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State Investigates Wausau Nursing Home

Nov 1, 2003 | AP

State regulators have cited a nursing home for two violations of abuse that included harm to residents, authorities said Friday.

The state Bureau of Quality Assurance investigated North Central Health Care Center, which operates the home, after an anonymous complaint, said Joanne Powell, the agency's regional field operations director in Rhinelander.

The nursing home faces potential fines of more than $50,000 for the violations, she said.

The allegations, for incidents in September and October, were serious because they were made against the nurses in charge of the unit, the very supervisors who must investigate such allegations, Powell said.

"It hints, when you see them back-to-back at this severity, of a system problem that they are going to have to correct," Powell said.

Tim Steller, North Central's chief executive officer, said staff members have been taught to respond to complaints quickly and thoroughly.

In one incident, the nursing home allegedly failed to protect a 75-year-old resident from a nurse who roused the sleeping man, chastised him for wetting his pants and then ordered staff members to forcibly change his clothes and clean him.

The second incident involved a 64-year-old developmentally disabled woman who was allegedly shaken, yelled at and sprayed in the face with saline solution to keep her awake during the day.

In the past two years, the Bureau of Quality Assurance has cited 36 cases of actual harm to residents at 44 nursing homes in 15 counties regulated by the bureau's northern regional office, Powell said.

In another development, state regulators found the North Central nursing home improperly administered medications to residents and several nurses did not know how to administer a certain drug for diabetics, reports show.

The state requires nursing homes to maintain a medication error rate of less than 5 percent. An October survey at North Central documented six errors in the 49 times investigators observed nurses administering medication an error rate of 12 percent, records show.

The facility was cited for those medication deficiencies, but there is no fine for those citations, Powell said.

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