Nursing home fails another inspection

Villa St. Michael is facing cutoff of funds for patients admitted after March 13

March 04, 2003|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore nursing home where a patient was literally fed to death late last year has failed another inspection and faces a cutoff of state and federal funding for any patients admitted after March 13.

State health officials notified the administrator of Villa St. Michael Nursing and Retirement Center on Feb. 24 that inspectors found two serious deficiencies when they made a follow-up inspection at the 200-bed facility in Northwest Baltimore in late January.

In addition to the funding cutoff, officials of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have recommended to the federal government that the nursing home's participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs be terminated May 27 unless the facility is brought into compliance with regulations.

The state also immediately barred the nursing home from operating a nurse's aide training program.

Officials of the nursing home did not respond to a request for comment.

Villa St. Michael, at 4800 Seton Drive, was fined $7,500 in December after an 89-year-old patient died when a feeding tube was left running continuously for hours.

Nursing home officials waited more than five hours before making an emergency call for an ambulance for the woman, who had been moaning in pain. By the time paramedics arrived, she had gone into cardiac arrest and could not be revived.

State officials called the incident, which occurred in November, "horrific and inexcusable."

In the latest inspection, conducted Jan. 27, another feeding tube incident was uncovered. This time the patient was receiving far less nutrients than ordered by the physician.

Inspectors also cited the home for having a catheter in another patient without a doctor's order and then failing to monitor the amount of urine collected. The patient was another 84-year-old woman who was supposed to be monitored closely because of sudden weight gain, inspectors said.

A review of the nursing home records showed that "only three nursing shifts out of 14 documented urinary output."

The state report says that an interview with the charge nurse at the facility showed she was not even aware that the resident had a catheter.

In a letter to the nursing home's administrator, Carol Benner, director of the Office of Health Care Quality, said the new deficiencies were uncovered after the nursing home had notified the state that it had corrected the problems noted in December.

The action against Villa St. Michael comes as the General Assembly is about to consider for the fourth straight year a bill that would require that relatives of nursing home patients be informed when patients are found by state inspectors to have received poor or inadequate care.

The relatives of the 89-year-old woman who died after the first feeding tube incident told The Sun that they learned of the details of her death only after reading about the mishap in the newspaper. The name of the victim has never been made public by officials.

The mandatory family disclosure bill is set for a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee at 1 p.m. March 13, the day the funding cutoff for Villa St. Michael is scheduled to go into effect.

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