Halfway house in Cleveland launches review after confusion-filled 911 call, man dies from overdose

Oriana House reviewing training after client death

CLEVELAND - A Cleveland halfway house is reviewing staff training following a confused and delayed-plagued 911 call involving a drug overdose.

Donald Brenner, 40, died Nov. 10, 2012 while in a drug treatment program at an Oriana House facility in Cleveland.

A 911 call from an Oriana House supervisor reveals that no one on duty attending to Brenner was trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques, known as CPR.

Instead, a Cleveland 911 dispatcher was forced to relay CPR instructions to a shift supervisor a full floor below were the victim was found. Brenner's mother is questioning why it took so long for CPR to begin after records show at least eight minutes went by before chest compressions began.

On the recording, the shift supervisor can be heard relaying information from the dispatcher over a two-way radio to colleagues, who were not trained in the life saving techniques.

When asked by the 911 dispatcher, "Is there a doctor or nurse or anything?" the caller responds, "No nurse and no doctor."

In another section of the recording, the shift supervisor admits "I can't get no information; they're not relaying no information to me," referring to his colleagues a floor above him.

"I don't have any clear details as to what's going on," he said in another portion of the call. The staff member tells the 911 dispatcher, "I don't have no clear idea what's going on."

The American Heart Association advises that survival drops 7 percent to 10 percent every minute CPR is delayed, and brain damage begins after just four minutes.

Bernie Rochford, Oriana House Executive Vice President, conceded that no one attending to Brenner was trained in CPR.

Rochford said three staff members on duty were trained that night, but the two staff members attending to Brenner were not.

"I suppose, in retrospect, if there was someone at the site of the victim, it might have helped," Rochford said.

As a result, Oriana House is reviewing what transpired surrounding Brenner's death and updating CPR training for staff.

Our investigation found this is not the first time a client has overdosed while being treated at Oriana House in Cleveland. On April 9, 2010, 23-year-old Christopher Surface died after a similar drug overdose.

Meanwhile, halfway houses in Ohio are not required by law to have medical staff or even basic medical training.

Oriana House said it voluntarily holds CPR classes several times each year and "strongly encourages staff to attend."

Meanwhile, a review of state records show 21 people have died in Ohio halfway houses over the last five years. There are 36 halfway houses across Ohio, serving at least 6,500 resident every year.

Oriana House serves roughly 960 clients each year, many with drug dependency issues who also have serious medical conditions. The facility said 90 percent successfully complete its drug treatment program, where clients are subject to drug pat downs each time they return to the facility and drug testing is performed at least twice a week.

According to Oriana House, only 1 percent of clients tested positive last year.

It's not clear how the heroin used by Brenner got inside the facility, where canine searches are performed twice a month.

Cheryl Brenner said her son, "Looked wonderful, the best I'd seen him in a long time."

"We need to make sure this doesn't happen to another family."

Print this article Back to Top