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Saturday, October 25, 1997

AG files lawsuits against five nursing homes, personal care home

AUSTIN (AP) -- Five nursing homes and an unlicensed personal care home have been sued by the state, which accuses the facilities of inadequately caring for their residents, Attorney General Dan Morales announced Friday.

The lawsuits came after investigations by the Texas Department of Human Services found violations of a state law that requires homes to provide adequate care for their residents.

The homes are located in Beaumont, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Fort Worth and the San Antonio suburb of Somerset.

Morales is asking the courts to penalize the homes $10,000 per violation and order the unlicensed personal care home to cease operating without a license.

State health officials found residents at the Summit Care Corp., which operates as The Clairmount Beaumont, failed to promote oral hygiene, prevent pressure sores, maintain patient mobility and follow physicians' orders in late June, according to the lawsuit filed in a Beaumont state district court.

In another lawsuit, against Lake Park Nursing and Retirement Center Inc., operating as Lake Park Nursing and Retirement Center, Morales alleges residents were not sufficiently supervised during a period in January.

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County, said that one resident was injured because of improper supervision while showering, and another was hurt when he wandered off, climbed the roof and tried to climb down a drain pipe.

A lawsuit filed in El Paso alleges the Vista Hills Health Care Center and 22 Texas partners failed to give a resident proper nutrition, causing the woman to lose 18.6 percent of her weight during the first five months of the year.

A lawsuit filed in Houston alleges that Lifecare Corp., operating as Benner Convalescent Center, failed to effectively ensure residents were provided with sufficient fluids.

One resident was found severely dehydrated and was admitted to the hospital for treatment Aug. 12, the health department investigation showed. A head nurse at the hospital said told surveyors the resident was so dehydrated that her blood was thick, sluggish and not flowing normally.

A lawsuit filed in Fort Worth against Texas Home Management, formerly operating as Fifth Avenue Group Home, alleges no system was set up to monitor two patients' lithium intake, seriously threatening their health. The situation, discovered May 27, could have led to lithium toxicity, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also alleges the facility's system of monitoring residents while taking psychoactive drugs failed and that staff members were not properly trained to be aware of these signs and symptoms.

A final lawsuit was filed against Country Cottage Boarding Home in Austin, alleging that it operated without a license. The health department visited the facility once in June 1996 and again in January and June of 1997, finding it unlicensed and caring for at least eight residents.

Administrators at the Clairmount Beaumont, Lake Park Nursing and Retirement Center, Vista Hills Health Care Center, Benner Convalescent Center and Country Cottage Boarding Home were unavailable to comment.

Wendy Weatherson, an administrator from Texas Home Management Inc., said the agency was unaware of the lawsuit. However, she said the deficiencies found by the health department were cleared up within five days.

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