Plaintiff rests in case against Rosewood

Ann Knef Oct. 17, 2007, 4:52am

Rosewood Care Center's nursing director Sherry Oettle and facility administrator Sara Arbogast testified Tuesday as plaintiff's attorney Craig Jensen rested his case before a Madison County jury.

Thomas Schwab filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2004, alleging the head and neck injuries sustained by his mother Margaret Schwab after a fall on Dec. 21, 2003, led to her death.

Oettle said Mrs. Schwab had not been assessed at risk for falling because she did not have a history of falling, she had a history of good decision making and she had good safety awareness.

After investigating the incident, Oettle said she was told by several staff members that Mrs. Schwab's call light was not on when she was discovered in her room on the floor.

Jensen pressed Oettle on whether she asked if Mrs. Schwab's state of mind may have been affected by narcotics, or if Mrs. Schwab's call light was within her reach.

Oettle said she did not recall asking about Mrs. Schwab's state of mind during the course of her investigation. She also said that she would not have asked if the call light was within reach because Mrs. Schwab was discovered on the floor.

Jensen also asked Oettle if a body alarm is an effective means of preventing falls. She responded that a resident who is not in a confused state would not be equipped with an alarm.

She later told defense counsel that Mrs. Schwab was capable of making her needs known. A body alarm would have disrupted her sleep and her roommate's sleep which would have caused further stress, Oettle said.

Oettle, who now works at the nursing home's Alton facility, said she has been working as a nurse in some capacity since she was 16 and prefers working in a nursing home setting because she "loves taking care of" older people.

"I love being around them when the families aren't," she said.

Oettle said that in 2002 she was honored with a statewide nursing award.

Arbogast said she and other nursing home staff routinely make rounds to check that mechanical equipment is in proper working order.

She said that Rosewood Care Center maintains more staffing than is required by state law.

Jensen said the nursing home's statutory duty also includes adequate and proper care.

He asked Arbogast if a patient is known to be confused, "don't you think a body alarm is indicated?"

"Confusion is not the only reason I would put a body alarm on," Arbogast said.

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