An Orange County nursing home is facing a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit from the family of 83-year-old Luveda Fern Kessler, who died of complications from a fall at the Villa Valencia Health Care Center. According to an article in The Orange County Register, Kessler fell and cut her leg on Aug. 23, 2007. She reportedly bled for more than 40 minutes without a nurse or healthcare professional by her side and was pronounced dead by paramedics.
A 911 recording of the incident clearly showed that the only person who was present near Kessler at Villa Valencia was “a staffer” who couldn’t even tell the 911 operator where Kessler was bleeding. The nursing home essentially neglected Kessler by not providing qualified staff at her service and allowing her to bleed to death.
The nursing home has already faced two negligence lawsuits recently, which allege that the facility is woefully understaffed. In Kessler’s case, the nursing home staff was fully aware that she used a walker and was prone to falls. Despite this knowledge, nursing home staff apparently didn’t even help Kessler get out of bed or to go to the bathroom. Her daughter said she put her mother in a nursing home because she lives in a tri-level condo, which would have been impossible for her mother to live in.
State officials have already said that Villa Valencia will be cited for this incident because the nursing home did not report Kessler’s death within the required seven days. Nursing homes must have sufficient staff, and more importantly, qualified staff to provide quality care to their residents. This is especially true for assisted living facilities that care for more vulnerable and seriously ill patients.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a 2000 report, found out that about 54 percent of the nation’s nursing homes were understaffed. The report also found that, at the time of the study, residents in 31 percent of the nation’s nursing homes were not even receiving 12 minutes a day of care from registered nurses.
I hope Kessler’s family members receive the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve. Lack of regulations and lack of enforcement have led to a situation where the only way consumers can get justice and fight for change is through the court system.