NUHW requests investigation into Humboldt patient death

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) last week formally requested a government investigation into the death of Randy Lee Kruger, who died in November after developing a pressure ulcer while a patient at Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

The 99-bed nursing home is operated by Brius Healthcare Service, the largest nursing home operator in California and the only operator in Humboldt County.

NUHW filed its complaint with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) after learning that the agency was not investigating Mr. Kruger’s death. CDPH is responsible for licensing, monitoring and regulating the state’s nursing homes.

Last month, Mr. Kruger’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that Brius committed elder abuse by failing to adequately care for her husband. Mr. Kruger lived at the nursing home for 15 months, where he developed a Stage IV pressure sore that ultimately penetrated all the way to his tailbone, according to the lawsuit.

On November 2, 2016, he was transferred by ambulance to a nearby acute-care hospital where he died seven days later from a bone infection and pneumonia, says the lawsuit.

Kruger’s wrongful death lawsuit is one of three filed in Humboldt County since November against Brius nursing homes and Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz.

Last August, CDPH fined Brius’ Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center $40,000 in connection to its care of Ralph Sorensen, who also died of complications stemming from a pressure ulcer, according to press reports, government records and his family’s lawsuit. The agency’s investigation, however, fails to mention Mr. Sorensen’s death.

The CDPH is reportedly investigating the care Alan Dewey received at the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of his sister, the nursing home discharged Mr. Dewey and left him at a hotel where he died four days later. Mr. Dewey had “multiple complex medical problems” including dementia, blindness, encephalopathy, bipolar disorder and chronic pain, says the suit. Last October, Brius officials allegedly “deposited” him at a Clarion Hotel with his medications, “a half-gallon of milk, instant noodles, and Velveeta macaroni and cheese.” Mr. Dewey was found dead four days later.

Below is NUHW’s letter requesting an investigation into Mr. Kruger’s death:

Download (PDF, 2.38MB)