State Health Department closes nursing home - owner protests

Tuesday, March 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VIAN, Okla. - More than two dozen people have been transferred out of a boarding home for the mentally handicapped that was shut down by the state Health Department due to allegations of poor supervision and conditions.

The 40-bed Evening Shade Residential Care facility in eastern Oklahoma was shut down March 7 after acting Health Department director Jerry Regier signed an emergency order.

Regier described the health and safety violations at the home as ``numerous, hazardous and ongoing.''

Among the deficiencies noted by state investigators was a failure to do criminal background checks on employees, exposed electrical outlets in a shower and a failure to provide three meals a day to all residents.

Investigators also found that the facility staff failed to prevent abuse among patients, food wasn't stored properly, nothing was done about insects in the home's dining area, and medications weren't properly labeled or documented.

Two dozen of the home's residents were moved from Vian to the Bradford Place residential care facility in Poteau.

Darren Burgess, the Health Department's assistant deputy director for protective health services, told The Oklahoman that Evening Shade has been unlicensed for the past 14 months due to repeated failures to address shortcomings.

The home's owner, Edna Lee Keaton, said Tuesday that most of the allegations are unfounded and are the result of a ``personal vendetta'' held by a state inspector against her daughter-in-law, who she said was an administrator at the home.

Keaton's attorney, Dyke Hoppe of Edmond, said the closing is being appealed.

A hearing is scheduled for March 28 at 1:30 p.m. at state Health Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.

``Our goal is to present a case showing that Evening Shade didn't deserve to be closed,'' Hoppe said. ``There was no emergency. We hope to get re-licensed and opened again.''

The Health Department oversees about 140 boarding homes in Oklahoma.