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Lawsuit filed after woman dies outside Union Printers Home

Union Printers Home
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 11, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Union Printers Home will soon shut its doors and over 100 residents will be forced to relocate.

It comes after years of complaints and investigations. The most recent - an investigation involving an 89-year-old woman found dead outside the facility.

McDivitt Law Firm, which is representing the family, tell us 89-year-old Margarita Sam froze to death and was found outside on a bench last month.

McDivitt provided News5 with a copy of Sam's autopsy, which said she got hypothermia while wearing light clothing on February 3. Right now, McDivitt said learning how Sam died has brought some closure to the family, while also leaving them with more questions than answers.

"You have a family who's entrusted a facility with the care of their loved one, and their loved one is allowed to go outside and freeze to death. I mean, that's a punch in the gut to everybody in our community, everybody who entrusts facilities to help care for their loved ones," said David McDivitt.

McDivitt also said they are representing less than a dozens families who have lost loved ones while in the care of the Union Printers Home. He said they are working to help all of the families get the answers they need, while holding the company accountable for any potential wrongdoing.

McDivitt also mentioned he cannot speak for the Sam family directly, but said they are devastated by their loss, and are asking for privacy at this time.

News5 spoke with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Wednesday. The department says there's about 130 people who will have to find a new place to live and that it's working with sister agencies to do this. It should take about 45 days, but it wants to reassure people that the facility will not close until every single resident has a new and safe home.

As for the facility's 35 to 40 employees, they'll be given support in searching for a new job.

We spoke with a former patient of the home who tells us she personally didn't experience any issues and that the care was good, but that she heard a lot of complaints from others. Now that the facility will be shutting down, she says she's concerned for friends who are still there and have to start over, maybe, in a different city.

"I'm really worried for so many of my friends because, anybody who knows the nursing home industry and my career was working with disabled folks, there's just not 110 nursing home beds in the city that are empty right now...they're going to wind up dropping them down into Pueblo or up into Denver and these people that have very little people in their lives are going to be left with nobody because they're going to be in a strange place," Elizabeth Barker said.

As far as the building itself, the state says there are problems. It's been around for more than 100 years and there's wear and tear.

Several inspections have been done and citations issued at Union Printers Home over the last few years. Some of those include unsafe food handling practices and failed staffing requirements.

If you'd like to look at those citations in full, CLICK HERE.

We're told for those who call Union Printers home and now have to pack up it's devastating.

"My heart is broken," said 59-year-old Janet Scofield. She shared with News5 that she's been a resident for about 10 months. "My muscles don't make energy. I have horrible, chronic fatigue. I have spinal arthritis...I've been here 10 months and I am in no better shape."

That's just one of her many complaints about the nursing home and assisted living facility that will soon be shut down.

"The first few weeks, other than them not being able to get my medication straight, were good, but after that it has consistently gone downhill," Scofield said.

She said one of the issues is that there's not enough staff members to make the building safe.

"State was here on January 16th. They told me that my grievance for short staffing on the floor was substantiated," she said.

She went on to say that in the last five or six months three residents have died. Their deaths, she said, were "questionable as to whether they could've been prevented if there had been adequate staffing."

Another grievance that was filed had to do with food.

"The food was terrible, was not fit to serve people," Scofield said.

Finally, she believes there's a lack of communication from facility management and state officials.

Below is a statement from CDPHE:

"There have been numerous complaints and subsequent investigations at this facility in the past few years, most notably after a recent resident death. Findings from those investigations demonstrate that Union Printers does not have the ability to provide consistently safe care to its residents."

As for Scofield, she said, "This is our home. This was our home. This is our community. This is our village and it's being taken away from us."

The health department says to ensure that all residents receive good care and services during this time a management company has been hired. It will run the daily operations of Union Printers with increased supervision from the department.

We have reached out to Union Printers Home for a comment and they referred us to the State Health Dept.

The department has sent a letter to managers and residents.

Click here to read the Colorado Department of Health letter to residents of the Union Printers Home.