WINCHESTER — A $450,000 wrongful death lawsuit settlement has been made by Winchester Medical Center to the family of an 84-year-old woman who died last year, about two months after being admitted to the hospital.
The hospital and Valley Health System, a six-hospital, nonprofit chain that includes Winchester Medical Center, were sued by Vicky Smith, the daughter of Alice Viola Pifer, an 84-year-old Gerrardstown, W.Va., resident. Smith received nearly $310,000 of the settlement, according to the settlement agreement. The remainder went to Pifer’s grandsons and local attorney Carroll “Beau” Correll who represented the family.
Pifer, a wife and mother of two, was a longtime JC Penney employee in Charles Town, W.Va., and Martinsburg, W.Va., according to her obituary. She was admitted to the hospital on March 27, 2018, according to the lawsuit. She suffered a heart attack the next day and died on May 29 at Winchester Medical Center.
The suit, which was settled on Thursday in Winchester Circuit Court, doesn’t say why Pifer went to the hospital, what caused the heart attack or give her cause of death. Correll wouldn’t provide details on Monday. Attorney Colleen Gentile, who represented the hospital and Valley Health, didn’t return calls or an email on Monday.
Despite agreeing to pay, the settlement’s final order says the hospital denies “any liability whatsoever” for Pifer’s death. Carla Dallman, a Valley Health vice president of quality and safety, said in a written statement that the hospital strives to provide “safe and reliable care” and to continually improve patient care.
“When our errors lead to patient suffering, we diligently examine all aspects of that patient’s care to respect the patient and strive to alleviate any future harm,” Dallman said. “We take responsibility to help patients and families by collaboratively working with them to come to an agreement that helps them heal. We sympathize with [Pifer’s family] and offer our condolences on her death.”
The settlement is about 0.7% of the $57.2 million in total assets Valley Health had last year, according to its annual audit.