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