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Tuesday, November 6, 2001

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES SUIT AGAINST EAST TEXAS FACILITY

Numerous Violations Found at Pineland Health and Rehabilitation Center

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today filed suit against the operators of a Sabine County elder care facility for failing to meet minimum standards. The lawsuit seeks to collect penalties from Pineland Health and Rehabilitation Center and its management company, Healthcare Capital Management, LLC.

The suit is the result of an investigation by the Texas Department of Human Services. Agency inspectors found that facility administrators did not take the proper steps to assure the health and safety of their residents. Among the violations was a failure to provide adequate staffing. Witnesses told of a situation in which employees did not closely monitor a patient as ordered by her physician; staff found her without vital signs the next morning and did not perform CPR or call for emergency services. Some residents reported waits of up to 30 minutes after activating their call light.

Another violation involved the failure to follow procedures when dispensing medications. On one occasion, staff gave an antibacterial drug to a resident even though a doctor had not prescribed it. Staff also failed to properly document the time or amount of medications given to other residents. Investigators also found that food storage and preparation were handled under unsanitary conditions.

"I won't tolerate the mistreatment of senior Texans," Attorney General Cornyn said. "It offends me that the people who do such a poor job of operating these elder care facilities think they can get away with it. If you fail to care for the health and safety of your residents, my office will see to it that you pay for that failure."

If a jury finds against the operators of Pineland Health and Rehabilitation Center, they would have to pay penalties of $1,000 to $20,000 per violation for each day the facility failed to comply with the law.

Since January 1999, the Texas Attorney General's Office has collected almost $3 million in civil penalties that nursing home facilities have paid to the state.

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