Novant Health, doctors deny allegations of negligence in care of 92-year-old woman who died in 2020 | crIme

Lawyers for Novant Health are denying allegations that three doctors at Forsyth Medical Center neglected and abandoned a 92-year-old woman who died a day after being brought to the hospital.

Attorneys filed a formal response July 5 in Forsyth Superior Court to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate of Olivia B. Thompkins, who was the mother of Renita Thompkins-Linville.

Thompkins-Linville became the first person of color to hold the position of Forsyth County Superior Court Clerk in 2019 after she was appointed. She unsuccessfully ran for re-election. Olivia Thompkins worked as a cashier at Kate Bitting Hospital Credit Union and business manager for Reynolds Health Center in Winston-Salem. Her husband, the late David Thompkins, was the first black person to serve as executive director for the Winston-Salem Housing Authority.

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Attorneys Harold and Harvey Kennedy represent Tina Thompkins, the daughter of Olivia Thompkins, who is the executor of her mother’s estate, and filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court on March 28. Olivia Thompkins was pronounced dead at 3:54 pm on March 2020.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Novant Health Inc.; Forsyth Medical Center; and three doctors, Dr. Gregory P. Tarleton, Ph.D. Francisca O. Aluya and Dr. Ryan T. Barnes. Attorneys Tamura D. Coffey, J. Rebekah Biggerstaff and Peyton M. Pawlik filed a response to the lawsuit on July 5 and asked a judge to dismiss the complaint.

They denied all allegations in the lawsuit and referred to Olivia Thompkins’ medical record as the best evidence of her care and treatment at Forsyth Medical Center.

According to the lawsuit, Olivia Thompkins was taken to Forsyth Medical Center on the night of March 24, 2020. Tina Thompkins came to the hospital the next day and stayed with her until she died. The lawsuit alleges that she asked nurses to intubate her mother after Olivia Thompkins began having trouble breathing. During the suction, Tina Thompkins noticed dark, bloody mucus coming from her mother’s mouth. Tina Thompkins, the lawsuit says, asked the nurses for a doctor to evaluate her mother.

The lawsuit said Tina Thompkins sought a doctor eight different times after her mother began having trouble breathing.

According to the lawsuit, no doctor ever came to Olivia Thompkins’ room. Tarleton, Aluya and Barnes were assigned to care for Olivia Thompkins, the lawsuit said.

“The doctors assigned to her care completely ignored her. They abandoned her,” the lawsuit said.

Late on the morning of March 26, 2020, a doctor came to evaluate Olivia Thompkins, and she was immediately transferred to a respiratory unit and then rushed to the ICU, the lawsuit said. A few hours later, she was placed on life support. Before any of this happened, the suit said, she had never been put on a ventilator despite having trouble breathing.

At 11:04 a.m. on March 26, 2020, when she went to the ICU, her oxygen levels were in the 70s, which is a dangerously low level, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit said she was never treated for pneumonia.

The lawsuit alleges that Tarleton, Aluya, Barnes and Novant Health “acted with knowing and willful disregard and indifference to the rights and safety of Olivia B. Thompkins” and that the doctors “engaged in willful and wanton conduct, as doctors who were participating.”

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages of more than $50,000. No trial date has been set.

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