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Judge Gives Nurse 19 Months in Prison For Neglecting Nursing Home Patient

Judge Gives Nurse 19 Months in Prison For Neglecting Nursing Home Patient

Michelle Roberts / The Oregonian

December 12, 2008

A Multnomah County judge ordered the jailing of the former nursing director of a Northeast Portland nursing home where a 60-year-old woman cried in pain with broken legs for five days before staff called an ambulance.

Judge Frank Bearden said Suzanne Kay Ruddell, found guilty of felony criminal mistreatment by a jury, must serve 19 months of prison time and three years probation for her role in the death of Linda Ober, who was dropped by aides while being moved into her bed.

Ruddell waited five days before ordering X-rays for Ober despite multiple reports from different staffers that Ober was screaming or crying in pain. Ober died after a surgery to repair two shattered leg bones.

Sara Cunningham,40, one of Ober’s five adult children, said no one in her family got to say goodbye because nursing home staff didn’t call them. She urged Bearden on Friday to give Ruddell the longest possible sentence. “It wasn’t until she’d endured five days of excruciating pain that my mom was taken to the hospital,” she said. “This is inexcusable, especially for a nurse who’s supposed to help people.”

A $3.5 million civil suit filed by the family against the Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center has tentatively settled. Attorneys said they couldn’t talk about the details, such as the amount, of the proposed settlement.

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