Ken Paxton

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Attorney General Abbott, Department of Aging and Disability Services Protect Residents in Collin County Nursing Home

AUSTIN Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) have taken emergency action to protect more than 40 seniors living in squalid conditions at the Amberwood Care Center, an assisted living facility in Collin County.

At the Attorney General’s request, Travis County State District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky issued a court order allowing the state to temporarily oversee operations at the nursing home in Celina. Emergency enforcement assistance was sought after a recent DADS inspection uncovered a complete breakdown at Amberwood’s Celina facility. The nursing home is charged with grossly inadequate medical care and unsanitary conditions that pose a risk to the health of its 42 residents. Many of those living at the facility were bedridden and are dependent on ventilators for their breathing.

Texans will not tolerate those who abuse and neglect our senior citizens, said Attorney General Abbott. These horrific conditions posed a severe threat to the health and safety of patients who deserve far better. The Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Aging and Disability Services are committed to protecting seniors and aggressively prosecuting those who neglect them.

The agreed temporary restraining order names David Crowson as temporary trustee to immediately assume responsibility for the needs of Amberwood patients. DADS issued $200,000 in emergency funds for much-needed supplies and nursing staff at the nursing home. Facility owner James W. Jewel is prevented from interfering with the trustee’s management of Amberwood and with the state’s ongoing investigation.

In their reports, DADS inspectors documented the facility’s inadequate resources and staffing, often leading to residents’ lives being placed at risk. Among their findings, DADS investigators documented the following:

Patients suffering from bed ulcers, infections and chronic pain. Several languished in various stages of dehydration.
Many residents told investigators that they were not being properly cared for, including an elderly woman who said she had to endure days of pain before a urinary tract infection was treated with antibiotics.
Investigators reported unsanitary conditions throughout the facility. One DADS report described a patient’s tracheotomy tube as being coated with crust. The same patient had a catheter inserted into his arm which was several days old, putting him at risk of serious blood infection.
Machines used to test blood sugar levels of diabetic patients were improperly calibrated.
Ventilators that provided critical breathing assistance were set at dangerously high oxygen flow pressures.
The facility had only 30 bedsheets for 42 residents.

DADS’s investigation of the facility is ongoing. The trustee, his staff of nurses and state nurses are currently attending to the immediate needs of the residents and securing their transfer to other licensed facilities.