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Nursing home blamed for choking death

An Adams nursing home is being blamed for the choking death of a resident who was left unsupervised while eating.

Adams Health Care Center is accused of neglect when a resident — identified as Wayne Bye, 90, of Austin, by the Minneapolis Star Tribune — choked to death in his room on March 18, 2011.

According to a Minnesota Department of Health report, Bye was not adequately supervised while eating, and he was found choking in his room with no staff present. Bye went into respiratory arrest, according to the report, and passed away during the incident.

A nursing home staff member said Bye’s wife was in the room at the time, but she had memory problems, according to the report.

The report states a staff member entered Bye’s room around 6 p.m. after Bye began coughing. Then, two nurses entered the room and confirmed he had stopped breathing and had no heart rate. A nurse said a couple of bites of fruit were eaten, and Bye’s lips were blue, according to the report. The nurse said no emergency interventions were performed because they were not certain if Bye was choking and his code status was “do not resuscitate,” according to the report.

The report says Bye’s medical record stated that he had aspiration pneumonia and had difficulty swallowing. Staff interviews revealed that Bye showed signs of memory loss and confusion, according to the report, and that staff was supposed to make sure Bye swallowed each bite twice, ate slowly and elevated his head 90 degrees while eating and 45 degrees for 30 minutes after eating.

The report says interviews with staff and a review of the staffing schedule didn’t identify the person responsible for Bye’s mealtime assistance on the evening of his death.

Nursing home administrator Cheryl Gustason was not immediately available Wednesday morning.

According to Bye’s obituary in the Herald, he is a graduate of LeRoy High School and worked at Hormel Foods for more than 30 years.