Lockyer Pursues Action Against Nursing Home Operator
A second injunction against nursing home company Sun Healthcare Group by Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) is "unprecedented" and comes at a time when patient advocates say, and state records indicate, that the Department of Health Services "has cut back enforcement efforts," the Sacramento Bee reports (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 10/11).
Lockyer's office in September ordered Irvine-based Sun Healthcare Group to pay $2.5 million and increase nurse staffing for violations of an order to improve care.
Under the agreement, the company is required to provide training to all nurses on prevention of pressure ulcers, accidents and injuries, as well as training on accurate medical record-keeping. The company also will be required to increase registered nurse-to-patient staffing ratios to the 2002 statewide average and hire an independent wound care monitor who will be selected by and report to the attorney general.
The state's action came after investigations found the nursing home operator had not fully complied with the terms of an October 2001 permanent injunction related to quality-of-care issues (California Healthline, 9/15).
Terri Kern, a senior vice president for communications at Sun, said the company agreed to the second injunction to help resolve the issues but disputed the state's allegations.
Collin Wong-Martinusen, director of Lockyer's elder abuse bureau, said, "We didn't want our permanent injunction to be a meaningless paper tiger."
Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, praised Lockyer's work on the injunction and said the pressure is necessary because of inadequate licensing enforcement. "We're in a real crisis mode in terms of enforcement. I don't think I've ever seen enforcement at such a low ebb," she said.
Brenda Klutz, DHS deputy director of licensing and certification, wrote that DHS is reviewing licensing activities to promote efficiency in regulatory actions and "improve oversight," adding that patient safety is a priority for DHS (Sacramento Bee, 10/11).