CHICAGO (CBS) — A Burbank family is suing the nursing home where their father died, claiming it failed to protect him from the spread of COVID-19.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini first exposed the allegations against the Bridgeview Health Care Center last month, and had an update Wednesday night.
The lawsuit comes three weeks after the former certified nursing assistant at the health care center told the CBS 2 Investigators it had failed to follow infectious disease protocols and failed both its staff and its residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
The suit claims “gross negligence” led to the “wrongful death” of 84-year-old resident James Zbonski.
“I’m not the only family that is going through this, so it makes me very, very angry,” said Zbonski’s stepdaughter, Tina Meskill.
Meskill is Zbonski’s stepdaughter and power of attorney, but she said the nursing home didn’t communicate with her about the severity of her stepdad’s condition.
She said despite three days of a soaring fever and not eating or drinking, the nursing home let critical days pass and did not take her stepfather to a hospital until he was unresponsive. That was when she said she finally got a call about his condition.
He tested COVID-19 positive and died a week later.
“They failed miserably,” Meskill said, adding that the nursing home “absolutely” had a responsibility to inform her.
That is especially true, Meskill said, since the home was on lockdown in March and she was not able to visit her stepfather to check on him to see what kind of care he was getting inside.
“They had one job and one job only to make sure their residents are safe and taken care of, and I feel like they did not do that,” Meskill said. “They did not follow proper protocol.”
“Call me a whistleblower – I don’t care,” said certified nursing assistant Tainika Somerville. “But the state needs to know what’s going on in these nursing homes.”
Somerville is the CNA who complained to management and blew the whistle on the home after Zbonski and other residents died.
“So to make a long story short, I got fired today,” Somerville said in a Facebook video.
She also spoke about a lack of personal protective equipment to help stop the virus spreading inside. Zbonski’s lawsuit also makes those claims.
“You all understand what’s going on. People is dying in that building; all these nursing home buildings,” Somerville said.
We know at least 16 residents who tested COVID-19 positive at the Bridgeview Health Care Center who have died. After we exposed the outbreak, the Cook County Department of Public Health assigned an investigator to educate staff about proper infectious disease protocols.
Meskill is being represented by the law firm of Levin & Perconti.