The family of a Bolingbrook man who was left alone to bleed to death in a nursing home —and then had his iPhone swiped from his room after his body was removed — is suing the facility for negligence.
Jaime Hernandez, 66, was recuperating at an Aperion Care facility in Forest Park after getting a kidney transplant at the University of Illinois-Chicago Medical Center a month earlier.
He’d waited seven years to receive a new kidney and all signs were looking good, said his daughter, Maria de Lourdes Gutierrez.
“He was doing really well,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez took her dad for a regular appointment with his UIC doctor on Oct. 25, 2018, then brought him back to the nursing home at 8200 Roosevelt Road, where he had been staying for 17 days.
His UIC doctor had said Hernandez’s blood pressure looked good and his new kidney was doing well, Gutierrez said. Her dad was looking forward to watching his beloved Club America Mexican soccer team on TV and eating his favorite foods when he fully recovered.
“He was so happy,” she said.
According to the lawsuit naming Aperion, Berkshire Nursing & Rehab Center LLC and several employees as defendants, a health care staffer was supposed to check Hernandez every two hours as well as regularly check his forearm, where he had a fistula from a dialysis catheter. The lawsuit says the nursing home should have known that he was at risk for a hemorrhage in that arm.
Video of the nursing home hallway later obtained by police showed that no one entered Hernandez’s room for at least three hours before he was found in a pool of blood on the floor of his room’s bathroom, said attorney Margaret Battersby Black with the firm Levin & Perconti.
Battersby Black added that staffers allegedly lied to police about the last time they’d seen Hernandez alive.
To make matters worse, Gutierrez said her dad’s iPhone disappeared from his room shortly after. She said her niece tracked it with the Find My iPhone app, watching in horror as it left the nursing home building and traveled down the Dan Ryan Expressway before going dark.
The lawsuit claims the phone was stolen by a nursing home worker who had an active arrest warrant in Iowa for theft, dependent adult abuse and forgery.
Aperion Care did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
On its website, the company says its employees “provide a level of personal caring that goes well beyond providing post-hospital rehabilitation and long-term skilled nursing care.”
The lawsuit also contends that Aperion knew it was understaffed because the Illinois Department of Public Health had cited it for providing inadequate staffing less than a month before Hernandez arrived.
The suit was filed on behalf of Hernandez’s widow, Maria Guadalupe Rios Valdez, his daughter Gutierrez and two other daughters and two sons. It seeks monetary damages for 17 alleged specific failures of the nursing home to properly care for Hernandez.
Gutierrez said the worst part was the suddenness of her father’s death, which occurred just as the family thought he had rounded a corner in his recovery.
“It was great, the doctors were saying everything is good,” she said of the kidney transplant surgery. “You’re thinking it’s a new life for him.”