Schnipke guilty of 2 charges in nursing home death


By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



Megan Schnipke

Megan Schnipke


Alicia Kousagan, a health care fraud investigator with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, testified Wednesday in the trial of Megan Schnipke, charged with forgery, gross patient neglect and patient neglect in the January death of Hilty Memorial Home resident Phyllis Campbell.

Alicia Kousagan, a health care fraud investigator with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, testified Wednesday in the trial of Megan Schnipke, charged with forgery, gross patient neglect and patient neglect in the January death of Hilty Memorial Home resident Phyllis Campbell.


Columbus Grove resident Megan Schnipke, pictured with her attorney, Robert Grzybowksi, was found guilty by a Putnam County jury on Wednesday of two charges related to the death in January of a resident at Hilty Memorial Home in Pandora. She was acquitted on the remaining charge against her.


OTTAWA — A Putnam County jury deliberated for 2 1/2 hours Wednesday before finding 32-year-old Columbus Grove resident Megan Schnipke guilty of two of three charges that alleged she failed to properly carry out her duties at a Pandora nursing home and criminally contributed to the death of a resident there.

Schnipke, a 32-year-old LPN and former employee of Hilty Memorial Home, was charged with forgery, a fifth-degree felony, and misdemeanor counts of patient neglect and gross patient neglect for allegedly failing to follow procedures that contributed to the death of 76-year-old Phyllis Campbell, a resident of the nursing home, in January of this year. The woman’s death was attributed to hypothermia.

Jurors began their deliberations shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday and found Schnipke guilty of forgery and gross patient neglect. She was acquitted on the remaining charge. The woman bowed her head but otherwise showed no emotion as the sentences were read aloud.

Putnam County Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Schierloh ordered a pre-sentence investigation and said sentencing would take place in “30 to 45 days.”

The state of Ohio wrapped up its case against Schnipke Wednesday morning, calling to the witness stand investigators from the Ohio Board of Nursing and the Ohio Attorney General’s health care fraud division.

Both state employees conducted investigations into Campbell’s death and — according to their testimony Wednesday — concluded that Schnipke did not follow a policy that requires nurses and aides to constantly monitor Campbell, who has a history of attempting to leave the facility.

Both agents testified that their investigation revealed Schnipke left Campbell unsupervised for approximately 20 minutes on the night and morning of her death while administering a breathing treatment to another resident. Prosecutors argued that it is possible Campbell slipped past staff members during that 20-minute period and started her journey that led her outside the home and into freezing temperatures … and ultimately to her death.

At the heart of the state’s case was an end-of-shift report in which Schnipke noted that that Campbell had been“resting with her eyes closed” in her room throughout the night. Investigators learned that Schnipke was given that information by a nurse’s aide who later admitted she had lied about checking on the woman.

Prosecutor Deb Wehrle from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office told jurors the criminal falsification amounts to forgery. And testimony that the nurse spent a portion of the evening shopping for furniture on her cell phone is additional evidence of Schnipke’s criminal recklessness.

“What Megan Schnipke charted falsely represents that she had personally checked on Phyllis Campbell” in the hours before she was found dead. “She (Schnipke) later acknowledged she never went into Ms. Campbell’s room after 12:15 a.m. (on Jan. 7) and didn’t inquire about her until 5:30 a.m.,” said Wehrle. “I submit that by going more than five hours without checking on a patient known to be prone to elopement (attempting to exit) that she failed in her responsibilities and duties” and should be convicted of the charges against her.

Defense attorney Robert Grzybowksi claimed differently, telling jurors the state failed in its responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements necessary for conviction on the charges against Schnipke.

“It was not Megan Schnipke who failed Phyllis Campbell, it was a variety of things — including Hilty Home itself. Hilty Home on a variety of levels failed to protect one of its patients,” said Grzybowski. “Megan Schnipke performed her duties as she was trained and pursuant to policies” at the nursing home, the attorney added. “She performed her job as efficiently as possible and relied on (aides) to do their jobs.

“Megan Schnipke is not criminally liable,” Grzybowski told jurors. “Regrettably, Phyllis Campbell passed away due to the failures of Hilty Home and two STNAs (nurses aides).”

The defense attorney elected not to put Schnipke on the witness stand and did not call any witnesses to testify.

Wehrle and Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Gary Lammers presented the state’s case.

Megan Schnipke
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_Megan-day-3.jpgMegan Schnipke
Alicia Kousagan, a health care fraud investigator with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, testified Wednesday in the trial of Megan Schnipke, charged with forgery, gross patient neglect and patient neglect in the January death of Hilty Memorial Home resident Phyllis Campbell.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_Megan-trial-..-AG-special-agent.jpgAlicia Kousagan, a health care fraud investigator with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, testified Wednesday in the trial of Megan Schnipke, charged with forgery, gross patient neglect and patient neglect in the January death of Hilty Memorial Home resident Phyllis Campbell.
Columbus Grove resident Megan Schnipke, pictured with her attorney, Robert Grzybowksi, was found guilty by a Putnam County jury on Wednesday of two charges related to the death in January of a resident at Hilty Memorial Home in Pandora. She was acquitted on the remaining charge against her.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_Megan-and-Gryz-day-3.jpgColumbus Grove resident Megan Schnipke, pictured with her attorney, Robert Grzybowksi, was found guilty by a Putnam County jury on Wednesday of two charges related to the death in January of a resident at Hilty Memorial Home in Pandora. She was acquitted on the remaining charge against her.

By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

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