POMONA — The state Department of Health Services has fined a Pomona nursing home more than $100,000 for numerous and repeated violations of state Health Code standards for patient care, state officials announced last week.
In a surprise visit earlier this month, county and state investigators found that 17 of 77 patients at Pomona Golden Age Convalescent Hospital were receiving substandard care, said Ernest Pooleon, supervising health facilities surveyor for the county Department of Public Health Programs.
The violations ranged from failure to prevent patients from developing bedsores to an instance in which one patient's bed had two different name tags on it, making it possible for nurses to administer the wrong treatment or medication, Pooleon said.
"They could theoretically have given a lethal injection to this individual, so it's a real serious violation," said Pooleon, one of the inspectors who visited the home.
He said that such evaluations often are concluded after one day, but violations at the Pomona home were so extensive that inspectors had to extend their visit to three days.
"It was horrible," he said. "This is not the worst I've seen in my career, but it's certainly up there."
Chartham Management Inc. of Salem, Ore., bought the Pomona facility, along with seven other nursing homes, on June 1 from Cerritos-based Golden Age Convalescent Homes Inc.
Chartham President Donald Bybee said in a telephone interview that he was surprised by the citations.
'News to Us'
"As new owners, these deficiencies--if in fact they do exist--are news to us," Bybee said. "It is our intent to work with the state to resolve these matters. We're going to do everything economically possible to resolve any problems that do exist."
Bybee said that his firm, which owns 40 nursing homes in seven Western states, already has replaced the administrator and director of nursing services at the Pomona facility and is planning further corrective measures.
The new owners will have to make the corrections by Monday, Pooleon said, or his office will recommend against the state granting Chartham an operating license.
Such licenses are non-transferable, he said, so even though Chartham bought the facility, the operating license remains with the previous owners.
As part of its sanctions against the home, Pooleon's office has recommended that the U.S. government revoke the nursing home's certification to receive funds from Medicare and Medi-Cal programs.
Other options available to state and county authorities include asking the district attorney's office to file criminal charges against the licensed owner of the home.
"We hold the existing licensee responsible for patient care at the facility whether they're operating it or someone else is," Pooleon said. "A licensee is not allowed to walk away from a facility and abandon the patients."
Officials of the Golden Age Convalescent Hospitals Inc. could not be reached for comment.
The inspection, called an "enhanced enforcement effort," took place June 10-12. Eight investigators--two from the state and six from the county--checked the nursing home for compliance with orders of correction that had been issued after an inspection in January, Pooleon said.
The home had allowed problems to worsen and other areas to become substandard, he said.
The major deficiencies cited were failure to adjust treatment to changes in two patients' medical status and negligent treatment of a patient with a broken arm.
Other treatment violations included failure to prevent bedsores and infringement of patient rights by leaving incapacitated patients exposed to public view, Pooleon said.