The strangling and serious injury of a 49-year-old, late-stage Huntington’s disease patient at an Oregon nursing home has shocked the HD community and provided a shuddering reminder of the subpar care, fueled by ignorance and approaching neglect, that some affected by the disease face.
Anne Haskins was allegedly strangled by another patient who used a call cord ripped from the wall after Haskins, wheelchair-bound and cognitively disabled, wandered into the other woman’s room shortly before 9 p.m. PDT on May 28, said Rebecca Ambrose, 29, Anne’s daughter.
There’s no evidence Anne deliberately provoked the other patient, whom police described as suffering from “severe dementia,” but her HD chorea – the involuntary movements typical in HD – means she can inadvertently hit people with her arms.
Anne was taken to Bay Area Hospital, located in Coos Bay, OR. After the attack, her heart rate dropped to the dangerously low rate of around 30 beats per minute, said Rebecca in a phone interview on May 30.
Anne is currently in the hospital’s cardiac unit. Doctors offered the option of a pacemaker, but the family decided against one because they believe it would simply help to prolong suffering, Rebecca said.
“She may have lost too much oxygen to the brain to recover from this,” she added.
Anne Haskins, grandson Andrew, and dog Scarlet, about ten years ago, before HD left her unable to speak and care for herself (family photo)
‘Where was the staff?’
According to the Coos Bay police, the alleged perpetrator is under observation in the psychiatric ward at Bay Area Hospital. Avamere has prohibited the alleged perpetrator from returning to its facility, Rebecca added.
“Where was the staff???” Rebecca exclaimed in several private Facebook HD discussion groups. Rebecca agreed to allow inclusion of her Facebook comments in this article.
On the night of the attack, the certified nurses assistants (CNAs), the main caregivers at the facility, should have put Anne to bed by 7:30. However, she was still moving around in her wheelchair around 9. No CNA noticed that she entered the other woman’s room. A CNA came upon the injured Anne sometime later, said Rebecca.
The police received a call for help at 8:49 p.m. According to Officer Randy Sparks, the lead detective on the case, a nurse, responding to the call alarm from the room, intervened to assist Anne.
“It just makes me angry,” Rebecca said. “I felt that it could have been foreseen. It makes me angry to think that my mom could be killed, and neither the person who did it nor the nursing home could be liable for it.
“How could one bedridden patient strangle another bedridden patient and no CNA have a clue? There were five CNAs on the floor, according to the director of the home.”
According to Deborah Nedelcove, Avamere’s vice president of risk management and its chief compliance and privacy officer, 42 residents currently occupy the 90-bed Coos Bay facility.
The incident took place at Avamere Rehabilitation of Coos Bay, a private facility where Anne has resided since August of 2009.
Source: At Risk for Huntington’s Disease