Lake Hallie Memory Care hired workers before criminal background checks were completed, leading to the facility for residents with dementia hiring a convicted sex offender.
That, and other violations found by inspectors, led the state to prohibit the facility from taking in new residents until all of the violations are addressed.
A survey by the Division of Quality Assurance of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services found a Chippewa Falls man convicted in 2001 of third degree sexual assault, a Class D felony, worked as a residential care coordinator at the facility at 4407 124th St., Chippewa Falls. “This conviction prohibited his employment in a position that allowed him regular, direct contact with facility residents,” the inspection said.
A care center administrator found out about the man’s conviction on Sept. 26, when the criminal background check became available. The man was then fired, said Mike McMurray, CEO of facility owners Memory Care Partners.
“From April 4, 2013 through Sept. 26, 2013, (the employee’s position) could reasonably be expected to provide him with opportunities for regular, direct, unsupervised contact with facility residents, at any time of the day or night,” the inspection found.
The man’s job title was environmental services coordinator and he was in charge of maintenance. McMurray said the man did the job well and there were no incidents while he worked at the 77-bed facility that serves people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The state inspections were from Sept. 24, 2013 to Jan. 9, 2014. Inspectors found two violations of caregiver background checks, 26 violations of the department’s residential facility rules and two violations of uniform licensing.
During inspections, McMurray state inspectors try to work with the facility, communicating as they find a deficiency. However, this time he said, “We did not benefit from very much communications from the state. We don’t know why.”
McMurray said the facility has addressed the state violations and has submitted a plan of correction. “We think those problems are behind us,” he said, adding the state returned to the facility this week for a reinspection.
McMurray also said a former administrator at the the facility was released. The former administrator disputes that, saying she resigned because of the care center's practices.
Among the violations, inspectors found the facility used electronic equipment for video images of residents, visitors and staff in the corridors of the home. No signs were posted that recordings were being done.
“The facility did not ensure and protect the residents’ right to privacy,” the inspectors found.
McMurray said the facility has video cameras at the front entrance and in hallways to monitor dementia patients, who sometimes wander. “You need to know where they are,” he said.
But while the cameras are allowed by the state, residents can not be recorded when they are getting medications, eating or are engaged in other activities. “That was an error on our part,” McMurray said. “We’re going to comply.”
For the violations, the state ordered the facility at 4407 124th St., Chippewa Falls to pay a forfeiture of $30,750.
“The facility did not appeal the Statement of Deficiency and paid the required forfeiture,” said Claire Smith, communications specialist for the Department of Health Services. Since the business did not appeal, it was given a 35 percent reduction of the forfeiture, to $19,987.50.
McMurray said the facility made the decision to pay the forfeiture because, even though there are other sides to the story, it was better to accept the state inspectors’ decision and correct the violations.
Among the other violations cited were not reporting incidents when law enforcement is called and not reporting incidents with serious injury.
In one instance, the inspection report said a resident crawled out of a room and was bleeding from the head. The resident was taken by ambulance to an emergency room for staples to close a head laceration.
The inspection found a lack of training for some employees. “According (to one worker), the only training she received was to explain how the facility’s assessment materials were used as rate-setting tools. (The worker) indicated that she had not completed training in assessment methodology, assessment of changes in condition, sources of assessment information, and documentation of the resident’s assessment, as required by (the state),” the inspection said.
The ownership interest in the Lake Hallie facility changed after it opened in 2013. Initially, Covenant Care, LLC owned interest in the license applicant, Hallie Assisted Living Partners. By May 25, 2013, Covenant no longer had an interest in the facility.
McMurray said the Lake Hallie care center is working on a separate issue from the survey. A company that helps to pay a subsidy for some of the center’s patients, called a managed care organization, terminated its contract with the care center. That group is in the process of attempting to move 12 residents elsewhere.
In general, McMurray said those residents don’t want to move and some have appealed the decision by the management care organization.
“What is occurring in our opinion is not in the best interest of our residents,” McMurray said, adding the care center plans to meet with residents Thursday.
Besides Lake Hallie, Memory Care Partners has facilities in Amery and Holmen, and plans to open another in Jefferson this year.