Facility denies intentional wrongdoing in deaths

Thursday, April 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The owners of a north Tulsa nursing home that was fined by the Oklahoma Department of Health deny any intentional wrongdoing in the deaths of two women.

The Health Department fined Green Country Care Center $43,150, which owners have refused to pay.

Investigators alleged that the facility, which cares for patients with dementia, ``failed to investigate, report and take corrective action in response to unusual incidents related to the use of bed rails'' for three residents.

The agency cited the alleged deficiencies after the deaths of Ruth Brown Light, 97, and Ethel Charity Morrison, 87. The women were found dead with their heads either against or along their bed rails.

The state medical examiner's office amended the causes of death as ``undetermined.''

Light's Feb. 17, 2001, death certificate originally listed her cause of death as cardiac arrest due to respiratory failure. For Morrison, her Dec. 14, 2000, death certificate initially listed her cause of death as cardiovascular disease.

Another unnamed Green Country Care resident also was jeopardized by restraints, state officials said. Bedrails in nursing homes are commonly referred to as restraints.

While Light and Morrison were approved for the use of bed rails, nursing home aides were supposed to check on the two residents every 30 minutes during the night.

Checks weren't made at those precise intervals on the nights of the two women's deaths, the Health Department said.

Peak Medical Corp., the Albuquerque, N.M.-based company that owns and manages Green Country, is appealing the fine. A hearing on the appeal is set for June 10-12 in Oklahoma City.

``Bed rails had absolutely nothing to do with the two deaths. There's no basis for the deficiencies cited by the Health Department,'' Scot Sauder, Peak's general counsel in Albuquerque, said.