BURLINGAME: SunBridge Nursing Home to Appeal Citations
SunBridge Care and Rehabilitation of Burlingame said Tuesday it will appeal the 12 citations and $141,500 fine imposed by the state Department of Health Services following an investigation of three deaths and a "number of hospitalizations" during a June heat wave, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The department ruled that only two deaths were directly related to the hot spell, but those two deaths resulted in two "AA" citations, putting the facility "one deadly mistake away from losing its license." Facilities with three AA citations during a one-year period can have their licenses revoked or suspended (Mojica Rey, 8/16). San Mateo County health officials inspected the 274-bed facility after the two deaths, criticizing the home for "not having an emergency plan in place to keep residents cool." After its inspection, the state health department required SunBridge to submit a "plan of correction" by Aug. 7. That plan, which was submitted on time, is under review (Stannard, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/15). State officials said they will "likely perform a surprise inspection ... to determine whether the plan is being carried out."
More Trouble Ahead
In the meantime, the families of both residents who died during the hot spell have filed wrongful-death suits against SunBridge and its parent companies, Sun HealthCare Group Inc. and Care Enterprises West. Both suits charge the home with elder abuse, and ask for "unspecified amounts of compensatory and punitive damages" (San Jose Mercury News, 8/15). Attorney Niall McCarthy, who is representing both families, said he expects "additional legal action in the near future" from other residents and families. He added, "The universal concern of the family members and current residents (is) that they want the quality of care improved. The purpose of lawsuits is to improve the quality of care and ensure that in the future, patient rights outweigh profits at SunBridge and other facilities." State Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Hillsborough) has proposed legislation that would require facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid money to provide air conditioning. His bill moved into the Legislature's health and environment subcommittee Aug. 2 (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/15).