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"Nursing home fined $100,000"


Marysville Care Center silent about state’s action

April 24, 2008 11:55:00 PM
By Rob Young/Appeal–Democrat

A Marysville nursing home has been fined $100,000 in connection with the asphyxiation death of a patient.

Dorothy Rothacher, 84, was found dead in the early morning hours of May 21, 2007, at the Marysville Care Center, her head stuck between her bed and a bed rail.

The state Department of Health and Human Services levied the fine Feb. 27 after a lengthy investigation that determined the nursing home failed to lower bed rails or use an alarm that would have notified nurses that Rothacher was getting out of bed.

The nursing home at 1617 Ramirez St. has the same owners as the Yuba City Care Center, 1220 Plumas St., which Medicare officials in November called the worst in the state, based on the number of citations received.

James Paul, administrator of the Marysville Care Center and one of the owners, was not available for comment and did not respond by e–mail.

Director of Nursing Marsha Schinhofen, who received the state citation on behalf of the nursing home, declined comment.

The center has previously gone under the names Sunbridge Care Center, Sunrise Care Center and Two Rivers Care Center.

Rothacher's husband, Donald J. Rothacher, died March 26 in Jackson, 10 months after his wife. None of the couple's four children was immediately available for comment.

The state last year received 17 complaints about the 86–bed nursing home and found 36 deficiencies there, more than the state average for a home of its size, said Patricia L. McGinnis, executive director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. The Class AA citation issued to the center is given for the most serious violations. An average of 20 to 30 such citations are issued annually statewide, said McGinnis.

"That doesn't mean that some others shouldn't have got it," she said.

Rothacher was admitted to the center on Oct. 25, 2005, suffering from osteoarthritis, psychosis and Alzheimer's disease, according to the citation.

Nurses gave investigators conflicting statements on whether Rothacher habitually got out of bed.

A month after the death, an administrative nurse said a bed alarm was not used because Rothacher had never tried to climb out of bed since being admitted.

Five months later, the same nurse stated Rothacher had a history of climbing over the bed rails. A certified nursing assistant said she was known to roll out of bed and once was found sitting on a mat that had been placed on the floor below the bed.

A coroner's report dated Sept. 27, 2007, said a deputy found Rothacher lying partially on the floor with her head stuck between the bed and rail. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to a compressed and fractured larynx.

Rothacher, "who was totally dependent for all activities of daily living, choked to death on the side rail while she was unable to free herself," the citation said.

A care plan written after Rothacher's admission called for a bed alarm and rails positioned on the top half of the bed, allowing the patient to get out of the lower half.

"According to medical professional studies, the potential for serious injury is more likely from a fall from a bed with side rails than from a bed where the side rails are not used," the citation said.

The citation concludes, "Although the facility placed a mat on the floor next to (Rothacher's) bed, the facility failed to ensure that (her) immediate environment remained free from accident hazards by ensuring side rails were not present when (she) was not being turned" in bed.

Rothacher, who had to be turned regularly to prevent bed sores, assisted the staff by grabbing onto the rails, the report said.

Rothacher, born in Elmira, N.Y., lived in the Yuba–Sutter area for 18 years and was a member of St. Joseph's Church in Marysville.

There was no Yuba County Superior Court record of a lawsuit filed by Rothacher's survivors against the nursing home.