Top District health officials, concerned about a recent death and a serious injury at the city-run D.C. Village nursing home, have moved to take more direct control of day-to-day management at the facility.
D.C. Department of Human Services Director David Rivers yesterday ordered Michael Apa, the D.C. Village administrator, to report directly to D.C. Public Health Commissioner Andrew McBride, and McBride has set aside a working area for himself at the nursing home.
Before yesterday, Apa reported to Paul Lavigne, D.C. long-term care administrator, who reported to McBride.
In January, an 86-year-old resident, Wilhelmina Franklin, was found frozen to death next to her wheelchair on the grounds of the nursing home. The staff did not start searching for her until the third bed check in which she was not in her room, according to persons who investigated the death.
Last week a 71-year-old man, George Spells, was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns after he was found scalded in a bathtub. Officials were still investigating the incident yesterday and could not immediately explain how the wheelchair-bound, mentally incapacitated Spells had been able to get himself into a tub of scalding water without the nursing staff being aware of it.
Spells was listed in serious condition yesterday in the intensive-care burn unit at Washington Hospital Center.
"These two incidents have caused major concern," said D.C. Department of Human Services Director David Rivers. "We want to put major attention and resources to work there."
McBride, who became commissioner last summer, said D.C. Village is the only city facility in which he has had to take this kind of direct control. He said he did not know how much time he would have to spend there on a daily basis but that he set aside the work area there so he could conduct business from the facility if he needs to.
"I want to have a good, close look at the facility . . . . I will be looking at quality control," McBride said.
City officials are particularly concerned about the facility because they plan to put a number of patients from St. Elizabeths mental hospital there in a new unit, he said. The District is gradually taking over control of St. Elizabeths from the federal government and is continuing to deinstitutionalize patients there. Some former mental patients are already at D.C. Village.