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Nursing Home License Lifted in Rare Action

October 21, 1987|CHRIS WOODYARD | Times Staff Writer

Patients were being transferred Tuesday from a North Long Beach nursing home after the state Department of Health Services used an emergency procedure to suspend the facility's license.

All 157 patients will be moved by Thursday from the Spectrum Care nursing home, which was cited for numerous instances of patient neglect, said Ralph Lopez, chief of the county Health Facilities Division, which inspects nursing homes for the state.

The "temporary suspension order," which immediately lifts the home's license pending an administrative hearing, was the first issued against a nursing home in Los Angeles County in about three years, Lopez said. The 240-bed Spectrum Care home has the worst inspection record in the county, he said.

The suspension order, served Monday at the home at 3232 E. Artesia Blvd., alleges that staffing was inadequate, many patients developed bedsores and that patient care records were falsified.

Inspectors videotaped instances in which food was left for patients who could not feed themselves; staff members did not properly exercise patients, allowing their limbs to atrophy; and patients were attached to tubes so dirty "that it made you sick," Lopez said.

The state cited an Aug. 5 inspection at Spectrum Care in which "approximately 30 patients were lying in beds soaked with urine and/or soiled with feces and needed to be cleaned and changed." At least 16 of them either had developed bedsores or had "high potential" to develop them due to immobility, inspectors said.

In addition to the state action,

the nursing home also faces trial on 12 misdemeanor counts filed June 10, Long Beach City Prosecutor John Vander Lans said.

The home's administrator, Patricia A. Jackson, acknowledged that there were many problems when she took over last May, but said the state and county have refused to consider progress made since then. From 80 to 90 staff members have been replaced, the facility has been scrubbed and equipment replaced, she said.

The closing, she alleged, "was a political thing in motion and I was unable to stop it."

The owner of the nursing home, Frank Maestri of San Jose, said he has spent $3 million on improvements. "I'm sick about it . . . ," he said of the state's action. "I think it's unfair."

Maestri said he has not decided whether he will exercise his right to a hearing within 30 days.

Some of the patients waiting in wheelchairs for transfers to other nursing homes also defended the facility Tuesday.

"I've been here almost two years. I've enjoyed it," said Dorothy Johnson, 67.

Steve Pipoly, a 72-year-old retiree who spends much of every day visiting his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease, said "she has always had good care . . . and she always had good food."

Lopez said he is aware of such testimonials. "These people who had constant visitors or minimal problems are probably going to be satisfied," the county official said. The patients most seriously affected were the ones who needed more intensive care, or lacked friends or relatives, he said.

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