Fair Acres sued af­ter man dies from fire while smok­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Alex Rose arose@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @arosedelco

PHILADEL­PHIA >> The wife of a Fair Acres Geri­atric Cen­ter res­i­dent who died af­ter catch­ing fire while smok­ing a cig­a­rette is su­ing the fa­cil­ity and Delaware County for more than $150,000.

Mary Ro­darmel says her 72-year-old hus­band Ken­neth should not have been al­lowed to smoke un­su­per­vised fol­low­ing a meal Feb. 17, 2015. He al­legedly be­came en­gulfed in flames when a paper-and-plas­tic food shield he was wear­ing caught fire on a bal­cony. Ken­neth Ro­darmel was treated for burns and trans­ported to Crozer-Ch­ester Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where he died March 11, 2015.

Nei­ther county So­lic­i­tor Michael Mad­dren nor Fair Acres Ad­min­is­tra­tor Wil­liam D’Amico could be reached for com­ment Fri­day.

The com­plaint, filed on be­half of Mary Ro­darmel by at­tor­ney Marc T. Sac­chetta in Philadel­phia fed­eral court last week, says the coun­tyrun fa­cil­ity vi­o­lated the Fed­eral Nurs­ing Home Re­form Amend­ments by fail­ing to pro­tect its res­i­dents from avoid­able ac­ci­dents.

“The vi­o­la­tions of FNHRA at Fair Acres were not sin­gu­lar or iso­lated but rather were so rou­tine and reg­u­lar that they were (a) broad and con­sis­tent pol­icy of non-com­pli­ance,” the suit says.

The com­plaint in­cludes a sur­vey of the event con­ducted by the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Health, which al­legedly con­cluded the fa­cil­ity failed to pro­vide a safe en­vi­ron­ment for res­i­dents who smoke.

Ro­darmel likely left the din­ing area of Build­ing No. 8, where he was res­i­dent, in a wheelchair at about 12:45 p.m. while still wear­ing the cloth­ing pro­tec­tor. He was re­port­edly smok­ing a cig­a­rette at about 12:50 p.m. on a bal­cony of the ninth floor.

An em­ployee in an ad­ja­cent room saw flames out of the cor­ner of her eye and looked over to see Ro­darmel was on fire on the bal­cony, ac­cord­ing to the DOH. She called for help and was joined by an­other em­ployee, who helped ex­tin­guish the flames. Both re­ported smelling burnt plas­tic and saw melted plas­tic on Ro­darmel’s neck, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey.

Ro­darmel was trans­ported to the emer­gency room at Crozer, where he pre­sented with burns on his face, neck, scalp, wrists and hands. He re­ported that his pain level at that time was “10 out of 10,” ac­cord­ing to the DOH.

A lighter was found on

the bal­cony and a cig­a­rette was later found in his room, but staff were un­aware of where Ro­darmel ob­tained ei­ther, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey.

The sur­vey in­di­cates Ro­darmel was di­ag­nosed with a dis­ease of the blood ves­sels of the brain Nov. 25, 2014, as well as bipo­lar dis­ease and Parkin­son’s dis­ease. He re­quired help eat­ing and per­form­ing cer­tain daily func­tions, ac­cord­ing to the suit.

A Fair Acres smok­ing safety as­sess­ment in­di­cated Ro­darmel was found with burns on his fin­gers Aug. 25, 2014, and de­cided to stop smok­ing. He be­came a “su­per­vised smoker” re­quir­ing as­sis­tance to smoke on Sept. 2, 2014, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey. A Dec. 2, 2014, up­date to his care plan in­di­cated Ro­darmel could smoke in­de­pen­dently, but the sur­vey states no rea­son is given for the change.

Ro­darmel’s physi­cian progress note dated Feb. 11, 2015, al­legedly in­di­cates he was suf­fer­ing from a sig­nif­i­cant psy­cho­log­i­cal de­cline due to Parkin­son’s, with more rigid­ity while walk­ing less.

Smok­ers typ­i­cally used a com­mu­nal area on the ground floor with lighters at­tached to the walls, but Fair Acres al­legedly al­lowed res­i­dents to smoke on bal­conies

fol­low­ing a re­cent Norovirus out­break.

The DOH found Fair Acres ad­min­is­tra­tion did not pro­vide a writ­ten pol­icy for staff re­gard­ing the pol­icy change and failed to pro­vide a safe en­vi­ron­ment for Ro­darmel by en­sur­ing he did not have pos­ses­sion of smok­ing ma­te­ri­als.

Mary Ro­darmel is al­leg­ing two claims for wrong­ful death and a sur­vival ac­tion, for which she is seek­ing com­pen­satory and con­se­quen­tial dam­ages, as well as at­tor­ney’s fee and costs associated with bring­ing suit. The case has been as­signed to U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller, of the East­ern District of Penn­syl­va­nia.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Ken­neth Ro­darmel, a 72-year-old res­i­dent at the Fair Acres Geri­atric Cen­ter in Lima, died on Match 11, 2015, af­ter he al­legedly be­came en­gulfed in flames while smok­ing on a bal­cony at the fa­cil­ity.

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