California Nursing Home Chain Fined $1.3 Million

California Nursing Home Chain Fined $1.3 Million

Pleasant Care Corp., California’s second largest nursing home chain, has been fined $1.3 million for the widespread negligent care of its residents. The La Canada Flintridge firm, the parent company to Pleasant Care Corp., currently owns and operates 30 nursing homes statewide and has fielded more that 160 operational violations in the past five years. According to state health department official Brenda Klutz, the company has had, “serious compliance problems”.

The fine to Pleasant Care is part of state Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s aggressive efforts to punish nursing home authorities for inadequate care, in hopes of setting a new standard of care in California. The suit is being filed under the Unfair Business Practices Act.

A representative from Lockyer’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse commented, “When the operators of these nursing homes fail to fulfill their responsibility, and instead engage in practices that are more consistent with the warehousing of chattel than to the care of human life, they invite prosecution from our office.”

According to records, in addition to the death of two Pleasant Care patients who were severely neglected, the company has also had consistent reports of malnutrition, dehydration, improper administration of medicines, and negligent care of pressure wounds.

“Our investigation revealed that Pleasant Care Corp. grossly failed to fulfill their patient stewardship responsibility, and as a result, some of the defendants’ patients suffered needless harm,” commented Wong-Martinusen.

In addition to the $1.3 million fine, the 65-page injunction outlined in a Los Angeles County Superior Court includes a requirement for Pleasant Care to hire a government appointed independent monitor for it’s facilities, and also establishes whistle-blower protection for all staff members.

This litigation is the most recent in a series of efforts by Attorney General Lockyer to remedy California’s inadequate nursing home system. He has also successfully prosecuted Sun Healthcare Group of Irvine in 2001 and Beverly Enterprises, formerly the second largest California nursing home chain, in 2002. Both cases cited severe instances of elderly abuse.

Just before Lockyer was sworn into office, a report was released in 1998 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office alleging that one in every three nursing homes in California had reports of grave neglect and abuse problems.

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