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Posted on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Inspectors see improvements at nursing home where maggots were found in catheter

By Cindy Heflin

A Pittsfield Township nursing home where maggots infested a patient’s catheter has corrected substandard care issues and recently received a much-improved inspection report, a state official said Wednesday.

As a result of that inspection, Whitehall Healthcare Center, which has been on a federal agency’s list of “not-improved” special focus facilities, will likely be moved to the improving category on the list, said Mike Pemble, director of the bureau of health systems under Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Whitehall administrator John DeLuca declined to comment Wednesday about the discovery of maggots on the patient in September, but he released a statement saying the matter was immediately corrected.


The Whitehall Healthcare Center building in Pittsfield Township.

“At Whitehall Healthcare Center of Ann Arbor, the comfort, care and well-being of our residents and patients are our top priority,” the statement said. “While federal regulations prevent us from providing detail on this specific patient, we can tell you that the matter was addressed immediately after it was identified. Any substandard care is unacceptable. We have and will continue to work with our caregivers and regulators to review all of our practices to ensure our residents receive the highest quality of care.”

Whitehall, 3370 East Morgan Road, has been on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services special focus list for six months. Facilities are put on the list because they have:

  • More problems than other nursing homes (about twice the average number of deficiencies),
  • More serious problems than most other nursing homes (including harm or injury experienced by residents), and
  • A pattern of serious problems that has persisted over a long period of time (as measured over the three years before the date the nursing home was first put on the SFF list).

Because of the maggot incident, Whitehall is currently on the not-improved category on the list for nursing homes that have failed to show significant improvement since being named a special focus facility. Michigan has four nursing homes on the special focus list at any one time. Homes on the list get two regular inspections a year from the state rather than one.

To get off the list, a nursing home has to have two consecutive regular inspections without any serious problems as well as not having any serous problems found by complaint-triggered inspections during that time.

Pemble said those in charge of Whitehall are committed to bringing up the level of patient care. The nursing home paid a $17,600 fine as a result of the incident involving the maggots and for a 22-day period was not allowed to receive Medicare or Medicaid payments for new admissions, Pemble said.

Marsha Austin, a communications specialist representing Whitehall, said nursing home administrators welcome the oversight provided as a result of being on the list. She said they hope the nursing home will be off the list as soon as possible, which would be another six to nine months.

“It’s an opportunity for them to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to quality and patient satisfaction,” she said.

She also said the nursing home reported the maggot incident to the state.

This is not the first trouble for the nursing home this year. In July, a worker was arrested and accused of shoving a 77-year-old resident of the facility. The victim did not require medical attention, police said.

The inspection that found the maggots came about because of a complaint to the agency, Pemble said. The incident came to light earlier this week in a press release from Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. The federally funded non-profit agency also highlighted a case in Oakland County in which a nursing home resident’s airway became obstructed by maggots. That nursing home was also fined and corrected its problems, Pemble said.

The nonprofit group is calling for better oversight of nursing homes and said these two examples, while extreme, are far from the only cases of neglect at nursing homes in Michigan. It said it is preparing a report detailing 40 examples of abuse and neglect in Michigan nursing homes.

In the Whitehall case, staff discovered a patient at the nursing facility in September had maggots in and around a catheter. Despite the discovery, the woman did not receive a shower until several hours later, a press release from the agency said. She was later treated at a hospital and discovered to have a hip fracture that was causing her severe pain. The resident nurse manager was instructed by nursing home staff to document the discovery as dead tissue rather than maggots, the release said.

In the Oakland County case, reported to have occurred at Cambridge South Nursing Home in Beverly Hills, maggots obstructed the airway of a patient with a tracheotomy tube. Emergency medical service personnel discovered the maggots when they suctioned the woman’s airway.

Pemble called the two incidents “appalling," but he criticized the agency for using extreme examples to cast the industry in a negative light. He said most nursing homes strive to provide excellent care.

“We have 440 nursing homes in Michigan. It’s not fair to cast a negative light on all of them because of two incidents that they decided to go public with.”

Tom Masseau, government and media relations director for MPAS, said the agency isn’t trying to put the industry in a bad light, but that the incidents needed to be reported.

“It happened,” Masseau said. “Did we highlight them to get people’s attention? Yeah … it needed to be highlighted.” He acknowledged that the state forced the nursing homes to take corrective action, but he said the neglect should have been reported to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement and that licensed health-care workers are required to report such incidents.

He also said there should be consequences for those who fail to take proper care of patients.

“We all have a role in this in making sure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect, whether they’re in the nursing home or in the community,” he said.



Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

Yes, indeed to the last comment. Lloyd Johnson must be turning in his grave. My dad worked for Llyod and Mabel and the place was spotless and the patients well cared for. He was proud to work in a facility where there were no smells and the patients were treated so well. Betty Drummond, the wife of EMU's Dean Drummond of the college of arts and sciences, worked in physical therapy there. The would be horrified and appalled to read these tragic stories now. Dad, if he were alive wouldn't believe it. Of course, that was back in the seventies and early 80's.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 4:15 a.m.

How very sad to hear this. I used to work at Whitehall as a CENA when Lloyd and Mabel Johnson owned it, and it wasn't as reported above back then.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

I am sorry to admit that my Dad recieved "rehab" there several times over the course of 3 years. I was far from impressed each time but the last time was the worst! He stayed a little over a week and was never taken out of his room or bed by a staff member. He began getting bed sores and though he was in to "rehab" his condition was getting worse. He would cry eachnight when I spoke to him on the phone. When I went to visit him after a week I was just so disgusted with the condition of the facility. The place smell of urine so strong that I would have to cover my face as I walked down the hall. I couldn't find a single staff member to address my concerns with so I packed up my dad and busted him out! I walked out of that facility with all of his belongings a total of 3 trips to the car and back to get him and not a single person noticed! This was by far the most depressing place I have ever been.

Jamie Riddle

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

I know someone that was there for 3 days and then the family removed them, because the staff wouldn't even help him up to the bathroom. I think this place should be shut down and every employee brought up on federal neglect charges.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.

Maggots in a catheter? .....just how what do you have to do to show "improvement" over maggots in a catheter?? Seems like that bar is set pretty low.

Debbie Clark

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

Whitehall has had many problems for many years. Just walk in and take a smell at the disgust that is allowed to continue to happen there. I have many concerns for the residents that remain at Whitehall. I am grateful that my family member is no longer there. I agree that the state should have taken away their license and not allow them to be in business. Please help the poor soles that remain and SHUT THE PLACE DOWN!


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

Mr. DeLuca, if your statements were factual, these circumstances and the history of violations would have never occurred.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

No offense, but that is disgusting!


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

Oh gawd...If anyone EVER tries to put me in one of those places, I'm just going to get on my horse ans ride away.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

I would hope someone would just "put me down" before leaving me defenseless in a place like this.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

This is the grossest thing I've ever heard IN MY LIFE!!! GAAAAA!!!!


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

Shame on for sitting on this long-festering story until now. I assume that it is no coincidence that it was covered yesterday by Detroit TV station WXYZ (the ABC affiliate) and so could no longer be suppressed.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

Nice use of "long-festering"!! Ugh.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

"improvements" post -maggot?? Sounds like there was nowhere to go but up!! Horrifying story.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

that place should have been closed and locked up tight FOREVER.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

This second story feels a bit crazy making. Would have been nice to have more information on where the system broke down (not enough CNAs?) and what their care plan is for correcting it, rather than a nonspecific quote from admin saying that that comfort care is a top priority. Maggots don't suddenly appear, and something like that does not happen from the lack of oversight by one caregiver on one day - its indicative of a systemic problem. And then to put an advertisement for the place as the accompanying photo? Really? Are we really already tying this up with a nice pretty bow?

Doug Boynton

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

Great headline material to work with, here - and a nice job. I mean, can you read that headline, and not want to read the whole story?


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Neglect to the point where a fly could lay eggs on a catheter, the eggs could hatch and maggots be swarming is criminal. The patient also had an untreated broken hip and was in severe pain. How did the break occur? Why wasn't s/he taken to the hospital to be checked. This is appalling. If a child were found, in his/her own home in this condition, the child would be taken from the the parents. I don't understand how this nursing home could be found to be substandard over several years and still have its license. My taxes (medicare/medicaid) are going to pay for this kind of abuse and neglect. I seriously object to that. Criminal negligence charges should be filed against the owners and managers of such institutions.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

Maggots?!? In a catheter?!!?! And the administrator "declined to comment"... White-Hell is more like it!

Angil Tarach-Ritchey RN, GCM

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

What does it take to understand that these owners, administrators and staff should never be allowed to continue in this field? I read things like "our residents continue to receive the highest quality of care" and "opportunity for them to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to quality and patient satisfaction". "Continue" to receive high quality care? "Ongoing" commitment to quality? Are you kidding??? They have demonstrated repeatedly that the only time they act to provide any type of care at all is when the state is breathing down their necks. A facility that gets even close to the deplorable conditions and obvious neglect of their residents that they have, do not have the ability, commitment, compassion, and knowledge to even begin to start providing consistent quality of care. Our elderly deserve better protections than this! Just imagine leaving your Mom in a facility that was so neglectful she has had no hygiene to the point that maggots have taken up residence on her body! It will be no surprise that this facility will again be in the news for neglect and/or abuse after this incidence is out of the radar and forgotten. Will it be in a few months, next year, 2 years from now? Who can say, but it will happen again. Whose Mom, Dad, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or friend will be the subject of the next news report? Where do we stand as a community that doesn't advocate in rage over the horrible treatment, or lack thereof, of these frail and vulnerable elderly people, to shut this place down so this doesn't happen to anyone else? The motivation of this owner has never been about care or this would have never happened! I am continuing to offer my assistance and the assistance of Visiting Angels to help any family who wants to move their loved one from these deplorable conditions and treatment.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 2:15 a.m.

@Right of Center...sounds like you are a little defensive about you decision to place your loved one at Whitehall. I understand this position as I too had to leave my own father there for a period of time. However, anybody who has ever been to whitehall knows that most people if given a choice wouldn't leave their dog there. It is not a place that any living person should ever have to go. I can't imagine that there is a single staff member that didn't realize the amount of neglect that goes on in this place. If you stand by silent and choose to ignore what is going on around you, then you for sure deserve to lose you lisence. I have come to terms with my guilt about placing my Dad there but knowing that our elderly and diabled are still suffering in this horror of an institution keeps me awake at night.

Gretchen Ridenour

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 9 p.m.

I've been a nurse for 27 years, fortunately never in a nursing home. I don't know what to say about Whitehall other than "This makes me so sick I want to vomit".

Right of Center

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

My father was a resident at Whitehall. As a middle class family we did the best we could to supplement his care and advocate for him. Some of the staff was indifferent and others where wonderful.Where would the "Visiting Angels" suggest these people be moved to? Most Whitehall residents are on Medicare/Medicaid. Good luck trying to find affordable care in the area with conditions up to Ms. Tarach-Ritchey's standards. Has Ms. Tarach-Ritchey visited facilities in poor communities and found excellent conditions? Does she really think all the staff at Whitehall "should never be allowed to continue in this field"? Please don't blame the little people. She should know the thanklessness for those who care for elderly in our society. Maybe Visiting Angels could volunteer their services in facilities such as Whitehall.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

I agree 100% with Angil. My own comment was not worded strongly enough. My Mom, who lived with us for three years until her death last month from complications from Alzheimer's disease, was not placed in a facility because my brothers and I were worried we would have to check up on Mom every day anyway. So, Mom lived with us. It is my understanding that a fly will lay eggs on dead tissue only. I am still in disbelief about this story and am sitting here in tears about other patients who might be neglected right now, but no one is checking.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

I don't understand how a fly could lay eggs inside a catheter. I also don't understand how there could be any dead tissue that a fly would want to lay eggs in. And I don't understand why a catheter is not checked every day. Mistakes happen even in the best facilities. But neglect is another matter. I don't understand how the presence of maggots is not cause for severe penalties.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

^ Meant to say I AM surprised by the improvement of this facility.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

I'm not surprised by this. My Father had to stay there a few weeks for rehab 2 years ago and it was horrible. Our family visited him multiple times every day and witnessed alot of neglect. We were very active in his care but we still believe he was abused. (He had memory problems.) We got him out of there as quickly as we could but not before he got a staph infection in the wound from his "accident".


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 10:52 a.m.

If Whitehall was a person's first experience visiting a nursing home, one would wonder if nursing homes are ever inspected in this state.