Nursing home pays wrongful death suit victims family hopes to educate others
Nursing home pays wrongful death suit; victim’s family hopes to educate others
Cynthia and Phillip Wilms, married 50 years, were inseparable until complications from an untreated infection killed Cynthia in 2007. Phillip recently won a $2.25 million settlement against the company that runs the Willows Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Sun Prairie, where nursing staff allowed the infection to fester for days without calling a doctor. Family photo
Cynthia Wilms was admitted to The Willows Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Sun Prairie on July 30, 2007, for what was supposed to be a short stint of rehabilitation following an elective hip replacement.
Instead, Wilms, 72, a wife, mother, grandmother and piano teacher, grew sicker and sicker as her surgical wound developed into what is normally a common and treatable staph infection. Nobody at the chronically understaffed nursing home – listed by the federal government that same year as one of the worst in the nation – called a doctor or took other important steps to stop it, her family says, even as drainage from the wound soaked her clothes and bedding so regularly that her husband, Phillip, took her stained underwear and slacks home every night to wash them. She died on September 13, 2007.
Earlier this month, the large corporation that runs The Willows agreed to settle a neglect and wrongful death suit filed by the family for $2.25 million plus an undisclosed amount for costs. Officials at Extendicare Health Services Inc., the Milwaukee-based for-profit chain that owns The Willows and 175 other nursing homes in the country, refused to comment on the specifics of the case beyond noting in a written statement that the settlement includes no admission of liability on its part. Rob Hanson, a vice president for the company, claims in the statement that the company has recently invested "significant resources" into the 57-bed facility to improve conditions there.
The settlement is one of the largest between a nursing home resident and nursing facility in Wisconsin.