Barstow Veterans Home Fined $95,000 for Death of Resident
The Department of Health Services has fined the state-administered veterans home in Barstow $95,000 for the December death of resident Billy McGowen, DHS Director Dr. Diana Bonta announced this week, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bonta said that DHS issued the fine -- $5,000 less than the $100,000 maximum allowed by law -- after an investigation found that McGowen's heart failure resulted from the interaction of two medications (Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 2/5). In addition to the fine, the two unnamed physicians who treated McGowen cannot have patient contact until the Department of Veterans Affairs completes an investigation, department spokesperson Andrew Kotch said. Staff members at the Barstow facility also have received "new training on how to properly administer medication and avoid side effects," Kotch said, the Sacramento Bee reports. Gov. Gray Davis (D) said that he has approved a reorganization plan to replace administrators at both the Barstow veterans home and a facility in Chula Vista with "people who have expertise at nurse administration." He said, "Hopefully, the personnel changes plus the increased attention ... will prevent this from occurring" (Delsohn, Sacramento Bee, 2/4). Davis administration officials had hoped that the Barstow facility had "turned around after a long history of failing to properly care for patients," the Times reports. DHS issued the Barstow veterans home a $64,499 fine in June 2000 for inadequate care that led to the deaths of two residents (Los Angeles Times, 2/5). The federal government also decertified the Bartow veterans home as a skilled nursing facility in 2000, a move that cost the facility $5 million in federal Medicare and Medi-Cal funds (California Healthline, 1/23/02).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.