Army vet's family to sue nursing home over gangrene death

84-year-old died shortly after his genitals had to be amputated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of an Army veteran who lived in Jacksonville and died at a Southside nursing home as a result of gangrene is making plans to sue the facility, saying staff never washed him and let him rot in his bed.

The death certificate for York Spratling states one reason for his death is gangrene. He died shortly after doctors had to amputate his genitals because they were so infected 

Consulate Health Care of Jacksonville has been put on notice of a pending lawsuit. The family and its corporate office in Central Florida are not responding, which is not unusual in legal cases.

The family’s attorney, Tom Edwards, said Spratling went to Consulate Health because, at age 84, he could no longer take care of himself. Edwards said it appears the nursing staff was not able to take care of him, either.

"While in this nursing home for just a period of weeks, they were not cleaning him," Edward said. "They were not turning him and they were not caring for him and he developed such severe sores on his body."

Those sores turned into gangrene, a very serious infection. As a result, he developed sepsis, which means the infection spread throughout his body. The autopsy confirms he died from it.

Edwards said it's even more disturbing that it appears staff was aware there was a problem. Spalding’s family and their attorney said Spalding refused showers and the staff let him lie in his filth and Edwards said no one informed the doctors what was happening.

"People could smell him from the hallway. That is unforgivable. That should not be happening in the nursing home," Edwards said.

Spratling died two years ago. Edwards said it has taken the family this long to take action due to their grief. He said it also took some time to learn what happened.

"There are findings by state agencies that they neglected him and that neglect led to his death," Edwards said.

The Department of Children and Families has completed a report on Spratling's death, finding in part:

The failure of Consulate Health Care staff to note and report the VA's penile changes, declining health status as well as the failure to seek appropriate medial treatment for positble sepsis were contributing factors in the VA's permanent and irreversible cessation of all vital functions.

Based on review of medical records, interviews with family, staff and extensive DCF nursing review, there is substantial evidence to support the allegation of Medical Neglect, Inadequate Supervision and Death."

This death is also being investigated by the Agency for Health Care Administration, which has inspected this site many times and has cited them in the past for not having enough nurses.

Edwards said he is handling three previous cases in which Consulate Health Care is working out payment agreements.

How can you protect a loved one in a nursing home

The CEO of Eldersource, a nonprofit organization that is a resource center for the elderly, said the best thing you can do when placing a loved one in a facility is: Go with your instincts.

"Most people can trust their gut," Linda  Levin said. "You have a sense that something is not right. You should use all of your senses when you are visiting a facility."

There are also state programs people can check with to investigate concerns, including the Florida Ombudsman Program, which investigates complaints against long-term care facilities. Call them at 888-831-0404 or email itcopinformer@elderaffairs.org.

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