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Family to File Lawsuit against Nursing Home for Death

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Chicago, ILThe family of a 78-year-old woman who died at a nursing home is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home and the employees of the nursing home for neglect that led to the woman's death. This just comes days after two employees who worked at the Woodstock nursing home were charged with criminal neglect.

Nursing VictimThe nursing home resident, Virginia Cole, died in 2006 and was amongst those listed as a victim in indictments that were recently returned by a grand jury in McHenry County. The employees were nursing director Penny Whitlock and nurse Marty Himebaugh. Himebaugh has been accused of giving some of the patients excessive doses of morphine or giving morphine to those who did not need it at all. Whitlock has been accused of not taking any action to stop her because she was Himebaugh's supervisor. The criminal indictment says that Himebaugh was encouraged to be an "Angel of Death" by the director of nursing. As a result of the accusations, Whitlock was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for destroying drugs to throw off the investigation and also charged with five counts of felony neglect of a long-term resident. Himebaugh was charged with obtaining a substance by fraud, felony neglect of a long-term resident, and unlawful distribution of morphine.

Cole did have heart problems and Alzheimer's, but her conditions were not life-threatening, according to a relative. However, on September 6, 2006 she was suddenly hospitalized and was then returned to the nursing home where she died four days later on September 10. This brought about suspicion amongst her family members because they do not understand how it is her health could have deteriorated so quickly. Cole's son-in-law, Frank Lund, said that she was doing great at the nursing home. She was not a candidate for morphine, but the indictment says that Cole was administered morphine. When she was hospitalized, the symptoms that she had was consistent with those that are a result of a morphine overdose, according to the family's attorney Steve Levin.

However, the family nor Levin could explain the alleged overdoses, so the criminal indictment is not blaming Whitlock or Himebaugh for Cole's death. The reason is because the prosecution says there is not enough information to support the allegations. Nursing home administrator Alissa Nataupsky says that there was no wrongdoing happening within the nursing home.

Levin says that the family will be filing the lawsuit in Cook County by April 11, 2008. He has also stated that the suit will also name WRHC & RC Inc. as a defendant in the case because they are the former owners of the nursing home.

By Ginger Gillenwater


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