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County Cites Valencia Hospital for Violations Linked to Staff Changes

August 27, 1986|ANDREW C. REVKIN | Times Staff Writer

County health officials on Tuesday cited Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital for six violations of state regulations, four of them stemming from changes in the way the 134-bed Valencia hospital cares for patients with breathing problems.

In June, the hospital eliminated six full-time and several part-time respiratory therapist jobs. Many of the duties of the respiratory therapists, who maintain machines that breathe for patients with lung problems and who monitor patients' respiratory conditions, were transferred to nursing positions.

Two county Department of Health Services officials inspected the hospital Aug. 7 after hospital employees complained that the cuts reduced the quality of respiratory care at the hospital.

Bud Pate, supervisor of the licensing division of the health department, said the hospital administration has 10 days to respond to the "notice of deficiencies." The citations do not carry penalties but are meant to flag problems, he said.

The county reported that:

Two months after the change, about half of the hospital's licensed nursing staff had not received in-service training in their new respiratory duties.

Henry Mayo's quality assurance program--a regular check of the quality of care required by the state--had not been modified to account for the respiratory care changes.

The hospital's staffing plan had not been adjusted. "Additional nurses have not been added to the nursing staff to provide the additional respiratory care service function," Pate said.

The hospital's written procedures had not been revamped to take into account the new system. "It did not specify what nurses would be doing," Pate said. "This kind of thing has to be in writing so everybody knows."

Also cited as violations were a construction problem in the intensive care unit and the lack of a physical examination and medical history for one patient whose records were checked.

Pate said the deficiencies at Henry Mayo were not more or less serious than most of the "tons" of violations county inspectors discover at hospitals each year.

Administrators at Henry Mayo were not available for comment late Tuesday.

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