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Ill. Nurse's Assistant Charged in Freezing Death

Ill. Nurse's Assistant Charged in Freezing Death


March 05, 2009

WHEATON, Ill. — A nurse’s assistant faces felony charges of criminal neglect in the death of an 89-year-old woman whose frozen body was found in a snowbank outside her nursing home, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Heidi Leon, 23, of Bensenville, was named in five felony counts in connection with Sarah Wentworth’s death at The Arbor of Itasca.

Wentworth left the nursing home in extremely cold weather on Feb. 5 and was found dead in a snowbank in the courtyard, DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett said.

Leon did not check on residents after Wentworth’s exit triggered a door alarm and she also lied to police, he said.

“The death of Sarah Wentworth was not an accident,” Birkett said. “If these allegations are proven true … Heidi Leon failed to provide that care and in doing so took a beloved matriarch from her family.”

It was not immediately clear if Leon had an attorney. A woman who answered the phone at a listing for Heidi Leon in Bensenville said Leon was not there Tuesday evening.

Leon is charged with two counts of felony criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident, two counts of felony criminal neglect of an elderly person and one count of obstructing justice.

Wentworth’s family has filed a lawsuit against the facility alleging gross neglect in her death. The nursing home has said it is cooperating with the Illinois Department of Public Health and local authorities.

© YellowBrix 2009

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    I agree with the majority of "mimi rn" 's statements on this one! LTC facilities are very difficult to work. I have worked in too many places where there is an RN/LPN vs CNA situation. I have had CNA's make the comment that "they should make more money than a nurse because they do all of the work". I am not a nurse who plops their ass behind the nurses station after one med pass and waits for the next one; many do however. I am constantly on the floor helping the short staffed CNA's whenever possible. I dread all of the charting and paperwork but I will not sit down to do it until I am satisfied that my halls are adequately staffed and all of my residents are safe and their needs are met.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    I am an RN and I get so tired of the CNA's calling us lazy! It is EVERYONES job to make sure patients are safe. I get so tired of The nurse vs the aides battle. If something needs to be done do it no matter whose job it is (unless it takes a license). CNA's need to realize there is ALOT of responsibility to being a nurse and although you think we arent doing anything but paperwork etc, it is an important part of our job for assessment reasons as well as legal reasons. If CNA's would do their job it would make it easier for nurses to do our job, After all, we nurses can do our job and yours but you cant do our job for us because you are not licensed to do that. So CNA's must understand its important for them to do their job to free us up so that we can do ours. I am not a nurse that wont do Aide work. I dont mind putting people on bedpans, wiping butts etc, however if I am busy passing meds etc and you are sitting chit chatting & laughing with your buddys or on the internet I'm not going to do what you should be doing! I can only do one thing at a time! I am the nurse that rarely takes a lunch and works 12 hours straight. So I definitely care about my patients and am in no ways a lazy nurse. I put my patients before my own needs "momofboygirltwins03" When I am at work thats what I do, not play around or sit around. Nursing is hard work and if EVERYONE works together as we should then patients remain safe, but when people are sitting around not checking on patients (nurses or aides) then thats when they leave the unit and are found outside frozen to death.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    In my state, the Nurse is responsible for the CNAs actions. So, why is only the CNA identified in this story? MAYBE, she is completely at fault, perhaps the alarm went off and she told the nurse it was a false alarm.
    The systems that the facility should have had in place failed.
    If the CNA lied to the police, she scr@wed herself. Unless otherwise indicated, blame should have been, at the very least shared, and more approriately placed on the licensed personnel and the facility.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    It is a team effort, the nurse, the other CNA's are all to blame, nurses can be in a residents room doing a treatment and not hear the alarm, however: all the CNA's, and possibly a med-aide should have notified someone the alarm went off. Standard protocol should be to take a head count. As far as I am concerned it was everyone's fault!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    Ok, I have worked in LTC facilities for over 10 years, 7 of them as a unit manager..... how, I just cant believe this, do you hear an alarm and not respond??? Yes the facility is also wrong in this death... how long was the woman a flight risk, was she a 1:1?? There are many ways to defer a flight risk patient and it seems this facility did nothing to insure the safety of this resident.

    Now, where were the Nurses working this shift, I realize, nurses cant be everywere, but we as nurses take on the responsibility of making sure all residents under their charge are safe, which means, nursing did not provide this which makes them liable also, nursing is a difficult job, there is not alot of down time.

    Now the CNA..... when the alarm went off why did not nursing ensure that no one was out side?? where were the other CNA's on that shift?? why did they not do a head count??? Way too many questions, good luck getting out of this situation for all the uppermanagement of this facility. Also, shame, shame, shame... This was a human being who should be having breakfeast now not a funeral.

    My simpathy to the family.

  • P1140212_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    it is so sad to hear that 1. this lady died as well as 2. the cna is lookin at potential jail time for a misjudgement on her part.

  • Dsc_0036-2_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Yes, where were the other CNA's? Nurse's? I can see this happening if there was not enough staff on the floor (common in nursing homes/convalescent centers), WAY understaffed. However Wentworth should have been noticed missing when the cna was doing checks, sham on her for not noticing that she was not where she was supposed to be. The nursing home I worked at the CNA's looked out for each other as the nurses were lazy and didn't really seem to care. (hence the reason I am going to school to become a nurse, I care :) ) Sham on all the other employees for not keeping a look out. If there is an alarm going off EVERYONE should be looking to see what is going on, not just leave it up to ONE cna. How sad for the Wentowrth family though.

  • Demetrice_029


    almost 6 years ago


    I was wandering was this nursing assistant on the floor by herself, where were the other nursing assistances. I can remember when I was a nurses assistant, we had patients that set off alarms who were alzhetimers patients, so maybe she thought it might have been a false alarm, in either situation, it was up to the CNA's on the shift to check to see what had happened, that's how it worked when I was working with other CNA's, and with nurses in a convalescent setting and in a hospital setting. We all looked out for one another. What is this world coming too.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    almost 6 years ago

    Ridiculous behavior!

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