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Colorado Springs nursing home license suspended after death, 100-plus residents forced to relocate

The Gazette - 2/13/2020

Colorado health officials suspended the Union Printers Home license Tuesday, forcing about 115 residents at the Colorado Springs nursing home and assisted living facility to relocate in coming weeks.

The suspension came after the Colorado Department of Health and Environment received a complaint about a female resident's death at the nursing home, 101 S. Union Blvd., last week, said Peter Myers, public information officer for the health department’s Health Facilities Division.

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Both a nursing home and an assisted living residence that are housed at the facility are under investigation, Myers said.

The decision to suspend operations was made after a "pattern of non-compliance," Myers said.

"This action suspends the facility’s license and begins the process of safely transferring residents to other facilities, effective immediately," department spokeswoman Jessica Bralish said in an email. "There have been numerous complaints and subsequent investigations at this facility in the past few years, most notably after a recent resident death. Findings from those investigations demonstrate that Union Printers does not have the ability to provide consistently safe care to its residents."

The department plans to work with sister agencies over the next 45 days to transfer the residents at Union Printers to other facilities, Bralish said.

"The department has acted swiftly and decisively to close Union Printer’s home to protect the welfare of its residents and will remain involved until all residents have safe placement at another health care facility," she said.

The Colorado Springs Police Department did not respond to The Gazette’s request for further information about the woman's death.

Union Printers Home representatives did not respond to The Gazette’s request for comment. Kansas-based Heart Living Centers LLC took over operations at the facility in 2014.

The state health and environment department's records show that a "revisit survey" was completed Jan. 3 for citations issued in October. They included neglect allegations, failure to provide assessments after falls and accidents, and a lack of monitoring and tracking pharmaceutical needs.

HISTORY OF CITATIONS

In the past five years, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has inspected Union Printers Home at least 63 times, according to department data. Of those, 20 have been in the past year. Such occurrences last year include:

In March, the state department found the facility failed to ensure a resident received accurate assessments and “timely treatment.” The resident’s condition declined and she was taken to a hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis, acute kidney injury and urinary tract infection.

In August, the facility was cited for failing to store, prepare and serve food under sanitary conditions in one of the kitchens. No one was designated to be in charge of the kitchen, the report found, prompting a citations including improper food temperatures and a severe sewage backup in a mop sink.

In October, a state report cited the facility for failure to perform nursing rounds, complete comprehensive pain assessments after witnessing a resident fall and failure to report changes in the resident’s condition to their doctor.

The department's January report said it found the facility to be back in compliance.

But Janet Scofield, a resident at Union Printers for the past 10 months, said Tuesday that issues at the facility have been "on-going" despite regular state involvement.

"I have spinal arthritis with degenerative disc disease," Scofield, a retired nurse, said. "They ran out of my pain medication five times in 10 months. I am far from the only resident that's happened to."

It was "literally impossible" for staff who were "spread thin" to keep up with the needs of the residents, Scofield told the Gazette.

''It's like you tell your landlord the plumbing needs to be fixed and them saying 'No, we're going to evict instead,' " she said. "What we were asking of them was simply to meet state and federal regulations ... we were asking them to meet the minimum standard of care. They would rather be fined by the state than fix things."

She worries about residents being moved.

"We're a community," Scofield said. "This is our village. We don't want to be split up all over Colorado Springs."

It's uncommon for the state department to shut down an entire facility, Myers wrote in an email, estimating the last summary suspension of a nursing home was about 8 years ago.

Medicare.gov records show the Printers Home facility was awarded two out of a possible five stars, earning it a “below average” rating. Facilities are rated based on health inspections, staffing and quality measures, according to the website.

The facility received one star out of five for its health inspection rating, putting it in the “much below average” category. The rating is based on each active provider’s three most recent health inspection surveys, as well as findings from the most recent three years of complaint information and inspection revisits, according to the website.

The website lists the facility’s total number of health citations at 29, above the Colorado average of 7.9 and the U.S. average of 8.2.

Union Printers Home has been assessed two federal fines in the past three years: one of $61,770 in March 2019 and one of $31,107 in November 2017, according to Medicare.gov.

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