Md. forcing nursing home to close within 30 days

March 03, 1994|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

The state is forcing a long-troubled Baltimore nursing home to close, displacing scores of workers and more than 130 patients -- the first of whom left the facility yesterday.

The Baltimore Nursing and Convalescent Center, which will close for good in the next 30 days, is relocating 139 patients to 16 nursing homes in Baltimore with the help of the health department, officials said.

The Bolton Hill nursing home late last month failed an inspection by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene -- a follow-up to a failed inspection last fall -- virtually assuring closure.

"It's really just sort of a shame, but there's not a lot anybody can do from our end anymore," said Victor Nazarian, son of the owner, Sarkis Nazarian, who was unavailable for comment last night.

The younger Mr. Nazarian is computer systems director for Harbor Inn Convalescent Center, another Baltimore nursing home owned by his father.

In November, after repeated, "serious" quality-of-care deficiencies, the health department notified Mr. Nazarian that the nursing home was no longer eligible to receive millions of dollars in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for patient care, state officials said.

The lapses cited by health inspectors were nurses' not keeping track of patients' weight, failure to send patients to the hospital, not following up on doctors' orders and not scheduling consultations with doctors when ordered, said Michael D. Golden, health department spokesman.

The federal and state money was all but stopped Tuesday, the cutoff point of a 120-day period for the owner to come into compliance and appeal the decertification. No appeal was filed.

J. Robert Skidmore, administrator at the Bolton Hill nursing home for the last three months, termed the closure a "voluntary" decision by the elder Mr. Nazarian.

But Victor Nazarian said the decision to close was practically made for them by the state's action.

"I'm not sure there was a lot of decision making, when the state says they're not going to pay for the patients," Mr. Nazarian said. "About 90 percent of the money comes from Medicare or Medicaid."

Payments will continue to be made for patients while they are being relocated over the next 30 days, Mr. Golden said.

"The patients are being taken care of, and we're arranging transportation to other facilities for them," Mr. Skidmore said. Three patients were transferred yesterday, and another 15 will be relocated today.

"It's too bad, really because it means there are going to be several hundred people out of work . . . in nursing, dietary and housekeeping," Victor Nazarian said.

State health officials were hopeful in October 1991 when the elder Mr. Nazarian purchased the nursing home, the Golden Touch Care Center, which had a history of patient care problems and was on the verge of losing its license.

After taking over another long-troubled nursing home, a South Baltimore center renamed Harbor Inn, Mr. Nazarian had made dramatic improvements. He promised to do the same at the Golden Touch, which was renamed the Baltimore Nursing and Convalescent Center.

But by April 1992, the Bolton Hill home had been ordered not to accept any new patients until deficiencies -- specifically improper medication and treatment of patients -- were corrected, Mr. Golden said.

The state also gave the owners 90 days to correct the deficiencies. The owner complied.

In December 1992, state inspectors again found substandard care but the owner made improvements.

A third inspection last October again showed problems, triggering the process that led to this week's action, Mr. Golden said.

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