Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spokane nursing home investigated after dehydrated patient dies

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Staff at a Spokane nursing home with a history of problems failed to monitor and give enough fluids to a dehydrated resident, who subsequently died, according to state records obtained today by The Inlander.

The facility, Franklin Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center, is prohibited from accepting new patients until state regulators are satisfied the nursing home has addressed its substandard care. Regulators have also imposed a $3,000 fine.

Franklin Hill is operated by Milwaukee-headquartered Extendicare, which owns 264 care centers in North America, including Cherrywood Place in north Spokane, the Gardens in Spokane Valley and Ivy Court and Lacrosse Health and Rehabilitation Center in Coeur d'Alene.

“They [at Franklin Hills] have a history of noncompliance,” says Shirlee Steiner, regional administrator for DSHS Residential Care Services, which inspects nursing homes and long-term care facilities for licensing. “At one point, they were a special care facility, and that’s where you have more frequent investigations … mandated by the federal government.”

In this latest incident, an unidentified patient was admitted to the facility for rehab after several falls, according to state records. On June 3, he became ill and two nurses noticed the change in his condition, asking a third nurse to follow up. That nurse, identified only as "Staff B" in records, failed to further evaluate the man or contact a doctor.

The following day, June 4, a nursing assistant told Staff B that the patient hadn’t urinated during the night or that day, records state. Staff B inserted a catheter, no urine was returned, and a doctor was notified. An IV was ordered and for the next 17 hours no one checked on how much fluid the patient was getting.

At 5:45 am on June 5, the patient was found vomiting and in respiratory distress. Someone called 911 and the patient was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with septic shock, pneumonia, kidney failure and respiratory failure. He died later that day. Follow-up investigation later determined the patient didn't receive the prescribed amount of fluid.

Trent Cunningham, administrator of Franklin Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center, tells The Inlander in a written statement:

“Our primary concern is, and has always been, the health and well-being of our residents. Due to privacy laws, we are unable to provide specific details regarding the services provided to any resident in our care. As is their standard practice, the state will return to the center to verify that we have addressed their concerns appropriately.”

Franklin Hills was the subject of a 2007 Spokesman-Review article, which noted the facility then had the worst record in the county for resident care. The facility’s problems in 2006 resulted in $4,500 in fines as well as a “stop-placement” order on new patients.

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Jacob H. Fries

Jacob H. Fries served as editor of the Inlander from 2008-2021. In that position, he oversaw editorial coverage of the paper and occasionally contributed his own writing. Before joining the paper, he wrote for numerous publications, including the Tampa Bay Times, the Boston Globe and the New York Times. He grew...