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Cumberland County care facility faulted for failing to prevent sexual assaults

Patriot-News - 7/10/2018

July 10--An assisted living and personal care facility in Hampden Township could lose its license after the state concluded it failed to protect residents from sexual assaults by a male resident with dementia, and hasn't made sufficient progress toward correcting problems.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in May banned Brookdale Grandon Farms from taking in new residents, and said it will revoke Brookdale's license for what it called "gross incompetence, negligence and misconduct."

Brookdale is appealing, saying it has made progress in addressing the problems, and the health and safety of residents are not at risk. Brookdale also says revoking its license could cause harmful disruption for residents, who would have to move to other homes.

About 100 people live at Brookdale, a for-profit facility which provides help with daily living and things like taking medications. Brookdale also has a secure unit capable of caring for 30 people with dementia, which involves severe loss of memory and thinking skills, and is usually caused by Alzheimer's disease.

According to the DHS, a male resident with dementia committed nine sexual assaults involving things such as grabbing the breasts of female residents between June 12 and July 16 in 2017. For example, the DHS says the resident "grabbed at the breast areas" of three female residents on June 12, touched a female resident on the breast on June 13, and was found in the bed of a female resident on June 13. The assaults took place in the dementia unit.

In some of the other incidents, the man put his hand down the shirt of a female resident on July 2, causing her to scream for help, and placed a female resident's hand inside his unzipped pants on July 4, according to DHS.

DHS says Brookdale violated the law by not protecting the female residents from the assaults, and by not reporting them to oversight agencies.

DHS further says the resident with dementia grabbed the arm of a female resident on May 15, 2017, causing a skin tear, and Brookdale failed to report the incident.

The state is also fining Brookdale $970 per day. In an appeal, Brookdale is asking for relief from paying the fine pending a final outcome, saying the fine jeopardizes Brookdale's ability to complete the required improvements.

DHS as of late Tuesday morning had yet to respond to questions posed by PennLive on Monday about things including the timeline for setting the appeal, and when a license revocation would become official. A Brookdale spokeswoman declined to answer specific questions from PennLive. She wrote that Brookdale is "continuing to discuss and work toward a resolution" with DHS and no hearing has been scheduled.

"It's important that you know that our residents' health and safety are our top priorities, and we are working diligently to support this focus. The community continues to operate under its license and is focused on providing care and services without interruption to our current residents," she wrote.

Brookdale is part of a chain based in Wisconcin. Brookdale at Grandon is located within an upscale housing development off Creekview Road. It is licensed to accomodate 120 people.

The demential unit was serving 28 people as of February, according to a DHS inspection report. Ninety-one residents were 60 or older, 28 needed help with getting around, and three had a disability. The facility also had six residents being cared for under hospice, which is for people in the final stages of terminal illness, and had 15 hospice residents during the previous year.

According to a review of state inspection reports and correspondence between DHS and Brookdale, DHS apparently became aware of the sexual assaults in November. It then required Brookdale to carry out a plan of correction, which included using a DHS-approved outside agency to train staff on things like protecting residents from such assaults, and requirements for reporting assaults.

Over the course of subsequent inspections carried about between November and April, DHS apparently concluded Brookdale made adequate progress on some but not all parts of the plan of correction.

Beyond the sexual assaults, DHS had cited Brookdale for additional problems, including another one related to the man with dementia who committed the assaults, and who was subsequently forced to leave the facility. According to DHS, his record failed to document the date he was discharged from the facility, his destination, or the reason for the discharge.

According to a Brookdale correspondence with DHS, on Aug. 16, 2017 Brookdale had notified a person with power of attorney for the dementia resident that "due to his behaviors" he must move to "a more appropriate community" within 30 days. The person subsequently said she could not do so until Dec. 6, at which point the resident was discharged home with a caregiver, Brookdale said.

DHS also cited Brookdale for allowing five employees who hadn't completed state-required training to administer medications to residents on various dates in December.

In its appeal, Brookdale argues it has made substantial progress in carrying out the plan of correction, and DHS lacks sufficient cause to take such extreme actions.

"Whatever the merits of the allegations regarding past incidents, Brookdale is committed to enforcing and maintaining substantial compliance with the regulatory licensure requirements for personal care homes, and has implemented a number of changes to enhance compliance," a Brookdale lawyer wrote to Teresa Miller, the secretary of the DHS.

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(c)2018 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Visit The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) at www.pennlive.com

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