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Wife blames Massachusetts nursing home for husband's death, calling it "neglect of the highest order"

i-Team: Wife says neglect in North Shore nursing home caused her husband's death
i-Team: Wife says neglect in North Shore nursing home caused her husband's death 03:46

DANVERS - A Salem woman says her husband went to a North Shore nursing home for rehabilitation and within months he was dead. 

The family alleges it was neglect that killed Luciano Guiseppe Sforza.

Lori Sforza, of Salem, says neglect at Hathorne Hill in Danvers led to her husband's death from sepsis.  CBS Boston

Sforza, known as Louie, was a proud veteran who served his country during the Vietnam War. After being honorably discharged, he returned home, married Lori and helped raise her two children. Lori said she met Louie in 1977, calling him a beautiful, kind person and "an angel walking the earth."

Sforza suffered with health problems after he was exposed to Agent Orange during the war.

Treatment at Hathorne Hill in Danvers

In March of 2022, he needed help walking and went to Hathorne Hill in Danvers for rehabilitation. Within weeks of being admitted, Lori says she noticed a sore on her husband's leg.  

"No one should have a wound like that on their body. No one. You trust these people, you trust them, and question them, did you check the wound? Oh yes," Lori told WBZ-TV's I-Team.

But, she said the infection got worse. In July, Sforza was moved to Lahey Hospital. He ended up in intensive care and died weeks later. Lori said her husband died of sepsis.

"It should have never happened. It was neglect of the highest order, neglect," she told WBZ.

Hathorne Hill cited twice

Inspection reports obtained by the I-Team show in 2022, Hathorne Hill was cited twice. 

In June, a nurse gave morphine to the wrong patient and did not report the mistake. The facility was fined $8,648. 

Inspection reports obtained by the I-Team show in 2022, Hathorne Hill in Danvers was cited twice.  CBS Boston

In October, a nursing assistant refused to empty a resident's ostomy bag and forced gloves on the patient's hands to do it themselves. The incident was also not reported.

Despite the serious findings, the Massachusetts Department of Health did not go back to inspect the home for more than a year. When inspectors did go in, they found sub-standard care and conditions that jeopardized the health and safety of the residents. 

The state ordered a freeze on admissions. 

Massachusetts oversight issues

Rick Glassman of the Disability Law Center, a watchdog group, recently released a report involving another long term care facility.

The investigation found systemic issues with the state's oversight of nursing homes and long term care facilities. 

Glassman said Massachusetts needs to "have regular inspections and more frequent inspections when initial findings are troubling. We're not at all sure that they have enough inspectors on the ground or particularly enough inspectors with clinical expertise."

The I-Team reached out to Hathorne Hill, which is owned by Genesis Health Care, a for-profit holding company with more than 250 long term care facilities. 

Lori Mayer, a spokesperson for Hathorne Hill, sent this statement to WBZ:

"To protect the privacy of the individual, we cannot comment on the specifics of patient care due to the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule. With that said, the health, safety, and quality of care of our patients and residents is our top priority at Hathorne Hill. We were recently named a Best Nursing Home in the US by US News & World Report and also received a Silver Quality Award from the American Health Care Association. During a recent survey, an isolated issue was discovered, which we have already resolved with the Massachusetts DPH. Hathorne Hill is open for admissions."

Lori said her husband died from neglect and has hired an attorney.

"It's not about money. I want nothing but justice for my husband," she told WBZ.

Hathorne Hill in compliance, state says

The Department of Health said federal regulations allow 9-to-15 months for annual inspection. They told the I-Team that Hathorne Hill is in substantial compliance and is now able to accept new residents.  

Advocates for nursing home reform say a bill currently in the Massachusetts Senate would strengthen state oversight and provide greater accountability.

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