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Nursing home hit with 15 citations


Original source:
http://www.orovillemr.com/news/ci_17997533

Oroville Mercury-Register
By LARRY MITCHELL - Staff Writer
May 5, 2011

OROVILLE - The state has issued 15 citations, accusing an Oroville nursing home of illegally moving 14 residents out of the facility last year.

Olive Ridge Post Acute Care was ordered to pay $15,000 in fines because of the citations, which were issued in February.

In early 2010, the nursing home staff told residents of a locked unit that they would have to move out, according to the California Department of Public Health. Olive Ridge administrators began finding other nursing homes around the north state that would take these residents.

A Department of Public Health document said the state was told the locked unit, which was for residents with Alzheimer's, dementia, psychosis and other ailments, was being phased out and would be converted to an unlocked unit.

Originally, there were 25 residents in the locked unit. By late February of 2010, 14 of them had been moved to other nursing homes. Another six were waiting to be transferred, and five were going to stay at Olive Ridge and be put in with the general population of residents.

A summary of the state's action against Olive Ridge was posted on the Internet by the watchdog group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

It stated Olive Ridge was cited for breaking a number of laws, including those requiring that residents receive ample advance notice and that nursing homes file a relocation plan with the state.

"Some residents were placed in facilities more than 150 miles away from their family andÊlegal representatives after just a few days' notice," the summary stated.

Michael Connors, an advocate for the reform group, said the transfers were absolutely illegal because they weren't done for acceptable reasons. However, the state took no action on that account.

According to federal law, the only valid reasons for moving a resident to another nursing home are that the move is necessary for the resident's health, the resident has gotten better and no longer needs the facility's care, the safety or health of the residents are endangered, the resident has failed to pay for staying in the facility, or the facility goes out of business.

In its summary, the reform group charged that by closing its locked unit, Olive Ridge appeared to be "following an increasingly popular model of nursing home care (of) moving out long-term residents who were perceived as difficult to manage to increase the available beds for short-term rehabilitation residents who pay more for their care."

A call by the Mercury-Register to Evergreen Healthcare Companies, which owns Olive Ridge, was not returned by deadline.

The issuing of 15 citations to Olive Ridge was called "extraordinary" in the reform group summary.

"Less than 13 percent of long-term health care facilities received any type of citation last year, so it is extraordinary and very unusual for the CDPH to issue such a large number of citations to an individual nursing home," Connors wrote in an email to the OMR.

The transfers harmed the Olive Ridge residents, according to the CDPH, which wrote they "caused confusion, anxiety, and fear ... and probably emotional trauma to each of the 14 residents."

The reform group's summary claimed the fines Olive Ridge was ordered to pay for the Class B citations were too low. It said the Department of Public Health could have levied bigger fines and also could have turned the cases over to the attorney general or Butte County district attorney to pursue elder abuse charges.

Staff writer Larry Mitchell can be reached at 896-7759 or mitchell@chicoer.com.