| FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 4,
1999 - COMMERCE, GA
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Team Report Rips Care At BJC Nursing Home
Officials Say Complaints Are Overstated, Public Should
Wait Until Facility Files Its Response Before Making Judgment
Officials at BJC Nursing Home say they will contest a state
inspection that ripped the facility and said its poor care and
lack of cleanliness constitute "an immediate and serious
threat to resident health and safety."
The scathing report documented numerous allegations in which
staff failed to respond to medical needs of residents, of doctors
not being notified when patients had complications, chronic staff
shortages, inattention to incontinent residents, foul odors and
numerous other shortcomings.
The report was the result of a three-day regular
inspection last week by the Office of Regulatory Services of
the Department of Human Resources. The report recommends $3,000
per day fines since mid-June.
The report is a stunning setback for a facility that continues
to struggle for credibility in its community. Although the inspection
relates just to the nursing facility, the hospital shares in
its ill effects.
Complicating the impact is the failure or inability of the administration
to respond directly to the allegations spelled out in the 31-page
"On any case where anyone makes a complaint about patient
care, we are held (by law) from discussing it," said David
Lawrence, administrator of BJC Medical Center. "We are required
to protect patient confidentiality."
Lawrence and nursing facility administrator Bob Burns
both argue that the facility should not be judged until its response
to the complaint is completed, which will be next Monday. In
fact, they say that the document is not legally a public document
until their comments are attached.
Medical Center Official Statement
Concerning statements made
by the state conducting its annual survey of the nursing facility
at BJC Medical Center, we at the Nursing Facility want to stress
first and foremost our firm resolve to comply with and exceed
state regulations relating to the quality of long-term care.
We value the inspection process as a tool whereby citizens can
be assured that their health care institutions are worthy of
their support. Improvement of care at our nursing facility is
always an ongoing process.
However, we recommend that anyone who is concerned about the
quality of long term care at our Nursing Facility should reserve
judgment about the facility until the inspection process is completed.
We believe that certain incidents listed as deficiencies in the
recent report were noted in such a way as to create an inaccurate
impression of the facility, which unfairly casts the quality
of care at the Nursing Facility in a negative light. We are currently
reviewing the report and working on our response to the state,
and we are confident that we can resolve any questions the state
may have about our facility.
"We want the opportunity to respond correctly to the survey,"
said Burns. "Our understanding is that we have that opportunity
before the report becomes public."
But Lawrence said the nursing home is responding to the survey
first by moving on the areas of patient care cited by the report.
"Our job is to do the best we can in providing patient care.
We can argue (about the report) later." Lawrence said the
staff is responding to correct all of the problems cited in the
Officials say that the report is written in such a way as to
get the attention of nursing homes, but that the facility's contention
of what happened in some of the specific events "will have
an impact on the outcome of the inspection process," advises
Oscar Weinmeister, public relations director.
"Our people have been kicking in to help with the bugs at
the nursing home," Lawrence commented.
"Our employees are motivated," Burns stated. "They
are proud of the nursing home and they want the community to
feel the same way."
But there is no denying the hit that the facility's image has
taken. The report was made public by an Athens newspaper even
before BJC officials had a copy of the findings. And while the
medical center's lawyers say the document is not yet a public
record, the position of the Department of Human Resources is
that the public is welcome to see the report.
Specific allegations came both from observation of the inspection
team and reports from interviews with 31 residents or residents'
families. Among the allegations are:
·A resident with a history of surgery for bowel obstructions
was noted on July 7 by staff as having blood and blood clots coming
from her rectum. The issue was reported to the nurse on duty,
who ordered an enema, after which "additional blood was observed
coming forcefully out of the rectum." The matter was reported
to an administrative staff member, who did not inform the person
responsible for the resident's condition. The condition continued
to worsen until she was taken to the emergency room July 23.
making a regularly scheduled inspection last week, the state inspection
team returned Sunday to BJC Nursing Home.
·One patient with a chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease turned combative June 18. Nurses attempted to
contact her doctor, but got no return call. By June 21, the resident
was "wheezing, with cyanotic nail beds." She was transferred
to the emergency room, where she was found "unresponsive
to verbal, tactile and painful stimuli," and she died June
·On another patient, an area on his heel was discovered
open July 25 at 5:27 p.m. Two hours later the injury was not bandaged.
·A case in which staff noted that a resident was not eating
or drinking well at 9 p.m. June 18. Staff observed three days
later and four days later that the resident had poor oral intake,
and on June 23 it was observed that her blood pressure was low,
temperature slightly low and pulse was irregular and faint and
that she was "moaning out loud most of the shift." A
doctor saw her at 2 p.m., had her admitted to the hospital for
treatment of dehydration and a urinary tract infection. She died
June 27, and the diagnosis was dehydration and urinary tract infection.
Other allegations include a case where an X-ray ordered by a physician
was not done for 10 days, failure of the staff to notify a physician
of a resident's painfully swollen knee for seven and a half hours
(a bone was broken), persistent odors of urine observed by the
survey team and reported by residents, torn, broken and soiled
furniture and equipment, dirt, grime and stains, poisonous or
dangerous materials stored in unlocked cabinets or rooms, repeated
reports of inability to perform routine and necessary functions
due to limited staffing, failure to provide bed-time snacks as
required, and a complaint that it took an average of an hour and
a half for staff to respond to the "call" button.
In addition, the committee claimed that shortcomings pointed out
in a June inspection had not been addressed. The June survey had
also indicated staffing as an issue, along with timely notification
of physicians of problems, and failure to provide good nursing
services and services to maintain good grooming and personal hygiene.
Medical center officials say that some of the allegations are
wrong, and others are overstated or mis-characterized but, citing
patient confidentiality, said they could not discuss them.
"We will have a number of responses to each allegation listed,"
"We have a plan of correction and we are addressing all of
the concerns," Lawrence added.
Extreme Heat Causes Few Problems Here
- JEFFERSON -- As temperatures soared into
triple digits last week, residents may have found the weather
uncomfortable and unbearable. But according to county officials,
there haven't been very many problems associated with the rise
Officials at the Jackson County E-911 office in Jefferson report
no rise in the number of heat-related illnesses over the past
several months. In fact, they haven't seen any.
"I can't recall any heat-related calls," said LouAnn
David, E-911 assistant coordinator.
Even if the heat isn't causing medical problems, it is affecting
Last weekend's public safety day in Maysville was cut short because
of the rising temperatures. A rodeo at Chateau Elan in Braselton
also saw a lower than expected turnout, probably due to the sultry
County farmers are also taking a hit, though officials say this
year isn't any worse than years before.
"We always have hot and dry spells," said John Parks,
Jackson County Extension Agent. "I can recall worse summers.
By in large, it isn't a bad problem countywide."
Most farmers, especially chicken farmers, do have ways to combat
rising temperatures. Modern chicken houses have evaporative cooling
and tunnel cooling to keep the chickens cool.
"They have equipment that does a really good job at keeping
it cool," Parks said. "But when the electricity doesn't
work, then you have problems."
Power failure has already been blamed for one loss of nearly
15,000 chickens in Jackson County.
Countians may be in for a break from the worst of the heat. Earlier
this week, temperatures fell into the upper 80's. The National
Weather Service forecasts highs in the upper 80s through this
But until the sultry heat is gone for good, residents will just
have to stay indoors or put up with the heat.
- Linder To Be In Athens To Promote Tax Bill
- ATHENS -- Under the billing of a "fair
tax seminar," Rep. John Linder is planning a rally Wednesday
afternoon at the Classic Center to promote his legislation that
would remove the Internal Revenue Service and institute a national
The event will feature Linder explaining House Bill 2525.
People interested in attending the 4:00 to 5:00 session should
call 355-9909 or 335-1896 to make reservations. Space is limited.
Linder has estimated that a 23 percent national sales tax could
replace all income, estate and Social Security taxes.
Outside Water Restrictions
Trying to manage its water resources against
an increasing demand that is taxing its production capacity,
the city of Commerce has declared a "voluntary and mandatory
Implemented a week ago, the restrictions forbid outside watering
of yards and plants from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The plan also
calls for a 20 percent reduction in the average daily water use
for commercial and industrial water customers.
"We're not short of water," noted City Manager Clarence
Bryant. "The lake is as full as it's ever been. It's probably
up a half a foot."
The problem is that the city is allowed to treat 2.25 million
gallons per day under its state permit. It has been selling 2.2
million gallons per day during the past two weeks of hot, dry
"The plant has been running full time for seven to nine
days straight," said Bryant a week ago. "Our clear
well is at three feet (25 percent of capacity) and the levels
in our tanks continue to fall. We've got to have some help, so
we're asking for help."
Bryant says the city must keep its water tanks half full to handle
a large fire or a break in a water main. Normally, after 11 p.m.,
the city's pumps begin gaining on filling up the tanks, but in
the days just before the restrictions were handed down, the production
could never catch up with demand.
The policy limits public pools to operating three days a week.
Bryant calls the restrictions "phase one," indicating
that odd-even watering days could be implemented if the conditions
continue, and commercial and industrial customers could be asked
to curtail use by 50 percent.
The city figures that indoor use averages 1.3 to 1.4 million
gallons daily, based on winter usage. That means close to 900,000
gallons per day is projected for outdoor use, largely watering
grass and yards.
The situation is also affected by the fact that the city sells
water wholesale to the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.
As part of the curtailment, the city cut Jackson County's allotment
36 percent to 350,000 gallons a day, from 550,000 gallons per
The curtailment comes as the city prepares to open bids on construction
at its water plant that will almost double its capacity. When
the work is done, the city expects to have a state permit to
pump 4.4 to 4.5 million gallons a day from its reservoir on the
Commerce News Named
Best Small Georgia Weekly
The Commerce News was named Georgia's best
weekly newspaper of 4,000 or less circulation when winners of
the 1999 Better Newspaper Contest were announced Friday night
at the Georgia Press Association's annual convention in Destin,
The News captured the "General Excellence" category
for 1999 papers. In addition, The Jackson Herald won general excellence
to be declared the state's best large weekly newspaper. The other
MainStreet Newspapers, The Madison County Journal and The Banks
County News, tied for third place in general excellence in the
less-than-4,000 circulation class. MainStreet Newspapers won 40
awards in all.
The Commerce News captured first-place awards for its editorial
page, layout and design and religion coverage; second place for
sports section or pages and third place for editorial writing.
Editor Mark Beardsley won a first place for spot news photo and
a second place for feature writing.
The General Excellence category is determined by a points system
for other awards won in the contest.
Staffers responsible for layout and design include Beardsley,
Drew Brantley, sports editor; and April Murphy. Mrs. Murphy is
also in charge of The News' church page. Brantley is in charge
of all aspects of the sports pages.
The Jackson Herald won 16 awards, including first-place awards
in general excellence, local news coverage, lifestyle coverage,
community service, spot news photo, investigative reporting and
sports photo; second-place awards for newspaper promotion, business
coverage, news photo, editorial page, spot news photo; third place
in spot news photo, special sections and headline writing. General
Manager Mike Buffington captured third place in the serious column
The Banks County News also won first place in community service,
second in business coverage, sports writing, layout and design,
photo essay and sports photo and third in sports photo and information
The Madison County Journal won eight awards, including four first
place, one second place and three third place. They include first
place in feature photograph, sports section, sports photograph
and sports writing; second place in religion coverage; and third
place in general excellence, lifestyle coverage and photo illustration.
News - Commerce, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056
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