Lawsuit Filed: Woman Left Unattended Suffers Traumatic Fall in Rehabilitation Center

Eureka, Calif. – Marie White was admitted to Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center for rehabilitation and 24-hour care and supervision after developing dementia, sundowner’s syndrome and suffering several falls. Despite being fully aware of White’s conditions, it’s alleged that the facility failed to create a hazard-free environment, as well as to provide adequate supervision and assistance to avoid additional falls and injuries. While a resident at Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, White suffered multiple preventable falls, including one that caused the fracture of her left arm.

Garcia, Artigliere, Medby & Faulkner filed a lawsuit against Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center for elder abuse.

“The State of California’s Department of Public Health’s more than 185 pages of adverse findings reacting to surveys completed in December of 2016 involving many residents, just one of whom was Marie, reflecting Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center’s significant violations of rules, laws and/or regulations enacted to protect the elders of our state, and the wellbeing of Marie White, is the most comprehensive, lengthy and significant finding by the State that I have ever seen in my more than three decades of practicing law,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The most troubling realty reflected in those pages is the State’s confirmation that Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center was made aware of the dangerous consequences of its understaffing in the facility by its own staff and yet ignored these warnings. The fact that its own staff warned Eureka about their dangerous operational conditions, and they still failed to correct the understaffing and poor operational issues is well beyond disturbing and alarming. In my opinion, the injuries suffered by Marie could have, and should have, been avoided had the facility provided the basic and fundamental services promised to its residents. The State’s findings reflect a sad scenario of operations of a skilled nursing facility to whose care elder and infirm family members were entrusted.”

Allegations and Background

White was admitted to Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center for rehabilitation of a fractured hip, to prevent future falls and to receive special care with daily living. It is alleged that Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center was fully aware of White’s medical conditions upon her arrival through assessment information, family information, physician notes and orders provided to the facility.

The lawsuit states that on January 26, 2017, White was being assisted to the bathroom by a staff member. The employee allegedly then left White unattended, which resulted in a fall that caused White to strike her head on the toilet and subsequently sustain a fractured neck and wrist. The lawsuit states that White also suffered malnourishment leading to a weight loss of 24 pounds in under four months, all of which was fraudulently concealed by the facility from White’s family and legal representative.

As a result of her medical conditions, White could not withstand the anesthesia required for surgery so she was placed in a neck brace and was transferred to another skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation.

During her stay at Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, the Department of Public Health (DPH) investigated White’s multiple falls and issued three Class A citations relating to her care. Class A citations are the most serious type of violation that are not the direct proximate cause of a resident’s death. Within this, the DPH found that White’s and other residents’ falls at the facility were caused by understaffing, which in turn caused multiple other failures. Despite this documentation, when interviewed by the DPH, the administrator of Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center contended the facility did not have a staffing problem. It is also alleged that Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center deliberatively failed to take corrective action to address the violations, leading to an excessive amount of resident falls and injuries.