State closing Randallstown care center after attack

Worker accused of hitting resident with ax handle

March 27, 2002|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

State health officials have issued an emergency order shutting down a Randallstown assisted care facility after learning that a worker with a prior murder conviction is accused of using an ax handle to attack a resident.

The emergency order against Peace in the Valley at 10518 Marriottsville Road was issued by Health Secretary Georges C. Benjamin last week. Officials said yesterday that they had moved 10 residents to other facilities.

Carol Benner, director of the Office of Health Care Quality, said as many as 11 additional residents will have to be moved. Poor recordkeeping at the facility made it difficult to determine how many people were being cared for, she said, adding that it was licensed to have only three patients.

She said state health inspectors were making unannounced visits to the home to determine how many people were living there.

James E. Askins of Baltimore, listed on state health records as the owner of Peace in the Valley, did not respond to a request for comment on the state action.

According to the five-page order from Benjamin, the worker, Dexter Dudley, 43, who had a lengthy criminal record including a 1975 conviction for second-degree murder, is charged with attacking a patient early last month after an argument.

The unidentified patient was taken to Northwest Hospital Center, where he was sutured for an 8-centimeter laceration on his forehead, the report states.

Benner said state officials learned of the incident from Baltimore County police, who arrested Dudley on charges of second-degree assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Officials later learned that he had been convicted of second-degree murder, and after a lengthy prison term, was convicted of theft and burglary charges in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Dudley was convicted in late 1975 of second-degree murder for his role in the shooting of a 71-year-old man during an attempted Valentine's Day grocery store holdup in the 2600 block of Frederick Ave. Dudley was in the store with the shooter, who mistook a customer for the owner. The shooter got a 40-year sentence.

The emergency suspension order accuses Peace in the Valley of failing to conduct a criminal background check on the worker. Also cited was a failure to train workers in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to maintain proper records and to properly notify the state of adverse incidents involving patients.

Benjamin's order requires the operators of the retirement home to provide a complete list of residents and next of kin to state and county officials, along with all available medical data. They were also ordered to notify relatives of residents and to assist in finding new homes for all residents.

Under Benjamin's order, the facility will be shut down as soon as all of the residents are relocated.

"Relocation is always difficult, especially with assisted living facilities where many of the residents are suffering from ailments like dementia," Benner said. No major problems have arisen.

At the time the state learned of the attack, the agency already had initiated action to close Peace in the Valley. Based on a complaint filed by the agency, the state Office of Administrative Hearings issued a 23-page proposed order Feb. 21 that would have closed the home and fined its owners $10,000.

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