By Leisa Zigman
(KSDK) - An I-Team investigation into a Florissant nursing home details a series of troubling events ending in at least two deaths this year.
State and federal documents highlight potential life-threatening problems at Northgate Park Nursing Home.
What happened to Joe Brenner, 44, left his family raw, angry and in pain. Nursing home records and reports obtained by the I-Team show how Brenner was foaming at the mouth, full of secretions and struggling to breathe. Yet according to records, hours passed before anyone called 911.
Joe and Carol Brenner were married July 17, 1997. Joe had two passions: his family and his Harley.
Carol explained, "He was so proud, (of his bike) he just had new handlebars put on it."
On September 12, 2005, an accident changed everything. Joe woke up at 2 o’clock in the morning to get a glass of water. He fell about 12 feet down his staircase and landed on his head.
"It's pretty steep and narrow. I don't know if he was half-asleep and fell backwards. I just still believe he blacked out first. No noise came out of his mouth. They had to do emergency surgery and remove part of his skull," said Carol.
Joe spent four weeks in intensive care and had a severe brain injury. He would need extensive rehabilitation. Eventually, his family placed him at Northgate Park Nursing Home in Florissant. Joe died nine days later.
"I am very angry... I think they totally did wrong,” said Carol.
The paramedic who rushed Joe to the hospital reported Northgate and suggested a state and federal investigation.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, the nursing staff at Northgate failed to provide oxygen, suctioning, prompt medical care, and failed to recognize a medical emergency.
The government cited Northgate for causing harm and immediate jeopardy to patients, and in January, denied all Medicare and Medicaid payments for new admissions.
One month after Joe Brenner died there was another incident at Northgate.
State reports detailed how a nurses aide found a patient covered with red vomit that contained chunks of undigested food. The patient would have two more incidents of massive vomiting that day and an incident of fecal incontinence.
A nurse noted the patient looked yellow and pale, but no one called 911 until the patient's eyes rolled upward and he began to turn blue. The patient died before ever reaching the hospital.
Northgate administrators refused a request for an interview. In March the state again inspected the nursing home, and found it was in full compliance. As a result, all restrictions were lifted.
As for the Brenner family, they are suing Hmezz, LLC and the owner of Northgate Park. Hmezz filed for bankruptcy protection.
The Brenners say they blame Joe's nurse as much as they blame administrators. They complained to the state nursing board, but the board decided not to take any disciplinary action.
If you want to know more about a nursing home, click the link to the right of this story.
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