State lets troubled nursing home stay open, requires that it be sold

Health officials strike deal to avoid forced move of Irvington Knolls patients

January 22, 2000|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

A troubled, 220-bed Baltimore nursing home will be allowed to remain open as long as it is sold to new owners by March 1, state health officials have agreed.

Carol Benner, head of the state's Office of Health Care Quality, said yesterday that a settlement with operators of the Irvington Knolls Care Center at 22 S. Athol Ave. will keep the facility open and avert the forced transfer of several hundred elderly patients.

"It's a win-win situation," Benner said of the agreement.

She added that a primary concern of the state was avoiding the transfer of patients to other facilities. "That was critical," she said.

Irvington Knolls is owned by Sonya Gershowitz Goodman and is run by her son, Ben Gershowitz.

Neither responded yesterday to a request for comment.

The Irvington Knolls home had been cited for failing multiple reviews by state inspectors over the past year. In one case, an 89-year-old patient had to be hospitalized because the nursing home staff failed to adjust her medications and monitor test results.

Nursing home personnel, according to the reports, also failed to notify a patient's doctor when the condition of a 78-year-old man deteriorated significantly.

The state has negotiated similar mandatory sale agreements in the past, but Benner said the agreement with Irvington Knolls was the first in nearly 10 years.

"Normally, we don't give nursing homes a third chance to pass an inspection," Benner said, "but we agreed to it after they entered into negotiations to sell."

She said that because of the promise to complete a sale by March 1, the state agreed to give the home a final chance. Benner said she did not know the identity of the proposed purchaser but was satisfied that negotiations had begun.

Benner said an extra inspection conducted recently turned up no serious problems but that the long history of problems makes a sale the best alternative.

Last month, state and federal officials announced a cutoff of funding for Irvington Knolls because of its failure to meet minimum standards. Benner said the cutoff, which had been scheduled to take effect Friday, has been canceled.

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