The Chicago Tribune and other local media outlets are reporting that 98-year-old nursing home resident Dorothy Byrd died last month as a result of an overdose of two powerful painkillers. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office has ruled her death a homicide. Byrd was a resident at Holland Home, an assisted living facility located at 16300 Louis Ave in South Holland, Ill.
Reports indicate that in addition to Byrd’s death, five other residents of Holland Home were hospitalized on February 3 due to unknown causes. Two of these residents also died, but the Medical Examiner is still awaiting toxicology results and has not yet released the causes of their deaths. According to the Chicago Sun-Times coverage, Byrd’s death was the result of a morphine and hydrocodone overdose.
Holland House is an assisted living facility operated by Villa Healthcare, a healthcare management company headquartered in Skokie that, according to the company’s website, operates 12 nursing homes and four assisted living facilities in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. According to the Holland Home’s website, the facility offers independent living, assisted living and memory care services.
Although the circumstances surrounding Byrd’s death are not fully known at this time, our attorneys have worked with other families on similar cases involving intentional overdoses in nursing homes. Many may recall local news coverage of the “Angel of Death” case filed against the Woodstock Residence nursing home in Woodstock, Ill. Attorneys Steve Levin and Jordan Powell represented the family of Virginia Cole, one of six Woodstock residents whose deaths were investigated by the McHenry County States Attorney and Illinois State Police. The lawsuit alleged that nursing home administrators and nursing staff were aware that morphine sulfate was being administered to Woodstock residents by a staff nurse without physician’s orders or outside the parameters ordered by a physician. The suit further alleged that the nurse played “Angel of Death” by recklessly administered a dosage of morphine to Cole when she was unresponsive and exhibiting delayed breathing patterns, and this caused Cole to suffer physical and mental injury and her death. The nurse later pled guilty to criminal neglect of a long-term nursing home resident charges in a separate criminal trial.
Reports do not indicate whether Byrd’s family has started the process of investigating a wrongful death lawsuit against Holland Home. Under Illinois law, when nursing home residents or residents of assisted living facilities suffer serious injuries or die as a result of negligence or reckless or intentional harm, families can take action to hold any and all wrongdoers accountable. Lawsuits surrounding nursing home overdose deaths not only help families recover fair compensation for the harms caused to them, they also send a message to nursing home and assisted living facility owners and administrators that substandard care or intentional harm will not go unnoticed or unpunished.
Our lawyers will continue to keep our readers updated as further information surrounding the overdose deaths at Holland Home becomes available.