Another family shares story of nursing home ambulance delay

Wanda Thurman is hurt and angry over a questionable practice uncovered by 13 Investigates.

INDIANAPOLIS - Viewers are outraged by what our 13 Investigates report uncovered. Nursing homes are failing to call 911 in true emergencies. Now another family says it happened to them too.

Wanda Thurman is hurt and angry over a questionable practice uncovered by 13 Investigates: nursing homes calling private ambulance companies instead of 911 during real medical emergencies, whether their crews are the closest response or not.

"They didn't call an ambulance for Bud either. I had to fight to get it," said Thurman, fighting back tears. "They were just going to let him die. They had just planned on letting him pass away right then.

Her husband "Bud" was found slumped over in a Kindred Healthcare nursing home in Greenfield. He had a history of bleeding, but staff not only failed to call 911, but put its private ambulance company on hold.

After waiting more than three hours, Thurman took matters into her own hands.

"I kept saying when's the ambulance getting here, and they said it's on it's way, it'll be here in 15 minutes. That's like 11 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon until I got mad and called them myself," she explained.

Hospital records obtained by 13 Investigates confirm Wanda Thurman's story. That her husband Bud was a resident at a nursing home just two miles away.

Phone records show Life Ambulance showed up 18 minutes after she called, but Bud Thurman died hours later from intestinal bleeding.

13 Investigates uncovered a similar story where help was just five minutes away for Barbara Parcel, but Kindred's Wildwood Healthcare waited for its private company to scramble a crew together from its headquarters, 20 minutes away.

"She should have had help right now, as quickly as she could," said Elsie Britton, Barbara Parcel's best friend.

By the time Parcel arrived to a hospital nearly an hour later, it was too late.

Her family drove from Greenwood and even beat the ambulance to Community East Hospital.

Both families want to know why patients are put at such risk. 

"There's nothing really at the state level from the State EMS Commission that says you have to send the closest ambulance," admitted Rick Archer, the State's top investigator at Indiana's Emergency Medical Services Commission. He says some nursing homes won't call 911 to avoid disruptions.

"Firemen come in with their turn out gear on, and it scares the other residents," Archer said.

13 Investigates' findings are generating overwhelming response.

On, Caitlin, who identifies herself as a former Care Dispatcher said:

"Most nursing homes refuse to call 911 because they get audited for it."

On Facebook, Anthony Howard, said "They stole (Barbara Parcel's) right to just treatment."

Karen O'Brien, called it, "Absolutely ... ridiculous" and Brenda Sue Beabout, summed it up saying, "this should be illegal. It's okay to use a private company for non-emergency calls. But heart attack should be 911. We need legislation immediately."

More calls are in to Kindred Healthcare. The company has refused prior comment.

The attorney general and the State EMS Commission are now investigating. We'll stay on it, and bring you new developments.