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The Joseph C. O’Mahoney Federal Center in Cheyenne. WTE/Staff

CHEYENNE – A widower is suing Granite Rehabilitation and Wellness and its parent company, EmpRes at Cheyenne LLC, for allegedly injuring his now-deceased wife, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 14 in U.S. District Court.

Emmett Owenby, as the special administrator for the estate of Sallie Owenby, is suing the nursing home for more than the jurisdictional limit of $75,000, and a jury trial is demanded.

Granite Rehabilitation is a for-profit nursing home in Cheyenne that provides care for the elderly, such as skilled nursing, rehabilitation therapy, assisted living and more. It’s owned by parent company EmpRes Healthcare Management LLC, which was founded in 1997 and has 64 locations nationwide, according to its website.

Emmett Owenby is being represented by Diana Rhodes of Rhodes Law Firm. Rhodes declined to comment on the case. The media contact for Granite Rehabilitation and Wellness was unavailable when the Wyoming Tribune Eagle called Tuesday afternoon.

According to court documents:

On July 13, 2016, Sallie Owenby, 69, was admitted to Granite Rehab due to medical complications following a fall. On July 28, she was sent to the emergency room at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for a urinary tract infection from E. coli that caused seizures.

She was transferred back to Granite Rehab on July 30, though she was sent back to the ER on Aug. 6 due to sepsis related to pneumonia, acute hypothermia and other illnesses. She was kept at the hospital for an additional six days.

She was sent to the ER again on Sept. 6, 2016, for a serious urinary tract infection. Her medical records also state this was a repeated problem for Owenby. She was diagnosed with urinary tract infections and E. coli numerous times throughout the rest of the year and into spring 2017 during her stay at Granite Rehab.

She also had a decreased range of motion in her left hand, and her orthopedic surgeon stated she was having fixed muscle contractions. A few months later, she was diagnosed with a Stage IV pressure ulcer on her left thumb that developed brown and black eschar in the wound.

She was eventually moved to a different nursing home facility in Denver on May 23, 2017, after she had to go to the ER.

The Wyoming State Department of Health cited Granite Rehab for “repeated deficiencies ... indicating defendants EmpRes has knowledge of its failure to meet the standards for Granite Rehab, and were on notice of foreseeable harm to its residents, including Ms. Owenby.”

In the past five years, Granite Rehab has been cited five times by Medicare and fined twice, according to Medicare.gov. It was noted in past reports that it caused actual harm to residents multiple times.

Granite Rehab is also rated much below average overall, with one out of five stars and rated below average for quality of resident care and short-stay quality. The facility did rate average for long-stay quality of resident care, according to Medicare.gov.

The lawsuit alleges the facility is negligent and substandard for failing to perform proper nursing assessments, failing to protect the physical safety of its residents, failure to notify Owenby’s physician of condition changes, failure to keep up Owenby’s personal hygiene and more.

“As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ breach of their duties, Sallie Owenby suffered injuries ... ,” the lawsuit said.

This case was previously brought before the Medical Review Panel of the State of Wyoming on May 6. The matter was dismissed by the panel because Granite Rehab waived medical review panel proceedings, which allowed Emmett Owenby to file a lawsuit against the facility.

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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