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"Three Calif. health care centers cited after patient deaths"

San Francisco Chronicle

(06–05) 17:36 PDT Sacramento, CA (AP) ––

The state has cited and fined health care centers in Contra Costa, Sacramento and San Mateo counties after patient deaths.

The California Department of Public Health says the penalties issued Thursday are the most severe allowed by state law.

The department fined Gramercy Court in Sacramento $90,000, Atherton Healthcare in Menlo Park $100,000 and Care Center of Rossmoor in Walnut Creek $60,000. Fines can range as high as $100,000.

The Contra Costa and San Mateo health care centers are appealing the fines and citations. The Sacramento center has until next week to file an appeal.

Gramercy Court and Atherton provide skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, while the Rossmore center provides long-term care.

The state’s report says Gramercy Court in Sacramento let a 73–year–old patient become so dehydrated that she died of complications in June 2006, two days after she was admitted to a hospital.

Atherton officials failed to properly care for a patient who fell and was injured at least 14 times, according to the report. The last fall resulted in the patient being sent to a hospital in November 2007. The 48–year–old woman was unresponsive and in critical condition with a brain injury, and died Dec. 1.

Staff at the Walnut Creek facility failed to properly help a comatose 56–year–old patient breathe after an attempt to replace his tracheostomy tube failed last November, the state says.