Two Found Guilty in Nursing Home Death

An Oregon jury returned guilty verdicts Monday in a criminal case against two nursing home employees involved in the dropping and subsequent death of a nursing home resident. Linda Ober, a 60-year-old resident at Gateway nursing home in Portland, Oregon, was dropped to the floor while being transferred from a wheelchair to her bed, breaking both of her legs. She was then allowed to lie in her bed and suffer for five days, despite staff reports that she was screaming in pain, before being taken to the hospital. Suzanne Kay Ruddell, the director of nurses, ordered staff members to stop filling out an incident report and to not call Ober’s family after the injury. For five days, Ruddell refused to have Ober x-rayed. Finally, after learning of an abnormal bone protrusion under Ober’s skin, Ruddell ordered an x-ray and left for the beach. Ober died in the hospital the following day.

Ruddell was found guilty of two counts of felony criminal mistreatment. Cammy Elaine Nye, the certified nursing assistant in charge of the transfer, was found guilty of misdemeanor reckless endangerment for precariously placing Ober in a sling, causing her to drop to the floor during the transfer.

A third defendant, Verna Colleen Heide, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal mistreatment in August and testified against Ruddell and Nye at the trial. Heide was sentenced last month to three years probation and 160 hours of community service.

Ober’s daughter has filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center.

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