Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Dies 11 Days After Being Admitted to Los Alamitos Nursing Facility Due to Negligence

Los Alamitos, Calif. — Dorothy Baca, an 85-year-old, oxygen-dependent woman, was admitted to Alamitos West Healthcare Center suffering from significant medical conditions, including diseases of the bowel requiring use of a colostomy bag, pneumonia, nasal congestion and constipation, all of which rendered her dependent on others to perform activities of daily living and left her particularly susceptible to low blood pressure, low oxygen levels and death. It’s alleged that while she was a resident of the facility, Baca’s conditions were left untreated and allowed to worsen. Approximately 11 days after she was admitted to the facility, Baca was transferred to Los Alamitos Medical Center due to unstable vitals, abnormally low oxygen saturation levels and days without a bowel movement. Two hours later, Baca succumbed to the injuries caused by the wrongful withholding of care by the facility.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against Alamitos West Healthcare Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Alamitos West Healthcare Center has a history of being issued deficiencies by the State of California’s Department of Public Health, but notwithstanding this knowledge, management and staff meaningfully disregarded the issues of understaffing even though they knew this could and did lead to unnecessary injuries to residents of their facility, including Dorothy,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Our complaint alleges that the facility failed to properly and completely conduct a comprehensive pre-employment interview process and reference checks for the Administrator, Director of Nursing and many certified nursing assistants, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and other staff. Had the facility done so, they would have discerned that these individuals were unfit to perform their job duties in a licensed skilled nursing facility in California.”

Allegations and Background

In or around January 2018, Baca experienced difficulties having bowel movements and was taken to Los Alamitos Medical Center, where she tested negative for a bowel obstruction. Shortly following this hospital visit, Baca developed a urinary tract infection and tested positive for the flu due to congestion.

In or around early February 2018, Baca’s difficulties having bowel movements continued without improvement. She was taken back to Los Alamitos Medical Center where she received treatment for pneumonia and the flu for approximately five days before being discharged to Alamitos West Healthcare Center.

Upon admission to the facility, it’s alleged the defendants knew that Baca required specific care and interventions in order to protect her from hypotension, hypoxia and death; however, the facility failed to provide this required care, leading directly to Baca’s injuries and death. Specifically, the facility failed to provide adequate monitoring and treatment of Baca’s nutritional needs; treatment in a timely manner for hypotension; adequate monitoring for low oxygen saturation levels; adequate assessment and monitoring for bowel obstruction and constipation; adequate monitoring and follow-up of blood pressure and oxygen saturation; and emergency treatment when her blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels indicated need for medical attention.

Additionally, pursuant to the last filing submitted by the facility with the State of California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) for the reporting period through December 31, 2016, the facility either siphoned $85,718.00 in payments to or for unspecified services as it relates to managing the facility itself, or the facility paid to the management defendants through an unidentified “Payable To Related Party” account, for the provision of limited to no services. Moreover, as a further mechanism to ensure unlawful profit at the expense of the legally mandated minimum care to be provided to residents of the facility, the facility and the management defendants further unlawfully siphoned off cash, which should have been devoted to resident care as a matter of law. The facility paid to defendant The Goodman Group, LLC $948,023.00 in “Management & Accounting Fees” for phantom, non-existent services rather than providing these funds to the facility operations to comply with the law. This was an alleged mechanism by which the management defendants controlled the actual fiscal operations of each of their skilled nursing facilities.