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Nursing home where resident died of hypothermia has checkered past, records show

1 year 4 months 3 weeks ago Friday, February 17 2023 Feb 17, 2023 February 17, 2023 5:39 PM February 17, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

PORT ALLEN - Legacy Nursing Home and Rehabilitation has been cited nearly two dozen times over the past few years for problems found by state inspectors, records reviewed by the WBRZ Investigative Unit show.

On Thanksgiving, Robert Gash wandered outside and was found dead hours later. The West Baton Rouge Parish Coroner determined his death was caused by hypothermia. The WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered the facility has been cited 21 times since 2019 and has faced over $5,000 in fines for deficiencies.

In one egregious instance, a resident grabbed a drink and pudding off a medicine cart. Reports indicate that an LPN slapped the resident in the face with enough force to knock his hat off. The resident was then kicked three times, according to video that was reviewed by the nursing home. The resident dropped his pudding, and the LPN picked it up and shoved it in his face.

Eyes have been on the nursing home since its most recent citation for failures and deficient practices after a surprise visit late last year following Gash's death. The Louisiana Department of Health carried out the unannounced inspection on Dec. 21, 2022.

Yolanda Gash said her brother was a mental health patient living at the facility. She received a call on Thanksgiving Day from a worker who called her from a cell phone.

"I feel bad because if I knew my brother wanted to go home because he was being neglected, I would have gotten my brother out of that place," Gash said. "I was the last one he spoke to. We were going there to get him Thanksgiving morning, and they told me he was dead."

An employee at the facility told WBRZ, "I worked there over a year, and it's f***** up how they did that guy."

"They shouldn't have let that man out in the cold," she said. "It was not right. All that they did was wrong, and they need to find out what else they aren't doing right."

The letter about the deficiency states that Legacy must submit a corrective action plan to the Louisiana Department of Health - Health Standards Section Program detailing how the deficient practices will be corrected and prevented from reoccurring.

WBRZ has reached out to Legacy Nursing Home. The facility released the following statement.

Resident health and safety is, and will always be, our top priority at the Legacy Nursing and Rehabilitation of Port Allen. This tragic incident is in no way indicative of the quality of care provided at the facility. The entire staff at Legacy Nursing and Rehabilitation of Port Allen is deeply saddened by Mr. Gash’s death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones. To protect Mr. Gash's privacy, we cannot comment further at this time. We will continue to cooperate with all agencies involved in this matter.

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