Nursing home's closing pressed

State suspends license of Hagerstown facility

December 16, 2005|By JULIE BELL | JULIE BELL,SUN REPORTER

The state is moving to close a Hagerstown nursing home and relocate its 40 residents, citing violations that included leaving a demented 83-year-old man alone during a meal against doctors' orders. He choked to death.

Officials began informing residents of Clearview Nursing Home and their families of the decision yesterday. Beds for all of the residents are available at other Washington County nursing homes, said Charlene Lloyd, manager of long-term care programs for the Washington County Commission on Aging.

"We're trying to work with residents and their family members to match them up with facilities to meet their needs," Lloyd said. "We have roommates that want to stay together."

The state Office of Health Care Quality informed Clearview's owners Wednesday night of its decision to immediately suspend the nursing home's license. Residents will be moved as quickly as arrangements can be made, probably next week. State officials will meet tomorrow with residents and their families.

The Commission on Aging and the state health care quality office are monitoring residents' care, said Wendy Kronmiller, acting director of the office.

Clearview's owners could not be reached yesterday. They have a right to request a hearing, but the license would remain suspended until a hearing and the residents would still be moved. Clearview is required to continue operating the nursing home until its residents are safely transferred.

The nursing home had scored poorly on a previous state nursing home report card and was cited for deficiencies in June 2004. Its problems appeared to worsen after new owners took over this year.

The home's owner is Clearview Health Services Inc., a Maryland company incorporated in February. The company is run by Dr. Kailash C. Chopra, a family physician, and his wife, Kronmiller said. State records indicate that Chopra works at the Get Well Health Center in Wheaton at the address listed as Clearview's principal office.

"I believe that the doctor has been a medical doctor in a nursing home," Kronmiller said. "However, I think that running a business like this was a new experience for them."

Chopra didn't return calls left through a corporate attorney, and at the nursing home and at his office.

The state inspected the nursing home in October and again Nov. 28 through Dec. 2 after the facility and an unidentified complainant reported problems.

The state said its visits to Clearview revealed numerous violations, including failure to provide adequate care to a resident with signs of pneumonia and failure to follow physician's orders with respect to medicine. There also were a number of failures related to food preparation and supervision of people with swallowing problems, the state said.

"Of particular concern is its continuing failure to properly prepare pureed or other special diets for those with difficulty swallowing and the failure to plan and monitor meals to prevent choking accidents," the state's notice of emergency suspension says. "This failure has already contributed to one food-related choking death at Clearview Nursing Home."

A state inspection report indicates that the resident, the 83-year-old man who often ate too fast if left unsupervised, died Aug. 19. Among other things, his physician had ordered soft food and supervision while eating. The man choked to death after a staff member served him a hot dog, coleslaw, baked beans and a piece of pie, then left him to eat unwatched in the dining room, according to the report.

While at the home, inspectors reported, they intervened to ensure that residents with similar disorders got foods with the proper consistency or were supervised. When they returned for five days at the end of November and early December, they reported no improvement.

"We had hoped that last week the facility could do something to pull itself out of this, and we gave them opportunity to do that," Kronmiller said. "We certainly didn't want to be doing this Christmas week."

juliana.bell@baltsun.com

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