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"Nursing home fined $100,000 for death"

Petaluma Argus–Courier

Pleasant Care Corp. in bankruptcy; facilities in process of being sold

By John Jackson
Article published – July 11, 2007

On the same day a federal court was holding a bankruptcy hearing for its parent company, Petaluma’s Pleasant Care Convalescent was issued a Class AA citation by the California Department of Public Health. A Class AA citation is the most severe allowed by state law.

The nursing home, owned by Pleasant Care Corp. of La Canada, was fined $100,000 and ordered to make changes in the way it monitors and provides dental care for its residents.

The citation came following the death of a 76–year–old female patient with Alzheimer’s disease on March 12. According to the CDPH, the resident was transferred to an acute care hospital at the request of a family member for care of swelling on the right side of her neck that was diagnosed at the acute hospital as caused by an infection resulting from varying levels of decayed teeth. She died eight days later.

The CDPH investigation revealed that the woman was not given a dental exam because "the facility thought the resident had dentures."

While not admitting guilt in the woman’s death, Pleasant Care submitted, and has implemented, a "plan of correction" to ensure all residents will be assisted in obtaining routine and 24–hour emergency dental care. The plan also puts into place policies and procedures to prevent dental neglect.

The announcement of the citation came as a federal judge was considering a bankruptcy plan that could lead to the sale of some or all of 22 Pleasant Care facilities.

Mike Connors of the watchdog group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform said that in an initial round of bidding for facilities last week, there were no bids on the Petaluma facility.

He emphasized that does not mean Petaluma Convalescent will not be sold, explaining that a second round of bidding included individual bids on groups of Pleasant Care facilities, and it is still unclear which properties could be purchased by which bidders.

All transactions have to be approved by the bankruptcy court and the CDPH will have to issue licenses for each facility to new owners.

Pleasant Care facilities, including Petaluma’s Pleasant Care Convaslescent, are currently being managed by the Tutera Group, a real estate and health facility management firm based in Kansas City, Mo.

According to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Petaluma’s Pleasant Care Convalescent has been fined twice previously this year for Class A violations resulting in injuries to patients.

It reported that in 2006, the hospital was fined seven times, twice for Class A violations resulting in injuries to patients.

The La Canada Valley Sun reported that in 2006, Pleasant Care Corp. pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of elder abuse, and agreed to pay $1.35 million to the state for civil allegations it provided negligent care in a number of its facilities.

The Sun reported that Pleasant Care facilities had been issued 160 citations in the last five years.

A call to the Petaluma Pleasant Care Convalescent Hospital was referred to the Pleasant Care corporate headquarters. A call to the headquarters was referred to the Tutera Group. The Argus–Courier was unable to reach anyone in that agency by deadline.

Last changed: Jul 10, 2007 © Argus Courier 2007