Posted March 24, 2016 9:12 PM ET; Last updated April 12, 2016 8:53 PM ET
Woodbriar Health Center Does Not Sound Too Healthy
The Massachusetts Department of Health ordered Woodbriar Health Center to stop accepting new patients and recommended fines as high as $10,000 a day. Regulators also threatened to terminate Woodbriar from the Medicare and Medicaid programs—which pay most of the center’s bills—if conditions do not improve by April, according to the Globe.
The health agency’s recommendations came after investigators looked into the death of a resident who fell the night of Feb. 8 and was discovered dead the next morning. The state says the facility’s staff failed to follow physician’s instructions to regularly check on the resident throughout the night. Woodbriar was already under investigation for another resident’s death in December after a nursing aid improperly used a mechanical lift and dropped her.
Regulators: Wilmington nursing home residents in ‘immediate jeopardy’
By Hunter Harris
March 24, 2016
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Mary E. Meuse
Mary Meuse was all set to visit her family on Christmas. Two days later, the 83-year-old resident of Woodbriar Health Center in Wilmington was dead.
A certified nursing assistant using a mechanical lift to move Meuse from her bed to a wheelchair Christmas morning violated a cardinal safety rule, according to a former Woodbriar staffer and a report the nursing home filed with Massachusetts regulators.
Most mechanical lifts require at least two people for safe operation, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But the 21-year-old nursing aide, with no assistance, improperly placed Meuse in the lift, according to the report, and Meuse slipped out, crashed to the ground, and broke both legs.
Meuse, who was on blood-thinning medication for heart problems, was not sent to a hospital until the next day. By then, she was bleeding internally. She died in the hospital Dec. 27.
The Christmas Day accident raises new concerns about the quality of care provided by the company that owns Woodbriar, Synergy Health Centers.
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Those same records show that the wrong urinary catheters were ordered for one patient and that a nurse failed to wash her hands before giving medicine to another patient.
The Globe has previously reported that the New Jersey-based company was able to secure a license for Woodbriar with little scrutiny from regulators.
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Meuse’s death certificate states she died from “complications of blunt force trauma” and pointed out that she was on blood-thinning medications for heart problems. The certificate noted that Meuse died as a direct result of her injuries.
Meuse’s daughter, Brenda Murray, said her younger sister, Sandra, visited the nursing home late Christmas afternoon and was assured by a staffer that X-rays taken after the accident showed no broken bones.
“We were told everything was OK,” Murray said.
It wasn’t until her phone rang at 8 a.m. the next day that she was told by a nursing home worker Meuse was in considerable pain and needed to go to the hospital immediately, Murray said.
“We didn’t find out her legs were broken until we got to the hospital,” Murray said.
Meuse, a retired nurse who once cared for nursing home residents, hadn’t wanted to create a fuss for her family on Christmas. A vibrant woman who loved all sorts of animals — she had a pet iguana in her assisted living apartment — Meuse said she didn’t want to be hospitalized on Christmas. On that point, Meuse’s family and the report Woodbriar submitted to state regulators agree.
Woodbriar’s report does not include a precise timeline of the events. It does, however, note that shortly after the accident, Woodbriar staff “advised” Meuse’s 22-year-old granddaughter, who was waiting to take her grandmother home for Christmas, that Meuse should be taken to the hospital for evaluation. The report notes that a staffer repeated the recommendation for hospitalization when the granddaughter called Murray to report what happened but says “all agreed with the resident’s wishes, and decided to remain at the facility.”
The report also indicates that the nursing home did not take X-rays until some time after the decision was made to not hospitalize Meuse on Christmas.
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Serious injuries and deaths from falls in nursing homes are not unique to Synergy-owned facilities. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 1,800 deaths every year involving nursing home residents who fell.
But Woodbriar stands out, with nearly twice the state and national averages for the percent of falls resulting in major injuries among long-term residents, according to the latest data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The numbers show that 5.9 percent of Woodbriar’s residents had a fall resulting in major injury, compared to 3 percent of nursing home residents statewide, between Oct. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. Synergy owned the nursing home during the final four months of that nine-month period.
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Registered nurses receive substantially more training and education than other nurses and are generally expected to do more critical thinking on the job.
“Additionally, [Woodbriar is] below the national and state average for nurse-aide hours,” Haemer said. “This is concerning as nurse aides provide the hands-on support for most nursing homes.”
It was a nursing assistant, working alone, who dropped Meuse from the mechanical lift. Haemer said most manufacturers require at least two workers to operate a mechanical lift — one to ensure the resident is safely secured in the sling-style machine, while the other operates the controls.
Kay Lazar can be reached at Kay.Lazar (at) globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.
Death at Wilmington nursing home raises new questions
By Kay Lazar