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Man sues over mom's death at Missouri nursing home

Gavel file photo. (Image courtesy of MGN Online)

FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) -- The son of an 88-year-old Alzheimer's disease patient sued the suburban St. Louis nursing home where he said his mother died after being left in a tub for eight hours.

Steven Moreland alleges in the St. Louis County lawsuit filed July 5 that Lois Moreland's March 2016 death was the result of negligence by the St. Sophia Health & Rehabilitation Center in Florissant, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages accuses St. Sophia of putting profits above health care by deliberately understaffing its 240-bed nursing home.

"When there are not enough staff members to care for residents, it creates an environment where employees are trying to do too many things that they forget about putting a resident in a bathtub and end up leaving her there for over eight hours," Steven Moreland's attorney, David Terry, told the newspaper.

Terry added that Lois Moreland was "unable to comprehend her circumstances or fend for herself because there were not enough employees to meet the needs of each resident. And as a result, Lois Moreland paid the price."

The county's medical examiner's office attributed the death to natural causes, citing heart disease.

The nursing home is run by Creve Coeur-based Midwest Geriatric Management, which owns 22 locations in Iowa, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Messages left Saturday by The Associated Press with Midwest Geriatric Management's legal department were not immediately returned.

Lois Moreland's health issues included Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, heart disease, hypertension, muscle weakness and difficulty walking. Terry said Steven Moreland believes that despite his mother's poor health, she would not have died that day if she hadn't been abandoned in the whirlpool.

After Moreland's death, government inspectors determined that St. Sophia residents were in immediate jeopardy -- the most severe status given to nursing homes. St. Sophia was fined $39,260 and required to file a "plan of correction."

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