EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSHEARTLAND MOVES FORWARD
from Eyewitness News Online
Care Continues In Wake Of Multi-Million Dollar Neglect Verdict
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Larry Clark
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Sep. 19, 2012 8:17 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 19, 2012 8:24 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A little more than a year ago, a Kanawha County jury returned a 90-million dollar verdict in a neglect case. Heartland of Charleston and its parent company were blamed for the death of an elderly woman who passed away following a short stay at the facility.
While the legal maneuvering in the case continues, Heartland is still taking care of patients.
When it was hit with that multi-million dollar neglect verdict, the impact echoed through the building's halls.
Leroy Booth/15-year Heartland Employee I think they get great care and I personally get offended when I hear those things. We take our job to heart and we don't like when it's said like that or put in those terms because we know the good job we do here.
Michael Herald/Heartland Administrator: There's been so much negative coverage out there recently so it's a challenge for all long-term health care facilities out there to make sure that they're overcoming this, keeping staff morale up so that they can make sure that they're ignoring what's going on out there and just focusing on taking care of the loved ones who are here.
With more than 120 residents, Heartland is staying busy taking care of both long and short term needs.
To that end, the company appointed Dr. Todd Goldberg as its Medical Director. Goldberg is a WVU Physicians and is board certified in geriatric medicine. Heartland says his job is to lead the nursing team to ensure quality care for its patients.
Dr. Todd Goldberg/WVU Physicians of Chas.: I think that the medical care as well as the nursing and rehab care in this facility is very good. We actually have a contractual arrangement by which West Virginia University Physicians of Charleston provides several doctors and the medical director to the facility and I think that's led to great improvement and physician involvement and quality of care in the last couple years.
Betty Durst's husband is staying at Heartland while being treated for cancer at CAMC. She speaks highly of the care he's getting.
Betty Durst/Ripley: It couldn't be better and I mean that. And I've been to a lot of hospitals and things. It's been great. Everybody has been wonderful. And Bob gets really good care and they're kind and generous and loving toward him. I appreciate that more than I could say.
The mission for nursing homes is changing. No longer just a final stop for the elderly, places like Heartland are also billing themselves as facilities where people undergoing rehab can stay until they are well enough to go home.
Michael Todd/Charleston: The therapy department here is excellent. Everybody's nice. They're courteous. They know their job.
Even though it's a year later, the specter of the lawsuit and that multi-million dollar verdict still hangs over Heartland, However its administrator says making sure patients have quality care and quality of life is his top priority.
Michael Herald/Heartland Administrator: My main mission and goal is to employ good quality caring staff, as I think you've seen today. Folks that are out there caring for these patients.
Leroy Booth/15-year Heartland Employee: They should know that when they come here that they're gonna be home and we're gonna treat like home. Like family.
The West Virginia Supreme Court has sent the Heartland neglect case back to Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib with instructions to take another look at the jury form. So far, Judge Zakaib has not acted on the matter.
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