Family sues nursing home after death

February 11, 2009 2:57:19 PM PST
The family of Sarah Wentworth wants answers after her body was discovered outside of the suburban nursing home where she lived.Wentworth's body was found outside of The Arbor of Itasca on a frigid morning last week. Her daughters want to know how the 89-year-old ended up outside the nursing home- and ended up dead.

Police are officially calling the case a death investigation. No charges have been filed. The family's attorney said Wentworth was wearing a nightgown and nothing else. Her boyd was found at 5:30 a.m. Thursday. The coroner said hypothermia played part in her death.

"We wanted her to enjoy - at whatever level she could - her last natural breath. And that was stolen from us because of a tragedy," said Cathy Shain, victim's daughter.

"The word neglect means exactly what it means ? neglect," said Louis Cairo, attorney.

Wentworth's three daughters have filed a lawsuit. They say their mother suffered dementia and had an ankle bracelet so staff could keep track of her.

"It was physically impossible for Sarah Wentworth to get out of her bed, to walk down the hall, go through security doors - unless someone was with her, unless someone was guiding her, someone was leading her," said Cairo.

"I'm not sure it's foul play, I don't know if it's negligence. I just know she had to have some assistance getting out. She can't do that herself," said Patricia Mackey, victim's daughter.

Itasca Police only released a statement today, saying a death investigation is underway. And the DuPage County State's Attorney's office would only say they are working with police.

The Arbor of Itasca released this statement, saying in part: "The Arbor of Itasca is cooperating fully with the IL Department of Public Health and local law enforcement authorities regarding their investigation of the death of that resident."

Wentworth lived in the home about 2 1/2 years.

"We never wanted to put my mother in a nursing home - we were raised, you Irish girls don't put your mom's in nursing homes. It was a hard decision we made together because I couldn't keep her safe anymore," said Peggy Kennedy, victim's daughter.

Currently, Arbor of Itasca has a one star rating, on a 5-star federal government scale. That's the lowest possible rating, meaning the facility is, by government standards, much below average. The family was not aware of the low score.

"When we put her in, we didn't know it had all those violations," said Kennedyr.

"It was such a sudden tragedy that should never happen to anyone again, especially our mother - she was the center of all of our lives," said Shain.

The family said Wentworth used a walker, which was found in her bedroom and not outside where her body was.

The state health department expects to release a report in a few weeks.