I found this letter on mom’s old computer hard drive. The file KATHLEEN A.doc was created on June 16th, 2007. I don’t know who Ms. Jackson is, but I assume it is someone that worked at Indigo Manor, the nursing home where my maternal grandmother died. Anna Sophia Albanese (aka “Nana”, “Nana Anna”, “Nana from Florida”) probably would have lived another several years if it wasn’t for the accident there that killed her, and that just devastated mom.
KATHLEEN A. GAGNE
6110 NW 30TH TERRACE
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA 32653
June 18, 2007
Dear Ms. Jackson,
It has come to my attention that the date of my mother being dropped in the Skilled Nursing facility at Indigo Manor was noted as April 19th. In fact, the date she was dropped was April 26, and the time was approximately 10:30 pm. The drop occurred because the aide who offered to help her go for a walk was not aware that my mother was unable to walk and that she had some memory loss. It was the aide’s first night there, and, apparently, she had not been briefed on her patients.
The aide who dropped my mother advised the staff that my mother was lowered gently to the floor. During the next 36 hours, my mother, who, as a result of the drop, had a broken femur on her right leg and a broken tibia on her left leg, was turned every two hours because of a bedsore.
I was told that Mom had been crying out in pain for approximately 36 hours, and that the nurses were ignoring her or giving her pills.
It was not until the following Saturday morning, when a nurse came in to shift her, that the nurse discovered that my mother had a broken leg. I believe the nurse came in some time in the morning on Saturday, April 28.
I had been driving from Gainesville to Daytona Beach every weekend for over a year. The last I heard, my mother was doing well. She was laughing with me on the phone the day before she was dropped. When I got to the nursing center, they advised me that my mother was on the way to the hospital with a broken leg. (She did, in fact, have two broken legs.) The nurse I spoke to at the facility tried to tell me that the injury was related to a faulty prosthesis, one that she had been walking on, using her walker, for seven years. One reason she should not have been gotten out of bed was that she had just returned from the hospital, and they were only getting her out of bed using a lift, and getting her into a wheelchair with an oxygen tank.
At the hospital, the staff was appalled that my mother had had to wait so long for help. Dr. Hatten, the orthopedic physician on her case, told me and my brother that there was no way she could have sustained the injuries he observed on xrays if she had been lowered gently to the floor.
He was left with two options. Mom could be put into traction for six to eight weeks. Because she had congestive heart failure, under control, that did not appear to be a viable option. The second option was major surgery, including pins, and screws inserted into her right leg and a cast on her left. We asked my mother which she preferred, and she said to do the surgery.
The surgery went well, but the amount of fluids they pumped into her and the stress of the procedure left her very weak. She was sent to ICU where, three days later, she had a heart attack. The Intensive care doctor on her case, Dr. Rulend, stated to my brother, myself, two representatives from Hospice, and a hospital case worker that, if my mother had not had to have the surgery, she could very likely have had two to three more good years. The Hospice representative who came to the hospital advised us that they had several good attorneys who worked on cases like this, and that they would be happy to help us to get into contact with one of them.
That evening, my mother was transferred to a Hospice facility in Port Orange, Florida. I spent the night with her in the room, but she was sleeping the entire time. At 2:00 p.m. the following day, May 4th, she passed quietly in her sleep.
My mother should not have had to endure the final few days of her life in the excruciating pain forced on her by the negligence of the facility and the amount of time between the night she was dropped and the Saturday morning when they finally called for an ambulance.
When she came out of the surgery, my mother was so tired she just wanted to give up. She was bruised from needles, had to use oxygen constantly, and would eat very little. She was in so much pain that Hospice gave that as their reason for accepting her in their facility.
My mother was a remarkable woman. She was smart and sassy in the 40s when it wasn’t acceptable to do so. She was the first female president of an Italian-American Club in Florida. She was president of the Council of Catholic Women for the Diocese of Orlando covering all of central Florida. Several women who had known her in that capacity came to both her wake and funeral Mass. It was amazing to us that, although some of her friends had not seen her in years, there were approximately 40-50 people who came to her wake and Mass.
In all my life, I never knew my mother to hear of someone in need without knowing that she would find a way to help. An older friend of hers was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. My mother took her into her own home, got help from Hospice, and nursed her friend until she died.
At holidays, Mom would invite people she knew who had nowhere to go, and they would sit down with us at our table to enjoy good food and good company.
Mom was always there for my brother and myself. She dearly loved her four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Mom and I spoke every night. We laughed and joked and planned what to do on Saturdays. I miss talking to her more than you can know.
I can’t tell you the loss I feel, and that loss is compounded by the issue of the negligence that contributed significantly to her death.
Kathleen A. Gagne
Proud daughter of Anne S. Albanese