Investigation Underway After 87-Year-Old Woman Found Dead Near Cordell Nursing Home
CORDELL, Oklahoma - A death investigation is underway after the body of an elderly woman was discovered in extreme heat.
The body of 87-year-old Mary Lou Scarber was discovered three blocks away from Cordell Christian Home Monday, August 19 around 3 p.m. The heat index at the time was over 100 degrees.
Carl Ramsey's wife stopped by to visit his mother-in-law and found the body next to a walker. Staff was searching at the time.
“She had been there for a while, I couldn't give you an exact time how long she had been there,” said Ramsey. “I don't think they noticed her was missing until last the 15 minutes like when my wife was there.”
OSBI is leading the investigation at the request of the Cordell Police Department.
It's not known if Scarber was reported missing, and it’s unclear how she died.
Staffing, Ramsey said, may be an issue at the facility.
“They have some good employees but the biggest problem I see is that they are very understaffed,” said Ramsey. “When you have two or three people working four halls with over 50 patients, that is quite a load on people.”
Administrators aren't commenting on the case, due to medical privacy laws. No comment was provided when News 9 asked about staffing at the facility.
Cordell Christian Home did post the following message on Facebook:
“The staff at Cordell Christian Home is dedicated to providing the highest standards of care to our residents and meeting the needs of each and every resident. The safety and well-being of our residents is of the utmost importance and is and always will be our first and primary priority. There are no words to effectively express our sorrow over the events that transpired today. Our collective hearts are grieving, and our prayers are with the family.”
Public records indicate Cordell Christian Home was fined $17,043. The facility failed to provide adequate supervision to prevent falls and to identify and implement interventions to aid in the prevention of falls. The violation was discovered in October 2017.
The facility was also fined in April 2018. Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said the violation is considered an immediate jeopardy.
In a statement, Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said, “An immediate jeopardy is the most serious of all deficiencies. It is only cited about 1.5% of the time.
Last year 2,550 deficiencies were cited in long term care facilities. Only 37 were classified as immediate jeopardy.”
As police continue to investigate, a community tries to move on.
“There has been a lot of love poured out to them (family), that is for sure,” said Ramsey. “It’s a tragic deal.”