Fort Wayne Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer and Attorney Blog

Washington Post Details Former Model Infested with Scabies in Nursing Home

By Jack H. FarnbauchOctober 29, 2018

Rebecca Zeni’s end of life story is one that is too familiar. Her family thought they were doing the right thing by putting her in a nursing home where she could get round-the-clock care.  Zeni was admitted to Shepherd Hills, a nursing home, in 2010. By then, the 87-year-old had been diagnosed with dementia, diabetes, and other illnesses. She was completely dependent on others and was no longer legally qualified to stay at an assisted-living facility.

Zeni was described as beautiful and a modern-day woman of the 1940s and 1950s. She worked as a model before becoming a housewife. She was headstrong, career-oriented and hard-working, said Mike Prieto, a lawyer representing Zeni’s family. But by the fall of 2013, rashes began to appear on Zeni’s body. Shepherd Hills had a scabies outbreak and ten residents and 10 staffers had rashes, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health records. According to Zeni’s attorney,  the nursing home did not take the necessary steps to keep the outbreak contained and to properly treat residents. Sheets used by those infected were washed along with those of the general population, and medication was shared among residents. Families were also not informed of the highly contagious disease. 

More scabies outbreaks occurred in 2014 and in the spring of 2015. By 2015, Zeni’s condition had dramatically worsened. Rashes had spread to her scalp, neck, chest, shoulders, back, and arms. A doctor had ordered that she be given Ivermectin, a tablet used to treat worm infections, and Elimite cream, which is used to treat scabies. But the treatments and medications were at times not given as ordered, court records say. Zeni died June 2, 2015. An autopsy found that she died of Staphylococcus aureus septicemia due to Norwegian crusted scabies, a severe form of scabies that affects people with weak immune systems, such as the elderly.

Zeni’s death is now the subject of a lawsuit filed against PruittHealth, a for-profit company that owns dozens of nursing homes, including Shepherd Hills in LaFayette, Ga., where Zeni lived for five years until she died. Shepherd Hills, a nursing home that had multiple scabies outbreaks in recent years and a history of health violations, failed to follow policies and procedures to prevent the occurrence and spread of the highly contagious disease, documents say. An affidavit by Debi Luther, a Florida nurse who reviewed Zeni’s medical records, stated that the nursing home’s failure to recognize her deteriorating condition and to prevent the spread of scabies resulted in her death.

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