Sister of man whose foot was allegedly amputated by Wisconsin nurse speaks out

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A scheduling hearing in the criminal case involving 38-year-old Mary K. Brown, of Durand, Wisconsin, was rescheduled Thursday until early May at the Pierce County courthouse.

Brown, who worked as a nurse at a Spring Valley health care center, previously pleaded not guilty to three felonies regarding allegations that she amputated 62-year-old Doug McFarland’s foot without permission.

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“I just don’t understand, if you are a nurse, you are supposed to care, and if you care, you go through the proper channels to get permission, to do something like that, period,” McFarland’s sister, Heidi, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Heidi McFarland struggles to think about Doug’s final days before his death at the Spring Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center in western Wisconsin.

She said her brother fell at his home in Couderay, Wis., last spring and was then taken to the nursing care center more than 100 miles away in Spring Valley.

Pierce County investigators say Doug McFarland had frostbite on his feet after the fall and they were necrotic, and later in the spring, he was in hospice care at the center.

Court papers allege Brown told investigators, “…she was trying to make the quality of life better for him. When she is thinking of herself in his condition, she would have wanted it off.”

Brown allegedly told investigators that the McFarland’s feet were “mummy feet” and she used “bandage scissors and snipped it.”

“There was no excuse for that, none,” Heidi McFarland said of the allegations.

Prosecutors charged Brown with intentional abuse of patients, physical abuse of an elderly person and mayhem.

Several days after the amputation, Doug McFarland died.

The Pierce County medical examiner launched the investigation into McFarland’s death in June 2022.

The 62 year-old’s body and foot were sent to the Ramsey County medical examiner due to the “unusual circumstances of his death,” according to court records.

Looking further in court documents, a different nurse allegedly told investigators that Brown said, “…that her family has a taxidermy shop and she was going to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that said ‘wear your boots kids.'”

“I was extremely upset,” Heidi McFarland said. “When I found out, I pretty much lost it.”

Heidi said she called her older brother on the phone while he was at the nursing care center, and mentioned that he was receiving hospice care.

“He had a heart of gold and he was a phenomenal artist,” Heidi McFarland said of her brother. “It broke my heart to lose my brother.”