The Cheyenne HealthCare Center on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 on East 12th Street in Cheyenne. The center has made the Medicare/Medicaid’s Special Focus Facility Initiative list. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – A local nursing home and its parent companies are named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed June 18 in Laramie County District Court.

SavaSeniorCare, a Delaware company that owns Cheyenne HealthCare Center, is being sued for allegedly neglecting the care of a patient so badly it caused his death, according to court documents.

The suit was filed by Diana Rhodes of Rhodes Law Firm on behalf of Marci DeLong, widow Ronald J. DeLong. The plaintiff is seeking restitution of more than $50,000 and is demanding a jury trial.

A person from Rhodes’ office declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted Wednesday by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Cheyenne HealthCare Center officials also declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Ronald J. DeLong allegedly died due to the poor care and negligence of Cheyenne HealthCare Center. He died on February 6, 2017, at the Davis Hospice Center in Cheyenne after his stay at the nursing home. He was 49 years old at the time of his death.

According to court documents:

The nursing home is being sued for “negligent actions” and a “series of negligently neglectful and careless incidents.”

On Sept. 3, 2016, DeLong was taken to the nursing home following complications from a stroke. A few months later, on Jan. 24, 2017, he was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center by nursing home staff.

At the hospital, DeLong was noted to have suffered from acute renal failure, severe upper GI bleeding, severe sepsis, urinary tract infections, lactic acidosis, uremia, obstipation (a severe form of constipation), severe metabolic acidosis with Kussmaul breathing (a deep and labored breathing pattern) and more, all while under the nursing home’s care.

The hospital also noted bruising and lacerations on DeLong’s body. Hospital staff called the nursing home to inquire about DeLong, and three different Cheyenne HealthCare Center nurses said they didn’t know him or have any information about his baseline health.

During DeLong’s stay at the nursing home, his weight dropped from 211 pounds to about 187 in five months. His family also noticed changes in him that included choking, poor appetite, lethargy and more.

None of these changes were recorded by nursing home staff.

According to nursing home records, DeLong also hadn’t had a bowel movement for a few weeks before being admitted into CRMC, only had one con- sultation with a dietician, had repeated falls and only bathed three times a month while at the nursing home.

Around the time DeLong was a resident of the nursing home, the Wyoming Department of Health surveyed the facility and found it may potentially cause “foreseeable harm to its residents.”

In the survey results, the health department found the facility was violating state and federal regulations, including failing to record a patient’s change of condition; complete, accurate and accessible patient records; comprehensive assessments and more.

More recently, Cheyenne Healthcare Center came under scrutiny for being listed as one of 88 “Special Focus Facilities” for failing to meet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services compliance standards. This means the facility is being closely monitored by CMS, and nursing homes on the list are subjected to more unannounced inspections.

Less than 1% of American nursing homes perform poorly enough to make the list.

If the nursing home doesn’t improve within two years of making the list, it may be terminated from federal health-care programs.

The nursing home is anticipated to graduate from the list in the coming year because almost 90% of cited nursing homes leave the program. After a year in the program, the most recent inspection of the facility said there were “significant improvements,” according to CMS.

To see the inspection reports in full, visit www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.

Isabella Alves is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at ialves@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter @IsabellaAlves96.

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