Did Abuse Lead to Nursing Home Patient's Death? - 8 News NOW

Lisa Johnson, Reporter

Did Abuse Lead to Nursing Home Patient's Death?

Posted: Updated:

(Feb. 27) -- Many of our nation's elderly are entering nursing homes, but some of those nursing homes may not be qualified to take proper care of them. A recent federal report says more than 90 percent of the country's nursing homes have nurse aide staff levels that fall well below the minimum necessary to provide quality care.

Several months ago, Eyewitness News told you about an elderly negligence case at Del Mar Gardens of Green Valley. While that case is still pending, Eyewitness News has learned there are several more negligence and abuse cases that have been filed against Del Mar.

The family of Harold Shapiro alleges a worker at Del Mar took their father outside late last August, forgot about him and left him in the summer sun for hours. They say the heat and sun led to their father's death.

Irene Tallard claims when her sister came to visit their father, 82-year-old Harold Shapiro, the nursing home couldn't find him.

Her sister later saw a nurse's aide bringing her father in from Del Mar's gazebo gardens.

"She saw him wheeling him in from outside. He was lethargic; his head was bent. He was all sunburned. His clothes were soaked and wet, and he was just completely out of it," Irene Tallard said.

An attorney with the Nursing Home Justice Center says pictures show the severity of Shapiro's burned legs -- burns that went to the bone.

"The sunburn ultimately blistered his skin, and he developed open wounds that literally left bones, muscles and nerves exposed," said Terry Coffing of the Nursing Home Justice Center. "It's our position that Del Mar tried to cover this up and hide his condition from the family."

The Shapiro family has filed suit, claiming Del Mar's negligence led to their father's death five months later. But Del Mar officials say that incident never occurred.

"Del Mar Gardens of Green Valley is committed to providing the highest quality of care in an environment of love, care and understanding," said Chad Stenslie, the facility's administrator.

Stenslie agreed to talk with Eyewitness News against the advice of his attorney, but he repeatedly answered questions with Del Mar's mission statement: "Well, Lisa, as you know, that case is in litigation and I can't go into specifics, but what I can tell you is that Del Mar Gardens of Green Valley is committed to providing the highest quality of care in an environment of love, care and understanding."

We asked Stenslie: "You keep repeating that statement: In this particular case, was that gentlemen left out in the sun in August?"

Stenslie's answer: "We don't believe so. We're certainly denying those allegations. But Harold Shapiro's family doesn't believe Del Mar gave their loved one quality care."

Irene Tallard says: "I entrusted them with my dad, and they deceived me."

In their legal documents, Del Mar states it is without sufficient information to admit or deny the fact that Shapiro was left out in the sun. Del Mar's administrator tells us they have proof the wounds we showed you on Shapiro's legs were not due to sun exposure but another cause due to his age and condition. They are just not ready to release that information at this time.

Del Mar Gardens has been in Henderson since 1988, and its administrator says they've had hundreds of satisfied clients.

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