Suit alleges negligence during intended short stay at nursing home led to death

— Photo from thegrandhealthcare.com

The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland, located at 428 Route 146 in Guilderland Center, is being sued by the daughter of a woman who died there.

GUILDERLAND — The daughter of a woman who died after a brief stay at the nursing home in Guilderland Center is suing The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland for no less than $10 million to be determined at trial.

The 16-page suit was filed on June 28 at Albany County Supreme Court by Brett D. French, an Albany lawyer, on behalf of Lindsey M. Giagni, who is the administrator of the estate for her mother, Laura  B. Hallenbeck.

French had filed a similar suit for Giagni on behalf of Lauren B. Hallenbeck’s estate on Dec. 29, 2023.

While The Grand could not be immediately reached for response, the June 28 suit alleges “gross negligence, reckless violation of New York State Public Health Law and medical malpractice.”

Mrs. Hallenbeck’s obituary said she was a graduate of Vincentian Institute and retired from her career at the state’s Department of Transportation after more than 20 years. “Laura cherished spending her free time with her family, especially her grandchildren who she loved dearly,” her obituary said.

The suit claims that Mrs. Hallenbeck, then 62, was admitted into the nursing home on Nov. 16, 2021 for what was supposed to be a brief stay to get physical therapy for a leg wound that had kept her off her feet and “caused her some weakness and unsteadiness.”

She had been the full-time caregiver for her husband, Charles Hallenbeck, who was physically healthy but suffered from dementia, the suit said, so her husband was admitted to the nursing home along with her with the expectation they would both return home after Mrs. Hallenbeck recovered from her leg wound.

The 2023 filing lists four separate causes of action — common law negligence, negligence per se, violation of New York Public Health Law, and wrongful death — and includes this information not in the recent filing:

“In addition to Mrs. Hallenbeck’s pain and suffering, Mr. Hallenbeck lost the care and services of his wife, who cared for him. As a result,” the suit alleges, “Mr. Hallenbeck was forced to remain in a nursing home.

“Soon after Mrs. Hallenbeck’s death, Mr. Hallenbeck relocated to a different nursing home. Now, Mrs. Hallenbeck’s pension funds, as well as the house that Mr. and Mrs. Hallenbeck jointly owned, or to be garnished by Medicare/Medicaid, and Mr. and Mrs. Hallenbeck’s savings depleted.”

Charles Hallenbeck died on Dec. 31, 2023, exactly two years after the death of his wife, according to his obituary.

“Our family would like to give our heartfelt thanks to Shaker Place Nursing Center for taking such good care of Chuck,” his obituary said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your care and commitment.”

Both suits allege that Mrs. Hallenbeck contracted a urinary tract infection in mid- to late December of 2021, “which went negligently undiagnosed.” The suit goes on to allege she suffered from “improper hygiene practices, improper bathing practices, improper changing and dressing practice, improper evaluation and reevaluation procedures.”

The undiagnosed urinary tract infection “progressed worse and worse,” the suit alleges, and by early to mid-December, Mrs. Hallenbeck developed pneumonia, “which went negligently undiagnosed.”

Her health declined, the suit says, with “increased symptoms of pain in the abdomen, pelvic area and lower back, urinary incontinence, confusion and brain fog, nausea, fatigue and anxiety, as well as other symptoms of pneumonia.”

The suit further alleges, “Mrs. Hallenbeck’s physical and mental state became one that was visually alarming” while the nursing home “blamed her failing state on unrelated medical conditions.”

Her daughter, the suit alleges, frequently pleaded for medical tests and examinations as “it appeared her mother was dying and wasting away before their eyes.”

While the nursing home finally agreed to a blood test, the suit says, blood was inadvertently drawn from Charles Hallenbek, who was physically healthy but had the same last name, rather than from Mrs. Hallenbeck.

Once the staff admitted the bloodwork was done on the wrong person, the suit alleges, “astonishingly,” the nursing home staff said they were too busy at Christmas time to run the blood tests for Mrs. Hallenbeck and that “Mrs. Giagni was free to take Mrs. Hallenbeck herself  [for blood work elsewhere] and provide Mrs. Hallenbeck her own medical care.”

The suit says that the blood work “would have shown elevated white blood cell counts demonstrating that Mrs. Hallenbeck was experiencing an infection … and Mrs. Hallenbeck could have been treated and cured.”

Mrs. Hallenbeck developed sepsis, the suit says “and was poisoned until her unfortunate death.” From the middle to the end of December 2021, the suit says, “Mrs. Hallenbeck was in agonizing pain, confused, scared for her life, and felt hopeless.”

Her heart gave out on Dec. 30, 2021, the suit says, and she was taken to St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany.

 The Grand had misdiagnosed Mrs. Hallenbeck as having end-stage liver disease, the suit says, which delayed St. Peter’s staff in the proper treatment. The Grand, the suit alleges, “chose to neglect her as they believed she was already too sick or too far gone to deserve proper health care and treatment.”

“Mrs. Hallenbeck,” the suit says, “died only hours after being admitted to St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, on December 30, 2021.”

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