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State meets with families of residents at Clearview

December 18, 2005|By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN -

Carl Socks has been visiting the soon-to-be closed Clearview Nursing Home, where his 94-year-old sister is a resident, for more than 10 years.

He said he looks after his sister, Viola Socks, because "the Lord expects me to do it."

While his sister doesn't understand that she has to move from the Downsville Pike facility by late Wednesday afternoon, Socks said Saturday that he hopes she can find a new place to live at Homewood at Williamsport.

If not, Williamsport Retirement Village is another option, Socks said.

Socks' sister and 38 other residents of the nursing home must be out as of Wednesday, said Milissa A. Sibley of the Washington County Commission on Aging.

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The home, which has been stripped of its license, will close by Friday, the day before Christmas Eve.

The state health department issued an emergency suspension of Clearview's license Wednesday, citing concern for the safety of residents.

With 118 available beds at other nursing homes in Washington County, all of Clearview's 39 residents have places to live, Sibley said.

"It's a terrible thing for this to happen at this time of the year," Sibley said. "My ... concern is the residents are safe and they'll be well taken care of."

State health representatives met with residents and their families Saturday afternoon at Clearview.

Dr. Kailash Chopra and his wife, Anita Chopra, run Clearview under Clearview Health Services Inc. They did not speak during the meeting, and it's unclear if they were in attendance.

"It's not a decision that we wanted to make, but felt we had to make," said Wendy Kronmiller, acting director of the state health department's Office of Health Care Quality. "We made the decision to protect your loved ones."

"I am just so sorry to have to do this and so sorry about the timing," Kronmiller said.

Kronmiller said last week that in August a nursing home resident, who had a history of swallowing problems, was fed a hot dog, choked and died. Several other incidents, in which residents' dietary needs were overlooked or not properly addressed, were cited in the office's report from an October on-site survey of the facility.

Socks said he blamed the facility's supervision, not employees, for problems that have occurred.

"The people work hard here to keep this thing going," Socks said. "We got some good people here. They're concerned for the patients."

Socks said he didn't know why the state chose this time of the year to close the home. He said if the state had planned to shut it down, it should have done been done earlier or after Christmas.

"Why did they let it go on this long?" he said. "Or why didn't they wait until the first of the year?"

A large calendar in the facility's main hallway still listed Christmas activities, games and other events scheduled for residents through the end of the month.

Earl Crawford, who has worked in Clearview's maintenance department for 14 years, said residents were to have a Christmas party Wednesday in which they would receive gifts, but that has been canceled.

"I'm mad. I'm really upset about the whole situation," Crawford said of the home's closing.

Crawford said the residents were well taken care of and knew the facility as "home."

He called the choking death an accident.

Rather than shut down Clearview, Crawford said the state should have offered assistance in running the facility. By closing it, he said employees were being punished and the residents inconvenienced.

"I really think they're doing wrong by shutting this place down," Crawford said.

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