2 nursing home employees charged with neglect

Baltimore City/county

November 04, 1999|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

The former administrator of a Parkville nursing home and a nurse at the facility have been charged with reckless endangerment and neglect in a case stemming from the death of a patient who died shortly after her release from the home in October 1998.

The former employees of the Cromwell Center Nursing Home were indicted after an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office that was sparked by testimony before a congressional committee this year.

Frank Mann, spokesman for Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., said yesterday that Wesley E. Street, the former administrator, and Robin L. Kelly, a nurse formerly employed at the facility, were charged in indictments -- unsealed Tuesday -- with reckless endangerment, Medicaid fraud and neglect of a vulnerable person. The charges stem from the case of Elsie Wagner, who was a patient at Cromwell, which is owned by Genesis Eldercare, a Pennsylvania-based nursing home chain.

Wagner's granddaughter testified about the care provided to her late grandmother before the Special Committee on Aging, which held hearings in Washington last year on how well states responded to complaints of poor patient care. Maryland was one of the states criticized in a report released at the hearing.

Gloria Cruz, the granddaughter, told the committee that when she filed a complaint about what happened to her grandmother, she was told by a state official, "We deal with the live patients before we deal with the dead ones."

Cruz, who lives in Delaware, testified that her grandmother was released from Cromwell in extremely poor health. Laboratory tests later showed that Wagner had critically low levels of sodium at the time of her release. She died a week later in Delaware.

In a written statement, Lisa Salaman, a Genesis spokeswoman, said the company did not believe criminal charges were warranted.

"The center provided excellent care to Mrs. Wagner up until the time of her discharge to another facility. We believe that any questionable acts were the result of human error. They were certainly not criminal acts, and it is unfortunate they have been portrayed as such," Salaman said.

"We will do everything we can to support the individuals involved to their vindication," she added.

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