By EILEEN MCCLORY
OTTAWA — Family members of a 76-year-old woman who froze to death last winter outside a Pandora nursing home spoke Friday morning at separate sentencings for two former nursing home workers.
“… No one was there to help her,” said Steve Campbell, the son of Phyllis Campbell, a patient who died after walking out of Hilty Memorial Home in the middle of a frigid January night.
Two former nursing home employees, Rachel R. Friesel, 37, of Pandora, and Destini M. Fenbert, 20, of Pandora, were both sentenced to 60 days in the Putnam County jail, five years of community control sanctions, and 100 days of community service. They will share in the payment of $4,536 in restitution.
Both pleaded guilty to forgery, a fifth-degree felony, and gross patient neglect, a misdemeanor. An involuntary manslaughter charge, a third-degree felony, and a patient neglect charge, a misdemeanor, were dismissed as part of a plea deal.
Friesel and Fenbert are two of three defendants in the case. A third woman, Megan E. Schnipke, 32, of Columbus Grove, has pleaded not guilty to forgery, a fifth-degree felony, gross patient neglect, a misdemeanor, and patient neglect, a misdemeanor. Schnipke is set to go to trial in November.
According to an Ohio Health and Human Services report, two state-tested nurse aides and one licensed practical nurse at the nursing home were placed on administrative leave after Campbell’s death.
The state report said the workers failed to check on Campbell overnight, among other nursing home failures that could have prevented her death.
Campbell was known to have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the report said.
According to the report, a nurse aide put Campbell to bed around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 6. At 9:50 p.m., Campbell was seen at a nursing station, getting snacks.
A nurse told investigators the last check on Campbell was performed around midnight. The state report said she left the building around 12:35 a.m.
Campbell’s body was found outside at about 8:15 a.m. the next day. The temperature overnight was 2 degrees below zero and there was snow on the ground.
But nursing home records showed checks on Campbell were done at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
The state report cited several safety breaches that led to her death.
Friesel at first declined to make a statement to the court on Friday, but Judge Keith H. Schierloh asked her twice more before she stood up and, through tears, addressed the assembled family members.
“I am sorry you have to live with that,” she said, referring to Campbell’s death. “I am sorry this had to happen.”
Judge Schierloh told Friesel that while she was going to get community control sanctions instead of a prison term, in part due to a plea agreement in which the prosecutor recommended community control, the judge wanted to be sure there were consequences for her actions.
“You had a job to do,” Schierloh said. “You had responsibilities.”