The trial of Megan Schnipke has been ongoing. Schnipke is the nursing home caregiver that is accused of falsifying records and neglecting a resident who died of hypothermia. Schnipke is accused of falsely charting that Hilty Memorial Nursing Home resident Phyllis Campbell was in her room on Jan. 7. Campbell had actually gotten out of bed unassisted and wandered into the nursing homes’ courtyard. Campbell was wearing a monitoring bracelet at the time, but it was improperly placed around her ankle. Alerts never sounded after her elopement, according to police records. She was later found dead.
A jury is deciding whether Schnipke, who was a licensed practical nurse, should be charged with forgery, gross patient neglect and patient neglect. Two nursing aides were indicted in Campbell’s death in May. In September, both received five years of probation, 60 days in county jail and 100 hours of community service. Destini Fenbert, 20, and Rachel Friesel, 37, both plead guilty to charges of forgery and gross patient neglect. The state dismissed felony charges against them for involuntary manslaughter.
Testimony presented to jurors centered around systemic failures of the nursing home to provide adequate safeguards for its residents, thereby contributing to the death of Phyllis Campbell, the resident who found her way outside the home on a frigid morning early this year and subsequently froze to death. The facility was aware that Campbell needed supervision because she had managed to find her way outside the nursing home at least twice before but had been discovered by staffers before any harm.
Prosecutors called a dozen witnesses to the stand — the majority of them current or former nursing staff employees at the home. Two of those have already been convicted of lying about events on the night of Jan. 7 and for falsifying records. Campbell was left alone for some 20 minutes on the morning of her death, despite an official care plan that required her to be supervised constantly by staff members at Hilty Memorial Home.
Asked by defense attorney Bob Grzybowksi if Schnipke “appeared to be doing her duty” as shift supervisor that evening, Friesel said the defendant was furniture shopping “on an Ikea website” for an unknown period of time that evening.
Maria Richardson, a second-shift LPN at the nursing home, testified it is common practice for doors leading from the Alzheimer’s unit at Hilty Home into a common area to remain at night to allow staff members to better track patients’ movements. She said Campbell “was supposed to be supervised all the time when the doors were open.”
All of the employees or former employees of Hilty Home who were present on the morning of Jan. 7 testified they heard no alarms come from inside the home that morning that would indicate a resident had attempted to leave the facility.
William Nagy, an investigator with the Ohio Department of Health, said Hilty Memorial Home had been found in non-compliance with Medicaid and Medicare regulations and “did not provide residents with a safe environment and did not follow through with all necessary interventions” in place to protect the safety of Phyllis Campbell. He said the home could face monetary penalties as a result.