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Attorney General Lockyer, Santa Barbara D.A. Sneddon Announce Major Enforcement Action Against Nation's Largest Nursing Home Chain

Thursday, August 1, 2002
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(LOS ANGELES) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon today announced civil and criminal enforcement actions against the nation's largest nursing home chain, Beverly Enterprises, Inc., and its subsidiaries, that will result in court-enforceable improvements in the quality of care for elderly Californians at 60 facilities statewide.

"This case is about corporate accountability and protecting Californians who deserve and depend on compassionate and quality care in nursing homes," Lockyer said. "The settlement takes direct aim at the criminally negligent care found at the Beverly La Cumbre nursing home in Santa Barbara that led to the deaths of two frail and elderly residents. Just as important, this settlement holds the state's second largest nursing home chain accountable for delivering quality care to the more than 13,000 elderly and dependent Californians living in Beverly nursing homes across the state."

Sneddon added: "This settlement serves notice that nursing home crimes will not be overlooked, that no person or entity is above being held accountable, and that local prosecutors are prepared and willing to play a leadership role in protecting this vulnerable and growing segment of society."

The settlement of the civil and criminal complaints against Beverly and its subsidiary was approved by the Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Thursday. In entering the civil settlement, the nursing home chain did not admit to wrongdoing. The La Cumbre nursing home in Santa Barbara was sold in November 2001 by Beverly to new owners, who are not involved in the enforcement action.

In the criminal enforcement action, Beverly-Enterprises-California, Inc., a wholly owned California subsidiary of the Arkansas-based corporation, entered a "no contest" plea to the felony elder abuse of Laura Simmons, a 102-year-old resident who died in August 2000 after suffering from severely infected bed sores due to poor nursing care, and William Marthai, who died in July 2001 after severe complications from improper tube feeding procedures. The corporation agreed to pay the statutory maximum $54,000 in fines and penalties; reimburse investigation costs of $532,927; and allow victims to seek restitution from the court.

In the civil enforcement action, Beverly agreed to chain-wide improvements to ensure quality care for nursing home residents and pay $2 million in civil penalties. The corporation would be subject to penalties of up to $6,000 per violation for failing to satisfy the requirements for improved quality of nursing home care. The permanent civil injunction stems from the more than 90 citations and deficiencies found in Beverly facilities statewide in the past three and a half years. Among the quality of care problems cited by state nursing home regulators were patients suffering from major bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, poor personal hygiene and improper medication.

Beverly agreed to a range of required improvements that include significantly increased staff training, adequate staffing levels, more attention to individual resident care, developing quality review procedures at each facility that include annual progress reports to the Attorney General and establishing a corporate level compliance committee to monitor and ensure that state and federal quality of care standards are being met. The corporation also agreed to notify the Attorney General's Office of any injury, death or accident that may have been caused by inadequate care. Highlights of the permanent injunction.

"Last year, I brought the first enforcement action holding the state's largest nursing home chain responsible for ensuring that Californians get quality care," Lockyer said. "Today's enforcement action continues my fight against elder abuse and reflects important teamwork with local prosecutors like Tom Sneddon in Santa Barbara. These enforcement remedies not only address past poor performance, but hold corporations responsible for delivering humane, compassionate and quality care now and in the future."

"While elder abuse is a statewide concern, it is fundamentally a community problem," Sneddon noted. "For this reason, it is important to work collaboratively with the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse to ensure that both global and local issues and concerns are addressed and appropriate sanctions and protections are fashioned."

The following summarizes the county-by-county list of Beverly nursing homes in California (number of facilities appears in parenthesis): Butte (1); Calaveras (1); Fresno (11); Kern (3); Los Angeles (11); Madera (2); Merced (2); Monterey (1); Napa (1); Orange (3); Riverside (3); Sacramento (1); San Bernardino (1); San Diego (1); San Joaquin (4); Santa Clara (3); Shasta (1); Siskiyou (1); Sonoma (3); Stanislaus (3); Tuolumne (1); and Ventura (2).

Patient Care Citations.

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