Caregiver Watching TV Left Patient to Freeze Outside

Was "Dog the Bounty Hunter" more important than Sarah Wentworth the patient?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After employees found Sarah Wentworth lying outside in subfreezing cold, they tried to cover up the death by returning her to her bed, authorities said.

    A nursing home employee was so engrossed in an episode of "Dog the Bounty Hunter," that she ignored the sound of a security alarm sounding when a resident wandered outside earlier this month, authorities said.

    Sarah "Sally" Wentworth, a former Chicago woman who suffered from dementia and other health problems, lived at The Arbor nursing home in Itasca for nearly three years, but the 89-year-old mother of three died outside on a cold, Feb. 5 morning after the people who were supposed to care for her failed to perform scheduled checks.

    Nursing Home Employees Suspended

    [CHI] Nursing Home Employees Suspended
    After employees found their patient lying outside in the cold, they tried to cover up the tragedy by returning the deceased woman to her bed, a suit alleges. (Published Friday, Feb 20, 2009)

    The allegations get worse.

    After the employees found Wentworth lying outside in subfreezing cold, they tried to cover up the tragedy by returning the deceased woman to her bed, the Daily Herald reported.

    Officers were told Wentworth died while asleep in her bed, but authorities said they found the patient in a hospital gown, not her pajamas, covered in blankets and lying on a gurney while hooked up to an oxygen machine.

    First responders said Wentworth was cool to the touch, with a temperature well below the average 98.6 degrees despite being in a warm room.

    Authorities allege employees panicked after finding Wentworth outside shortly after a 5 a.m. well-being check, and then some of them conspired to try to make it look like she died naturally while asleep in her bed. Investigations uncovered that a scheduled 3 a.m. well-being check was never made.

    A week after Wentworth died, her daughters filed a wrongful death suit against The Arbor alleging "gross neglect."

    "If someone heard that alarm go off and they chose to do nothing, that would rise to a level well beyond a civil action, and, in my opinion, would justify criminal charges," said Louis C. Cairo, attorney for the Wentworth family, during a news conference last week announcing the lawsuit.

    As many as four female nursing home employees are expected to be charged criminally for their actions.

    [Read more on DailyHerald.com]