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Davenport nursing home death triggers a criminal investigation

By: - July 2, 2020 3:32 pm

One of Iowa’s top nursing home regulators worked for the industry before and immediately after he was tasked with overseeing such facilities. (Photo by Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals)

Davenport police are investigating the death of a resident at the ManorCare-Utica Ridge nursing home.

State inspection records indicate the resident died on May 1. The man was dependent on bottled oxygen and was found unresponsive in his bed with his oxygen-delivery system removed and sitting on a nearby nightstand. He had been living at the facility for less than two weeks.

The home has been cited for a failure to follow professional standards of practice “that resulted in a resident’s cardiac arrest and death.”

The home’s administrator, Sheri Burken, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

According to state inspectors’ reports, the man was admitted to the home on April 21 after having suffered a stroke sometime in the past. He was diagnosed with diabetes, asthma and chronic respiratory failure.

On the morning of May 1, a nurse at the home noticed the resident in bed with his breathing apparatus removed and lying on the nightstand. The resident was still wearing a nebulizer mask that was used 75 minutes earlier to deliver medication to his lungs. The man’s skin was dark blue or purple. The nurse removed the mask and reconnected the resident’s oxygen.

About 20 minutes later, a firefighter-EMT who was at the facility on an unrelated emergency saw the man and reportedly told a ManorCare staffer, “He doesn’t look good.” The fireman couldn’t rouse the man or find a pulse and called for help. CPR was initiated, but the man could not be revived.

Within an hour, the police were on the scene, responding to a report of a suspicious death. According to state inspectors’ reports, the police seized equipment in the man’s room and subsequently told state officials that subpoenas had been issued and criminal charges might be filed.

The man’s doctor allegedly told inspectors that it appeared his patient had not received any oxygen for an hour and 15 minutes.

The nurse suspected of removing the resident from the oxygen-delivery device refused to speak to inspectors without a lawyer present, according to state records.

The ManorCare-Utica Ridge home is located 3800 Commerce Boulevard in Davenport.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.