Home for Retarded, Disabled to Close

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Giant nursing home chain operator Beverly Enterprises is closing a large facility for the retarded in Lynwood after receiving critical inspection reports citing substandard living conditions, lack of staffing and failure to provide proper care and treatment of clients.

Beverly officials say they are closing the Lynwood Care Center, licensed for 128 clients, because the company cannot afford to provide the quality of rehabilitation programs demanded by new, stricter federal regulations and not because of poor conditions found by state licensing officials during inspections in September, October and December.

The facility is tentatively scheduled to close March 16.

Licensing officials recommended on Dec. 27 that Medi-Cal funding--which pays for all patients at Lynwood--not be renewed because of the facility's failure to provide sufficient staff and "active treatment services" for its clients, many of whom are profoundly retarded as well as physically disabled.

"We felt they were wrong in their findings," said Bill Mathies, Beverly's vice president of operations.

Mathies said the company decided, nonetheless, to close Lynwood Care Center instead of appealing the Medi-Cal cutoff because of heavy financial losses at the facility.

The 69 clients still living at Lynwood Care Center will be transferred to state institutions and other large private facilities for the retarded, some of which also have been repeatedly cited for providing allegedly poor care.

For example, some of the patients will be transferred to Beverly's Glenridge Center in Glendale, said Dexter Henderson, executive director of the South-Central Regional Center, the agency responsible for placing many of the clients.

Inspectors cited that facility last August in more than 40 pages detailing allegedly poor living conditions and treatment.

Among their findings, inspectors reported cockroach and fly infestations, overflowing garbage bins, threadbare linen, clients who were shoeless, poorly dressed and who were left to idly sit in rooms; a client who was left for hours in a wet diaper and clients who were rapidly force-fed.

"A . . . profoundly mentally retarded female," said an Aug. 21 report, "was fed her entire breakfast . . . in four minutes. . . ."

A Beverly spokesman said Glenridge Center has since been praised by state officials for a "magnificent turnaround" and point to a vastly improved inspection report on Nov. 20.

Steven Pavlow, administrator of Glenridge Center, said the facility has hired additional staff members and now provides increased care and instruction for clients.

Beverly officials announced similar changes at the Lynwood Care Center two years ago.

Jack MacDonald, a Beverly vice president, said the company had installed a new administration at the facility to deal with its problems and implement an "active treatment program."

Last fall, inspectors filled 35 pages with allegations of poor conditions and treatment at the facility, including a cockroach infestation, peeling paint, food-encrusted wheelchairs, patients who were dressed in ragged, dirty clothes and were allowed to hurt themselves without intervention by staff members.

"I will not tell you that this has not been an up-and-down facility," said Beverly spokesman Bill Ihle. He said conditions at Lynwood Care Center had been improved even though the facility will be closed.

Beverly officials maintain that the Lynwood Care Center's problems are symptomatic of all such facilities because they say Medi-Cal payments of $62 per day are not adequate to meet the federal government's demand over the last year for more "active" rehabilitation procedures for clients.

They cite losses last year of more than $1 million at their five facilities for the retarded in Southern California, including a $682,000 deficit at Lynwood Care Center.

However, both Lynwood Care Center and Glenridge Center were repeatedly cited for poor care before federal treatment standards were upgraded.

The facilities also have posted profits before recent losses. Glenridge, for example, reported profits of $630,000 between 1985 and 1988.

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