September 19, 2016

Rest Home Ordered To Hire Consultant After Reports Of Residents Using Marijuana, Alcohol

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The state has ordered a Litchfield rest home to hire an independent consultant after finding various violations, including alcohol use and suspected marijuana use among residents.

In a consent order signed Sept. 12, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) said Fernwood Rest Home Inc. has to hire an independent contractor, pre-approved by the department, within two weeks of the order’s signing.

The contractor must be a licensed nursing home administrator and will work to ensure resident safety and legal compliance at the facility, according to the order.

The contractor also will assess the ability and skill set of the “person in charge” at Fernwood, monitor corrective actions the facility has agreed to take, and submit written reports weekly to DPH.

The order resulted from violations found during unannounced visits to Fernwood between March 10, 2015, and July 20, 2016.

A documentation review found “numerous incidents reflecting ongoing use of alcohol by residents,” including residents who had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency, according to the order. Multiple residents were seen drinking and exhibiting drunken behavior, the citation said.

Also, documentation dated July 9, 2015, said Fernwood staff smelled marijuana in a hallway, and documentation dated July 14, 2015, said a resident was found on the ground after finding something “on the ground and smoked it,” the citation said. A person in charge at the facility told inspectors that staff suspected several residents smoked marijuana but “resident rights issues” prevented staff from searching residents’ rooms.

Inspectors determined staff was not prepared to adequately handle residents, and there were no ramifications when residents broke rules, the order said.

Several other violations involved medication. In July 2015, a resident was mistakenly given a double dose of Lorazepam, medications were stolen from another resident’s room after being put in an unlocked drawer by staff, and a third resident’s three valium tablets “went missing,” the order said.

Inspectors also found nine instances of medication errors that resulted when staff did not properly oversee a transition to a new pharmacy.

Violations also included several instances when staff “verbally abused” residents by arguing with them; unsanitary conditions in the kitchen; failure to ensure background checks were conducted for two hires; failure to report several incidents to DPH in a timely manner, including one in which a resident put hands on another resident’s breasts; and failure to launder residents’ clothing properly during a scabies outbreak at the facility.

Fernwood President Karyn Adkins Cosgrove, the person in charge at the facility who signed the DPH consent order, did not return calls seeking comment.

Per the order, the contractor must provide consulting services for at least 60 days, unless DPH officials deem longer is necessary. Cosgrove must meet with DPH officials every two weeks while the contractor is working with Fernwood, and then monthly thereafter for one year.

Fernwood previously was fined $2,000 and ordered to hire a new manager in 2013, after findings that residents were left hungry, denied information about their personal finances, and were referred to as “monkeys” by staff.

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