WINCHESTER — The husband of a woman who died of lung cancer at Blue Ridge Hospice accuses the hospice of causing her unnecessary suffering.

In a civil complaint filed in Winchester Circuit Court on Thursday, Brian Paul Jenny wrote that Sandra Jackson Jenny received poor care, including not receiving morphine. He said she was a patient at Blue Ridge Hospice at 333 W. Cork St. from Sept. 17, 2017, until her death on Sept. 25, 2017.

"Sandra endured excruciating pain and suffering for days on end, during which she usually was conscious and awake, even after losing her eyesight," Jenny wrote. "Defendant's substandard care kept her conscious and sentient, and she therefore endured unnecessary and inappropriate, purposeless pain."

Jenny wrote that he asked nurses for additional pain medication for his wife, but was told it was inappropriate because it would make her unconscious. He said two nurses, whose names he said hospice officials wouldn't provide, didn't look in on his wife in the last few hours before she died. The unnamed nurses are named in the complaint along with the hospice. He said a Blue Ridge official later told him the nurses weren't trained in hospice care.

Jenny wrote that he wanted to stay with his wife after she died, but the nurses forced him to leave her room, demanded the name of the funeral home he wanted her taken to and called police to have him removed from the building. Jenny said he was walking with a cane and recovering from a serious illness, but wasn't allowed to wait for a cab in the building. He said a nurse pushed him out on the sidewalk. Jenny said the way he and his wife were treated violated federal and state law.

"Sandra was made subject to unnecessary and grievous bodily injury and pain," Jenny wrote. "Brian suffered great physical pain and emotional distress and was subject to the torment and pain of being separated from his dying, then dead wife."

Jenny said he spoke to hospice officials in the weeks and and months after his wife's death, but his concerns weren't appropriately addressed. In an email on Tuesday, Jenny said he hadn't decided on whether to hire an attorney or seek damages.

Richard Kennedy, Blue Ridge interim CEO, said on Monday that the complaint has been turned over to the hospice's attorneys and he couldn't comment on the allegations. Speaking generally regarding care, Kennedy said standards at the eight-bed hospice — the organization also serves about 210 patients in their homes or in nursing homes — are overseen by the Joint Commission.

The commission is an independent, not-for-profit group formed in 1951, according to its website. It said the commission accredits and evaluates some 22,000 health organizations. Hospices in the state are also regulated by the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Licensure and Certification, according to Lorrie Andrew-Spear, a department spokeswoman. 

Sandra Jenny, a 68-year-old mother of one, grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and married in 1975, according to her obituary. She was a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at D.G. Cooley Elementary School from 2004-2017, according to Clarke County Public Schools.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

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