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"State wants to seize Auburn nursing home’s license"

Original source:

The Sacramento Bee

By Cynthia Hubert
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

The state is moving to revoke the license of an Auburn nursing home that has been cited three times in recent years for poor care leading to the deaths of patients.

Colonial Healthcare, which is owned by Horizon West Health Care based in Rocklin, most recently was fined $100,000 and cited for negligence in the death of a man in August 2007.

The Class AA citation is the most severe possible under state law.

After investigating that case and reviewing the home's history, the state Department of Public Health decided to take the unusual action of trying to revoke its license. A hearing is under way on the matter, and a decision could be made as early as this week, said Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of the health department's Center for Healthcare Quality.

License revocations are relatively rare, occurring "one or two times a year" statewide, said Billingsley.

The action against Colonial "is based upon our recent findings, and a pattern and an inability to sustain compliance with state regulations," she said.

Records show that Colonial Healthcare has a recent history of serious citations, including two Class AA penalties issued in 2006 and the most recent one, which was handed down last month.

In the most recent case, according to records, a resident, age 83, fell against the footboard of his bed, hitting his chest and fracturing several ribs. Instead of transferring him to a hospital for treatment of his pain, the nursing home kept him at the facility and gave him "increasingly large and frequent doses" of a narcotic medication.

By the following morning, the resident's oxygen levels were dangerously low, yet he never got the therapy dictated by the nursing home's policies, says the report. After 21 hours of "excruciating, unrelieved pain," according to state records, the resident was given an "excessive" dose of pain medication and died.

Colonial failed to report the August 2007 death to state authorities, as is required by law, said Billingsley. Her department launched an investigation within two weeks after the man's family members reported the matter to the state in May 2008, she said.

Based on the results of that survey, as well as the facility's history, "we are pursuing revocation," said Billingsley.

The facility, with 205 beds, also received AA citations and fines totaling $160,000 for poor patient care in July 2006 and August 2006. In 2007, the state issued a total of 11 less-serious enforcement actions against the home. No such actions were taken in 2008, according to records.

The 2006 Class AA citations followed investigations into the deaths of two patients, a man, 92, and a woman, 64.

The male patient died after getting the wrong type of medication for diabetes, according to state officials. The second patient died after the facility failed to provide a mechanical device to provide increased oxygen during sleep as ordered by a doctor.

The nursing home referred a reporter's inquiries to its corporate office. A spokeswoman there did not respond on Monday.