Lawyer Resources for Wisconsin

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Trempealeau County Health Care CenterSometime during the night of November 3rd., 43-year-old Hong Lin wandered from the Trempealeau County Health Care Center in Whitehall, Wisconsin. Police spent the next three weeks combing the surrounding woods with K-9 units, trying to track Lin’s scent.

A hunter found Lin in the nearby Trempealeau River on Sunday, November 27. How or why Lin wandered from the home is still a mystery, according to an article in the Winona Daily News.

Set among rolling hills in picturesque Northwest Wisconsin, the Trempealeau County Health Care Center seems like the perfect place in which to receive care and rest. Its ratings on Medicaid’s national “Nursing Home Compare” Web site are unusually high, and it’s received few violations from the Wisconsin Health Department. The home’s been operational for more than 20 years.

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wisconsin.jpgWhen it comes to ensuring that nursing homes are compliant with regulations to protect patients, the enforcement of such provisions falls primarily on agencies within the state.  When violations are discovered agencies have several options available to them in their arsenal including issuing a written citation that could become part of the facilities permanent record— and issuing fines.

Theoretically, imposing these sanctions would provide enough encouragement for poorly performing facilities to clean up their act.  That is, unless the nursing home is located in Wisconsin.

A new bill (Assembly Bill 302) that has been passed by the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate would lessen some of the regulatory bite in the arsenal that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has to enforce infractions discovered in nursing homes within the state.

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The family of a resident at a Wisconsin assisted living facility has filed a lawsuit against the facility and it parent company, Assisted Living Concepts LTD, in relation to the events leading up to her death in 2010.  In particular, the lawsuit claims that Marilyn Brown was admitted to Cedar Gardens in July, 2008 for assistance with her dementia and repeated urinary tract infections.

Wrongful Death LawsuitOver the course of her stay at the assisted living facility, the staff gradually provided less and less assistance for Ms. Brown’s daily living needs.  In addition to lack of daily care, the lawsuit further claims that the staff at the facility failed to properly supervise Ms. Brown which resulted in multiple falls.  It was a fall in December, 2009 that resulted in fractures to her hip and shoulder that lead to Ms. Brown’s death shortly thereafter.

Despite Assisted Living Concepts ongoing profitability as a chain of assisted living operators (having more than 34% increases in quarterly profits compared with last year), the lawsuit alleges that the company fails to pass along adequate funds for the facility to hire and train sufficient staff to ensure the safety of its residents.

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The Chicago Tribune reported on a story involving the $2 million settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit involving a patient at a Wisconsin nursing home who suffered complications from improperly cared for surgical wounds.  The patient identified as Cynthia Wilms, was admitted to Willows Nursing and Rehabilitation in 2007 following a hip replacement surgery.  According to the families attorney, the facilities failure to treat the wounds resulted in her death.

Willows Nursing and Rehabilitation is owed by mega-operator Extendicare.

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