Two new administrators of D.C. Village, the city-run nursing home where two residents died this year, one by scalding and the other by freezing, promised residents and volunteers last night that improvements in nursing care, supervision and security will be made.
But several residents and longtime volunteers said that frequent management changes have done little to change conditions for the 400 elderly residents.
D.C. Health Commissioner Andrew McBride told about 150 persons at a community forum that the two residents' deaths contributed to the changes.
Donald Brooks, former director of the Forest Haven facility for the mentally retarded, recently was appointed acting administrator of the nursing home, succeeding Michael Apa, who was reassigned within the Department of Human Services.
Pat Brown, a former New Jersey hospital executive and consultant to McBride, was appointed as Brooks' boss. She is acting director of the Long-Term Care Administration, succeeding Paul LaVigne, who resigned.
Brown would not say what discipline, if any, the city has levied against those found responsible in the deaths of Wilhelmina Franklin, 86, who froze to death in January, and George Spells, 71, who died of scalding burns on April 1.
"We've done what we can do in terms of disciplinary action," she said. "I can't tell you what they are because they are not final. The employes can appeal."
Brown said changes already made at the nursing home include a new wooden fence around the D.C. Village grounds, improved lighting and better policies on bed checks and searches for missing residents.
She said that a contract has been signed with the D.C. police department to train the home's nine security guards, and that there are plans to hire nine more guards in the next year.
The city also is soliciting proposals for training sessions for nurses and aides, she said. A new effort to recruit and retain nurses will begin Tuesday.
Ann Hart, the D.C. ombudsman, requested that recent consultants' reports on the home be made public.
The report, and participants in the forum, said the home remains short-staffed. "The night Wilhelmina froze, there were only two nurses on that entire ward," said Sister Joan Klemballa, a nursing instructor who has been a volunteer at the home for seven years. "Administrators come and go and yet the situation is even more critical than when the last forum was held in 1981."
Klemballa charged that "medical care has deteriorated to telephone call coverage." McBride and Dr. James Levy, the home's medical director, conceded there are problems with doctors prescribing drugs and treatments over the phone.