The IndyStar did a great job reporting the rape and murder of Patricia Newnum at Homestead Healthcare Center nursing home. Patricia Newnum was a grandmother until her death in February. The lawsuit blames Homestead’s operator, CommuniCare Inc., and its owner for allowing “a culture of crime, drugs, alcohol abuse, and poor treatment of residents … to fester at Homestead Healthcare Center.”
The family’s lawsuit claims it was the “inevitable result” of poor staffing and horrible management of the facility. Poorly trained and short-staffed allowed the death of a resident and was the “highly predictable consequence” of mismanagement and negligence.
Police said a nursing assistant found Freeman on top of Newnum with a pillow over her face and a liquor bottle nearby. The nursing home failed to supervise and monitor another resident, Dwayne Freeman, who is charged with the murder and rape.
“It was a horrendous crime,” the lawsuit says, “that should never have been allowed to happen.”
The nursing home knew or should have known that Freeman had a criminal history and a history of alcohol abuse. Somehow the facility failed to discover that he had consumed substantial amounts of alcohol at the facility prior to the rape and murder.
Notice and Foreseeability
If it is predictable, it is preventable. An IndyStar investigation found that staffing at Homestead ranked near the bottom of all U.S. nursing homes and turnover rates far exceeded national averages. 79%, compared to 50% nationally, with turnover of registered nurses at 92%. Both are key indicators for neglect and abuse.
The nursing home had a history of criminal activity. Police were called over 30 time sin the last year for thefts, assaults, drug investigations and other problems. Illegal narcotic use was so pervasive that overdose medication was routinely issued to residents.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” the former employee said. “They had no control over this place … This place was just a walking time bomb.”