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Published: Wednesday, 6/18/2008

2 die after heat stroke in South Toledo group home

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two residents of a South Toledo group home have died after they were found unresponsive in an upstairs bedroom they shared that was more than 90 degrees, authorities said.

John Jones, 79, died Monday at the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital, one week after authorities found him unconscious at the Pamela Shay Angel Arms Family, a group home for people with mental health issues.

His body temperature was measured at 105.5 degrees when he arrived at the hospital, said Dr. Diane Barnett, a Lucas County deputy coroner.

His roommate, Thomas Calhoun, 47, was pronounced dead at the facility, 1577 Bow St., about 1:15 p.m. June 9.

A third man who shared the room no longer lives there, authorities said.

Dr. Barnett said the preliminary cause of death for Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Jones was complications from heat stroke. The exact cause is pending results of toxicology and other tests, she said.

The men were diagnosed as schizophrenic and were taking anti-psychotic medication, which Dr. Barnett said increases the risk of heat stroke. The medication impairs the body's ability to regulate its own temperature.

"They are predisposed to heat stroke," she said.

Dr. Barnett said heat stroke causes the body's muscles to break down and, in turn, causes organ systems to fail.

Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Jones each had heart disease, but Dr. Barnett said that appears to be a secondary cause of death.

A witness identified as John Paul Jones, 42, reported to police that he checked on Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Jones about 11 a.m. June 9 and said they were both snoring.

About two hours later, Pamela Shay, who owns the group home, found Mr. Calhoun deceased and began CPR, according to an incident report filed by Ms. Shay. She could not be reached for comment last night.

Steve Kahle, an investigator with the coroner's office, said the men were found at least eight to 15 hours after they became incapacitated.

Mr. Kahle said the temperature inside the room was measured at more than 90 degrees. He said the windows were open when he arrived at the scene.

"I can't confirm if the windows were open all the time or opened after they were found or open because I was coming," Mr. Kahle said.

According to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, the high temperature June 9 was 94. At 1 p.m., just before the men were found, the temperature was 91 with 45 percent humidity, said Brian Mitchell, a meteorological technician.

Dr. Barnett said the room was poorly ventilated and there was no air conditioner.

Sandy Hamilton, director of the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc.'s long-term care ombudsman program, said they have received seven complaints regarding Angel Arms since October, 2007.

The complaints included a shortage of staff, improperly trained staff, and mismanaged finances, she said.

Ms. Hamilton said the program provides advocacy for residents living in long-term care facilities, but it doesn't have the ability to cite or close facilities. They do, however, investigate complaints.

"When the residents have care issues or their rights are not being honored, we go in and ask questions," said Timothy Ide, a certified ombudsman specialist. "When we come in and shine a light on them, generally we can get some results."

The Ohio Department of Health is the regulatory agency for facilities such as Angel Arms. The state health department licensed the home for five residents, Ms. Hamilton said.

Sara Morman, a department spokesman, confirmed yesterday the group home is licensed through the state.

There have been three complaints filed against Angel Arms since it opened in January, 2005; only one was substantiated, Ms. Morman said. She was unable to provide details of the complaint.

Ms. Morman said representatives from the state were at the group home Friday as a part of an investigation into the deaths of Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Jones. Results of that probe are pending, she said.

Contact Laren Weber at:

lweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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