Nursing home accused of neglect and mishandling funds

A Richmond nursing home has been accused of ignoring a patient’s pleas for help, and dismissing concerns from the patient’s family.

Merlene Cartwright passed away a year ago and now her story is making headlines. Bonview Rehabilitation and Healthcare is owned by Florida-based “Consulate Healthcare,” and when Joanna Heiskill admitted her ailing mother, she hoped that the Parkinson’s patient could receive the 24/7 critical care that she could no longer provide at home.

When in residence, her mother began to experience labored breathing. According to Heiskill, staff was dismissive about her concerns. A doctor had recommended a C-Pap machine, but the nursing home gave her a tank of oxygen instead.

Cartwright was also supposed to be exercising regularly to alleviate the progression of Parkinson’s, however, she was never placed on an exercise plan. Additionally, she suffered from congestive heart failure, epilepsy and dementia. When she did not receive her pain medication on time, Cartwright left voicemails for her daughter, sobbing.

empty dark hospital room

When her breathing became labored once again, Heiskill called the home repeatedly, trying to get staff to take action. Cartwright was eventually rushed to Chippenham Hospital, where she passed away. The death certificate lists acute hypoxic respiratory failure (or low blood oxygen levels) and aspiration pneumonia as the cause of death.

“Her heart rate was at 34 when she came in. I requested the ER records. I have them…Why didn’t they know that? Why would the nurse say, ‘Oh she’s fine. I just gave her medicine,’ and she’s sitting in the wheelchair getting ready to pass away,” said Heiskill.

The state found that Bonview misappropriated Cartwright’s money – applying through Social Security for control of her funds without permission. Adding insult to injury, a new resident was placed in Cartwright’s bed before she had passed away at Chippenham Hospital, with her name still on the door at Bonview. The heavy-duty wheelchair the family purchased for Cartwright was nowhere to be found.

Bonview has long been plagued by one-star reviews.  Rampant online accusations point to Bonview employees, who are suspected of writing five-star reviews to falsely bump ratings. The reputation at this facility was controversial enough to pique the interest of WWBT-TV’s investigative reporter Diane Walker, who broke the story.

Walker reported that multiple residents came to her with complaints, and she documented what she could. When she returned to Bonview to follow up on Heiskill’s complaints, she was ordered off the property by then-Executive Director John Bernadyn. Soon after the incident, Walker received an anonymous mailing from Bonview. It was a memo alerting patients not to speak to the press, with Walker’s own photo printed on it.

“They have bloods on their hands. They have blood on their hands because they ignored not only my pleas…they ignored her,” Heiskill said.

If you feel that a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to call the experienced attorneys at Allen & Allen at 1-866-772-1384.