Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Disciplined nursing home to add staff

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The Bethesda nursing home that has been disciplined for two respiratory deaths this year is planning to add a staff development coordinator, an apparent reaction to one death in which caregivers said they did not know how to clear a breathing tube.

Cheryle A. Mines, administrator of Bethesda Health and Rehabilitation, sent a letter to the nursing home’s residents and families describing staff changes and inviting them to a ‘‘community family forum” Tuesday night to discuss them. The meeting took place after The Gazette deadline.

‘‘Our 2007 Federal⁄State annual survey has focused us to move more aggressively on some changes that we believe will improve our quality service delivery,” the Mines letter reads.

The staff development coordinator will be a registered nurse. The nursing home is also adding an assistant medical director, the letter reads.

‘‘We are excited about this new professional care-giving team,” John Spadaro, regional vice president of Sava Senior Care, told The Gazette, through a spokeswoman. ‘‘We believe this team will move toward our goal of regulatory compliance.”

Sava, based in Atlanta, owns Bethesda Health. The privately held company operates 185 nursing homes in 18 states, including nine others in Maryland. It also operates Arcola Health and Rehabilitation Center in Silver Spring.

In addition, Bethesda Health has hired a new director of social services and a new food services director, according to the Mines letter.

Bethesda Health, at 5721 Grosvenor Lane, has been inspected three times this year by the state Office of Health Care Quality, uncovering several deficiencies in care and leading to $50,000 in fines. If violations are found in a follow-up inspection — set to take place before mid-October — the nursing home could lose its ability to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid payments.