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Nursing home residents relocated

December 22, 2005|By KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

The residents of a nursing home closed last week by the state have found new homes.

All 39 former residents of Clearview Nursing Home, which was shut down by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene because of alleged safety and health violations, have moved to new facilities, said Susan MacDonald, executive director of the Washington County Commission on Aging.

"It was done quickly and with concern for the residents' safety and their state of mind," MacDonald said Wednesday.

In a notice of emergency suspension dated Dec. 14, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene cited numerous violations at the nursing home as the reason for its closure.

One resident, who had a history of swallowing problems, choked and died after being fed a hot dog in August, said Wendy Kronmiller, acting director of the department's Office of Health Care Quality.

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"Not only do we have that one choking death, (but) when my surveyors visited in late November and early December, they identified 19 areas where there was a potential risk for more than minimal harm," Kronmiller said Wednesday.

Almost every facility in the county has taken in former Clearview nursing home residents, said Melissa Hadley, the executive director of Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro, where seven residents have moved.

Most of Clearview's residents received Medicaid benefits, which Reeders accepts, Hadley said.

Two former Clearview residents are adjusting well to Broadmore Assisted Living At Hagerstown since moving there Tuesday, Executive Director Lynne Smigelski said Wednesday. They will be able to live more independently at the facility, she said.

"Our population is much more able to socialize and make friends and companions versus some of the more debilitated residents they had at the nursing home," Smigelski said.

Kronmiller said Wednesday she was unaware of any appeals of the decision being filed on behalf of the nursing home. Rose Matricciani, an attorney with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, which has an office in Baltimore, is representing the nursing home, Kronmiller said.

Matricciani did not return calls to her office Wednesday afternoon.

According to Kronmiller and a 92-page report issued by the state, nursing home staff members failed to provide appropriately pureed food for residents with swallowing problems and did not track residents' weight changes. A failure to follow up immediately on one resident's symptoms resulted in delays of treatment for pneumonia, according to the report.

One man lost 14.4 pounds, or about 9 percent of his body weight, in less than one month, and neither the man's physician nor the facility dietician was notified, according to the report.

In some cases, money in individual fund accounts set up for residents turned up missing after the residents died, the report alleges.

"There were a lot of signs that things were getting worse, and residents were at risk," Kronmiller said.

After the choking death at the facility, Kronmiller said Clearview was issued a civil penalty for $8,000.

Kronmiller and MacDonald commended area nursing homes for their response to the closure.

According to Hadley, Reeders normally takes in seven to 10 new residents a month. Tuesday, it hit that mark in one day. The facility put roommates together, if it could, and invited all the new residents to participate in social programs, Hadley said. The new residents were doing very well, though the move from Clearview was "traumatic," Hadley said Wednesday.

"A few had been there quite a long time. One lady, in particular, had been there five years, perhaps longer," Hadley said.

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