It was wild at the Rosewood Terrace Care Center the night that Sandra K. Gordon died.
"We had patients that were being aggressive, we had one patient that was trying to run away, and we had Sandra," testified Sherylene Shaw Monday during a preliminary hearing for the man prosecutors say is responsible for Gordon's death.At the end of the hearing, 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder ordered Robert Wilson, 41, a registered nurse from Kaysville, to stand trial on one count of aggravated abuse of a disabled or elderly adult, a second-degree felony. If convicted, Wilson could go to prison for up to 15 years.
Shaw, a certified nurse's aide, was working Jan. 5, the night Gordon died, at the now closed Salt Lake care facility. Gordon, 45, who suffered of Huntington's disease, a neurological deficiency that imperils mental and motor abilities, wasn't being particularly aggressive. She was just being her normal self.
"She was running back and forth from her room to the nurse's station screaming," Shaw said.
But Shaw was surprised when Wilson, the nurse in charge at the center that night, ordered her to put Gordon in restraints. Patients were not supposed to be put on restraints unless a doctor ordered care providers to do so to prevent the patients from hurting themselves or others.
There was no such order for Gordon that night.
When Shaw asked Wilson why he wanted her on restraints, he answered: "Because I'm no . . . babysitter," Shaw testified.
Shaw took Gordon to her room, changed her clothing and put her on waist and vest restraints, she said. She had difficulty tying the vest restraint correctly because Gordon would not stop moving.
When Shaw checked on Gordon just before her shift ended at 10:30 p.m., Gordon was lying on her stomach, Shaw said.
The following morning, nurse's aide Elvira Gomez began her shift at about 6:30 a.m. and found Gordon dead at the foot of the bed. Gordon was in a sitting position with the vest restraint wrapped around her neck and the waist restraint lose around her body, Gomez said.
There was significant bruising throughout Gordon's body. Gomez also noticed that the restraints had been improperly tied to the frame of the bed.
"I was very upset. To my knowledge, that had never happened," Gomez said.
The death was reported to state health officials that morning when they visited the center to investigate an earlier death at the center. State medical examiner Todd Grey ruled Gordon's death a homicide by means of strangulation.
"My theory is that this patient was quite difficult and obnoxious to deal with and she was put on those restraints. And in trying to get out of those restraints, she died," Grey testified.
Hilder said ordering Wilson to stand trial was a close call due to the difficulty in deciding whether putting a patient in restraints was likely to lead to serious bodily injury or death. However, as the nurse in charge, Wilson should have known that due to Gordon's medical condition putting her in restraints "at least increased the likelihood" for serious bodily injury or death.
"All intent has to be is to commit the offense of the abused," Hilder said.
Rosewood, 158 N. 600 West, had been found repeatedly deficient in caring for its elderly and disabled patients since late 1995 and fined by state officials more than $300,000. After Gordon's death, the state Department of Health took over the facility. It eventually lost its Medicaid certification and was closed.