By Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Bob Mills, a well-known local business man, is suing a nursing home for negligence, which he believes resulted in his mother's death.
"We looked at the facilities and we thought, ‘This is wonderful, it looks like an upscale hotel,'" Mills said.
The Health Center at Concordia, the upscale nursing home Mills and his family chose for his mother, is located in west Oklahoma City.
"I really don't care what it costs," Mills said. "If you're telling me it's the best, I'll write the check, and I was so happy to do so."
Mills said he wanted only the very best for his 92-year-old mother Lorean Gregory, who moved into the home last October.
Mills claimed the lush and expensive facility didn't ensure his mother's safety.
Mills said the hospital called him and told him his mother had suffered a broken leg and had a gash on her head. Mills said it was the Concordia's responsibility, not the hospital's job, to contact him about the incident.
Mills claimed that his mother went unnoticed on the evening of June 1 when she made her way down a hallway in her wheelchair. Gregory made her way through the corridor after someone at the nursing home left doors propped open. Mills claims his mother then fell down a flight of stairs, causing the injuries.
"Had there been proper staff and adequate monitoring, somebody would have found her and we wouldn't be having this conversation," Mills said.
After any incident, a resident is taken to the hospital and a list of their medications is supposed to accompany them, but Mills said the list was never transported with his mother and the nursing home was slow to provide it.
The hospital stitched Gregory's wounds with very little anesthetic and gave her no pain medication.
The 92-year-old's health quickly declined, and on August 4 she died after a battle with pneumonia.
Mills has since filed a lawsuit against Concordia.
"I don't want anyone else to be misled and not look past the glamour and glitz and the resort hotel amenities they have," Mills said. "To not be assured that the safety security training, the adequate staff and processes are in place, because when you leave this elderly person and you drive off, that's a big responsibility you're placing on these people."
Concordia responded to Mills' allegation with this statement:
"Due to pending litigation regarding the lawsuit in question, we are unable to talk about any specifics in this matter."
The state health department which licenses nursing homes has also stepped in to investigate the death.
Esther Houser is a spokeswoman for the state's ombudsman program, an organization that advocates for people in nursing homes.
"Some of those facilities I call mauve manner," Houser said. "They may have prettiest wall paper and carpeting, but if all the residents are confined to their room and not allowed out so they don't mess things up, then there must be something wrong with the mission statement of the place."
Houser did not specifically name Concordia as one of the "mauve manners," but said she's seen many nursing homes that fit the description.
She said the first mistake many people make when choosing a nursing home is by visiting the home's Web site.
"You cannot shop online for a nursing home," Houser said.
Houser said although Web sites like oknursinghomeratings.com is sponsored by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, it's run by an out-of-state company and some of the ratings are not equivalent to the service provided.
"I say to my staff, ‘Do not recommend the Oklahoma site,'" Houser said. "I find it unreliable."
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority defended the site and said the information provided is updated more frequently than other sites.
Houser prefers Medicare.gov for information. By visiting the site, people can compare homes to each other in regards to staffing and quality of life issues.
For people looking for a home, but do not have internet access, Houser said anyone can walk into a nursing home and ask to see their latest inspection report.
Because they recently opened, Concordia's report only listed that the home was licensed.
People can also visit the homes, and observe its residents. Many homes allow visitors an opportunity to taste the food by paying for a meal and eating with the residents.
It is important to look for the staff treating the residents with respect and to chose a home close to family and friends, making it easily accessible for visitors to check on their loved ones.
"Trust your gut," Houser said. "If it feels wrong, it probably is."
Mills said, looking back, he saw some warning signs.
"My mother lost weight every month she was there," Mills said.
He also said at one point, his mother was overmedicated. While Concordia did not comment on the pending lawsuit, they did say their hearts and prayers go out to the family during their time of grief.
Anyone can call their area ombudsman by calling 1 (800) 211-2116 for their free services.