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Family alleges negligence at ManorCare in Catonsville
Source: The Baltimore Sun, Alison Knezevich

The family of an 85-year-old woman who died last year has sued a Catonsville nursing home, saying video shot by her daughter-in-law shows that the staff ignored her cries of pain for more than an hour.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Baltimore County Circuit Court, accuses ManorCare Health Services-Woodbridge Valley of negligence and alleges that records kept by Esther Gray’s nurses conflict with what the video shows.

“Despite the repeated notes in Mrs. Gray’s chart that she was not in pain, video footage of Mrs. Gray taken on August 17, 2014 shows Mrs. Gray moaning and screaming in pain, and for assistance to get to the bathroom, for an extended period of time (over an hour) while her alarm bell sounds, with no healthcare provider at ManorCare-Woodbridge coming to her aid,” the lawsuit states.

Staff at the facility on North Rolling Road referred questions Tuesday about the lawsuit to the public relations department of HCR ManorCare, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility operator, which released a statement saying it is the company’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.

“The center has a history of providing quality care and remains committed to delivering this care to the patients they serve,” the Toledo, Ohio-based company said in a statement. “ManorCare is currently in compliance with all state and federal health care regulations.”

HCR ManorCare, one of the nation’s largest health care providers, operates eight facilities in the Baltimore region, including several in Towson and one each in Baltimore, Catonsville, Pikesville and Rossville, according to its website.

The company has been accused of violations of the Federal False Claims Act in a separate civil lawsuit. The suit, later joined by the Justice Department, alleges that the company provided medically unnecessary rehabilitation services to Medicare patients. The company said in a statement that it disagrees with the allegations and was only fulfilling its duty to patients.

Gray, a retired Social Security Administration worker, was transferred to ManorCare’s Woodbridge Valley location from Mercy Medical Center after falling in her home in July, according to the lawsuit, which alleges she also suffered unexplained injuries, including a fractured arm, at the facility.

The video was shot by Gray’s daughter-in-law, Yvette Johnson, and shows Johnson attempting to get help from the facility’s staff.

Gray died 30 hours after the video was shot, and her family alleges that negligence led to her death. Attorney David Ellin, who is representing the family, said he plans to seek $30 million in damages.

According to Ellin, Johnson filed a complaint with state regulators about ManorCare.

In a May letter to Johnson, Jennifer Cole, a health facility surveyor with the state Office of Health Care Quality, wrote that she had conducted a survey inspection at the nursing home between May 12 and May 14.

“Based on my survey efforts, I was not able to directly prove your concerns,” Cole wrote. “However, other care areas were identified and brought to the attention of the facility.”

Ellin said the state should reopen the complaint. On June 10, Ellin sent state regulators the video footage and Gray’s ManorCare chart, which he wrote “does not at all jibe with the video footage.”

Christopher Garrett, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said he could not comment on whether the state would reconsider the complaint, citing federal regulations that require surveys to be unannounced.