Nurse pleads not guilty to foot amputation charges


A former Spring Valley Health Care Center nurse accused of amputating a 62-year-old hospice patient’s necrotic foot without permission pleaded not guilty to three felony charges at a Feb. 16 arraignment hearing in Pierce County Circuit Court.

An attorney for Mary K. Brown, 38, Durand, entered the not guilty pleas on her behalf. She is charged with physical abuse of elder person – intentionally cause great bodily harm, mayhem and intentionally abuse patients – cause bodily harm (a new charge since her initial appearance.)  If convicted, she faces up to $100,000 in fines and/or 40 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, Brown amputated a 62-year-old man’s necrotic foot without doctor authorization or patient permission and joked about putting it in her family’s taxidermy display. She later told investigators that although she acted outside her scope as a nurse, she did it for the man’s comfort.

The patient was admitted to the nursing home (hospice care) in March 2022 because he had fallen in his home and the heat went out, resulting in severe frostbite in both feet, which became necrotic. Brown amputated his right foot on May 27, which was attached to his body by two or more inches of flesh and a tendon. A certified nursing assistant in the room at the time of the amputation said the man felt pain and squeezed her hand.

The nursing home administrator allegedly put the foot in the freezer until the man died, then sent the foot with his body to the funeral home on June 2. Pierce County Medical Examiner John Worsing notified police that he had received a “man’s body with the foot laying next to it,” the criminal complaint states.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services cited Spring Valley Health & Rehabilitation Center for five violations, according to a June 21 report. State inspectors visited the facility June 8 and 9 after receiving an anonymous complaint May 29 about Brown’s actions. The nursing home failed to immediately report the incident to state regulators and did not complete an investigation of the incident, according to the report.

Under federal rules, the incident should have been reported within 24 hours to the state. The facility reported it June 3. Three of the five violations fall into the most serious category, where a patient is considered in immediate jeopardy.”

On Dec. 6, Judge Elizabeth Rohl ordered a $150,000 signature bond for Brown with the following conditions: No contact with Spring Valley Health Care or the victim’s family and no acting as a volunteer, employee or in any capacity as a caregiver. Brown told the judge she is no longer employed.

She is scheduled to next appear in court at 9 a.m. March 9 for a status conference.

Mary K. Brown, foot amputation, Spring Valley Health Care & Rehabilitation, Pierce County Circuit Court, mayhem, elder abuse, Spring Valley, Wisconsin, nurse