CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Chandler mom believed the death of her daughter would spark change at Hacienda HealthCare. Now she wants state regulators to wake up.
Cindy Brown sued Hacienda in 2008 after her daughter, Jody Marie Sears, died from a choking incident. Brown says Sears had been at the skilled nursing facility for about 18 months after suffering a diabetic emergency and crashing her car.
Brown recalls the phone call from Hacienda staff on Aug. 23, 2008, the night her daughter died.
“They called and told us that she had a choking incident, but she was fine, and they were going to take her to the hospital and check her out,” says Brown.
Brown says she was led to believe Sears was going to be OK. Brown called back for an update.
“I said, 'I’m just checking on Jody Sears. Can you tell me how she is? When she’ll be transported back?” says Brown. “And the lady says, 'I don’t understand,' and I’m like, 'What?' She says Jody didn’t have a good outcome. She says we did everything we can and then it hit me.”
Sears died at age 32.
“Why didn’t they tell me at Hacienda?” questions Brown. “Why didn’t I get a chance to say goodbye or hold her hand while she was still warm?”
Attorney John Breslo handled the wrongful death suit. He says Hacienda staff knew Sears would pick at her diaper and eat the material, but they failed to come up with a corrective plan of care to prevent a choking incident.
Breslo also says then-CEO Bill Timmons had his own version of the story.
“The paramedics found diaper in her throat, the nurse reporting the incident found diaper,” says Breslo. “Yet Mr. Timmons’ statements to the Department of Health Services indicated there was no evidence that she had choked on her diaper and you just couldn’t reconcile those two.”
Brown and her family settled with Hacienda in 2012. The details of the settlement are confidential.
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“It’s been over 10 years now and every day it’s hard,” says Brown.
Brown hopes now that real change will happen to improve the care of Hacienda patients like her daughter.
“I miss her so,” says Brown. “So I hope all of this does some good, I really do.”