Former Nurse at Capri Gardens Nursing Home in Lewis Center, Ohio Sentenced in Criminal Case
A former nurse who worked at the Capri Gardens Nursing Home in Lewis Center, Ohio, was sentenced in a criminal case on Monday, February 27, 2023. She pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, which is a third-degree felony, relative to the death of a resident at the Capri Gardens Nursing Home. She appeared in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas before the Honorable Judge James Schuk who sentenced the nurse, Aminata Fofana, to three (3) years of basic level of community control, also known as probation.
Circumstances of the Case Against the Capri Gardens Nursing Home Nurse
On May 20, 2021, Aminata Fofana, failed to replace the oxygen mask of a resident of the Capri Gardens Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Facility. Around 6:45 that morning, Nurse Fofana reportedly removed Paul Mowery's tracheostomy mask because it was soiled. About an hour later, another nurse entered Mr. Mowery's room and found him dead. The tracheostomy tubing was on the floor, not connected to the oxygen supply that Mr. Mowery needed. As a result, Mr. Mowery died of suffocation. Nurse Fofana was fired from the nursing home and her nursing license was revoked. She told federal investigators in June of 2021 that she had forgotten to replace the mask.
At her sentencing hearing, Mr. Mowery's wife of 31 years, Luana Mowery, told the Court that it continued to break her heart that she never got to say goodbye to her husband.
Choosing a Nursing Home for a Loved One
Tragic stories such as this highlight how imperative it is for anyone placing a loved one in a nursing home to select that facility carefully and to visit their loved one often at all different times of the day to check on their condition.
Nursing homes are rated on a 5 star system by Medicare. Capri Gardens is rated as 3 out of 5 stars overall. However, if you look more closely at the rating of Capri Gardens, it is rated a 1 out of 5 five stars for staffing which puts the staffing rates far below average. Capri Gardens is also a for profit facility, which is something someone choosing a nursing home may want to keep in mind. Further, on June 16, 2021, the nursing home was fined $12,461.00. While that is not necessarily a significant amount, any fines in the recent past would certainly be relevant to anyone's evaluation of that facility.
This story makes it clear that when placing a loved one in a nursing home, the selection process is very, very important. Medicare offers basic information about all nursing homes at Medicare.gov. Medicare.gov allows you to find all the nursing homes in your area, sort them by their 5 star rating, if each nursing home is for profit or nonprofit, and how large the nursing home is.
However, there is no substitute for visiting the nursing home and checking it out for yourself. When you visit a nursing home, make sure you tour the entire facility. One thing to note is that many nursing homes have a popcorn machine in the lobby of the building. Why do they have a popcorn machine? The reason is that the strong smell of the popcorn can hide other smells. Smells of feces. Smells of urine. Smells of a facility that's not clean. As you tour the facility, are residents being attended? Are they being watched? Is there enough staff to attend to the residents? Or are residents largely left unattended. Also, listen for alarm bells. Are call lights going off? Are fall alarms going off? Is the staff responding to these alarms promptly? Is there a nurse at the nurses' station?
It is strongly recommended that you visit the nursing home at all hours of the day. While a nursing home may be fully staffed at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, it is important to also observe the staff at 10:00 p.m. Holidays are also a great time to visit a facility, whether it's a nursing home that you're considering placing your loved one in, or where your loved one is already a resident. Is the facility fully staffed on July 4? Is it fully staffed on Memorial Day? Is it fully staffed on Christmas Eve? The needs of the residents do not change day to day. They need the same amount of care, time, attention and supervision on New Year's Eve that they would on any other date. A good nursing home properly staffs its facility with an adequate number of properly trained people at all times. Furthermore, state and federal regulations require that they do so.
Nursing Home Staff
It is not known whether Nurse Fofana had any prior history of abuse or neglect. One of the things that you will likely not be able to find out is the history of the staff at the various nursing homes. Nursing homes are required to run a background check on anyone they hire, and are not permitted to hire anyone who has been convicted of a long list of crimes in Ohio.
Here at The Dickson Firm, as soon as we file a case, we request the personnel files of all of the individuals who provided, or were responsible to provide care to our client. We look for past problems with discipline and past citations. We also look into if the staff is often late or if they have a lot of call offs potentially leaving the facility understaffed. We are also able to access the staffing data of the facility, which allows us to see exactly how many hours the staff worked each day at the nursing home. This data is broken down by nurse and aide, allowing us to see exactly how many aides, RNs, and LPNs were at the facility each day. We perform a thorough analysis of the staffing at each nursing home to determine if the staff was qualified and whether there was a sufficient number of staff to take care of the residents at the facility.
If someone you love has been neglected or abused in a nursing home, please call us at 1-800-OHIO-LAW or contact us online. We would be happy to talk with you and help you in any way that we can.