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Published: Tuesday, 7/25/2006

Facility where resident fatally struck is penalized

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hawkins, left, and Konwin. Hawkins, left, and Konwin.
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A South Toledo nursing home where a patient is accused of beating his roommate with a towel bar, later causing his death, agreed to pay a reduced fine of nearly $60,000 and put in place corrective actions for deficiencies found in state surveys.

Foundation Park Care Center's payment for new admissions under Medicare and Medicaid programs was reinstated and their provider agreements under those programs will not be terminated because the nursing home has achieved substantial compliance with federal requirements.

The Ohio Department of Health approved the facility's plan of correction regarding the deficiencies, which ranged from abuse to housekeeping issues. The facility questioned the abuse citation through an informal dispute resolution process, but the state agency upheld its finding, Sara Morman, a health department spokesman, said.

"We're back in business, and we're accepting new residents," Eric Valuckas, the facility's administrator, said. "We're trying to move forward."

Foundation Park, 1621 South Byrne Rd., came under scrutiny when Norbert Konwin, 77, died March 24 - two weeks after police said he was assaulted by his roommate, Sharon John Hawkins, 62.

Mr. Konwin, who had Alzheimer's disease, sustained fractured ribs, a fractured nose, and a collapsed lung.

Mr. Hawkins, who was diagnosed with dementia and has a history of assaults at the nursing home and other facilities, was charged with murder.

In May, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Mr. Hawkins was not competent to stand trial and ordered him into treatment. Another hearing to determine competency is scheduled Oct. 20.

Authorities learned of the assault after Mr. Konwin's death. Foundation Park did not notify city police or the state health department of the attack.

The state agency said it would cut off Medicare and Medicaid payments to the facility for new admissions on May 6. It recommended the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services penalize the facility $91,800 and terminate its Medicare and Medicaid provider agreements Oct. 7.

The federal agency concurred with the recommendations. However, it did not terminate the provider agreements because the state found the nursing home was back in compliance, Bob Herskovitz, spokesman for the Medicare/Medicaid agency, said.

According to a June 29 letter from the federal agency, the denial of payment for new admissions was discontinued May 18 - the day Foundation Park achieved substantial compliance.

Mr. Herskovitz said the facility will submit a proposal on how it plans to pay $59,670 in fines - a reduced penalty because it did not appeal.

"If it did not appeal, it is entitled to a 35 percent reduction," he said, adding the reduction is available to all federal program facilities.

Mr. Valuckas said "we've agreed to accept the 35 percent discount," in part, because the cost to appeal could be more.

Foundation Park's plan of correction includes adding more monitoring staff to ensure resident safety from people with aggressive behavior and reassessing residents with the potential for such behavior.

In-service training was provided on various topics, including how to deal with aggressive residents and reporting and investigating abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of residents' property.

Corrective actions will be reviewed by the facility's appropriate committees during their regular meetings.

However, the plan also states no one saw the assault on Mr. Konwin, no one saw a resident hit him, and he "never mentioned a name of an alleged perpetrator."

Allegations of abuse to residents were not reported to the state health department "because the facility's Director of Nursing did not believe the abuse occurred," the plan continues.

The state report indicated that after the attack on Mr. Konwin, Mr. Hawkins told the director of nursing he hit his roommate because he did not like him in his bed. When the director of nursing told him Mr. Konwin was going to the emergency room, Mr. Hawkins said, "I hope he dies," according to the report.

Mr. Valuckas declined comment about the incident because of the criminal case and a lawsuit Mr. Konwin's widow filed against the nursing facility, its parent company, and its executive officers.

Since the assault, the facility had one substantiated complaint pertaining to a resident's foot care and shoes.

Contact Christina Hall at:

chall@theblade.com

or 419-724-6007.



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