Bainbridge Island rehabilitation facility had numerous DSHS citations

Julie Peterson, 48, has lived on Bainbridge for 40 years and was a resident at Island Health and Rehabilitation Center while recovering from a coma. She experienced attempted assault and neglect at the facility; public documents said. -
Julie Peterson, 48, has lived on Bainbridge for 40 years and was a resident at Island Health and Rehabilitation Center while recovering from a coma. She experienced attempted assault and neglect at the facility; public documents said.
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A Bainbridge Island health care facility, named in a class-action lawsuit last month, has had numerous care-related deficiencies and two instances of employee misconduct, according to public records.

Island Health and Rehabilitation Center, owned by Milwaukee, Wis.-based Extendicare, is one of 15 Washington State convalescent homes identified in a lawsuit alleging unfair business practices that affect quality of care. The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court late last month.

Although Island Health and Rehabilitation Center was listed as a party in the case, it was not mentioned specifically in the general allegations segment of the lawsuit filed, and deficiencies the facility had received from the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) were not cited.

One of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, Kevin Coluccio, said independent investigations into the Bainbridge facility are ongoing in relation to the allegations outlined in the case.

Records from Bainbridge Police, Kitsap County Superior Court and DSHS going back to July 2004 (the lawsuit involves Extendicare facilities from August 2004 through August 2008), indicate the island facility has had numerous deficiencies as cited by DSHS. The state agency said the facility has made changes to correct those deficiencies.

“Through the process of issuing citations, the regulators (DSHS) have in the past identified areas where we could improve and areas that required our immediate attention,” said a statement by administrator of Island Health and Rehabilitation, Lexy Lieurance-Brott. “Our staff and leadership team has been proactive in addressing these issues and we are pleased to report that Island Health and Rehab currently meets or exceeds the legal requirements for operation.”

Aside from DSHS citations, two former employees of the facility were arrested on separate embezzlement and indecent liberties charges relating to incidents during their employment in 2004.

In August 2004, one ex-employee was arrested in relation to the embezzlement of nearly $3,000 from 15 different residents’ trust accounts, according to police. Court documents show she was later convicted of a felony. Another ex-employee pled guilty to attempted assault in the second degree with sexual motivation in November 2004. The two incidents led to the health facility immediately terminating the employment of the individuals.

The victim of the attempted assault, Julie Peterson, was recovering at the time from a coma that had left her speech impaired and bed-ridden.

“I was in hell there,” said Peterson, who continues to live on the island. “I got out as soon as I could.”

Police and court records said a male orderly inappropriately touched Peterson while caring for her. Statements made by employees in court depositions suggest that staff knew the orderly was spending an excessive amount of time in Peterson’s room. Action was not taken until Peterson brought up the allegations, according to court and police records.

Peterson believes she was targeted because she was immobile and unable to speak concisely.

“I couldn’t move when I came out of coma. I was terrified because I was very vulnerable not being able to move, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said. “I should have been safer there than in my own house.”

Peterson left the facility in August 2004. The orderly who pled guilty to the charges served an eight-month jail sentence and left the state upon his release. Peterson filed a separate lawsuit against Extendicare, which was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2007.

Peterson also alleges that she was dropped in the shower and developed a diaper rash because she was not cleaned properly while at the facility. Similar incidents were documented in two recent DSHS surveys of the facility.

Findings by the DSHS also included instances among staff members had the potential for serious negative outcome on residents’ health.

Each year, the DSHS conducts random surveys based on a percentage of current residents and a small group of previous residents at care facilities around the state. Based on these fact-finding surveys, DSHS provides written notice of code violations to the facility and a post-survey revisit to ensure deficiencies were corrected accordingly.

The DSHS records over the past two years cited seven deficiencies in a survey completed in April 2007 and 14 deficiencies in a survey completed in March 2008 at Island Health and Rehabilitation.

Deficiencies, as stated on the DSHS website, are instances or situations that create “actual or potential negative outcomes for residents and subsequent actual or potential for harm. Outcomes include any negative effect on the resident’s physical, mental, or psychosocial well being.”

The findings and corrective action documents (nearly 100 pages long) detail instances ranging from “not thoroughly investigating falls and injuries of unknown origin” sustained by patients, to not providing “necessary care and services” relating to pain management, skin breakdown and care, and the management of diabetes.

In one instance, a resident at the Bainbridge facility went for weeks without a significant bowl movement, which caused fecal impaction that resulted in pain and doubling over. Inconsistent treatments and monitoring did not identify the problem early enough for the patient’s preventive treatment by a physician, the DSHS report stated.

A subsequent follow-up by DSHS surveyors has shown each year’s deficiencies at the facility have been addressed and the facility was found to be in compliance and eligible for “Medicare and/or Medicaid participation.”

Coluccio said he believes there is a pattern of unfair practices in all 15 Extendicare facilities.

“We’re continuing our investigation (into Island Health and Rehabilitation Center) and it is our impression and belief that we are finding more and more facts that are supporting our claims,” Coluccio said.

Peterson said there may be more unreported incidents involving elderly residents at the facility.

“I don’t want them to go through what I went through” she said. “I want them to not be afraid to talk if something happens, and I want their golden years to be good, not bad and lonely.”

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