Michigan court sides with 'whistleblower' nursing home manager

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A Michigan court ruled in favor of a former nursing home respiratory manager who claimed was fired for cooperating with a state investigation involving resident deaths at the facility.

The plaintiff, Elizabeth Williamson, was awarded $705,000 by a Wayne County Circuit Court, which deliberated for only 90 minutes, according to the Detroit Free Press. Williamson helped Michigan Department of Community Health officials who were investigating several serious incidents at Omni Continuing Care, which is operated by Ciena Healthcare Management, in Detroit.

MDCH investigators issued immediate jeopardy citations against the facility for two resident deaths and other complaints. One of the citations involved failure to monitor a hypoglycemic resident who was not eating and subsequently died. Investigators found that nursing staff falsified records to cover up the incident. The facility also was cited for failure to supervise a resident who was trying to pull out his tracheostomy tube and later died. Investigators issued several additional citations for cases involving negligence.

Williamson was fired after MDCH officials completed the investigation, even though her department did not receive any citations. Omni Continuing Care's attorney the company would appeal, according to published reports.