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.