Family: Left in dark after nursing home death

Sharon DeWitt.


HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Sharon DeWitt, a great-grandmother, was at MagnumCare of Hastings to rehab a broken hip. But just in case her heart failed, she told the nursing home exactly what she wanted, in writing: Do CPR and call an ambulance.

“She wanted anything and everything done to keep her alive,” her daughter-in-law, Terri DeWitt, told Target 8. “She was very adamant about that. She did not want to die. Whatever it took to keep her alive, she wanted it done.”

But the home took none of those life-saving steps when the 76-year-old woman’s heart failed, state records show.

Three years later, her relatives complain they were left in the dark — by the home and the state, despite one of the state’s biggest fines in cases involving deaths. They only learned the details, they said, after Target 8 recently tracked them down.

In June 2011, a nurse found DeWitt with no pulse, not breathing. That should have triggered a full, life-saving response. But none of that happened, state records show.

DeWitt’s daughter-in-law says the nursing home never gave her those details.

“For three years now I’ve felt real bad guilt that I did something wrong and that’s why she’s gone, and it’s been real hard to deal with,” her stepdaughter said.

DeWitt’s daughter-in-law said a nursing home worker later told her to demand a state investigation. She said she did, but that the state never got back to her and never told her it had fined the home $85,000.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Compare Michigan nursing homes or file a complaint

“They should have notified me,” Terri DeWitt said. “I’m the one who called and asked for the investigation. Why did the state not contact me and tell me that there was action taken, that they found fault, that they were fined? I don’t understand.”

Jason Moon, a spokesman for the state, said it was someone else, not Terri DeWitt, who filed the complaint. He said the state kept in contact with the complainant, whose name was not released to protect privacy. He said the home also reported the incident.

Three years after her mother-in-law’s death, the state fined the same home $5,818 in the death of Alfie Vincent for a seven-hour delay in getting him the help he needed. Records show it was his medical guardian, who was not affiliated with the home, who reported the death to the state.

“That’s two of them in three years that we know of,” DeWitt said. “Somebody shouldn’t be having a job.”

Target 8 stopped at MagnumCare of Hastings and called the home, but no one responded to requests for an interview.

Medicare.gov rates MagnumCare of Hastings as “much below average” in health inspections and below average overall.

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