Officials threaten sanctions for assisted-living facility; Martin's Glen operator told to correct problems


State health care officials have threatened to impose sanctions against an assisted-living facility for the elderly in Middle River where an 87-year-old resident was allegedly assaulted and inspectors found poorly trained staff and other problems.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has given the company that operates Martin's Glen Assisted Living two weeks to correct deficiencies or face penalties that could include fines, restricted admissions, or closure.

Carol Benner, director of health care quality for the state health department, said her staff took the unusual step of meeting with the operator this week.

"They have submitted a plan of correction and we have rejected it," she said. "We told them they're in serious trouble and they need to fix their problems."

The facility is managed by Emeritus Assisted Living, a Seattle-based company that runs assisted-living facilities nationwide. Emeritus received a 56-page report in March listing deficiencies at Martin's Glen, which opened last year and has 90 residents.

Karen Howse, regional director of operations at Emeritus, said yesterday the company has had trouble recruiting "trained and qualified staff" and had a high turnover in management since last year's opening.

Howse said nursing and food consultants have been brought in to train staff in recent months.

Since January, the state has received 21 complaints from residents and their relatives about poor care at Martin's Glen.

Last month, county police charged a nursing assistant with abuse of a vulnerable adult and second-degree assault involving an 87-year-old resident with Alzheimer's disease.

Danielle Hector, 24, was charged with hitting the resident on the cheek and arm, leaving bruises, according to a police report. Hector has been fired and is to stand trial Aug. 23. The resident has been moved from the facility.

Benner said deficiencies noted by the state include a doctor's order for 0.5 milligrams of a psychotropic drug incorrectly translated as 10 milligrams. The resident did not suffer permanent harm, she said.

Another resident with congestive heart failure returned to Martin's Glen from the hospital but did not receive nitroglycerin -- which is used to treat heart conditions -- for a few days, said Benner. The resident did not suffer ill effects from the lapse in treatment, she said.

State inspectors found a lack of staff training for first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and administering medication, Benner said. They also found that staff members failed to answer call bells from residents and that no alarm systems alerted staff that a patient with dementia had left the building, she added.

The facility is owned by Enterprise Social Investment Corp. of Columbia. Clare Gorman, marketing director, said the corporation has not seen the state's report.

"We have a contract with [Emeritus] and are not involved in the programs. We have every confidence Emeritus will rectify all the issues," she said.

Benner said her staff will continue to monitor Martin's Glen.

"I will have staff in there off and on to assure residents are protected and safe," she said.

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