BARSTOW: Veterans Home Smacked with Record $64,500 Fine
The veterans home in Barstow has been issued a record $64,500 fine in connection with two patient deaths and faces the possible revocation of its license, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The Department of Health Services listed an "unprecedented six major citations" Friday, stemming from a May inspection of the 400-bed facility that uncovered a "wide range" of state and federal violations. The citations come after a decision by federal officials to withhold nearly $300,000 in monthly patient care funding. Health officials claim that the home "did not pay close enough attention" to patient Paul Stevens, who died in February while choking during a meal. While the coroner and a physician at the home determined that Stevens choked to death, the home's records list the cause of death as a heart attack. The second case involved an unidentified patient who died while in a diabetic coma. The California Department of Veterans Affairs, the home's parent agency, disputes the allegations and indicated that it will appeal the citations. Jerry Rucker, the undersecretary of Veterans Affairs, said, "We have reasonable and significant evidence to lead to the dismissal or reduction of the citations." He added that the deficiencies that prompted the federal government to halt funding have been corrected and should clear the way for those funds to be reinstated in early July. Adding to the home's woes, Diana Bonta, director of health services, also has referred the deaths to the state attorney general's office and the San Bernadino County district attorney for investigation of elder abuse (6/18).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.