Atascadero convalescent hospital sued after woman’s death

A lawsuit alleges that Country Care Convalescent Hospital in Atascadero was severely understaffed in 2014 when nurses there allegedly allowed bedsores to develop on a woman who had sought care at the transitional facility following hip surgery.

The woman later died at an area hospital from physical and mental complications brought on by the sores, the lawsuit states.

On Oct. 14, attorneys for former patient Gabrielle Cohoon, 64, filed the lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court against the facility and its owner, Pacific Christian Care Services. The lawsuit doesn’t indicate an age or city of residence for Cohoon.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and legal fees for alleged dependent adult abuse, as well as negligent hiring and supervision.

Lawsuits represent just one side of the story; Pacific Christian Care has yet to file a response in court. Company CEO Daniel Busby and Executive Director Rocio Busby did not immediately return requests for comment Monday.

According to the suit, Cohoon fell at her home and fractured a hip in September 2014. Following surgery at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, Cohoon checked into Country Care Convalescent Hospital for transitional care, as she required assistance with daily activities.

The lawsuit alleges that staff at the facility was aware that Cohoon’s medical issues left her particularly susceptible to developing pressure ulcers, commonly known as bedsores. Staff was allegedly supposed to use pressure-reducing devices and ensure that she was turned and repositioned every two hours. However, staff “utterly ignored” Cohoon’s needs, the filing states.

She allegedly began losing weight and displaying “psychotic” behavior, including telling her adult children to finish their homework and be on time for school. The lawsuit also claims that facility staff ate Cohoon’s food instead of feeding her.

Cohoon’s family members questioned staff about her physical and mental deterioration, the lawsuit claims, but were told “sometimes residents like (Cohoon) become anxious and have a nervous breakdown, which causes these types of psychotic episodes.”

When the family finally spoke with an administrator, they were told that Cohoon had developed a sore the size of an orange on her tailbone. In November 2014, Cohoon began suffering from breathing problems and was rushed to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, dehydration and malnutrition.

Despite being placed on antibiotics and hydration, Cohoon died two days after being admitted to the hospital, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends that her death was a “direct result” of Pacific Christian Care Services’ administrators “unlawfully misdirect(ing)” available operations funding — including staffing costs — in order to “unlawfully enrich themselves.” The lawsuit says the company reported more than $3 million in revenue to California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

The case is scheduled for a hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in February.

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