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Pain and suffering at Niagara Rehab: A daughter's story

Doreen Hill's mother died there in October
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Posted at 7:07 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 19:07:41-05

**The following is a letter written by Doreen Hill, whose mother died at Niagara Rehabilitation & Nursing in October. 7 Eyewitness News is publishing this letter as a representative of the 42 former patients, workers and family members of patients who have written to WKBW with their own similar stories of grief and pain at the nursing home, which is under investigation by the state. The nursing home declined to respond to the letter.**  

  I am writing to tell you what I saw last month, two days before my mom passed at the care of Niagara Rehab and Nursing home.
     I arrived there Sat., Oct. 24th, at approximately 2 p.m. after my flight in from Mississippi. As I entered the nursing home, the stench of urine and the sounds of people asking for help were overwhelming.  I then entered my momma’s room to hear her crying out, “nurse, nurse.”  I went to her and she was disoriented as to who I even was. 
     She told me she had to go to the bathroom and was afraid to go on herself because the nurses’ aides would be mad at her.  I told her I would go get help.  I went to the station and tried 5 times in 15 minutes begging for help.  They said she needed to wait because everyone was on break.  I asked if there were anyone else who could help and she said no.  After the fifth time I asked how much longer and she said I needed to be patient and that my mom was known to be whiny. I said fine that I would put on gloves and help her.  I went and put gloves on and went to look for a bed pan and went into the bathroom.  The toilet was filled with feces and the stench.  I then told momma to hold on and went back to the nurses’ station to find a bedpan.      
     The nurse told me, “take off those gloves and do not touch the patient.” 
     I said, “that’s no patient that’s my momma and she is afraid of soiling herself.” 
    She again said, “do not touch the patient or you will be asked to leave the facility.”
    I said, “Who and what army?”  That was my momma. 
   Minutes later a nurse’s aide came down to help her.  She didn’t use the bathroom and the aide was angry with her and just tossed her back on her back.  I was horrified.  While she was on her side I noticed a blood red bedsore on her tail bone the side of my fist.  I asked about it and got no answer.  My momma was filthy and smelled.  I asked to see a nurse about the bed sore.  About an hour later a nurse came in and put my momma on her side and looked at it and other areas. She put a Band-Aid on it.  I asked about changing her bedding and nightgown.  It didn’t happen. 
    She cried and cried in pain and of thirst.  She couldn’t drink from a straw so they said she won’t take it and that was it. Later we got her to drink water from feeding her with a spoon. 
     They never brought her a meal so I asked and the nurses told me she won’t eat it so why waste their time bringing it?
     I got them to give me a yogurt and she ate about 5 bites of it.
     She cried and cried in pain and they wouldn’t give her anything because she was refusing the meds. There were times in her sleep that she would keep saying, “I’m sorry,” and would look like she was having nightmares.  This was not my momma’s character.  I asked her about it and she said they were mean to her. 
    I left about 9:30 p.m. and noticed that no food was ever brought in, no meds were there and no cleaning of her or her room was performed.  The nurses never came in unless we, the family, went to them demanding them to come in. Whenever when I went to the nurses’ station they were playing around, resting or absent from there altogether.
    I returned the next day at 8:10 a.m. She was once again in tears and in pain with nobody to check on her. She kept telling me her bum hurt. I asked a nurse to come look at it but no one ever showed up. I again tried to get her something to eat.  A yogurt and Jello showed up hours later. She was in such agony.
   Later about 5 o’clock I met a supervisor and I told him about the painful looking bed sore on my momma’s tail bone, how she was filthy and how no food or meds ever came to the room.  He came and checked on her, then got a nurse to help me clean her up and changed her gown only.  He then told me to come talk to someone about Hospice meds to help her with anxiety and pain. 
     I said, “Why aren’t we trying to take her to the hospital when they can help her?”  He said something about a DNR.  He made a call and two hours later we got her on anxiety meds and later morphine after I left. He mentioned to me that the bed sore looked infected.
   The next day, her breathing was very loud like a rattle.  She never woke up.  I got a nurse and she checked on her immediately and then told me to stay with her. 
   Ten minutes later, she was gone.  Two nurses came running in and pronounced her dead at 8:18.
   Then some grief lady came up and I said -- out of pain, I’m sure – “why didn’t you take her to the hospital yesterday?  Why were y’all so mean to her?”
  She told me she didn’t have to hear that from me and left. I was in that room for eight hours waiting on the funeral home and the only time they came in the room was to clean her up and to keep asking me how much longer for them to come get her because they needed the room…

Are you a current or former worker of Niagara Rehab or another nursing home? Do you know of a nursing home whose conditions need to be investigated? Email Charlie Specht at Charlie.Specht@wkbw.com.