De­men­tia pa­tient awarded $3.6M

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kirk Mitchell

An Ara­pa­hoe County jury this week awarded $3.6 mil­lion to a 76­year­old re­tired school teacher suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia af­ter he was bit­ten and as­saulted by an­other res­i­dent in an Aurora se­nior liv­ing cen­ter and the di­rec­tor al­legedly tried to cover it up.

A jury or­dered Pere­grine Se­nior Liv­ing at Aurora, 7475 S. Shawnee St., to pay Robert Fisher and his wife Bon­nie $3 mil­lion in puni­tive dam­ages alone. The other $600,000 cov­ered med­i­cal costs and dam­ages.

“Pere­grine made the de­ci­sion to fa­vor its fi­nan­cial well­be­ing over Bob’s safety, re­sult­ing in a sit­u­a­tion where some­times 26 de­men­tia res­i­dents were cared for by a sin­gle care­giver,” Jerome Reinan, Fisher’s Den­ver at­tor­ney, said fol­low­ing the jury de­ci­sion Tues­day. “Due to lack of staffing, Bob was vi­o­lently as­saulted by an­other res­i­dent, and Pere­grine tried to cover it up.”

A mes­sage left with the se­nior liv­ing cen­ter seek­ing com­ment Thurs­day was not re­turned.

Robert Fisher moved to Pere­grine in 2017 to stay safe as his de­men­tia pro­gressed, in part be­cause he had a ten­dency to wan­der, the law­suit says. The nurs­ing home as­sured Bon­nie Fisher that it had a high care­giver­to­res­i­dent ra­tio.

But Pere­grine did not hire ad­di­tional staff to keep up with the num­ber of res­i­dents, the law­suit says.

By Jan­uary, the fa­cil­ity had be­tween 26 and 28 res­i­dents with de­men­tia and only two staff mem­bers to watch them dur­ing the day and one dur­ing the night, while Pere­grine claimed to have a one­to­four ra­tio, the law­suit says.

“As a re­sult of the com­bi­na­tion of crit­i­cally short staffing and in­suf­fi­cient staff train­ing, Robert was sub­jected to a pat­tern and prac­tice of poor care, re­sult­ing in mul­ti­ple falls, in­juries and ne­glect,” the law­suit says. He fell as many as seven times.

In late Jan­uary, the nurs­ing home ad­mit­ted a woman iden­ti­fied only as Anne, who as­saulted mul­ti­ple staff mem­bers and a res­i­dent.

On Jan. 30, Anne bit Fisher on the hands and arms, punched and slapped his body and scratched and cut his face, the law­suit says. But staff mem­bers lied to Bon­nie Fisher, telling her that her hus­band had fallen. Po­lice and the Colorado Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health and Environment were not called, the law­suit says.

It wasn’t un­til an out­side hos­pice nurse called Aurora po­lice that any action was taken, the law­suit says.

Robert Fisher was taken to a hospi­tal for emergency care, in­clud­ing re­ceiv­ing a tetanus shot, the law­suit says.

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