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Published: Tuesday, 12/5/2000

Area nursing home fined in girl's death

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Sylvania nursing home was found guilty yesterday of a felony charge of child endangering for the death of a 9-year-old girl in the facility last year.

A corporate official of SunBridge Care & Rehabilitation of Sylvania, 4111 Holland-Sylvania Rd., entered a plea of no contest on behalf of the firm, and the nursing home was found guilty by Judge Ronald Bowman in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

SunBridge originally was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Racheal Aiken, who had lived with her mother, Lorie, of Lorain Street.

She died in the nursing home July 18 due to blockage in a surgically repaired airway.

Prosecutors contend the nursing home ignored its duty to care for her and failed to suction the airway.

Her mother, in a written statement to the judge, said suctioning the airway was an easy task and her daughter should be alive today.

“Not a day goes by that I don't break down and cry,” she wrote.

Her statement said she would sometimes begin to cry in the middle of a telephone conversation “or when I see little girls playing in the park.”

Gerry Jenich, a vice president for operations for the company, told Judge Bowman that the firm takes “the matter very seriously and regrets it very much.”

Andrew Lastra, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said the nursing home had adequate information from the Medical College of Ohio to know the special needs of the girl.

She was injured April 30 when she was struck by a car while trying to ride her bicycle across Broadway near Danny Thomas Park.

She was originally admitted in critical condition, but was discharged from the MCO Rehabilitation Hospital on July 16 and admitted to the nursing home.

Mr. Lastra said the girl was expected to make a full recovery, but was waiting for final corrective surgery on her airway.

He said the nursing home did not provide adequately trained staff to care for her needs.

The nursing home did not provide sufficient monitoring of her condition and did not care for her sufficiently when she began to have difficulty breathing, Mr. Lastra said.

Also charged in the case are employees Lori Sengstock, 35, of 5540 Malden Ave., and Salaina Chambers, 40, of 5741 Huntington Creek Rd.

They are charged with patient abuse or neglect in an indictment returned yesterday.

A pretrial conference in the case against the women is scheduled Dec. 13. If convicted, they could be sentenced to one to five years in prison and fined up to $10,000.

Judge Bowman fined the nursing home operator $15,000, which is the maximum penalty possible under the law.

A lawsuit containing allegations similar to those in the criminal case was filed against the nursing home in common pleas court. That case also is assigned to Judge Bowman.



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