Nursing home is fined $3,000

By SHARON SALYER

Herald Writer

Patients found in urine-soaked clothing, portions of a patient’s bare body exposed to passersby, inadequate hygiene and sometimes persistent patient calls for assistance that did not draw a quick response have led to a $3,000 state fine against a Lynnwood nursing home.

These and other violations of state and federal "quality of life" guidelines at the Lynnwood Manor Health Care Center were outlined in a recent Department of Social and Health Services inspection report.

In their report, state inspectors said violations included residents who were "left soiled, odorous and/or physically exposed in common areas or in a location visible to other residents, staff and/or visitors."

Specific problems outlined in the October report, which led to the recently announced fine, include:

  • One resident whose clothes were "visibly soaked" with urine who did not receive timely response to repeated requests for assistance.

  • One resident, whose name and sex were not identified, who told state inspectors that when a call light allegedly was not responded to after 45 minutes, the patient began banging a shoe against a window in the room for another 15 minutes before someone responded.

  • A patient who allegedly was wheeled into the dining room despite having clothing that was "visibly wet and odorous of urine" and whose undergarments were unchanged for nearly two hours.

  • Another patient was left on the floor between a wheelchair and lounge chair for 14 minutes, despite several calls for assistance.

    Lack of prompt response to patient call lights was noted in the minutes of the nursing home’s resident council in September and October. Patients who talked with state inspectors were quoted as saying, "It makes us feel like we don’t exist."

    Administrator Chuck Bruce responded: "What’s printed in our (state) survey document is factually true. I can’t dispute that."

    However, problems have been corrected, he said.

    "Systems have been put into place to assure they won’t happen again."

    Response times to patient call lights "has definitely improved," Bruce said.

    "It’s not that there were uncaring staff blatantly neglectful," he said. "A lot of times, systems need to be improved to allow the staff to be efficient in its delivery of care."

    Bruce said the patient care problems occurred during a time when there is a nationwide crisis in staffing of nursing homes.

    "Was a shortage of help the reason all these things happened? Not entirely. Did it play a role? More (staff) helps," Bruce said.

    State inspectors are at the nursing home again this week, and they will see that improvements have been made, he said.

    Alice Mahar, regional administrator for DSHS, said part of the agency’s role in its visit this week will be to evaluate whether things are better, worse or the same.

    Findings by state inspectors will guide what decisions are made with regard to enforcement procedures at the nursing home, she added.

    The 95-bed facility at 5821 188th St. SW in Lynnwood is operated by HMH Associates. It has been in business since 1985.

    The problems documented by DSHS workers during the October inspection follow a recent history of troubles at the facility:

  • In February, the state issued another $3,000 fine against the nursing home for violations of state and federal nursing home standards found during a December 1999 inspection.

  • A December 1999 order from DSHS prevented the nursing home from admitting new patients. It was lifted about a week later. The action was taken following the death of what was described by a DSHS official as a terminally ill patient.

  • In March 1998, the facility was fined $7,500 by the state for problems with patient care.

    While acknowledging a history of past problems, Bruce said: "Any number of families who come here, if you asked them how things are going as of late, you’d hear positive things.

    "The real indicator of sustained compliance (with care regulations) is whether or not we have this conversation a year from now, which I can assure you, we won’t," Bruce added.

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