Lawyers for Novant Health deny allegations that three Forsyth Medical Center doctors neglected and abandoned a 92-year-old woman who died a day after being taken to hospital.
Lawyers 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 black person to serve as Forsyth County Superior Court Clerk in 2019 after her appointment. She ran unsuccessfully in the elections. Olivia Thompkins worked as treasurer at Kate Bitting Hospital Credit Union and business manager at Reynolds Health Center in Winston-Salem. Her husband, the late David Thompkins, was the first black man to serve as executive director of the Winston-Salem Housing Authority.
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Lawyers Harold and Harvey Kennedy are representing 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 p.m. on March 26. , 2020.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are Novant Health Inc.; Forsyth Medical Center; and three physicians, Dr. Gregory P. Tarleton, Dr. Francisca O. Aluya, and Dr. Ryan T. Barnes. Attorneys Tamura D. Coffey, J. Rebekah Biggerstaff and Peyton M. Pawlik filed the response at trial on July 5 and asked a judge to dismiss the suit.
They denied all allegations in the lawsuit and cited Olivia Thompkins’ medical records 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 her death. The lawsuit alleges she asked nurses to suction her mother after Olivia Thompkins began having difficulty breathing. During the suction, Tina Thompkins noticed dark, bloody mucus coming out of her mother’s mouth. Tina Thompkins, according to the lawsuit, asked nurses for a doctor to assess her mother.
The lawsuit said Tina Thompkins sought medical attention eight times after her mother began having breathing problems.
According to the lawsuit, no doctor ever came to Olivia Thompkins’ room. Tarleton, Aluya and Barnes were assigned to care for Olivia Thompkins, according to the lawsuit.
“The doctors assigned to her completely ignored her. They abandoned her,” the lawsuit states.
Late in the morning of March 26, 2020, a doctor came to assess Olivia Thompkins, and she was immediately transferred to a respiratory unit and then rushed to intensive care, according to the lawsuit. A few hours later, she was placed on life support. Before that happened, according to the lawsuit, she was never put on a ventilator, despite having breathing problems.
At 11:04 a.m. on March 26, 2020, when she arrived in intensive care, her oxygen levels were in the 70s, which is a dangerously low level, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said she was never treated for pneumonia.
The lawsuit alleges that Tarleton, Aluya, Barnes and Novant Health “acted with a knowing and intentional disregard and disregard for the rights and safety of Olivia B. Thompkins”, and that the doctors “participated in the willful conduct and free, as attending physicians.”
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50,000. No trial date has been set.