Care Enterprises Fined $600,000 for Code Violations


In what is believed to be the second-largest settlement of its kind in the nation, a Tustin-based nursing home chain has agreed to pay more than $600,000 in fines for health-code violations at its facilities.

The settlement involved 587 citations issued during the past seven years by the California Department of Health Services against Care Enterprises West, the California subsidiary of Care Enterprises Inc., which operates 58 nursing homes in the state and is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Obviously, it was a long list of everything from dirty facilities, lack of linens, bed sores on patients, falls that could have been prevented, to deaths,” said Teresa Hawkes, the Department of Health Services’ deputy director for licensing and certification.

In addition to paying $616,107 in fines, Care Enterprises also agreed to implement additional training and quality-assurance programs at its facilities and maintain a dialogue with physicians, patient advocacy groups and families. The company will pay an additional $120,053 if specified conditions are not met.


The Department of Health Services also revoked the licenses for two facilities, both of which were closed in 1988: Care West Palomar Nursing Center in Inglewood and Cedar Haven Nursing Home in Bloomington, in San Bernardino County. Two other homes were placed on three years’ probation: Care West Playa Del Rey Nursing Center and Golden State Habilitation in Baldwin Park.

Some of the most serious violations occurred at the Inglewood and Playa del Rey facilities. Among the violations found at the Palomar Nursing Center in Inglewood, for example, were patients lying in excrement for extended periods, bed sores caused by lack of attention and medicine administered improperly. In another case, inspectors reported finding a man at the Playa del Rey home with maggot-infested sores on his feet.

Some violations also involved Care West Fullerton Nursing Center, where the company was charged in 1987 with not properly planning patient care, not notifying physicians promptly of changes in patients’ conditions, and not preventing ulcers and deformities.

Bob Hodgson, controller of Care Enterprises, described the settlement as “an effort to clean up the refuse of the past.” Many of the problems stemmed from the mid-1980s, when a series of acquisitions--including the purchase of 35 facilities from Americare in 1985--saddled the company with a number of homes that were in poor repair.

A Los Angeles bankruptcy court judge approved Care Enterprises’ reorganization plan in March, and Hodgson said the company hoped to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings by year-end. As part of the reorganization plan, Care Enterprises will sell 15 to 20 facilities to raise $20 million in cash, he added.

Company founders Dee Roy Bangerter and Lee Roy Bangerter agreed last year to surrender their posts as the two top executives at the company to help satisfy the demands of creditors, some of whom had accused them of financial misconduct. The executives denied the charges.

Care Enterprises has already paid $205,369 as part of the settlement with the state, and Hodgson said the payments were anticipate and would have no impact on the companies finances. Hawkes, of the Department of Health Services said the bankruptcy had delayed the settlement for several years.

The Department of Health Services said the fines were believed to be the second-largest ever payed by a nursing home firm, topped only by the $800,000 settlement paid by Beverly Enterprises in 1986.

Times Staff Writer David Reyes contributed to this report.