Report: Nurse talked of overdosing patients

September 25, 2008 3:28:53 PM PDT
A state investigation reveals six mysterious deaths at a suburban nursing home may not have been the work of an angel of death. Marty Himebaugh was charged last April in connection with four deaths at the home in Woodstock. Now, the state report claims those deaths may not have been mercy killings. Rather, the report indicates the nursing home residents were killed because they were just difficult to deal with.

The conclusions of this report are shocking, that for six months, a nurse talked openly of sedating or giving overdoses of drugs to patients who were either difficult to handle or who had lived long enough.

The investigative report by the Illinois Department of Public Health was completed in April. The 130-page document delves into the series of suspicious deaths that took place at the Woodstock Residence Nursing Home two years ago.

In the report, one of the nurses is said to have given overdoses of medication to patients deemed troublesome or difficult. It was back in April when Marty Himebaugh, a former nurse at the facility, was charged with criminal neglect and possession of a controlled substance. Himebaugh's supervisor, Patty Whitlock, was also charged after investigators found six patients died in a six-month span in 2006.

"Other nurses had been reproving to the administration that Marty Himebaugh was acting in strange and unusual ways and administration ignored, if not encouraged, Himebaugh's actions," said Steve Levin, attorney.

Levin is an attorney for relatives of Virginia Cole, one of the patients who died. Her death happened as state police zeroed in on the nursing home because of the frequency of deaths there.

IDPH investigators interviewed employers there, who told them one nurse, identified as "E-14," talked about giving a drugs to unruly patients, saying that one was given a drug "cocktail so he would not bother her during her shift."

At another point, "E-14" is reported to have said that one patient "is going to die in half an hour" and that patient was given an overdose of morphine.

At first, the deaths were thought to be mercy killings, a theory that Levin and his clients do no accept. They have filed a lawsuit against Himebaugh and the nursing home.

"It's shocking that this kind of conduct can go on in a facility that is there to care for people, the administration knows about this conduct -- or should know -- and continues in the fashion that it did," Levin said.

The McHenry County state's attorney did not comment Thursday on the report but has said previously that both women have been charged based on what the office believes it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

As for the Illinois Department of Public Health, it issued one of the largest fines against a nursing home, $300,000. An attorney for Woodstock Residence says he will contest the fine.


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