Pleasant Acres sued by estate of woman who died after fall there

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Pleasant Acres Nursing Home. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

The family of an 89-year-old woman who died after a fall at Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has sued the private facility in York County Court, alleging it recklessly put profits over the safety of its residents.

Nancy L. Young died Dec. 15, 2018, of complications from injuries caused by a fall during a Dec. 8 encounter at the formerly county-owned nursing home in Springettsbury Township, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

That fall happened when Young, who suffered from dementia, tried to wander into another resident's room and that resident slammed her door shut, the coroner's office has said.

Coroner Pam Gay ruled on March 14 that Young died of blunt-force injuries complicated by chronic medical issues, including cardiovascular disease.

Young suffered a broken thigh, broken wrist and other injuries during the fall, according to the coroner.

Filed by Young's estate on Tuesday, Aug. 27, the suit claims that "monetary decisions benefiting the owners of the facility were prioritized as more important than the needs of the residents, including Nancy Young."

Lisa Sofia, the CEO of Premier Healthcare, which runs Pleasant Acres, said on Wednesday, Aug. 28, that the facility had not yet been served with the lawsuit, so she could not comment on it.

"I can assure you that Pleasant Acres continues to provide quality care and services to its residents," she said.

Sofia spoke with The York Dispatch in June about claims of staffing shortages.

"Every concern that is brought to our attention, just like it was with the county, is being addressed," she said at the time.

Nancy Young

The allegations: When the corporation that now owns the facility took it over Oct. 3, 2018, employees told the new management there weren't enough staff members to properly care for the residents, according to the lawsuit.

But those in charge further reduced the number of staff members to allegedly unsafe levels, even after employees raised concerns, the lawsuit states.

In addition to cutting staffing, the corporation "intentionally increased the number of residents who require more complex medical care and assistance with daily activities," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that increase was made to beef up government reimbursements, which the suit claims is the primary source of income for the facility.

Pleasant Acres knew Young had a history of dementia and falling, and it knew she could be seriously hurt if she fell, the lawsuit states.

More:Families claim poor care, unsanitary conditions at Pleasant Acres

More:York County coroner rules Pleasant Acres fall death a homicide

Before Young suffered the fall that killed her, the state Department of Health had already put Pleasant Acres on notice about the staffing issue, according to the lawsuit.

Young fell a number of times after coming to Pleasant Acres in February 2018, including three times in her first month there, and notes were made in her file that staff should have her use her walker and wear shoes, the lawsuit states. Young's file also noted she should be checked on visually during every shift.

But during November 2018, staff failed to check on Young during 11 shifts, the suit states, and in the first week of December there were no visual checks of Young done in two out of seven days of the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, according to the lawsuit.

No shoes, no walker: The lawsuit claims staff didn't ensure Young used her walker or wore shoes as she walked around the nursing home. She needed a special shoe for one foot, which was partially amputated.

When Young was found lying on the floor of West Hall, she was wearing only slipper-socks and didn't have her walker, according to the suit, which states no one witnessed Young's fall.

Pleasant Acres Nursing Home is shown in York on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

Over the next several days, until the day before she died, Young on several occasions screamed in pain and was heard moaning in pain, according to the lawsuit.

Those who run Pleasant Acres "were motivated by the desire to increase revenues/profits of their nursing homes, including Pleasant Acres, by knowingly, recklessly and with total disregard for the health and safety of their residents, reducing expenditures for needed staffing, training, supervision, and care to levels that would inevitably lead to severe injuries, such as those suffered by (Young)," the lawsuit alleges.

Premier Healthcare bought Pleasant Acres from York County in July 2018 for $33.5 million.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.