federal regulations mandate that nursing homes must notify residents’ physicians when residents develop pressure sores and must follow doctors’ orders in treating sores. However, in an effort to cover up the facility’s failure to provide required care, facility nurses simply concealed the condition from Shivers’ family and doctor, and untruthfully stated that nothing was wrong, the suit further alleges.

On January 21, 2019, Shivers was discharged from the facility to San Joaquin Community Hospital with admitting diagnoses that included severe dehydration. When Shivers first arrived there, hospital personnel discovered an infection and tunneling through the pressure wound that nearly exposed bone. Shivers’ quality of life has been greatly impacted by the lack of quality medical care she received at the facility. The abuse and neglect caused unnecessary and prolonged suffering for both Shivers and her family, according to the lawsuit.

It’s alleged that through a plot devised and executed by facility operators, the facility was to retain as many residents as possible for the purpose of generating revenue from the provision of “skilled” nursing care and other services which are offered but are, in reality, non-existent or subpar at best. This scheme has resulted in a lucrative business model for the defendants, according to the Complaint. In the 2017 fiscal year alone, the defendants collected $6,316,642 for payment of “Skilled Nursing Care” services. Significantly, $5,561,841 was funded by Medi-Cal. All of this revenue flows directly into the pockets of the defendants acting by and through the facility’s Governing Body.

Integrated into the alleged scheme set forth by the defendants was the objective to limit costs in order to maximize profit at the expense of the health and safety of residents, including Shivers. Through such budgetary constraints, the defendants systematically failed to have the resources or the staff on hand to manage the care of residents.