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Woman dies sunbathing at nursing home



Published: Wed, June 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The multiple sclerosis sufferer was especially susceptible to heat, a doctor says.

WATERVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- A woman with multiple sclerosis who sunbathed several hours in 95-degree heat at her nursing home apparently died of a fever, which measured 109 degrees, the coroner's office said Monday.

Patricia Matney, 49, who died Sunday at a hospital, could walk only with assistance because of the disease and was on a blanket on a patio, the coroner said. Staff members at the Heartland of Browning nursing home periodically checked on her before she was found unconscious in the late afternoon, said Steve Kahle, a Lucas County coroner's investigator.

Matney regularly spent time outdoors at the facility, said Julie Beckert, communications director for owner HCR Manor Care. She was in a courtyard popular with residents and visitors that is monitored by staff, the company said in a statement.

The coroner still was trying to determine more about how Matney died, including whether she suffered heatstroke.

HCR is assisting officials in their investigations, Beckert said.

"Quality care is of paramount concern at Heartland," the company's statement said.

Medical condition

People with multiple sclerosis are particularly susceptible to heat because slight body temperature changes can aggravate symptoms of the nervous system disease, such as speech defects and loss of muscle coordination and eyesight, said Kottil Rammohan, an associate professor of neurology at Ohio State University.

Rammohan said he warns patients not to spend much time in saunas or whirlpools and advises them never to sunbathe alone.

Matney lived in the 120-bed nursing home near Toledo since 2001.




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