Blossom Philadelphia faces lawsuit over neglect of disabled woman

Dana Sessions-24012018-0001
In a family photo, Dana Sessions held her younger sister Diane in 2013, before her condition declined under the care of new management at Blossom Philadelphia.

The family of a long-term Blossom Philadelphia resident this week filed a lawsuit against the nonprofit provider of services for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals, alleging that Dana Sessions, 41, “suffered severe physical and emotional injuries as a direct result of Blossom’s wanton, reckless, and negligent conduct.”

The lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas by Center City lawyer Leonard G. Villari, of Villari, Lentz & Lynam LLC, said Sessions started receiving residential services from Blossom, formerly known as United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia & Vicinity, in 2000. Sessions was born with congenital spina bifida and is paralyzed below her waist.

Starting in the spring and summer of 2016, Sessions’ parents and sister noticed deterioration in Sessions’ physical condition, hygiene, and living conditions. That followed a nearly complete turnover of senior management at Blossom under Paula Czyzewski, who became chief executive in 2014, the lawsuit said.

Sessions developed severe bed sores because staff allegedly “failed/refused to regularly change Dana’s adult diapers and bed linens, leaving Dana sitting or lying in her feces and urine,” the complaint said.

Instances of alleged negligence included an occasion in July when Sessions arrived home from the hospital after surgery to find no Blossom staff in the East Mount Airy house to help her, the lawsuit said.

In addition to Czyzewski and the organization itself, the complaint names Dominique E. Radcliffe, Blossom’s director of residential services, and Kevin Seawright, formerly Blossom’s chief operating officer, as defendants.

Blossom officials did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked Blossom’s license for residential services in October, citing some of the deficiencies raised in the Sessions lawsuit, such as the failure to administer medications. Four different operators have taken over the operation of Blossom’s facilities.

Regulators are investigating the New Year’s Eve death of another Blossom Philadelphia resident who choked on pizza even though he was on a doctor-ordered diet of pureed food only.