Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Gracedale again cited by Pa. DOH

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 by BERNIE O’HARE Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Jennifer D. Stewart-King, Gracedale’s interim administrator, told Northampton County Council June 5 that the nursing home’s census is “down a bit.” When asked why, her immediate response was, “five months of negative press.” A negative health inspection last December listed 11 deficiencies directly related to resident care.

There have also been complaints from Gracedale nurses themselves about staffing shortages. The facility’s overall Medicare rating, published online, has dropped to just two stars, or below average. Unfortunately for Gracedale, a state inspection April 25 found two more deficiencies. Once again, they were directly related to resident care, and include the same kind of deficiencies noted in December.

According to the state Department of Health, a physician ordered compression socks for a resident with blood clots. Nursing staff was directed to apply them in the morning and take them off at night, but failed to follow these orders. This resident had a history of falls, and a physician ordered bilateral floor mats to be placed on the floor when the resident is in bed. Nursing staff failed to follow this directive.

Another resident with arthritis and Parkinson’s was supposed to be bathed by nursing staff. When observed by state inspectors, he had facial hair and his fingernails were dirty. He said, “I like to be shaved but I don’t have a razor.”

Gracedale officials pledged to retrain the staff and audit periodically to ensure residents are receiving adequate care.

This is what they promised in December.

Things could be worse. Earlier this month, U.S. senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey released a “secret list” of nursing homes that are either in or are candidates for the federal Special Focus Facility (SFF) program. These are facilities that “substantially fail” to meet the required care standards and resident protections afforded by the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Though 16 Pennsylvania homes made the list, none are in Lehigh or Northampton County.