The Washington Nursing Facility in Southeast Washington has been barred from accepting new patients because of abuses at the home, and city officials said they will cut off federal payments -- which support the majority of the home's 300 residents -- on June 30, according to just released city records.
The records show the facility is now operating under a restricted license, the first time the city has used this power.
The city took the rare action after an April inspection found unsanitary conditions, poor medical care, staff members who repeatedly ignored requests for help, a lack of clothing, supplies and physical therapy and a practice of routinely awakening residents at 5 a.m. for breakfast served three hours later. Many of these problems also were found in a September 1984 inspection, but were considered corrected by the city.
In two other prior inspections, the home was given a clean bill of health. Residents of the home told The Washington Post that city inspectors announced their visits in advance and that hasty improvements were made before inspectors arrived.
The city reinspected the home on 25th Street SE in April after a surprise federal inspection in January found nursing care so poor that federal officials requested an immediate recommendation from city officials to drop the home from federal payment programs. Under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the District must certify facilities before federal payments can be made.
Despite this request, city licensing officials did not act until June 1, records show. Frances Bowie, director of the city's licensing agency, said there were delays in typing the inspection reports.
In a June 3 letter to federal officials, Bowie said, "Given the significant number of repeat deficiencies, the complaints and the magnitude of the poor care provided to residents, we recommend termination of the facility as a Medicare and Medicaid provider."
The home was opened in November 1983 and is owned by two general partners, Philip R. Miller of Potomac and Stephen Lazovitz of Hollywood, Fla.
In a May interview, Miller, who said he and his partner are real estate developers, said they were "generally aware" of deficiencies. The nursing home is operated under contract by HBA Management, a Fort Lauderdale firm. "Some of the problems are unique to new facilities," Miller said. "The nursing care is possibly less than ideal."
Daniel Cohen, an attorney for HBA Management, which also operates nursing homes in Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said yesterday the home "has been urging the District authorities since at least mid-May to come in and inspect." He added, "We are confident the facility is in good shape. No one has ever found that a patient was endangered. Although there were certain deficiencies, they have been cleaned up."
The home's administrator, Gail Walsh, could not be reached for comment.
In the city's April visit, inspectors found an average of 22 patient falls per month at the home, but said there was no evidence doctors were notified.
One incident at the home resulted in an out-of-court settlement in May when an 82-year-old resident, Sallie Petty, sued the home because of third-degree burns she suffered in January while placed under a heat lamp. Petty, who cannot move freely because of an amputated right foot, required two skin grafts as a result of the burns.
Inspectors also noted that nurses routinely put residents in restraints in wheelchairs "and lined them up in the dayroom and corridors."
Attorney Cohen said executives of the management firm plan to meet with city licensing officials next Friday.