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Family finds mother "ice cold" and dead in nursing home

By Laura Kadechka   
July 7, 2009

New Port Richey, Florida -  Gloria Baral's family knew the 77-year-old was dying from cancer, but they never expected to be the ones to find her dead.

"Not in a nursing home, maybe in our house or something, but not in a nursing home," Baral's daughter told 10 Connects.

Family finds mother "ice cold" and dead in nursing homeShe asked we not name her because of her career in the medical field, but wants her mother's story heard.

On June 21st, she says she and her husband went to visit her mother after attending Sunday mass and dropping her daughter off at work.  She estimates their arrival at the facility was around 9:30 a.m. judging by her daughter's time card, which clocked her in at 9:18 a.m.  She says it's about a 10-15 minute from her daughter's place of employment to the Orchard Ridge Care and Rehabilitation Center where her mother was staying.
When she walked into her mother's room, she says she knew something was wrong because of the way her mother was sitting in her wheelchair.

"Her hand was on the ground and she was bent over in the wheelchair and evidentially nobody checked on her for I don't know how long," she said. "I walked over and I pushed on her chest a couple of times and she was ice cold.  I went for her pulse and her arm was ice cold."

Gloria Baral was pronounced dead at 9 a.m. on June 21st, according to records from the funeral home.

Her daughter claims this time frame is impossible, telling 10 Connects, if that were the case, her body should have felt more warm.

"They said somebody was in there and they just recently checked on her and I said, 'If they did, why was she so cold and where was the call button?' There was nothing there for her to even push.  I don't know if she suffered in the end or what," said Baral's daughter.
The family has filed a complaint against Orchard Ridge with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees long term facilities.

The AHCA tells 10 Connects this is the first complaint against the facility and it is currently under review.

Orchard Ridge's administrator, Anita Faulman, would not comment on Baral's case, but issued this statement:

"As a healthcare provider we are obligated to follow stringent privacy regulations regarding both former and current residents.  We do, however, treat any family concerns with the highest regard.  The care and well-being of our residents is always our first priority.  I am personally available to communicate privately with any family members who have questions or concerns.
As administrator, I want to assure our families and the New Port Richey community that our caring team is committed to providing a safe and caring environment for our residents."

Baral's family says while they knew she was dying, they are upset they had to be the ones to find her dead.

"I don't think she would have wanted me to find her.  I think out of all the people to come find her, not me because I'm the only one she has left besides my children," said Baral's daughter.

The family tells 10 Connects they are not pursuing the case legally, hoping the state will properly handle their complaint.

We also contacted Florida's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, a volunteer based organization which also investigates complaints. The Ombudsman program says during its last check of Orchard Ridge, residents appeared happy, clean, neatly dressed and, overall, satisfied with their stay.