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Operation Guardians - Yuba City care home blasts Operation Guardians report

Ashley Gebb

A nursing home advocacy group released a scathing report this month about conditions at a Yuba City care home, but the administrator of the Yuba Skilled Nursing Center said the alleged abuse and conditions are based on misinformation and misleading data.

The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform named Yuba Skilled Nursing Center as one of 14 in the state where there was widespread abuse, neglect and "generally terrible conditions" between 2010 and March of this year. Using data gathered by the state Attorney General's "Operation Guardians" task force, the advocacy group states the problems at Yuba Skilled include inaccurate diagnoses, poor end-of-life care, avoidable dehydration and inadequate fall prevention.



But nothing could be further from the truth, said Yuba Skilled administrator Ron Brown.

Yuba Skilled has undergone a major transformation in the last two years to make it a quality facility, he said.

"We are not what we used to be, and, of course, that's very difficult to overcome," he said.

Even though it wasn't required, Brown sent a response to the Guardians' report, challenging every point with evidence to show it was not true, he said. He has yet to receive a reply.

"We are not saying we are perfect, but we are not as described in this report," he said.

The Guardians' report is also a stark contradiction to the annual report by the California Department of Public Health, Brown said.

When the state department conducted its annual recertification inspection in January, it noted only five deficiencies, none of which were for substandard care or required reinspection. The previous year there were 10, Brown said.

One Operation Guardians inspector spent six hours in the building in February, compared to a weeklong stay by a team of five surveyors with the Department of Public Health. According to staff, it was the first time the Guardians had set foot in Yuba Skilled in 15-plus years, compared to public health's yearly inspections.

Because of the short time the Guardians inspector was present and the egregious lack of context when it perceived abuse or poor conditions, it was not an accurate portrayal of Yuba Skilled.

"Wrong numbers do not tell the whole story," Brown said.

Yuba Skilled is mandated to report all complaints or potential abusive situations, whether physical, emotional or otherwise, and whether it's patient-to-patient, from a family member, self-inflicted or from staff. It complies, regardless of if the abuse claim is substantiated, but that's not reflected in its numbers.

"I've been doing this 30 years, and I have never had an employee abuse a patient," Brown said.

Many other conditions were also taken out of context, he said.

The prevalence of wounds the Guardians' report noted and said was center-induced were actually on patients who arrived for treatment of pre-existing conditions in Yuba Skilled's wound treatment program.

"They did not have a clue what they were looking at," Brown said.

The Guardians' report cited cracked drywall, without knowing it was revealed during repairs, and noted a nonworking water fountain, with no reflection that it was taken down to be replaced with a new one.

And one dehydration case it noted was in a patient with a Kennedy terminal ulcer, which some people develop as they are dying.

"We are not God, we cannot reverse the process," he said. "The Guardians looked at it and simply misunderstood."

For a more accurate reflection of Yuba Skilled's level of care, Brown points to its federal star rating through Medicare, which is updated every six months.

For several years before his tenure, the center rated two stars out of five but it recently scored as high as four and was the highest rated facility in the area at the time of the Guardians' survey. It is now at three stars.

"I believe we right now have the reputation of the best patient care in the area," Brown said. "The Fountains and others may be upset to hear that, but I'm hearing it from people we serve who have come from other locations."

He noted that 84 percent of its admitted patients are discharged to lower levels of care or released home.