Lutheran nursing home files bankruptcy State banned new admissions earlier in year.

June 10, 1991|By Michelle Singletary | Michelle Singletary,Evening Sun Staff

A Baltimore nursing home, cited by state regulators for providing critically poor service to patients, has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization under the Federal Bankruptcy Act.

Attorneys representing St. Luke Lutheran Home in the 7600 block of Clays Lane said an increase in nursing services and a low bed count due to a ban on admissions left the home cash poor and with little choice but to file for protection from its creditors.

"They just couldn't pay the bills," said attorney David Baneker.

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene imposed a ban on admissions in March. Most of the deficiencies have been corrected and the ban has expired , according to Carol Benner, lTC acting director of the of the Office of Licensing and Certification Programs.

The nursing home has a 104-bed capacity but the ban reduced the patient level to about 75, said attorney Brooke Schumm.

The attorney also said the nursing home, which employs about 100 people, is waiting for 250,000 to $300,000 in Medicaid payments.

The attorneys said that since filing the Chapter 11 action, operations are stable and the nursing home now has money to pay suppliers.

A 74-page report based on inspections completed in January by the state detailed alleged deficiencies in patient care. Among the incidents cited in the report:

*One 82-year-old resident's fractured thumb went untreated for three months even after her complaint about pain was noted in nurses' reports and after the patient had been seen by a physician three times.

*A 91-year-old patient with diabetes had to be sent to the hospital because of severe dehydration. However, a review of the patient's medical records showed the nursing staff claimed it provided care to the resident on three of the 13 days she was actually elsewhere. The staff records show nurses turned and positioned the resident every two hours -- even though she wasn't in the nursing home at the time.

*An 88-year-old patient's doctor ordered a check of her cardiac pacemaker. However it went unchecked for 10 months. Additionally, it was found that the nursing staff had not taken the resident's pulse in more than a year.

*In many cases, diets did not meet the nutritional needs of residents. One patient with a recorded allergy to tomatoes was scheduled to be served barbecued beef, which includes tomatoes, on the day a state inspector appeared. Stewed tomatoes were also on the patient's menu. Members of the dietary staff said they had no knowledge of the resident's allergy.

"In all the above incidents, neither the medical director, director of nursing nor the administrator investigated these incidents for possible abuse/neglect," the report said.

Other deficiencies noted patients with unexplained bruises and failure by the nursing staff to follow physicians' orders and plans for care of residents. The report also said physician services were deficient.

The state also cited the nursing home for poor health conditions, including strong urine odors through the home, a medicine cart stored in a toilet room and mouse droppings in a food-storage area.

When problems persisted after follow-up inspections in March, the state imposed a ban on new admissions and readmissions of patients from hospitals.

"I think you can see from time to time nursing homes with long-time good reputations having problems," said state Health Secretary Nelson Sabatini.

The nursing home is owned by a nonprofit corporation that has decided to put the nursing home up for sale, according to attorney E. Bernard Justis.

"Without question there were some deficiencies," Justis said.

He could not explain why such deficiencies existed, adding that nursing levels met state requirements.

While the deficiencies listed were serious, Benner said the nursing home acted quickly to correct the problems reported.

"There have been significant improvement. They are very much on the way of getting back to good nursing," Benner said.

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