BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) -
A Metro East care facility with a history of state violations is at the center of a death investigation involving a woman who was found dead in her wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs.
An autopsy was performed to determine a cause of death for Juanita Simmons, who died at Midwest Rehab and Respiratory Center. The St. Clair County Coroner said state investigators are taking over the inquiry.
“Can you imagine what it's like to hear that your sister was found strapped to a wheelchair at the bottom of a staircase and why wasn't the door locked? Why was that door left open?” said Jean Ulma, Simmons' sister. “I've talked to the administrators, I've talked to the nurse.”
Ulma said the family previously raised concerns with facility administrators many times.
“I felt being there, there was so much neglect. I felt she would eventually be hurt really bad,” Ulma said.
News 4 has learned Midwest Rehab and Respiratory has 13 deficiencies in the past two state inspections and 11 complaints. In 2014, a nurse pleaded guilty for failing to feed and give patients medication. The nurse was fired.
In 2012, a patient's family sued the facility after he wandered away and died. Two months later, another patient wandered away and was found at a truck stop in Alorton.
The facility could face a range penalties from fines to a complete revocation of its Medicare license. It declined to comment for this story.