After slipping and falling, a 91-year-old woman living in a residential care facility lay bleeding on a bathroom floor for three hours while a sleeping attendant ignored calls for help, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The suit, filed on behalf of Claire Trubo, accuses Casa Rosa Elder Care in Arroyo Grande of being understaffed because it put profits ahead of care. Claims made in civil suits represent only one side and have yet to be proven in court.
Arpad Soo, administrator of Casa Rosa, referred questions to attorney Jeffrey E. Lerman, who said his office had not been served with the suit and would not have any comment on a pending action.
According to the lawsuit, the following occurred:
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When Trubo became a resident of Casa Rosa Elder Care in October 2013, staff was informed that she would need assistance walking to and from the restroom. On Oct. 18, Trubo was assisted to the restroom but was left there, sitting on the toilet unsupervised for 20 minutes.
Later, when she spoke to the attendant about the time it took to get assistance, she was informed that “on future occasions she should simply urinate or defecate in her bed and that she would be cleaned up later.”
Trubo and members of her family later met with Soo, who assured them that such a plan was not acceptable and that all attendants would be instructed to make sure delays in assistance would not happen again.
But two days later, about 3 a.m., Trubo pressed her buzzer for help going to the restroom, and no one arrived. After waiting 20 minutes, she walked to the bathroom herself. After she pulled an emergency cord located in the restroom, she again waited 20 minutes, and no one came.
After deciding to walk back to her bed unassisted, she lost her balance. With no handrail to grab within reach, she fell to the floor, striking her head and arm and causing her to bleed “profusely.” Convinced she had broken a hip, Trubo was afraid to move.
While she cried for help, the attendant did not respond. Another resident, who shared the common bathroom, arrived and pulled the emergency cord repeatedly. That resident also ran up and down the hallway and flickered lights calling for help, but no attendant responded.
Bleeding from lacerations to her head and arm, Trubo “was convinced that she would ultimately die on her bathroom floor.” When the nursing home staff did finally reply, they did not call 911 for several more hours. It was only seven hours after her fall that she was taken to an emergency room.
In an incident report filed with the Department of Social Services, the facility stated that Trubo suffered only minor scrapes and a laceration to her arm. In an email to The Tribune, Trubo's attorney Gret Coates said the attendant was believed to have been asleep in another resident’s room. That employee, the suit added, has never been disciplined but has been reassigned to a day shift.
The civil action, seeking unspecified punitive damages, claims that the poor care resulted in part “from a lack of appropriate and mandated staffing requirements ... due to a desire to run a profitable facility at the expense of its residents.”
In his email, Coates said state regulations require the facility to have three staffers available — including one awake and on site. According to the website for the state Department of Social Services, the facility has received three citations and one substantiated complaint during the past two years.
Calls to the state agency for details were not returned last week.
According to the facility’s website, safety of residents is a “primary responsibility.” Alarms activate nursing staff, and if the patient triggering the alarm does not reset it within a minute, the call is redirected to the administrators, according to the website. Radio frequencies, the site states, physically monitor a resident’s location at all times.
Trubo no longer lives at the facility, according to Coates.