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Nursing Home Employee Accused In Patient’s Death

Posted On February 05, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

Kathy Hess Dearborn County Sheriff's Dept.

Kathy Hess
Dearborn County Sheriff’s Dept.

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Families put their elderly loved ones in nursing homes so that they’ll be cared for in a respectful manner.

One local family found out that was not what was occurring with their loved one, Dionne Scalf. The treatment may have even led to the patient’s death.

Kathy Hess, a former employee of Woodland Hills Care Center in Lawrenceburg, was arrested and charged Tuesday with Battery Resulting in the Death of an Endangered Adult (Class B felony), Neglect of a Dependant Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury (Class B felony), and Reckless Homicide (Class C felony).

Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard detailed the investigation in a press release. It was just in the nick of time that the alleged abuse came to investigators’ attention.

According to the prosecutor, an eyewitness reported an incident at the nursing home where Hess had allegedly physically abused the 77-year-old Scalf. That eyewitness spoke to Jacob Jump, a Lawrenceburg police officer assigned to the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit, during a family holiday dinner.

After learning of the allegations, Jump began to look into the matter. He discovered that Hess was the person who may have committed the abuse. Hess had been fired December 27 due to the incident.

Scalf was scheduled to be cremated. Her body was returned to the Dearborn County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.

The results of that autopsy revealed that Scalf had suffered a broken vertebrae, which resulted in her death. The mechanism of the injury, investigators determined, was consistent with the description of the abuse given by the eyewitness.

Following further investigation, Hess was arrested.

Negangard credited the work of the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit.

“The investigators did an exceptional job investigating this case. The unusual chain of events clearly shows the hand of God in ensuring that she was not cremated and that justice was done,” the prosecutor said.

Hess remains held at the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center. Her bond has been set at $50,000 cash and $50,000 surety in Dearborn Superior Court I.

Woodland Hills Care Center provided a statement to WLWT-TV:

“Woodland Hills is committed to providing quality care by qualified professionals. The facility follows specific procedures regarding pre-employment screening, including but not limited to, verification of licensure/credentials, and ensuring there is no prior concern which should prevent a prospective employee from serving a dependent population.The facility is fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation and will continue to remain committed to providing quality care to the residents on a daily basis.”