Family to sue in nursing home death

April 7, 2008 3:45:35 PM PDT
The family of Virginia Cole plans to file a lawsuit in connection to her death at a Woodstock nursing home. Two people- a current and a former employee- have been charged in Cole's death, as well as the deaths of five other nursing home residents.

Cole, 78, suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and lived at Woodstock Residence Nursing. She died about a year and a half ago on September 10, 2006.

"Virginia's family trusted Woodstock Residence to take care of their mother and keep her safe from harm. Instead, they broke their promises and Virginia's family now faces the nightmare of likely foul play leading up to their mother's death," said Steve Levin, family's attorney.

Last week, Penny Whitlock and Marty Himebaugh, were charged after a 15-month investigation into the alleged mercy killings committed at Woodstock Residence Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. They are accused of giving patients, including Cole, morphine overdoses. The McHenry County Grand Jury stopped short of alleging the women caused the deaths of the patients.

"My mother-in-law was functioning perfectly fine from the time I put her in there until the fifth. It was just a horrible surprise to us. It just devastated her and devastated our family," said Frank Lund, son-in-law.

An attorney for Woodstock Residence said Whitlock, who was the nursing home director, was fired Friday on the day of her arrest. The attorney insists the arrest did not trigger her dismissal, but declined to comment further.

Both Whitlock and Himebaugh were released from the McHenry County Jail on a $50,00 bond.

"The director of nurses at the facility -- and this is a quote from the indictment -- was encouraging Marty Himebaugh to act in a role of angel of death," said Levin.

Cole's family said up until the day she was admitted to the hospital, Cole was doing well.

"What we believe looking at the hospital records that those symptoms are consistent with a morphine overdose," said Levin.


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