Nursing Home Complaint Filed After Woman Dies From Negligence

A Michigan nursing home is being sued over the death of a resident who choked on her own tracheostomy tube. 

The nursing home wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the family of Alicia Cegers against Borgess Gardens nursing home in Kalamazoo.

According to the complaint, Cegers died when she was strangled by her tracheostomy tube, which got entangled in her bed rail on August 20, 2010.

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As a result of the incident, the state fined the nursing home only $100, for failing to properly care for Cegers. The fine is the standard Michigan reimbursement to families of relatives who have suffered from nursing home neglect due to violations of the public health code. However, Cegers’ daughter, Amerriel, has refused to cash the check.

Even though it is only about two years old, problems at the 121-bed Borgess have become so excessive that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has designated it a Special Focus Facility (SFF). The designation means that federal health inspectors rank the nursing home among the worst of the worst in the state for taking care of its patients.

The nursing home has objected to the designation, but in the case of Cegers the lawsuit claims that poor care led to her death. Cegers, who weighed 244 pounds, had a care plan that required two staffers to care for her. When she died she had only one staffer assigned to her, according to the complaint.

Before her death, she allegedly suffered from multiple breathing tube problems, which the lawsuit claims were signs of nursing home neglect. Doctors specifically made notations calling for the nursing home to take better care of her tracheostomy tube, but the lawsuit claims that warning were not headed.

While CMS rates Borgess above average on nursing home staffing and quality measures, it is its much below average rating on health inspections and its history of incidents of poor quality care that have led to the SFF designation. The SFF label means that the nursing home is subjected to more frequent inspections and monitoring. Failure to bring up standards could result in a loss of Medicare reimbursements, which would effectively shut the home down.


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